Scott in Line with Legislature, But Finds Bills to Veto
Around the State
Gov. Rick Scott signed SB 404 exactly one week ago, June 28, creating “transition to adulthood” services for juvenile delinquents, and concluding his action over bills passed during the 2011 regular legislative session.
In his first session, Scott signed more than 260 bills passed by the Legislature, but he did find areas to nitpick lawmakers’ work, vetoing a handful of bills.
Scott vetoed 10 bills, but six of those were related to line-item vetoes, conflicted with legislation he already signed or overlapped laws he signed previously. Another bill, HB 437, which alters motor vehicle license processes for manufacturers and distributors, became law without Scott’s signature.
It’s tough to find a unifying theory to explain Scott’s other four vetoes.
He nixed HB 913, which would have provided exemptions to Florida’s public records laws for local governments looking to sell or lease public airports, even though Scott isn’t known for being overly enthusiastic about the Sunshine laws allowing broad access to public records.
In his HB 913 veto letter, Scott sympathizes with the need for businesses to guard trade secrets, but says valid protections are already in place.
“While I fully understand the need to protect proprietary confidential business information, trade secrets, and the confidentiality of certain business negotiations, the need to exempt all information relating to all business negotiations engaged in by public airports has not been demonstrated,” Scott’s letter reads in part.
With two other vetoes -- HB 4045 and SB 1992 -- Scott expressed concern over risks to citizens’ safety that could result from easing or eliminating state regulations, which the governor has mostly denounced as impediments to business.
HB 4045 would have reduced regulations on assisted living facilities. Scott said he is concerned about the quality of care in such facilities in the state, and is setting up a task force to study their regulations and oversight.
SB 1992 eased background screening requirements on volunteers for state social welfare programs.
“I am vetoing SB 1992 because it will allow certain volunteers to work directly with vulnerable Floridians without first submitting to a background screening. That is a risk not worth taking,” the veto letter states.
The veto of HB 767 is in line with Scott’s overarching concern for taxpayers. The bill would have lessened the requirement that county governments lease property based on the land’s “highest and best use”.
“The requirements of current law serve to protect the interest of Florida taxpayers, and this exception to these accountability measures for leases of real property for terms not exceeding five years should not be created. Competitive bidding is fundamental for protecting the taxpayers’ money,” Scott’s veto letter of HB 767 states.
Republicans in the Legislature currently enjoy a veto-proof majority in both chambers, but since all of Scott’s substantive vetoes fell on minor bills, they aren’t likely to draw override votes, even though they were overwhelmingly popular with lawmakers. The four bills garnered a total of 30 negative votes -- 29 from the House and one from the Senate.
Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, and House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, have not been shy about using their veto override power. They called a special session two weeks after the November 2010 election to override several of outgoing Gov. Charlie Crist’s vetoes. But since Scott was highly supportive of their top priorities this year -- teacher merit pay, Medicaid reform, state worker pension reform -- their ability to override a veto is mostly moot.
Reach Gray Rohrer at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (850) 727-0859.