286.0114 Public meetings; reasonable opportunity to be heard; attorney fees.—(1) For purposes of this section, “board or commission” means a board or commission of any state agency or authority or of any agency or authority of a county, municipal corporation, or political subdivision.
(2) Members of the public shall be given a reasonable opportunity to be heard on a proposition before a board or commission.
The opportunity to be heard need not occur at the same meeting at which the board or commission takes official action on the proposition if the opportunity occurs at a meeting that is during the decisionmaking process and is within reasonable proximity in time before the meeting at which the board or commission takes the official action. This section does not prohibit a board or commission from maintaining orderly conduct or proper decorum in a public meeting. The opportunity to be heard is subject to rules or policies adopted by the board or commission, as provided in subsection (4).
(3) The requirements in subsection (2) do not apply to:(a) An official act that must be taken to deal with an emergency situation affecting the public health, welfare, or safety, if compliance with the requirements would cause an unreasonable delay in the ability of the board or commission to act;
(b) An official act involving no more than a ministerial act, including, but not limited to, approval of minutes and ceremonial proclamations;
(c) A meeting that is exempt from s. 286.011; or
(d) A meeting during which the board or commission is acting in a quasi-judicial capacity. This paragraph does not affect the right of a person to be heard as otherwise provided by law.
(4) Rules or policies of a board or commission which govern the opportunity to be heard are limited to those that:
(a) Provide guidelines regarding the amount of time an individual has to address the board or commission;
(b) Prescribe procedures for allowing representatives of groups or factions on a proposition to address the board or commission, rather than all members of such groups or factions, at meetings in which a large number of individuals wish to be heard;
(c) Prescribe procedures or forms for an individual to use in order to inform the board or commission of a desire to be heard; to indicate his or her support, opposition, or neutrality on a proposition; and to indicate his or her designation of a representative to speak for him or her or his or her group on a proposition if he or she so chooses; or
(d) Designate a specified period of time for public comment.
(5) If a board or commission adopts rules or policies in compliance with this section and follows such rules or policies when providing an opportunity for members of the public to be heard, the board or commission is deemed to be acting in compliance with this section.
(6) A circuit court has jurisdiction to issue an injunction for the purpose of enforcing this section upon the filing of an application for such injunction by a citizen of this state.
(7)(a) Whenever an action is filed against a board or commission to enforce this section, the court shall assess reasonable attorney fees against such board or commission if the court determines that the defendant to such action acted in violation of this section. The court may assess reasonable attorney fees against the individual filing such an action if the court finds that the action was filed in bad faith or was frivolous. This paragraph does not apply to a state attorney or his or her duly authorized assistants or an officer charged with enforcing this section.
(b) Whenever a board or commission appeals a court order that has found the board or commission to have violated this section, and such order is affirmed, the court shall assess reasonable attorney fees for the appeal against such board or commission.
(8) An action taken by a board or commission which is found to be in violation of this section is not void as a result of that violation.
History.—s. 1, ch. 2013-227.