Suppose someone has filed plans with Hillsborough County to build a shopping center down the road from your home, and you want to see them. Under Chapter 119 of Florida Statutes, the plans are a public record, meaning you have a right to review them and get a copy from the County.
Florida has a long tradition of "Government in the Sunshine" - including granting residents access to public documents. In addition to building plans filed with the County, these records include applications for rezoning land, memorandums by members of the Board of County Commissioners, county staff reports, and a plethora of other documents generated or received by the government.
Paper isn't the only form in which public records come.
Public records in Florida include "all documents, papers, letters, maps, books, tape, photographs, film, sound recordings, data processing software, or other material, regardless of the physical form, characteristics, or means of transmission, made or received pursuant to law or ordinance or in connection with the transaction of official business by any agency," according to state law.
But there are exemptions as determined by the Florida Legislature.
Residents who want to review or get copies of public records from the Hillsborough County administrator or Board of County Commissioners can make requests in writing or verbally to any County employee. Or you can submit a request online here.
The Clerk of the Circuit Court for Hillsborough County and the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office are separate entities, and have their own public records request process.
There may be a fee for the records.