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With Steverson reappointed to DEP, Senate prez says confirmation not “a simple rubber stamp”

By BRUCE RITCHIE

FLORIDAENVIRONMENTS.COM

Gov. Rick Scott on Monday reappointed Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Jon Steverson along with 15 other agency heads following the Senate’s failure to confirm.

Jon Steverson. Photo courtesy of the Northwest Florida Water Management District.

Jon Steverson. Photo courtesy of the Northwest Florida Water Management District.

The Senate failed to vote on many of Scott’s appointments last week as the 2015 legislative session broke down amid an impasse between the House and Senate over healthcare spending. The House ended the session on Tuesday and the Senate did not reconvene after Wednesday.

Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, issued a statement on Monday saying that the confirmation process should “be more than a simple rubber stamp.”

“Towards the end of session, I heard from many senators who were not satisfied with some of the answers provided or still had some outstanding questions for several agency heads,” Gardiner said.

“The statutes allow for appointees to continue serving pending confirmation without impacting their authority to manage an agency. Therefore, I believe the Senate has time and should do its due diligence and thoroughly vet each appointee before confirmation.”

Scott on Monday morning announced the reappointment of 14 agency heads but there was no mention of Steverson or Rick Swearingen as head of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

But both were reappointed in an afternoon announcement explaining that both positions are subject to new rules involving appointments by the Cabinet. The two appointments have been added to the Cabinet agenda for Tuesday.

Steverson created a stir on April 15 when he repeated the words “climate change” three times during a confirmation hearing to show there was not a prohibition within the department on the phrase as reported by news media.

“There is absolutely no policy against discussing climate change at the department,” Steverson told the Senate Committee on Environmental Preservation and Conservation. “In fact we have multiple programs related to climate change.”

Steverson was executive director of the Northwest Florida Water Management District from 2012 to 2014 before being appointed to replace DEP Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard Jr., who left after Scott’s first term. His salary as DEP secretary is $150,000.

He told senators on April 15 that he supports Scott’s request for $100 million for land acquisition in the 2015-16 state budget.

“I’m very supportive of the governor’s recommended budget,” Steverson said.

House and Senate members left Tallahassee without adopting a budget because of disagreements on whether to expand the Medicaid program.

The budget along with Amendment 1 spending are expected to be taken up in a special session on the budget. Amendment 1 is the ballot measure approved by voters in November that will provide about $740 million for water and land conservation programs.

(Editors note: Story and headline updated at 4 p.m. Monday with statement by Gardiner.)

(Photo and story copyrighted by Bruce Ritchie and Floridaenvironments.com. Do not copy, forward or redistribute without permission, which can be obtained from bruceBritchie@gmail.com.)

2 Responses to “With Steverson reappointed to DEP, Senate prez says confirmation not “a simple rubber stamp””

  1. Bill Klein says:

    I am afraid of Scott’s reappointment of 14 agency head. He has greatly hurt the Florida environment with his past actions. The Everglades and the Indian River Lagoon are in terrible shape and in great danger of being destroyed.
    Will Scott honor Amendment 1? The Citizens have spoken and passed Amendment 1. I hope we are not betrayed.

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