Throughout his campaign, Gov.-elect Rick Scott talked about the importance of reducing the “regulatory burden” on Florida businesses.
That was part of the goal behind the regulatory reforms in House Bill 1565, which was vetoed by Gov. Charlie Crist. Incoming state House and Senate leaders recently announced plans to consider overriding that veto, a decision that could advance Scott’s pro-business agenda but also increase the legislature’s power over the executive branch he’s preparing to lead.
Under the bill, new regulations by state agencies projected to cost the private sector more than $1 million over five years would have to be approved by the legislature. It would affect many of the rules passed by water management districts and other state regulators.
It was among the many examples cited (.pdf) by the Florida Chamber of Commerce as it lauded (.pdf) the legislature for its business-friendly accomplishments last session, so it may seem right up Scott’s alley, but in his veto message, Crist warned that the bill could “increase costs to business” while adding “more red tape” and uncertainty to the rule-making process.
Unless it holds a special session, the legislature only meets once a year, meaning rules could languish for months before they get approved. Requiring legislative approval would also give lobbyists another chance to weigh in on proposed regulations.
An editorial in today’s St. Petersburg Times describes the measure as Scott’s “first test” and suggests that it could also affect the incoming governor’s ability to govern efficiently:
If Scott wants to accomplish much of anything over the next four years, he needs to persuade Cannon and Haridopolos to leave this bad bill buried during next week’s special session.
It is hard to imagine, for example, Everglades restoration ever going forward under this scheme as Big Sugar and the state’s development interests could indefinitely stall rules setting acceptable water quality standards.
Scott, Cannon and Haridopolos all have promised to streamline government so it works more like business. HB 1565 is the antithesis of that. Scott needs to persuade his Republican colleagues to shunt this idea aside.
Before heading into a meeting with his successor on Tuesday, Crist noted that many of the legislature’s proposed veto overrides may not be “terribly problematic,” but:
I think the governor-elect might have issue with one of them though. If I remember right, it attempts to take some authority from the executive branch and put it in the hands of the legislature.
That echoes a concern Crist raised about separation of powers in his veto message. A spokesman for the governor’s office could not confirm whether Crist was referring specifically to H.B. 1565, noting that another bill Crist vetoed (.pdf), H.B. 5611, would require the head of the state’s Department of Management Services to be confirmed by the Senate.