CEO 13-24 - December 18, 2013
COMPOSITION OF TRAINING HOURS
To: Rob Teitler, Attorney
A training program composed of two hours on the subject of the Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees or Article II, Section 8, Florida Constitution, and one hour each of open meetings and public records, would satisfy the four-hour training requirement imposed by Section 112.3142, Florida Statutes.
Would a training program comprising two hours of ethics and one hour each of public records and open meetings satisfy the training requirement imposed by Section 112.3142, Florida Statutes?
Your question is answered in the affirmative.
You write that you are an attorney who is a member of the Executive Council of the City, County and Local Government Law Section of The Florida Bar, and that you are responsible for the Section's annual Sunshine Law, Public Records and Ethics seminar, held each February in Tallahassee. This seminar, you advise, includes segments on open meetings, or "sunshine" law, public records, and several public-service-ethics topics under the Florida Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees. You would like to organize the schedule for the 2014 seminar in such a way as to provide a discrete four-hour block of time which will satisfy the four-hour training requirement of newly-enacted Section 112.3142, Florida Statutes, because you believe doing so will increase attendance at the seminar as well as enhance the marketability of the program.
Your question centers on the required content of the four-hour statutory training requirement. Specifically, you inquire whether a one hour public records overview segment; a one hour sunshine law overview segment; and two one-hour segments of subjects from the Florida Code of Ethics (i.e., gifts, conflicts, reporting) would satisfy the requirement.
Section 112.3142, Florida Statutes, became effective May 1, 2013, through Ch. 2013-36, Laws of Florida. It states:
Ethics training for specified constitutional officers.-
(1) As used in this section, the term "constitutional officers" includes the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, the Attorney General, the Chief Financial Officer, the Commissioner of Agriculture, state attorneys, public defenders, sheriffs, tax collectors, property appraisers, supervisors of elections, clerks of the circuit court, county commissioners, district school board members, and superintendents of schools.
(2)(a) All constitutional officers must complete 4 hours of ethics training annually that addresses, at a minimum, s. 8, Art. II of the State Constitution, the Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees, and the public records and public meetings laws of this state. This requirement may be satisfied by completion of a continuing legal education class or other continuing professional education class, seminar, or presentation if the required subjects are covered.
(b) The commission shall adopt rules establishing minimum course content for the portion of an ethics training class that addresses s. 8, Art. II of the State Constitution and the Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees.
(3) Each house of the Legislature shall provide for ethics training pursuant to its rules.
While calling for four hours of training in the areas of ethics, public records, and public meetings, the legislation is silent as to what combination of hours and topics will satisfy the requirement. As the Legislature has not indicated a preference for a particular combination, it is our view that the combination you propose-two hours of ethics, one hour of open meetings, and one hour of public records, would satisfy the requirement.
Accordingly, we find that the training program you propose, comprising two hours of ethics training1 and one hour each of public records and open meetings training, would satisfy the requirement imposed by Section 112.3142, Florida Statutes.
ORDERED by the State of Florida Commission on Ethics meeting in public session on December 13, 2013, and RENDERED this 18th day of December, 2013.
Morgan R. Bentley, Chairman
 As required by Section 112.3142(2)(b), Florida Statutes, the Commission has, in Rule 34-7.025, F.A.C., adopted rules identifying the minimum course content for the ethics portion of a training program.