Sunshine Law advocate shares importance of open government


The Florida Sunshine law is misused, abused and most of all misunderstood, according to Barbara Petersen, president the Florida First Amendment Foundation.

She’s a heroine to share the law, bring light to a dark and clear any unknowns that the public may have. But with so many laws being passed every day it’s a wonder how she keeps up. Running a nonprofit organization with a staff of two isn’t easy but this super woman does it.

Petersen spoke to Florida A&M University journalism students Monday and opened the eyes of many young journalists. She shared insights on what is covered under the Sunshine Laws, how they’ve been abused and what laws violate our First Amendment rights. Her overall presentation was not only informative but entertaining as she nitpicked at some of the laws that she found ridiculous including the infamous baggy jeans law and answered questions from young journalists.

Her compassion for what she does was apparent as she took time to explain various bills before the state legislature. Overall, her presentation was extremely helpful to students as many were unaware of Florida’s Sunshine Laws.

This week is Sunshine Week, a week dedicated to promote the importance of open government and freedom of information. This includes public meetings, government documents and public records.  She said the main focus of Sunshine Week is to inform the public and encourage them to become more involved in government matters.

“For the people, by the people” is a term heard far too often but not implemented enough, she said. As students and future journalists, it is our duty to take this term and put it in to action.

To learn more about Florida’s Sunshine Laws and open records, go to