Lawsuit claims Scott’s rule freeze is unconstitutional
A blind woman seeking food stamps has filed a petition with the Supreme Court contending that Gov. Rick Scott’s executive order freezing new regulations and ordering a review of all existing regulations is unconstitutional.
The petition (available below) argues that rulemaking is controlled by the legislature, which gives executive agencies the authority to carry out the laws and refine the finer points with the expertise they have available. It accuses Scott of usuping that authority.
“Just because the Legislature allows the governor to appoint the heads of these agencies does not mean that the governor has the power to control their rulemaking by fiat,” it contends.
Here’s the release announcing the lawsuit:
Tallahassee, Florida, (March 29, 2011) – Rosalie Whiley, a Florida citizen and taxpayer with disabilities, filed a petition yesterday in the Florida Supreme Court challenging Governor Scott’s Executive Order 11-01, which suspended rulemaking powers by state agencies under his direction and transfers rulemaking powers from agency heads to the Governor’s new Office of Fiscal Accountability and Regulatory Reform. At the heart of the petition is a challenge to the legality of the Governor’s action in suspending rule making, and an assertion that the order oversteps the executive branches authority.
Ms. Whiley was moved to take action when the executive order halted rulemaking that would have simplified the reapplication process for food stamps. Ms. Whiley explained, “The Department of Children and Family Services application for the food stamp program was slated to be fixed so that I, as a blind person, could apply more easily online. But the Governor’s new order has stopped the agency from moving forward. That’s not right.”
Although the Governor has stated that the impetus for the Order is to curtail unnecessary restrictions on regulation of businesses and professions, the Order creates a new layer of governmental bureaucracy and has triggered suspension of agency activities that are urgently needed to protect vulnerable low-income citizens of Florida. Mr. D’Alemberte noted, “Unless the Supreme Court acts immediately, Florida law will be suspended by a branch of government with no authority to do so.”
Ms. Whiley is represented by attorneys with Florida Legal Services, Inc. (FLS) and by Talbot “Sandy” D’Alemberte and Patsy Palmer of D’Alemberte & Palmer in Tallahassee. FLS attorney Cindy Huddleston said, “We have filed this petition on Ms. Whiley’s behalf to ask the Florida Supreme Court to issue a writ of quo warranto. This special writ means Ms. Whiley is questioning the Governor’s authority to suspend rulemaking.” Mr. D’Alemberte stated, “Ms. Whiley’s petition alleges the Governor’s Executive Order violates the Florida Constitution because the executive branch has noauthority to make and change laws relating to agency practice. That power belongs to the Legislature.”