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Florida Public Records

The Florida Open Records (Chapter 119) Sunshine Laws outline open government and define public record, define exceptions,  and ensure public access to the applicable meetings and documentation for personal inspection.  "It is the policy of this state that all state, county, and municipal records are open for personal inspection and copying by any person. Providing access to public records is a duty of each agency."  Florida Statute, Chapter 119.01

'Records' are defined in the law as "all documents, papers, letters, maps, books, tapes, photographs, films, sound recordings, data processing software, or other material, regardless of physical form or characteristics, or means of transmission, made or received pursuant to law or ordinance or in connection with the transaction of official business by any agency."

'Agency' is defined as "any state, county, district, authority, or municipal officer, department, division, board, bureau, commission, or other separate unit of government created or established by law including, for the purposes of this chapter, the Commission on Ethics, the Public Service Commission, and the Office of Public Counsel, and any other public or private agency, person, partnership, corporation, or business entity acting on behalf of any public agency."

EXCEPTIONS:

Records that are NOT considered public include those relating to open or active investigations, sensitive operating documents whose release might jeopardize the state or an agency (such as blueprints to facilities, etc), records whose release would violate personal privacy laws. More...

Florida State Archives

Brief History of Florida

March 3, 1845 Florida became the 27th state in the United States of America.  Although there has been much controversy over which European actually discovered Florida for the first time and when, it has been generally accepted and officially credited to Juan Ponce De Leon, who first stepped foot on Florida’s shore in 1513 under the flag of Spain.

In fact, the state’s name "Florida," the Spanish term for the "Flowery Easter" season, and for the land's appearance as a "flowered land."

Over the next century, both French and Spanish groups established settlements in Florida.  In 1559, Spanish Pensacola was established by as the first European settlement in the continental United States.  It was abandoned 2 years later (probably due to lack of food and struggles the weather and with the native peoples), and remained unsettled for over 100 years.   In the meantime, there were many struggles between the French, the English and the Spanish over whose claim over Florida would hold up, and the region passed back and forth amongst the factions quite a few times before it finally fell to the United States via Adams-Onis Treaty in 1819.

For the next 50 years, Florida was the setting for the dark truth of settler- native struggle.  The settlers pressured the US Government to force the indigenous peoples out of their lands and war ensued (the Great Indian Removal), despite treaties and promises of land made by the US. The Seminoles that remained and fought to keep their lands never surrendered to the United States government, hence, the Seminoles of Florida call themselves the "Unconquered People." Today they have sovereignty over their tribal lands and international recognition.

Settlers in the Florida region created large plantations of cotton, indigo, rice, citrus and sugar cane.  Today, with an estimated population of more than 18 million, Florida is the most populous state in the Southeastern United States, the second most populous state in the South behind Texas, and the fourth most populous in the United States. The Census Bureau estimated that "Florida, now the fourth most populous state, will edge past New York into third place in total population by 2011".

Fast Facts:

  • Capital City: Tallahassee
  • Biggest City: Jacksonville
  • Population: ~18.5 Million
  • State Bird: Mocking Bird
  • State Flower: Orange Blossom
  • State Tree: Palmetto Palm
  • Nickname: Sunshine State

Florida Government Info:

Governor's Office and Lieutenant Governor

State of Florida
The Capitol
400 S. Monroe St.
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001