The newly formed Customary-Use Committee held its organizational meeting Monday night at the South Walton Annex.
The 11 members gathered around tables at the Annex heard from County Attorney Mark Davis as he told them the rules governing the committee and spelled out the committee's purpose.
As a county commission-appointed committee, each member is subject to Florida's Sunshine Law because they were appointed with the presumption that at some point they will make a recommendation to county commissioners about amendments or changes to the customary use law.
Davis advised the committee of the particulars of the state's Sunshine Law and what can and cannot be shared.
"You cannot have discussions about this outside of a public meeting," he told them. "You can't poll each other. All emails about this committee will become public record. Right-of-access to emails applies to elected and appointed boards, as spelled out in Florida's constitution. You are appointed to make recommendations. Florida's public records law is one of the broadest in the nation. A public record is any material used to perpetuate or formulate knowledge. Once you receive them they are public. When the committee is dissolved, any emails will be collected and they must be kept in their native format. Any violations are misdemeanors under the law. For more information about Florida's Sunshine Law visit myfloridalegal.com."
The meetings will be viewable via video on the county's website.
Committee members include Tami Mims, Lisa Evans, Mike Huckabee, Tom McGee, David Bailey, Lisa Boushy, Beth Clay, Celeste Cobena, Brenda Rees, Chuck Schneider and Mike Sturdivant, all appointed by the County Commission.
Charged with electing a committee chair and vice chair, Huckabee nominated McGee for chair, and McGee nominated Huckabee for vice chair. Both were approved by a vote of the committee.
Any recommendations from the committee are expected by the first week in March, with written drafts expected by March 14.
The Customary Use law goes into effect on April 1.
The next meeting, scheduled for Monday, will be led by Attorney Robert McNeely of Tallahassee, who has been hired as moderator for the group.