Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, was all by himself and he couldn't believe it.
In a Senate Appropriations Committee meeting Thursday, Latvala was the lone voice objecting to a bill to allow property appraisers to send homeowners tax notices and other official documents by email instead of through the postal service.
The bill (SB 7130) was presented by Sen. Dorothy Hukill, R-Port Orange, and Latvala was shocked that it did not also include a public records exemption to keep homeowners' email addresses confidential. Latvala said if the email addresses are public, private for-profit vendors can obtain them under the state public records law, invade their privacy and solicit them for goods and services of all kinds.
"We're going to have a lot of our constituents that are going to get very angry and will want to know how people got their email addresses," Latvala warned his colleagues. "I've had the experience. I'm in the business. I know the furor that comes from that," said Latvala, a printer and campaign consultant who deals with supervisors of elections regarding voters' requests for absentee ballots.
"This is a big deal with the privacy of citizens," said Latvala, recalling the public outrage several years ago when it was discovered that motorists' personal driving records were being sold commercially to profit-making companies.
Hukill said that if public access to individuals' email addresses is a problem with her bill, it's also an issue with similar bills.
Latvala was the only senator from either party who voted against the bill. His stand likely will draw the attention of the First Amendment Foundation, which opposes a similar public records exemption for voters who request sample ballots by email.
-- Steve Bousquet