The Florida Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that Gov. Rick Scott “overstepped his constitutional authority and violated the separation of powers” with an executive order freezing all pending rules until he could approve them.
In a 5-2 opinion, the court concluded that rule-making authority belongs to the Legislature, not the governor.
“The Legislature retains the sole right to delegate rulemaking authority to agencies,” the majority justices wrote, “and all provisions in [Scott’s executive orders] that operate to suspend rulemaking contrary to the Administrative Procedures Act constitute an encroachment upon a legislative function.”
Scott called the decision a “disappointment” and “not right,” saying he didn’t understand the court’s logic.
“Think about it. Secretaries of these agencies report to me. And they work for me at will,” he said. “And I’m not supposed to supervise them? It doesn’t make any sense.”
Rosalie Whiley, a blind woman from Opa-locka, charged that Scott took over the Legislature’s constitutional authority to direct rule-making when he signed an executive order hours after his Jan. 4 inauguration requiring his approval of all proposed rules through the newly created Office of Fiscal Accountability and Regulatory Reform.
Whiley wanted the executive order lifted. The court, though, declined to honor that request.
Instead, justices concluded the order “will not be enforced against an agency” unless the Legislature specifically grants the governor rule-making authority.
The order was part of Scott’s effort to eliminate “burdensome” and “duplicative” rules and “job-killing” regulations he believes hinder economic growth.
State agencies develop thousands of rules each year to implement laws.
Of the nearly 900 proposed rules reviewed by Scott’s office of Regulatory Review, only a few dozen were rejected through the order. They related to such procedures as record-keeping by home health aides and management of documents by the Agency for Workforce Innovation.
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