Bill would require Legislature approval of agency rules

Environmental groups and the St. Johns River Water Management District are calling on Gov. Charlie Crist to veto HB 1565, which he received Thursday from the Legislature.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Chris Dorworth, R-Lake Mary, requires agencies to conduct an economic analysis of proposed rules that could cost businesses more than $200,000 in the first year after adoption, according to a House committee staff analysis. If the analysis shows that the rule could affect economic growth in excess of $1 million or affect private-sector investment, productivity or innovation or competition with other states, then the rule must be submitted to the Legislature for approval.

“This is about protecting people and small business owners,” Dorworth said. “The idea it is somehow bad for government to justify rules in excess of $1 million is ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous.” The bill received support from the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the Florida League of Cities and the Florida Association of Counties.

But the St. Johns River Water Management District says the bill would subject most new water-protection rules to approval by the Legislature. Regulated interests would no longer have to provide evidence in a rule challenge, rather they could lobby against the bill in the Legislature. The bill would “frustrate executive branch operation if the Legislature perpetually fails to act on the rules session after session,” according to a district staff analysis.

Audubon of Florida, 1000 Friends of Florida and the St. Johns Riverkeeper have joined the water-management district staff in requesting a veto. Audubon said the bill could thwart Everglades restoration while 1000 Friends said it could prevent the Department of Community Affairs from adopting a development rules stemming from a 2008 addressing climate change and greenhouse gas emissions.

A DCA spokesman said he could not immediately comment on the bill. A Florida Department of Environmental Protection spokeswoman said DEP has concerns about the bill but has not made a formal recommendation to the governor.

Dorworth said no one spoke in opposition to the bill in the Legislature and there were no votes against it in committees or on the House and Senate floor. The governor has until May 28 to sign or veto the bill.

(Story provided by the Florida Tribune. Copyrighted by Bruce Ritchie and Do not copy or redistribute without permission, which can be requested at .)