In their longstanding fight to privatize the state's prison system—and a lot of other public services—Republican lawmakers in Florida are trying a new angle: doing it in secret.
Proposed Committee Bill 7170, introduced Tuesday in the GOP-dominated state legislature, aims to prevent "information relating to the outsourcing or privatization of an agency function" from being reported to the voting public "until after the contract for such functions is executed." In other words, taxpayers wouldn't get to know about government work turned over to a contractor until after the contract has been signed. The bill is expected to come to a floor vote later in the recently convened spring session; with Republicans holding supermajorities in both chambers of the legislature and Rick Scott sitting in the governor's office, it could become law by this summer.
The proposal is "very disturbing," Democratic Sen. Gwen Margolis told the committee that passed the bill on Wednesday. "The language is pretty broad," she said. Another local activist speaking at the hearing called the measure an attack on "the transparency, accountability and due diligence of this body and citizens of this state."