Rep. Matt Gaetz championed legislation to protect citizens from “unelected fourth branch of government”

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The Florida Legislature passed House Bill 7055 / SB 1312, ending the practice of state agencies implementing rules contrary to the direction of the Governor and Legislature. The legislation also repeals hundreds of existing rules that stop job creation and intrude into citizens’ personal lives.

The companion bills were sponsored by Representative Matt Gaetz and Senator Don Gaetz, the first father-son, senator-representative team in the state’s history. Both lawmakers are Northwest Florida Republicans. The regulatory relief bill is the only legislation the two men jointly sponsored and the only one they are likely to sponsor together since the elder Gaetz has been designated as the next Senate President. Ordinarily, presiding officers do not sponsor legislation.

The legislation was prompted by a Supreme Court ruling that declared invalid Governor Rick Scott’s order suspending agency rule-making which hadn’t been approved by the governor’s office. The Court invited the Legislature to clarify whether appointees serving at the pleasure of the Governor had to follow his lead in creating rules.

“Agency bureaucrats who develop rules and policies outside of the approval of the Governor or Legislature are setting themselves up as an unelected fourth branch of government,” said the two Gaetzs. “Governors of both political parties have been frustrated in their attempts to eliminate unnecessary rules and stop harmful rule-making.”

The Gaetz-Gaetz bill does not change the state’s administrative procedures act, which ensures that the public has input into rule-making and requires public notices of proposed rules.

The proposal does not change the constitutional balance of power between the Legislature and the Governor but does strengthen the Governor’s control over his own appointees.

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.