On 21 Feb. 2014, Florida lawmakers have expanded the use of public-private partnerships in the state through a bill that aims to address concerns about protecting sensitive corporate information in the unsolicited proposal process.
H.B. 1051, filed by Rep. Ken Roberson would add a limited public records exemption to state law for unsolicited proposals that private companies make to the government for P3 projects.
Making that information public could prove damaging to the submitter and put it at a competitive disadvantage. Additionally, there is a concern that it may discourage developers from proposing projects.
Yosbel A. Ibarra, a shareholder at Greenberg Traurig LLP who works on public-private partnerships, stated:
We also believe that the proposed approach encourages private parties to include much more detail in their unsolicited proposals. Previously, the risk of disclosure of confidential information meant that unsolicited proposals were very general in nature - to the point of being meaningless in terms of information the state could use to make a go/no-go decision.
Al Dotson, Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price & Axelrod LLP partner and P3s specialist, stated:
HB 1051 is another positive step the Florida Legislature is making to encourage the private sector to offer creative funded solutions to address the public sector's infrastructure and development priorities. This exemption sends a clear message to the private sector, within Florida and elsewhere, that Florida is serious about taking advantage of the opportunities that P3's offer government.
The bill calls for the exemption to go into effect July 1, 2014, which is also the due date for a report from the Public Facilities and Infrastructure Act Guidelines Task Force, which was created last year in the new law with the assignment of reviewing public-private partnerships and presenting recommendations to the legislature.