Gov. Rick Scott's veto of a mental health bill this week not only surprised the Florida Legislature, which passed it unanimously, it contradicted the efforts of his own agency, the Department of Children and Families.
The bill, which would have shortened from five years to three years the time frame in which a judge would have to decide whether a person was mentally competent to stand trial, among other provisions, was rejected by Scott because reducing the time frame “could pose a serious public safety risk.”
What the veto letter didn't say was that Scott had been urged to veto the bill (SB 1420) by a lobbyist for the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association, Buddy Jacobs, who argued that an amendment to the measure made it unacceptable to prosecutors because of the reduced time frame.
Now that the bill (SB 1420) has been vetoed, DCF’s spokesman Alexis Lambert said the department was "concurring with the governor” that shortening the time frame “could pose a public safety risk.” She wouldn’t comment on the lack of DCF opposition to the bill during the legislative process and assertions by the bill’s sponsors and a Broward County Judge that the department was involved “since its inception.”