Gov. Rick Scott overstepped his authority and violated the separation of powers by freezing state agency rulemaking, the Florida Supreme Court ruled today.
Shortly after he was sworn in as governor on Jan. 4, Scott suspended agency rulemaking and required the proposed rules be vetted by his office. He later created the “Office of Fiscal Accountability and Regulatory Reform” to review the rules, saying he wanted to make sure they did not slow down government, create barriers for businesses or cost taxpayers money.
Sez the CEO whose company had to pay a $6 million fine to the federal government and admitted he should have hired more auditors to make sure his health care company was in compliance with those pesky Medicare regulations. Apparently the lesson learned is, whenever possible, simply do away with regulations!
But in a 5-2 ruling, the court found that Scott’s executive orders “infringe upon the very process of rulemaking and encroach upon the Legislature‘s delegation of its rulemaking power as set forth in the Florida Statutes.”
Chief Justice Charles Canady and Judge Ricky Polston, both appointed by Gov. Charlie Crist, dissented. Scott acted within his constitutional authority as the state’s chief administrative officer whose duty is “to manage, plan, and hold agencies under his charge accountable to State laws, including the APA. The actual facts before us do not demonstrate otherwise,” Polston wrote.
Canady called the majority opinion an “ill-conceived interference with the constitutional authority and responsibility of Florida‘s Governor.”
Scott also saw it that way.
“It doesn’t make any sense to me,” Scott said of the court ruling. “I don’t think it follows the constitution. It’s a disappointment.