Provides exemptions from public records requirements regarding individual's choices on COVID-19 vaccines/exemptions, sunsets in 2028

State: FL
Bill Number: HB 1015/CS/CS/SB 238
Position: WATCH
Action Required: NONE
Status: ENACTED, SB 238 signed by Governor Ron DeSantis 5/11/2023, Chapter 2023-42, effective 6/1/2023

Legislation Details:

UPDATE: 5/12/2023 - SB 238 was enacted. It was signed by Governor Ron DeSantis on 5/11/2023. Chapter Number 2023-42, effective date 6/1/2023.

UPDATE: 5/3/2023 - SB 238 was ordered enrolled by the Senate. The enrolled version is here.

UPDATE: 5/3/2023 - CS/SB 238 passed House on 5/3/2023 by a vote of 96 Yeas, 19 Nays.

UPDATE: 5/2/2023 - HB 1015 was laid on the table as the companion bill (CS/CS/SB 238) passed on 5/2/2023.

UPDATE: 5/1/2023 - SB 238 was added to the Special Order Calendar and had 1st Reading of Committee Substitute 2 on 5/1/2023. 

UPDATE: 4/27/2023 - CS/SB 238 was passed by the Senate on 4/27/2023 by a vote of 31 Yeas, 4 Nays. It was Committee Substitute SJ 569, and text is here.

UPDATE: 4/25/2023 - HB 1015 was laid on the table and Committee Substitute # 2 was filed. The language for it is here

UPDATE: 4/24/2023 - HB 1015 passed the House Commerce Committee on 4/24/2023.

UPDATE: 4/20/2023 - SB 238 passed the Senate Committee on Fiscal Policy on 4/20/2023 by a vote of 14 Yeas, 5 Nays.

UPDATE: 4/18/2023 - SB 238 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Committee on Fiscal Policy on 4/20/2023 from 9:30 am - 6:00 pm, in the Pat Thomas Committee Room at 412 Knott Building. The agenda is here

UPDATE: 4/13/2023 - HB 1015 was referred to the House Commerce Committee on 4/13/2023.

UPDATE: 4/12/2023 - HB 1015 was laid on the table. Committee Substitute # 1 filed. The text is here.

UPDATE: 4/7/2023 - HB 1015 passed the House Health & Human Services Committee on 4/10/2023.

UPDATE: 4/6/2023 - HB 1015 is scheduled for a hearing in the House Health & Human Services Committee on 4/10/2023 at 2:00 PM in Morris Hall (17 HOB). The agenda is here

UPDATE: 4/4/2023 - SB 238 had a committee substitution in the Senate Committee on Health Policy, which passed on 4/4/2023 by vote of 11 Yes, 0 No. Click here to review the amended language (874238) in the Committee Substitute. 

UPDATE: 3/30/2023 - SB 238 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Committee on Health Policy on Tuesday, 4/4/2023 at 8:30 am in the Pat Thomas Committee Room, 412 Knott Building. Agenda can be viewed here.

SB 238 was introduced on 3/3/2023 and referred to the Senate Health Policy and Fiscal Policy Committees on 3/6/2023. This bill is sponsored by Senator Colleen Burton

2/28/2023 - HB 1015 was referred to the House Health & Human Services Committee, the Ethics, Elections & Open Government Subcommittee, and the Commerce Committee on 2/28/2023. It is sponsored by Representative Philip Griffitts.

HB 1015 was filed 2/2/2023 and referred to the House Committees on Health & Human Services, Appropriations, and Commerce. It was sponsored by Representatives Griffitts, Fernandez-Barquin, and Roth

The bills will expand the protection of public record information. Here is a link to the original bill language

The Florida Constitution provides that the public has the right to inspect or copy records made or received in connection with official governmental business. The Public Records Act guarantees every person’s right to inspect and copy any public record at any reasonable time, under reasonable conditions, and under supervision by the custodian of the public record. A violation of the Public Records Act may result in civil or criminal liability. Public records include things such as "documents, papers, letters, maps, books, tapes, photographs, films, sound recordings, data processing software, or other material, regardless of the physical form, characteristics...." The Legislature may exempt public records from public access requirements by passing a general law by a two-thirds vote of both the House and the Senate.

Public records or open meetings exemption may be created or maintained only if it serves an identifiable public purpose and is no broader than is necessary. An exemption serves an identifiable purpose if the Legislature finds that the purpose of the exemption outweighs open government policy and cannot be accomplished without the
exemption and it meets one of the following purposes:

  • It allows the state or its political subdivisions to effectively and efficiently administer a program, and administration would be significantly impaired without the exemption;
  • It protects sensitive, personal information, the release of which would be defamatory, cause unwarranted damage to the good name or reputation of the individual, or would jeopardize the individual’s safety. If this public purpose is cited as the basis of an exemption, however, only personal identifying information is exempt; or 
  • It protects information of a confidential nature concerning entities, such as trade or business secrets.

Current state law 381.00318 addresses complaints and investigations regarding private employer COVID-19 vaccination mandates. This bill amends this law to include complaints alleging a business entity's, a governmental entity's, or an educational institution's violation of s. 381.00316 (COVID-19 vaccine passport ban) or s.81.00319 (prohibition on COVID-19 vaccine mandates for students) and removes the applicability of the law to 381.00317.  Statute 381.00317 is the current law that prohibits private COVID-19 employer mandates that is scheduled to expire on June 1, 2023.  

These bills expand this current law that only applies to investigations by the Department of Legal Affairs to also apply to the Department of Health. 

These bills also keep the section on confidentiality of information relating to investigations and the prohibition of revealing medical information or religious beliefs of the employee but changes it to apply to individuals instead of employees. Current law 381.00318 is scheduled to expire on 10/2/2023. This bill extends the expiration date by adding:

(5) This section is subject to the Open Government Sunset Review Act in accordance with s. 119.15 and shall stand repealed on October 2, 2028, unless reviewed and saved from repeal through reenactment by the Legislature.

Per the Committee on Health Policy Report, "The exemption lasts until the investigation into the complaint is completed or ceases to be active, unless releasing the information would jeopardize the integrity of another active investigation, reveal medical information about an individual, or reveal information about an individual's religious beliefs. Information made confidential and exempt may be released to a business or governmental entity or educational institution in furtherance of the entity's or institution's lawful duties and responsibilities and may also be released in an aggregated form." - text, status, and history of HB 1015 - text, status, and history for SB 238