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House lays out rules for the governor's rules

The House set out to clarify the governor’s authority today and lay out how much power the executive office really has in restricting the rules that state agencies must invent in order to carry out new laws.

The bill aims to hammer out the details of the 2011 Florida Supreme Court ruling against Gov. Rick Scott (Whiley v. Scott).

Scott lost the case after he froze rulemaking his first day in office. Several groups sued and said Scott’s action led to the halt of 900 rules, some of which caused a delay in welfare benefits or environmental protections.

The idea, Scott’s attorneys argued, is to prevent and get rid of cumbersome rules that impose hardships on businesses.

The Supreme Court requested clarification from the Legislature on the scope of gubernatorial power.

Bill sponsor Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Shalimar, said HB 7055 would clarify the governor’s role but maintain the separation of powers.

For example, he said, if the Legislature passed a law that funded abstinence-only education, and the governor didn’t agree with that law, he wouldn’t have the authority to stop the law from being implemented.

Some of the legislators seemed to think the proposal doesn’t go far enough, and that the power of the governor should be stronger.

“Since that person serves as the governor, I say he has the authority to say ‘you do what I say or I’ll replace you,’” said Rep. Jim Frishe, R-Belleair Bluffs.