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Arguments scheduled in case challenging Scott's rules freeze

Arguments in a law suit challenging the constitutionality of Gov. Rick Scott's rules freeze are set for June 29. Each side will have 20 minutes to make their case.

Rosalie Whiley, a blind woman from Opa Locka, filed the suit March 28. She charges Scott took over the Legislature's constitutional authority to direct rulemaking when he signed an executive order requiring his approval for all new rules. The freeze, she said, kept her from applying for food stamps online.

The rules freeze was one of Scott's first acts as governor, included in an executive order signed less than an hour after his Jan. 4 inauguration. More than 900 rules on their way to approval were affected. Many have received an okay through Scott's newly created Office of Fiscal Accountability and Regulatory Reform. But some are still under review.

The idea is to get rid of duplicative and overly burdensome rules that hinder business growth. But attorneys for Whiley, whose legal team includes former Florida State University president Sandy D'Alemberte, argue that the order also covers rules "unrelated to its underlying objective," and has paused rules "urgent to protect vulnerable low-income citizens of Florida."

As an example, they note that one of the stalled rules would make it easier for Whiley, who is blind, to apply for food stamps online. The rule has since been approved by the governor's regulatory reform office, but hasn't yet gone into effect. Whiley wants the executive order revoked.

Scott's attorneys argue in court documents that the "supreme executive power" granted the governor by the state Constitution is among the reasons Scott has the final say over rules developed by state agencies,

Three groups — the Audubon Society, Disability Rights Florida, and the Academy of Florida Elder Law Attorneys and the Elder Law section of the Florida Bar — have filed briefs with the Supreme Court supporting Whiley.