Politics

Gov. Rick Scott Unbowed by Legal Setback

Flurry of legal challenges trip up part of Scott’s agenda
By: Gray Rohrer | Posted: August 19, 2011 3:55 AM

Scott post-cabinet August 2011

Gov. Rick Scott speaks with reporters after a Cabinet meeting Tuesday | Photo: Gray Rohrer

Gov. Rick Scott is the subject of numerous lawsuits seeking to thwart his agenda, and Tuesday he experienced his first legal setback when the Florida Supreme Court found he “overstepped his authority” in seeking executive approval of new agency rules.

The decision prevents the office he set up to review new and existing rules from stopping new rules, but Scott’s office will continue to be involved in the rule-making process, even if it doesn’t have a de jure veto power over new rules.

Scott said he disagreed with the decision, but remains confident he is on solid legal ground in other lawsuits.

“No, it won’t,” Scott said when asked if the decision would affect how he proceeds in future legal challenges.

His early track record with lawsuits gives ample justification for such confidence, having received a unanimous Florida Supreme Court opinion backing his decision to kill the state’s proposed high-speed rail project earlier this year.

But Tuesday’s decision showed Scott won’t receive wholehearted backing from the courts on every issue or suit. He has already adjusted his tactics, if not his overall policy, in the face of lawsuits.

Two months ago, Scott halted his plan to drug-test state workers, citing a forthcoming legal challenge from the Florida chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

He previously issued an executive order directing state agencies under his control to draft plans for testing employees. Faced with a lawsuit, however, Scott temporarily paused plans to drug-screen workers in most state agencies.

The Department of Corrections, which already tests 21,000 of its 27,000 employees, was directed to draft a plan to expand its testing to all employees. DOC workers were given a 60-day notice that drug tests of all employees will begin sometime after Sept. 15, but a specific plan is still in the drafting phases and is yet to be implemented.

“We have not started testing yet. We are in the process of changing our administrative rule on random testing. Making changes to administrative rules take (sic) time. We do not have a definite start date yet,” said DOC spokesperson Jo Ellyn Rackleff. “We have yet to test anyone who would not have been tested under our existing programs,” she added.

Scott's office says he is still committed to the policy of drug-testing state workers.

The governor’s legal team is likely to remain busy. Here’s a list of the other lawsuits Scott is involved in:

  • State worker unions are suing over a required 3 percent contribution to their pensions, which they claim is a violation of existing contract agreements.
  • The Police Benevolent Association is trying to block Florida’s planned privatization of 30 prisons.
  • The ACLU is also suing to prevent the new elections law from being fully implemented. The law shortens early voting time, prevents voters from changing their name or address on the day of an election, and imposes stricter regulations and fines on third-party voter registration groups.
  • Florida doctors are suing to stop a law that prohibits doctors from asking patients about gun ownership unless it directly relates to a patient’s health.
  • Although it hasn’t officially filed a suit yet, the Florida Education Association, the state’s largest teachers’ union and one of the unions suing over the pension contribution, will likely challenge the teacher merit pay bill Scott signed into law this year that ties salaries more closely to student test scores.


Scott’s office says he is unfairly and inappropriately being named in lawsuits to draw attention to a group’s particular cause.

His lawyers asked federal courts to review the most objectionable parts of the elections law -- instead of the U.S. Department of Justice review that elections laws typically receive -- and requested Scott’s name be withdrawn as a defendant in the case because Secretary of State Kurt Browning is tasked with enforcing it.

The next round in Scott’s legal battle will center on the prison privatization lawsuit, with trial dates set for Sept. 29 and Oct. 25. The pension contribution suit will get a hearing Oct. 26.

 

Reach Gray Rohrer at grohrer@sunshinestatenews.com or at (850) 727-0859.


Comments (4)

5:28AM AUG 26TH 2011
[filtered word] flip flops clearance Marc Jacobs Bags [filtered word] patti sand wedge [filtered word] wedges [filtered word] Wedges [filtered word] sandals jamaica resorts [filtered word] meant for Marc Jacobs Handbags low priced low priced high heels [filtered word] boots or shoes low priced case sacks jacobs Marc Jacobs Handbags sale by just marc jacobs marc coach outlet store online by just marc jacob black marc coach crystal sunglasses by just marc jacobs container marc by just marc jacobs sacks marc by just marc jacobs affordable handbags marc coach outlet reviews by just marc jacobs affordable handbags great deals train avenue openings minor train container precious metal [filtered word] bag train avenue retail outlet on line train avenue store[filtered word] reva flats on sale Train Avenue Sacks train gemstone eyeglasses [filtered word] cheap train synthetic leather case sacks train avenue bookbag.
wawoo
8:51AM AUG 19TH 2011
Governor Voldemort,"Laws , smaws, don't mean nuttin to me."Like transition team electronic and other records "inadvertently" destroyed. If Pam Bondi wants to make her sorry self useful, she can ask for an independent investigation of that.
Jennifer
6:21PM SEP 14TH 2011
The governor’s legal team is likely to remain busy. Here’s a list of the other lawsuits Scott is involved in:

State worker unions are suing over a required 3 percent contribution to their pensions, which they claim is a violation of existing contract agreements.
The Police Benevolent Association is trying to block Florida’s planned privatization of 30 prisons.
The ACLU is also suing to prevent the new elections law from being fully implemented. The law shortens early voting time, prevents voters from changing their name or address on the day of an election, and imposes stricter regulations and fines on third-party voter registration groups.
Florida doctors are suing to stop a law that prohibits doctors from asking patients about gun ownership unless it directly relates to a patient’s health.
Although it hasn’t officially filed a suit yet, the Florida Education Association, the state’s largest teachers’ union and one of the unions suing over the pension contribution, will likely challenge the teacher merit pay bill Scott signed into law this year that ties salaries more closely to student test scores.
Jennifer
6:23PM SEP 14TH 2011
I can't help but note all the lawsuits are being pushed by UNIONS. Scott is doing an awesome job balancing the budget and NOT bowing down to all these greedy special interest groups. He is REPRESENTING THE PEOPLE WHO ELECTED HIM not the special groups. 14

Leave a Comment on This Story

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.