House passes public records exemption to protect veterans and mental health patients in specialty courts

House passes public records exemption to protect veterans and mental health patients in specialty courts

Rep. Patt Maney

The Legislature is a step closer to signing off on a public records exemption that would protect veterans and mental health patients who are being treated in Florida’s specialty courts.

With no discussion and no debate, the House on Thursday voted 117-0 to approve HB 715 by Republican Rep. Patt Maney, a retired judge from Shalimar and a retired Army brigadier general.

Maney told his House colleagues that the measure would give mental health and veterans’ court participants the same privacy protections that cover other specialty courts.

“This bill simply extends and harmonizes public records exemptions for the various specialty courts, drug courts, veterans’ courts, mental health courts,” Maney said.

More specifically, the bill would shield from public view intake screenings, drug screenings, behavioral health evaluations, and “subsequent treatment and status reports.”

Sen. Daryl Rouson

Sen. Darryl Rouson

Democratic Rep. Darryl Rouson, a St. Petersburg attorney, is sponsoring the companion, SB 910. During his years of legislative service, Rouson has been a champion for issues related to drug and alcohol treatment and recovery. Both bills sailed through committees without a negative vote.

SB 910 was on the Senate calendar on Thursday. The upper chamber could send the measure to Gov. Ron DeSantis as soon as Friday.

Originally published at https://www.floridabar.org/the-florida-bar-news/house-passes-public-records-exemption-to-protect-veterans-and-mental-health-patients-in-specialty-courts/

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