Bill increases reporting requirements for state agencies

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The Florida House Rulemaking, Oversight and Repeal Subcommittee recommended Wednesday to increase the frequency government agencies must report on rulemaking procedures to lawmakers. The bill would also require additional efforts by agencies to implement rules conforming to recently enacted laws.

The committee proposal, RORS 14-01, calls on agencies to submit plans to the Legislature each year outlining regulation efforts.

Currently, reports are required every two years, but under the new bill agencies must begin formulating rules to comply with new laws passed by the Legislature, or provide an explanation how they can apply the law without additional rules or regulations.

State Rep. John Wood, who chairs the Rulemaking, Oversight and Repeal Subcommittee, said the bill is not directed at any particular agency, but it is an attempt to clarify oversight of the rulemaking process.

“I’m not aware of any specific issue,” Wood told reporter Gray Rohrer of the Florida Current, “but obviously these procedures are not meant to be critical of anybody.”

If passed, the bill will update 2011 legislation requiring agencies to submit reports on the economic effects of existing regulations. Those reports are due on Dec. 1. The new bill stops future reports from showing the economic impact of existing regulations.

Gov. Rick Scott had proposed reigning in new regulations from state agencies ever since elected governor. Through executive orders issued shortly after taking office, Scott froze all new rules. Later, the Florida Supreme Court, saying Scott overstepped his authority, struck down the orders.

Legislators have regularly pressed agencies to provide explanations on how they would put into effect rules and guidelines to support new laws.

Former Rep. Mike Fasano, leveraging his House position in February, induced various departments to introduce rules for complying with regulations already passed.

Fasano, now Pasco County Tax Collector, was chair of the Joint Administrative Procedures Committee at the time. He singled out the state-run Citizens Property Insurance for not offering a new type of insurance policy required by a law approved in 2012.

Wood’s proposal does offer a few exemptions from reporting requirements, such as the Department of Education. Public investment in education policy provides sufficient oversight, according to Wood.

Wood believes “the feedback and input we were getting is the rate review and reporting is not productive for the education arena,” reports the Current.

There is not a companion bill in the Senate, but Wood will be talking with both the Senate and Scott’s office about his proposal, which is up for a vote in Wood’s committee next week. If the bill makes it into law, it would take effect July 1, 2014.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.