House panel will push two major bills to reorganize state government

Feb 23, 2011

The following article was published in The Florida Current on February 23, 2011:

House panel will push two major bills to reorganize state government

By Gary Fineout 

Governor Rick Scott is gaining support from lawmakers for his bid to create a new centralized economic development agency.

The leader of a select House committee set up to study potential shake-ups of state government said on Wednesday that his panel will come up with two major pieces of legislation by late March.

One of the measures will suggest changes to Florida’s economic development structure, while the other bill will consider consolidating the state’s various health care agencies. Scott himself called for the creation of a new Department of Commerce that would fold existing economic development programs into one place under an agency head who would be “two doors down” from the governor. While many of the details are still to be worked out, there is momentum growing in both the House and Senate to go along with the idea.

Scott’s transition team had also recommended combining several health care agencies such as the Department of Health and the Agency for Health Care Administration, but leaving child welfare services in the Department of Children and Families intact. Scott, however, did not include the consolidation among his budget recommendations.

Rep. John Legg, R-Port Richey and chair of the Select Committee on Government Reorganization, said that any reorganizations suggested by the select committee will not be done to meet a potential target for budget cuts. Instead he said the idea would to consider changes that increase “effectiveness” and “efficiency.”

“Government has a tendency to pro-create itself,’’ Legg said.

Rep. Gary Aubuchon, R-Cape Coral and vice chairman of the select committee, asserted that after breaking up state agencies back in the ‘90s that there has been “mission creep” among some of them and it was time to end what he called duplicative services.