DeSantis again pushes to shift oversight from Florida Cabinet
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) for the second year in a row is backing a bill that would give him control over various agency and state personnel rules, shifting it from the state Cabinet.
The bill, which was filed earlier this month by state Rep. Tommy Gregory (R) and is now being debated in the Florida House’s State Affairs Committee, would eliminate administrative rules and regulations over some agencies overseen by the Cabinet, as well as transfer control to the governor on a range of disputes, including those involving local development districts and environmental protection.
The bill also seeks to authorize the governor “to transfer funds and positions between agencies upon approval by the Legislative Budget Commission.”
DeSantis is backing the legislation, which in its introduction argues that America’s Founding Fathers “very consciously declined to sap the executive’s strength by dividing the executive power and instead vested the executive power in one elected individual, believing that an energetic executive is the leading character in the definition of good government.”
“The changes made herein reflect our intent to move away from a plural executive structure toward more unitary executive governance that encourages greater accountability in the democratic process and efficiencies in government,” the bill adds.
Cody McCloud, a spokesperson for DeSantis, told the Orlando Sentinel on Wednesday that the legislation seeks to “create a more efficient and effective government, which has always been central to the governor’s mission.”
“The governor and his staff will continue to work with the House and Senate as the bill moves through the legislative process,” McCloud added.
Others, however, have condemned the bill, including Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who is the only Democrat on the three-member Florida Cabinet.
Fried, who is widely considered a prospective 2022 Florida gubernatorial candidate, said in a statement to the Sentinel, “For the second year running, the governor is attempting a harmful power grab.”
“This bill creates an unnecessary imbalance of power, silences the voice of any non-majority party Cabinet member, and blocks the consensus that Florida’s Constitution requires and makes possible fairness and transparency in doing the people’s business,” the top Florida Democrat argued.
The Hill has reached out to DeSantis’s office for comment.
While DeSantis has gained rising popularity in his home state amid his response to the coronavirus pandemic, Fried has repeatedly criticized the governor’s performance, and last week called on the FBI to investigate allegations that DeSantis was directing coronavirus vaccines to select communities in exchange for political contributions.