How Florida makes sure legislators debate major regulations

Last year, in discussing the idea of a “rules throttle” in North Carolina, I pointed to Florida for an example of a law that’s been in place and working.

My major new report for the Platte Institute on a “Nebraska REINS Act: A good-government way to provide oversight of major regulations” gives examples of Florida’s law working as intended.

Legislators are in the law-making branch of government. Executive state agencies are in the branch that puts the laws into execution. Legislators give them some delegated law-making power to craft the rules (regulations) by which the agencies may carry out the legislature’s intent.

Major regulations with significant economic ramifications for the state risk going beyond this delegated authority. Instead of an executive agency promulgating major regulations without any real way for legislators to double-check them, Florida’s law requires it.

It led to political wrangling, debates, and discussions — which are exactly the sort of things society should expect from policymakers discussing making a major change:

That was not the only time the law required the Florida Legislature to engage in an important debate over high-cost regulations. After a dozen nursing home residents in Hollywood, Florida, died in 2017 when Hurricane Irma left them without power in sweltering heat without air conditioning, Gov. Rick Scott favored new rules that would require nursing homes and assisted living facilities to have backup generators and three days’ worth of fuel on site.

The rules would cost nursing homes an estimated $125 million and assisted living facilities an estimated $244 million over five years.

The debate over the ratification bills (one for nursing homes and one for assisted living facilities) was contentious, the final outcome was not certain, and alternative proposals were also debated. Eventually, both ideas were ratified, and since then several facilities have been given extensions in meeting the mandate.

Jon Sanders / Director of Regulatory Studies

Jon Sanders studies regulatory policy, a veritable kudzu of invasive government and unintended consequences. As director of regulatory studies at the John Locke Foundation, Jo...

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