Scott Starts With Four Executive Orders

Tallahassee, FL – Governor Scott's first official act in office which came immediately after he was sworn in. He signed four executive orders, saying his goal is to transform Florida's government and make this the most business friendly environment in the country. Gina Jordan reports the new governor is taking action on ethics, undocumented workers, and discrimination.

During his inaugural speech, Scott said three forces make up the Axis of Unemployment: taxation, regulation, and litigation. He took steps in his first executive order to alleviate one of those by creating the office of Fiscal Accountability and Regulatory Reform.

"It's gonna freeze rule-making of all government agencies. It's gonna create the office. The first director will be Jerry McDaniel. We're gonna impose a 90 day
suspension on execution of any contracts with a value in excess of one million dollars without the approval from the office. The director will review all those regulations, or all those contracts. The goal of this is Florida will be fiscally responsible, no different than what you would do in a company."

That means no agencies that report to the governor can adopt new rules without approval from the reform office. Lance deHaven-Smith, professor of public administration at Florida State University, wonders how the order will work with the existing regulatory structure and the legal requirements attached.

"It's unclear to me how you override all of that. The other issue is that a lot of these regulations are implementing federal law and federal regulations. Our Department of Environmental Protection and our water management districts handle a lot of federal permitting requirements and you're not gonna undo those."

The next order requires the employment eligibility of all current and prospective state workers to be verified. That includes anyone who contracts through state agencies or performs any sort of state-related work. Their immigration status must be checked through a federal internet-based program called E-Verify. DeHaven-Smith sees this as a potential problem for contractors.

"A lot of the work that's done on the state is highway construction, and parks
and road maintenance, and maintaining the state buildings and so on, and these are generally just labor. So it could be an issue for them."

The third executive order signed by Governor Scott relates to Ethics and Open Government. It seeks a stronger code of ethics in the governor's office and state agencies, and calls for a plan to enact the recommendations of a statewide grand jury that found corruption to be widespread at all levels of government.

"It reaffirms a commitment to the Office of Open Government and orders establishment of a new website providing access to accountability information. Again, I believe Floridians have a right to know how their money is being spent."

Jim Rhea is director of the non-profit First Amendment Foundation in Tallahassee. He says reestablishing the office that was created by Governor Charlie Crist is a great step to ensuring continued transparency and access.

"In Florida, we have a Constitutional right of access to public records, and the
Office of Open Government has been very helpful in solving issues where people were not being given records that they had requested which they had a right to get."

The fourth and final executive order signed by Scott on his first official day in office relates to diversity in the state's hiring practices.

"It reaffirms the prohibition on discrimination in employment based on race, gender, creed, color, or national origin; and affirms commitment to hiring, retaining, promoting the highest quality candidates regardless of the above."

DeHaven-Smith says this appears to be a continuation of the One Florida Initiative instituted under Governor Jeb Bush, which eliminated racial and ethnic preferences known as affirmative action.

"I think that's what being said is, well, we're not going to go back to that.
We're gonna prohibit discrimination, and that's the way it's thought, that the affirmative action would be a form of discrimination. So now, we're saying we're not gonna do that."

Wrapping up the signing ceremony, Governor Scott said another of his goals is for the administration to do everything it can to make sure all Floridians have opportunities.