The Sunshine Law legislators scorecard: How it was done

By MIKE STUCKA, The Palm Beach Post

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - The scoring system for the Florida Society of News Editors assigns points for a list of critical government openness bills.

Legislators get three points for a floor vote, seven points for co-sponsoring a bill and 10 points for sponsoring a bill that's on the list. Votes against openness lose points; votes for openness gain points.

Legislators got a bonus point for communicating with the Florida First Amendment Foundation about the bill.

The scores were compared to the session's most extreme legislator - good or bad - and turned into standard letter grades for comparison. A perfectly neutral legislator would get a C.

In 2017, the most extreme good score paled in comparison with the most extreme worst vote, leaving no legislator with an A score but some with Fs.

The scoring system was criticized by high- and low-scoring legislators from both parties and both legislative chambers.

Among the criticisms: The scoring system is too simplistic, didn't consider the right bills, offered no way to measure a legislator's overall positive attitude about the importance of open records, and extremely low-scoring legislators altered the scale in a way that made it all but impossible to get As.

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