A Florida House measure that would give the governor and members of the cabinet the authority to repeal rules using a speedier process during their first six months in office is intended to satisfy Tallahassee’s growing appetite for reducing regulations.
Last year, state Rep. Chris Dorworth, R-Lake Mary, sponsored House Bill 1565, a measure that requires legislative approval for new rules that impose more than $200,000 a year in new costs on businesses.
That law was intended to reduce the number of new regulations. This year, the House rulemaking panel, which Dorworth chairs, has set its sights on existing regulations.
The amendment passed Wednesday gives Gov. Scott and the cabinet the authority to overturn rules that are being scrutinized as part of a review Scott ordered when he first took office.
The panel is also looking at ways to give businesses input on existing rules they find onerous, such as creating a central repository for complaints.
All the Democrats on the panel voted against the rule-repeal amendment, but the idea of combing through rules and getting feedback from groups that are regulated has bipartisan support.
“You can’t just let one person or branch do whatever it is they want,” said Rep. Jim Waldman, D-Coconut Creek. Lawmakers should have a say in whether rules are implemented properly, he said.
Dorworth’s amendment could give executive officers potentially “unfettered discretion” to overturn rules that may have been the will of the legislature, according to Waldman.
The amendment was added to House Bill 993, a measure tweaking some aspects of the rulemaking processes affected by 1565, during a packed committee hearing that included nine other bills on the agenda, plus a workshop on the review process.
Dorworth said the committee was working on a separate rule-repeal bill, but he decided to add it as an amendment because the two measures are related — i.e. both deal with rulemaking.
A similar measure still has not yet been proposed in the Senate. If no new safeguards are put in place, the governor and the cabinet could veto new rules for just about any reason. What if they overreach?
“As a legislature, we can always address any of the rules that get repealed,” Dorworth said.