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Aaron Sharockman
By Aaron Sharockman January 14, 2011

Cabinet members push back on Scott regulation freeze

Gov. Rick Scott took office on an anti-regulation crusade, making one of his first official acts an executive order that suspended all rulemaking for agencies under the direction of the governor.

Executive Order No. 11-01 established the Office of Fiscal Accountability and Regulatory Reform to examine proposed and existing rules and regulations to determine, among other things, if they "unreasonably affect job creation or job retention" and to analyze the impact on public health and safety and costs for businesses. If the rules impede job creation, the theory was, they would be jettisoned.

The executive order was meant to fulfill Scott's campaign promise to "freeze all regulations."

We ruled that promise In the Works on Scott's first day in office, Jan. 4, 2011, noting that there was still some question whether the governor's executive order would have a broad enough impact to meet Scott's sweeping promise.

We got our answer in the editions of the St. Petersburg Times and Miami Herald on Jan. 14.

And the answer is, it doesn't.

While rulemaking is being suspended, or frozen, in the offices and state agencies Scott controls, that's hardly the whole of state government.

Scott had asked state agencies not under his control to voluntarily "consent to the pre-authorization process."

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/Herald's Janet Zink 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.

A spokeswoman for Atwater said his office will review its rules and regulations "following their own standards."  Putnam spokesman Sterling Ivey said something similar.

"We are not sending our rules to the governor's office," 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."

And a spokeswoman for Bondi said the attorney general supports Scott's call for a cost-benefit analysis of rules. But she'll take care of her part of it herself.

"Consistent with the intent and spirit of Gov. Scott's executive order, the attorney general has ordered that her staff review all of our agency's existing and proposed rules to ensure that they are necessary and justified," said Jennifer Krell Davis in a prepared statement. "Because our agency will be conducting this independent review, we will not be submitting our rules to the governor's office."

On top of that, Scott's order does not cover the state agencies administered by the governor and Cabinet together, like the Department of Veterans' Affairs, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) and the Department of Revenue.

So while Scott has been able to essentially freeze regulations, pending a review, for the agencies he controls, much of the state government is operating without abiding by that formal order. And the members of the Cabinet, who control their own agencies and share control of others with the governor, have said that they are reviewing their own rules and they will not comply with Scott's request.

Scott promised during the campaign to freeze all regulations, but upon taking office, he's faced a grim reality: He can't direct the practices of the entire state government. So we rate this a Compromise.

Our Sources

Amy Sherman
By Amy Sherman January 4, 2011

Gov. Scott orders review of regulations

Republican Rick Scott promised to freeze regulations when he campaigned for Florida governor in 2010.

During his Jan. 4, 2011, inauguration speech, Scott announced the creation of a new office to examine regulations:

"We'll also re-examine every regulation to make sure its benefits outweigh its costs. Unless they are pruned, regulations grow like weeds. While there are some regulations that are essential for health and safety, and others that are essential to the protection of our priceless environment, it's past time to demand that every regulation be re-evaluated. We will conduct a top to bottom review of all state regulations and weed out unnecessary ones that hinder job creation. Today, I will sign an Executive Order creating a state Office of Fiscal Accountability and Regulatory Reform to review all proposed and existing regulations to determine their impact on job creation."

Those comments echoed what Scott -- elected Nov. 2, 2010 -- said during and after the campaign. However, during his inauguration speech, Scott used the words "re-examine" and "review" instead of "freeze" as he has said in the past.

Here are a few examples of Scott's previous statements on regulations:

In his "7-7-7" plan -- his 7-step plan to create about 700,000 jobs in seven years announced during the campaign -- under "Step 3: Regulatory Reform" Scott included: "Impose a regulatory freeze and implement a comprehensive review of existing and proposed regulations."

In a Univision debate with his Democratic opponent Alex Sink Oct. 8, Scott said: "We're gonna freeze all regulations. Regulation is killing jobs, the paperwork, the delay, the uncertainty, so we're gonna freeze regulation and look at what we can roll back that doesn't hurt consumers."

In a speech to the Florida Council of 100 Governors, a group of businss leaders, on Nov. 18:

"I will freeze regulations currently in the pipeline until we have an opportunity to evaluate their impact. And we will begin immediately to review existing regulations to weigh their costs and benefits. Now, I want to be clear: There are some regulations that are essential for health and safety and some that are essential to the protection of our environment. Obviously, no responsible leader would tamper with those core safeguards.
But it's way past time to demand that every regulation be re-evaluated."

For this Scott-O-Meter update we will evaluate whether he has delivered on his promise to "freeze all regulations."

Shortly after 1 p.m. Jan. 4, Scott's office issued a press release announcing Executive Order No. 11-01, which establishes the Office of Fiscal Accountability and Regulatory Reform. Among the highlights:

* Scott ordered "all agencies under the direction of the governor to immediately suspend all rulemaking." That means agencies can't adopt new rules or amend existing ones except at the direction of the new office. He requested that agencies not under the governor's direction do likewise. It sounds like a "freeze" but it's presented as a suspension.

* The new reform office will examine all proposed and existing rules and regulations to determine, among other things, if they "unreasonably affect job creation or job retention" and analyze the impact on public health and safety and costs for businesses.

* Prior to submitting a notice about a new or amended rule, each agency must submit the text to the new office.

* Within 90 days of the Jan. 4 order and then on an annual basis, each agency must submit a review of existing rules and regulations including any recommendations for elimination. The order also directs agencies to "pursue the repeal or amendment" of any duplicative or unnecessarily burdensome regulations and identify legislative mandates that require rules or regulations that hurt job creation.

* By July 1 every year, each agency must submit a plan to identify rules it expects to promulgate during the next year.

The inauguration pool report from the News Service of Florida wrote that Jerry McDaniel, a budget director under former Gov. Charlie Crist, will lead the office.

The order left us with a few questions: Once each agency submits its review of regulations including the recommendations for which ones to get rid of, then what happens? If the new reform office determines that certain rules or regulations hurt job creation or should get the ax, then what happens? Are there examples of rules or regulations that Scott could simply strike down versus those that would require approval by the Legislature? What is the cost of the office?

We contacted Scott's press office after the inauguration but were unable to obtain more details by late afternoon.

During his first hour in office, Scott announced he would create a new office to review all regulations and "suspend" all rulemaking. That shows Scott has taken a significant step toward his promise to "freeze all regulations," though it's too soon to tell how long the suspension will last, who will make final decisions on rules and how, or even whether "all regulations" will be suspended, since the governor doesn't control all the agencies. For now, we rate this promise In the Works.

Our Sources

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