Florida Republicans have introduced a bill that will force independent journalists who blog about Gov. Ron DeSantis, members of the executive cabinet, or state legislature, to register with the state or face fines of up to $2,500.
Though the bill’s author, State Senator Jason Brodeur (R-Lake Mary) claims the legislation’s rules won’t apply to mainstream media outlets like newspapers, with independent journalism on the rise this could strip those who make a living from their reporting of press credentials, access, credibility and reach.
Senate Bill 1316, or the Information Dissemination bill as it’s called, gives bloggers a five-day grace period after publication to alert either the Florida Office of Legislative Services or the Commission on Ethics before being assessed a $25 daily fine.
According to the local NBC affiliate, News Channel 8, writers will be required to submit monthly reports by the 10th of each month if posting multiple blog posts mentioning the Governor, Lt. Governor, or any of the other positions laid out in the legislation.
“For blog posts that ‘concern an elected member of the legislature’ or ‘an officer of the executive branch,’ monthly reports must disclose the amount of compensation received for the coverage, rounded to the nearest $10 value.” – NBC News Channel 8
In what comes across as an attempt to incentivize not writing about Florida’s elected officials, a blogger can avoid having to submit a monthly report if the content isn’t published.
“If compensations paid for a series of posts or for a specific amount of time,” NBC wrote, a disclosure of all monies received will be mandatory.
Bloggers failing to comply with the state’s law will have 30 days to pay fines after receiving notice.
Those fined for writing about state legislators must deposit the payments into the Legislative Lobbyist Registration Trust Fund, while the Executive Branch Lobby Registration Trust fund must be used for writing about executive branch officials.
While it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to view this as just another way for the increasingly authoritarian Florida GOP, that makes it no less dangerous.
With Republican leaders in Red states working in lockstep with one another, it will only be a matter of time before others follow the fascist lead and implement their own First Amendment-violating rules.
Original reporting by Sam Sachs at News Channel 8.
Follow Ty Ross on Twitter @cooltxchick