NAC Action Alert
Florida Legislation
March 29, 2007

Resources

TEXT OF LEGISLATION

EXISTING STATE LAW

From the Toni Egbert Naturist Law Library of the Naturist Education Foundation ...
RELEVANT COURT CASES

PREVIOUS NAC COMMUNIQUES ON THIS TOPIC

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                     NATURIST ACTION COMMITTEE
                           ACTION ALERT
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http://www.naturistaction.org
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 Copyright 2007 by the Naturist Action Committee, which is responsible
 for its content. Permission is granted for the posting, forwarding or
 redistribution of this message, provided that it is reproduced in its
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DATE:    March 29, 2007
SUBJECT: Florida Legislation 
TO:      Florida naturists and other concerned Floridians

Dear Naturist,

The Naturist Action Committee (NAC) is requesting that Florida residents take immediate action concerning specific Florida state legislation. This NAC Action Alert includes specific contact information and instructions. It follows two NAC Advisories (January 21 and March 11) that established detailed awareness of the issues.

IMPORTANT: NAC IS ASKING FOR ACTION FROM FLORIDA RESIDENTS ONLY

NAC believes all naturists should be advised of this matter, but we are asking at this time that ONLY FLORIDA RESIDENTS respond to this call for action. If you live outside the state of Florida, please do not make contact at this time with Florida lawmakers.

If you live in Florida, the Naturist Action Committee needs your help NOW!

ABBREVIATED DISCUSSION

Most of the threats to naturists come from bills that seek to modify Section 800.03 of the Florida Statutes and to increase the penalties that are attached to that law. Section 800.03 addresses the exposure or exhibition of sexual organs in a public place.

For a more detailed discussion please refer to the
NAC Advisory of March 11, 2007.

WHY IS THIS A NATURIST ISSUE?

Section 800.03 has been interpreted by Florida courts as applying only to lewd exposure. So why should naturists see it as their issue when penalties are increased for violations in that section of the law?

The existing judicial protection associated with 800.03 is quite fragile. Even with favorable case law that dates back more than thirty years, overzealous enforcement officers occasionally feel justified in using the statutory language alone to bust someone for simple nudity under 800.03. When that happens, a naturist must mount a legal defense against a misdemeanor charge.

Raising the penalty for 800.03 to the felony level, even under limited circumstances, makes any enforcement "misfire" a much more chilling prospect. The proposed changes to the wording of 800.03 that are included in many of the problem bills may prove to be the undoing of existing judicial protection.

SPECIFIC FLORIDA LEGISLATION TO ADDRESS WITH SELECTED FLORIDA SENATORS

SENATE BILL 2058 Sponsor: Sen. Victor Crist (R-Tampa). This is a Senate companion bill for House Bill 269, which has been referred, in slightly amended form, to the House Policy & Budget Council. Not quite identical to HB 269, Senate Bill 2058 contains the same escalated penalties for violation of 800.03, as well as much of the same language that many naturists find threatening. The slightly modified language in this bill is just not enough to turn it into a good bill.

This bill has been referred to the Senate Criminal Justice Committee.

SENATE BILL 1842 Sponsor: Sen. Dave Aronberg (D-Greenacres). Another Senate companion bill for HB 269. The wording of SB 1842 is similar to that of SB 2058. It includes enhanced penalties for Section 800.03 of the Florida Statutes.

This bill has been referred to the Senate Criminal Justice Committee.

SENATE BILL 2544 Sponsor: Sen. Ronda Storms (R-Tampa). This bill greatly enhances penalties for certain crimes. It adds 800.03 to the list of crimes for which the penalty is increased. A second offense under 800.03 would become a third degree felony, and a third offense would be a second degree felony, carrying a mandatory five years in prison. If SB 2544 passes the Senate in its present form, the proposals it contains will become law, since the House version (HB 41) has already passed the House.

This bill has been referred to the Senate Criminal Justice Committee.

SENATE BILL 1800 Sponsor: Sen. Bill Posey (R-Rockledge). This bill authorizes warrantless arrest, specifically where "[t]here is probable cause to believe that the person has unlawfully exhibited his or her sexual organs in public in violation of s. 800.03." The troubling implications for naturists are obvious.

This bill has been referred to the Senate Criminal Justice Committee.

WHAT IS NAC DOING?

The Naturist Action Committee continues to work closely on this matter with local naturists and with representatives of Florida naturist clubs and groups. NAC is conferring with lawmakers and their staff members. NAC is also working the professional legislative lobbyist retained by South Florida Free Beaches. NAC has committed to pick up a portion of the expense for that lobbyist during the 2007 legislative session.

WHAT IS NAC ASKING YOU TO DO?

The Naturist Action Committee is asking you to take action immediately by contacting members of the Florida State Senate Committee on Criminal Justice.

WHOM TO CONTACT

The Senate Criminal Justice Committee has nine members. Please write or call as many members of the committee as you can.

    Sen. Nancy Argenziano (R-Crystal River) Committee Chair
    Room 311, Senate Office Building
    404 South Monroe Street
    Tallahassee, FL 32399
    (850) 487-5017   
argenziano.nancy.web@flsenate.gov

    Sen. Dave Aronberg (D-Greenacres) Committee Vice Chair
       Room 405, Senate Office Building
    404 South Monroe Street
    Tallahassee, FL 32399
    (850) 487-5356   
aronberg.dave.web@flsenate.gov
    NOTE: Sen. Aronberg is sponsor of SB 1842, a bill on the list.

    Sen. Michael S. "Mike" Bennett (R-Bradenton)
    Room 216, Senate Office Building
    404 South Monroe Street
    Tallahassee, FL 32399
    (850) 487-5078   
bennett.mike.web@flsenate.gov

    Sen. Victor Crist (R-Tampa)
    Room 208, Senate Office Building
    404 South Monroe Street
    Tallahassee, FL 32399
    (850) 487-5068   
crist.victor.web@flsenate.gov
    NOTE: Sen. Crist is sponsor of SB 2058, a bill on the list.

    Sen. M. Mandy Dawson (D-Ft. Lauderdale)
    Room 410, Senate Office Building
    404 South Monroe Street
    Tallahassee, FL 32399
    (850) 487-5112   
dawson.mandy.web@flsenate.gov

    Sen. James E. "Jim" King, Jr. (R-Jacksonville)
    Room 400, Senate Office Building
    404 South Monroe Street
    Tallahassee, FL 32399
    (850) 487-5030   
king.james.web@flsenate.gov

    Sen. Evelyn J. Lynn (R-Daytona Beach)
    Room 212, Senate Office Building
    404 South Monroe Street
    Tallahassee, FL 32399
    (850) 487-5033   
lynn.evelyn.web@flsenate.gov
   
    Sen. Frederica S. Wilson (D-Miami Gardens)
    Room 202, Senate Office Building
    404 South Monroe Street
    Tallahassee, FL 32399
    (850) 487-5116   
wilson.frederica.web@flsenate.gov

    Sen. Stephen R. Wise (R-Jacksonville)
    Room 220, Senate Office Building
    404 South Monroe Street
    Tallahassee, FL 32399
    (850) 487-5027   
wise.stephen.web@flsenate.gov

WHEN YOU WRITE OR CALL

Write a letter, send an e-mail or call by telephone. Each is effective. It's acceptable to do more than one, and NAC encourages it.

  WRITE A LETTER OR AN E-MAIL
  1. Address your correspondence to each Senator separately. Don't count on someone to pass a single message around to multiple lawmakers.

  2. Give your name and the city of your residence. Anonymous letters are discarded.

  3. Be polite.

  4. Write clearly that you OPPOSE Senate Bills 2058, 1842, 2544 and 1800.

  CALL
  1. Call during regular business hours and ask for the Senator, but be prepared to speak with a legislative aide, instead. That's okay. Each aide is trained to make notes about your specific concerns.

  2. Say your name and the city of your residence. Anonymous calls are disregarded.

  3. Be polite.

  4. Say clearly that you OPPOSE Senate Bills 1800, 1842, 2058, and 2544.

WHAT MORE TO SAY?

  1. Enhancing penalties for Section 800.03 solves no immediate or long term problem. The emphasis should be on lewd behavior, not nudity.

  2. These bills create bad law through their unjustified compression of punishments to be all at the top of the scale. When everything becomes a felony, where is there room to punish serious crime?

  3. The "time and place" restrictions in some of these bills are problematic. Haulover Beach, a significant clothing-optional tourist draw and source of revenue for Miami-Dade County, is located in a county park. Authorities once considered locating a public school nearby. Nudity in a county park would be a felony under SB 1842, and nudity near a school would be a felony under SB 1842 and SB 2058.

  4. Senate Bill 2544, sponsored by Sen. Ronda Storms, deals with escalated penalties for certain offense. It includes a "mandatory minimum" of five years imprisonment for a third conviction under 800.03. That's a harsher penalty than the State's punishment for vehicular manslaughter.

  5. At the same time some bills propose "reclassifying" the penalties for Section 800.03, Senate Bill 1800 proposes relaxing the standard required for making an arrest under that statute. The introduction of warrantless arrests for 800.03 invites further erosion of personal freedoms and would make bad law for Florida.

MORE INFORMATION

You can access additional information on the Web site of the Naturist Action Committee.

  
www.naturistaction.org

Select "Alerts, Advisories and Updates." Under Current Action Alerts, you'll find the text of this NAC Action Alert, along with links to the complete text of each of these Florida bills, existing Florida law and pertinent court cases.

PLEASE HELP NAC HELP LOCAL NATURISTS

The Naturist Action Committee is the nonprofit volunteer political adjunct to The Naturist Society. NAC exists to advance and protect the rights and interests of naturists throughout North America.

Opposing dangerous legislation is quite costly. The Naturist Action Committee relies entirely on your voluntary support. Please donate generously with a check to:

    NAC
    PO Box 132
    Oshkosh, WI 54903

Or use your credit card to make a direct donation online through NAC's Web site:
   
www.naturistaction.org/donate/

Thank you for choosing to make a difference.

Naturally,

Morley Schloss
Board Member
Naturist Action Committee

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Naturist Action Committee (NAC) - PO Box 132, Oshkosh, WI 54903
Executive Dir. Bob Morton       -
execdir@naturistaction.org
Board Member Morley Schloss     -
morleynaturist@hotmail.com
Online Rep. Dennis Kirkpatrick  -
naturist@sunclad.com
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