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Aaron Sharockman
By Aaron Sharockman March 8, 2011

Gov. Rick Scott highlights regulation freeze in first State of the State speech

Over and over during his campaign for governor, Rick Scott said state government regulations were killing jobs and that state spending had spun out of control.

Scott used part of his first State of the State speech on March 8, 2011, to highlight what he'd done to rein back government red tape.

"On my first day in office, I ordered a review of every regulation in the pipeline and every contract exceeding $1 million," Scott told a joint session of the Legislature at the start of its 60-day legislative session.

Is Scott right?


Within an hour of his inauguration, Scott issued Executive Order No. 11-01, which required "all agencies under the direction of the governor to immediately suspend all rulemaking." The order also imposed a 90-day suspension on contracts with a value in excess of $1 million.

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As part of the order, both the contracts and rules needed the approval of the governor's new Office of Fiscal Accountability and Regulatory Reform.

Scott denied his first contract on Feb. 18, according to the St. Petersburg Times, rejecting an $18 million Medicaid contract between MedSolutions and the Agency for Health Care Administration for outpatient imaging services.

Here's the text explaining the governor's decision to reject the contract. "Beginning Fiscal Year 2005-06 through Fiscal Year 2008-09, the following proviso was inserted and continued in the General Appropriations Act: From the funds in Specific Appropriation XXX, the agency is authorized to implement a utilization management program for outpatient diagnostic services. To date, the agency never implemented a utilization management program for outpatient diagnostic services. Proviso language is only valid for one year. The last time the above-mentioned proviso was in the General Appropriations Act was Fiscal Year 2008-09. It is uncertain if the agency would still have authority to implement such a program. The agency is unable to provide an independent study or other supporting data which would validate significant savings to the Medicaid program if such a $18,000,000.00 program were implemented."

The caveat here is that while the governor instituted the freeze for the offices he controls, many state agencies were not asked to comply, including those led by members of the Florida Cabinet.

On Jan. 14, the three members of the Cabinet, all Republicans -- Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, Attorney General Pam Bondi and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam -- told the Times that they would not comply with Scott's request to have pending regulations in their offices frozen and then reviewed by the governor's office before becoming effective.

"We are not sending our rules to the governor's office," Atwater spokesman Sterling Ivey said. "We are looking at all of our rules internally to make sure they align with the direction the commissioner wants to go with the department."

Scott is right that he froze regulations and certain contracts upon taking office. But it didn't apply to all state agencies, and we've only found one contract that's actually been denied since the freeze took effect. We rate this claim Mostly True.

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Gov. Rick Scott highlights regulation freeze in first State of the State speech

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