Remember how Rep. Chris Dorworth, R-Heathrow, added an amendment to a rulemaking bill that would give the governor and the cabinet authority to repeal agency rules under an expedited process? The bill just passed another committee — the House Government Operations panel — with no debate.

A representative of Associated Industries of Florida stood in support, but waived her time to speak (Update: See clarification below).

The measure builds on an executive order Gov. Rick Scott issued when he first took office. He ordered a freeze of all pending agency rules, which is now being challenged before the Florida Supreme Court, as well as a review of all existing rules.

Rulemaking authority is given to state agencies by the legislature, allowing them to put a finer point on laws and sort out technical details that are often outside lawmakers’ expertise.

The process is typically handled by agencies themselves, not the elected officials that oversee them. That principle is actually a key part of the legal argument in the challenge to the governor’s suspension of rulemaking.

Under Dorworth’s amendment, H.B. 993, sponsored by Rep. Kenneth Roberson, R-Port Charlotte, would give “statewide elected executive officers,” as opposed to state agencies, the authority to repeal rules during their first six months in office with a shorter window for challenges and public notice.

Sometimes, when the legislature gives rulemaking authority to an agency, it says the agency “must” or “shall” adopt rules. Other times lawmakers grant “discretionary” rulemaking authority using a word like “may.” A change approved this morning clarifies that the governor and the cabinet can only repeal discretionary rules.

As part of the review he ordered when he first took office, Scott submitted a questionnaire (.pdf) to state agencies, asking questions ranging from whether the rules are redundant or unnecessary to whether they affect job creation. The review is set to end on Monday. So far, his team has identified more than 1,500 rules and subsections for repeal, which can be viewed on this website.

Clarification:

Kenya Cory of Associated Industries said she was supporting of the original body of H.B. 993, which smooths over some of the statutes affected by H.B. 1565, a bill passed just after the November elections over Gov. Charlie Crist’s veto, which requires legislative approval for most new regulations that would cost the state’s economy more than $200,000 per year.

Dorworth’s amendment to H.B. 993 – the part granting the governor expedited repeal powers – was inserted last week.

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