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FLORIDA: Proposed Legislation Would Require Bloggers Writing About Governor to Register With State or Face Fines


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Proposed legislation in Florida would require bloggers who want to write about the governor or other government officials to register with the state or face fines.

The bill, proposed by Sen. Jason Brodeur (R-Lake Mary), would require bloggers writing about government officials to register with the Florida Office of Legislative Services or the Commission on Ethics.

The proposed bill blatantly violates the 1st amendment by restricting freedom of speech.

SB 1316 states:

If a blogger posts to a blog about an elected state officer and receives, or will receive, compensation for that post, the blogger must register with the appropriate office, as identified in paragraph (1)(f), within 5 days after the first post by the blogger which mentions an elected state officer.

Upon registering with the appropriate office, a blogger must file monthly reports on the 10th day following the end of each calendar month from the time a blog post is added to the blog, except that, if the 10th day following the end of a calendar month occurs on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, the report must be filed on the next day that is not a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday.

The blogger must file reports with the appropriate office using the electronic filing system.

WFLA added:

For blog posts that “concern an elected member of the legislature” or “an officer of the executive branch,” monthly reports must disclose the amount of compensation received for the coverage, rounded to the nearest $10 value.

If compensation is paid for a series of posts or for a specific amount of time, the blogger would be required to disclose the total amount to be received, upon publication of the first post in said series or timeframe.

Additional compensation must be disclosed later on.

Failure to file these disclosures or register with state officials, if the bill passes, would lead to daily fines for the bloggers, with a maximum amount per report, not per writer, of $2,500. The per-day fine is $25 per report for each day it’s late.

The bill also requires that bloggers file notices of failure to file a timely report the same way that lobbyists file their disclosures and reports on assessed fines. Fines must be paid within 30 days of payment notice, unless an appeal is filed with the appropriate office. Fine payments must be deposited into the Legislative Lobbyist Registration Trust Fund if it concerns an elected member of the legislature.

For writing about members of the executive branch, fines would be made payable to the Executive Branch Lobby Registration Trust Fund or, if it concerns both groups, the fine may be paid to both related trust funds in equal amounts.

The proposed legislation sounds like extortion from the state.



 

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