Florida's Government-in-the-Sunshine-Law, commonly referred to as the Sunshine Law, provides a right of access to governmental proceedings at both the state and local levels. The law is applied to any gathering of two or more public officials subject to the sunshine requirements who discuss some matter that could potentially come before the governing board for action.
There are three basic requirements of the Sunshine Law:
(1) Meetings of public boards or commissions must be open to the public;
(2) Reasonable notice of such meetings must be given; and
(3) Minutes of the meetings must be taken.
Personal or Telephone Conversations and Written or Electronic Communications:
Florida’s Sunshine Law applies to deliberations and discussions between two or more Commission members when those two members are discussing some matter that may foreseeably come before the Commission for action. The use of a telephone or a computer to conduct such discussions does not remove the conversation from the requirements of the Sunshine Law. Similarly, panel members may not utilize or "go-between" to learn of the views of another panel member outside the of the Sunshine requirements. Therefore, commissioners seeking to discuss such business should ensure that the Sunshine Law requirements have been satisfied.
Consequences of Failing to Comply with Sunshine Law Requirements:
It is significant to recognize that failure to comply with the provisions of Florida’s Sunshine Law (section 286.011, Florida Statutes) can result in civil penalties of up to $500 against each participating public officer. Criminal penalties are specified against any board member or other public officer participating on a public committee who knowingly attends such a meeting in violation of the statute. No resolution, rule or formal action will be considered binding except as taken or made at a duly noticed meeting.
For the full text of the Florida Statutes and the Florida Constitution relating to the Florida Sunshine laws, see Appendices E, F, and G of this guidebook. For Florida’s Government-in-the-Sunshine Manual prepared by the Attorney Generals Office, see Appendix K. For Frequently Asked Questions about the Sunshine laws, see: