Published: Mar 06, 2013 1:41 PM EST

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Florida's citizens would get the right to be heard - and not just seen - at local government meetings under a bill that has cleared a House panel.
    
The Government Operations subcommittee on Wednesday approved the bill (HB 23) by a vote of 12-0.
    
The measure follows appeals court rulings on Florida's open-government "sunshine law." Those decisions interpreted the law as requiring officials to meet in public but not requiring them to give citizens a voice.
    
The bill does allow governments to set time limits on public comment and exempts some meetings of an emergency or purely ceremonial nature. It also allows enforcement by court order. A similar bill (SB 50) is under consideration in the Senate.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)