A plan to shield the release of video taken from police body cameras is moving through the Senate. But it's been scaled back amid some criticism.
SB 248 would still shield videos taken in private places from disclosure under open records laws. Sponsor Sen. Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale, said this is necessary to protect people's privacy, especially in their own homes.
However, after being amended by the Senate on Tuesday, it no longer applies to all medical emergencies, including incidents of police brutality that have endeared body cameras to reformers.
"That would have been overly broad because technically a lot of circumstances that you need to see a video sometimes involves injury," Smith said Tuesday.
Barbara Petersen of the First Amendment Foundation said Monday that the exemptions would be too broad and prevent journalists or members of the public from accessing video evidence in cases of police use of force, such as the shooting in North Charleston, S.C., last week.
Despite these changes, Petersen said Tuesday that the foundation remains opposed to the bill.
"If privacy is a concern," she wrote in an email, "the bill should be amended to protect any information that would identify a person in the video by obscuring faces, house numbers, etc."
Adoption bill advances
By a 27-11 vote, senators approved a bill promoting adoptions that has become a source of heated debate.
HB 7013, sponsored by Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, in the Senate, will create incentives for state employees who adopt. But it will also strike a ban on gay Floridians adopting.
The ban's repeal is largely symbolic. A judge ruled the state's ban unconstitutional five years ago, and gay parents have been adopting ever since.
"There is a poison pill in it that will not allow me to vote for the bill," Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, said. "Before you vote, think about the long-term implications for every one of these children."
Summit draws names
Gov. Rick Scott is hosting an "Economic Growth Summit" in Orlando on June 2, and has commitments from several leading candidates for the Republican presidential nomination to speak about the vision for economic growth. Confirmed for attendance: Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry, Marco Rubio and Scott Walker.
Pension plan battle
The Senate next week could approve a bill that sponsor Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, said would address a "ticking time bomb" with local pension plans for police officers and firefighters. Senators are moving forward with a bill (SB 172) that would revamp how state insurance-premium tax revenues can be used in local pension plans. The measure has been backed by unions but has drawn opposition from cities.
Adam C. Smith and the News Service of Florida contributed.