Planning agency reauthorization remains stalled in House

A bill reauthorizing the Florida Department of Community Affairs received unanimous Senate approval Thursday, but the bill could face a challenge in the House.

The Legislature in 2006 established a “sunset review” process for state agencies to determine whether a need for them exists. DCA supporters have raised concerns that the department won’t be reauthorized before the end of the legislative session on April 30, leaving the agency in limbo for another year. SB 282 by Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton and chairman of the Community Affairs Committee, was approved 38-0 by the full Senate. HB 7107, by the General Accountability Act Council, has been awaiting a hearing in the Economic Development & Community Affairs Policy Committee since March 12.

Asked whether the House reauthorization bill is going anywhere, Rep. Dave Murzin, R-Pensacola and committee chairman, said Wednesday night, “Not as far as I’m concerned.” Murzin said earlier this month there was plenty of time to pass the bill. But on Wednesday night, Murzin noted that the Department of Children and Family Services, the Department of Management Services and the Department of State are also awaiting sunset review reauthorization.

“They continue anyhow” even if the Legislature doesn’t act, Murzin said. He described the sunset review process as flawed because the departments aren’t abolished if the Legislature fails to act to reauthorize them.

Charles Pattison, president of the 1000 Friends of Florida growth-management group, said the House should pass the Senate bill. “Doubt about DCA’s future is something that should not be on the table,” Pattison said.