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New dance in Tallahassee: Surgeon General sidestep

Scott Rivkees still isn’t officially on the job.

Some outstanding questions are still revolving around Scott Rivkees, who was picked by Gov. Ron DeSantis to become the state’s next surgeon general and head up the Department of Health.

And it’s not clear when some of those questions will be answered.

Here’s a quick summary of what has happened so far:

DeSantis announced earlier this month that he had settled on the chairman of the University of Florida pediatrics department to take over the large agency that handles everything from regulating medical marijuana to running county health department clinics.

But then it was reported that Rivkees — whose post requires Senate confirmation — was caught up in a sexual harassment investigation and legal battles since he came to UF several years ago.

Senate President Bill Galvano responded by saying that the Senate would not even consider the appointment during this year’s session, a suggestion that could have put Rivkees in a bit of a limbo, under the complicated process that now exists.

Rivkees, however, still isn’t officially on the job. And it sounds as if he is not expected to start until May 1, or just two days before the end of this year’s legislative session.

And so far, the Senate has not received the official paperwork formalizing Rivkees’ appointment.

Under the state’s labyrinthine process for gubernatorial appointments, the Senate can fail to act twice before that appointee must step down from the job. But it’s not clear when that process, and when that clock, will start for Rivkees.

The news coverage of Rivkees prompted DeSantis to publicly defend his selection earlier this week, although he also said that Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez was “in charge of the search” and that she felt he was the “strongest candidate” for the post among several that were considered.

He also maintained that while Rivkees had been “dinged” for some comments he had made in the past, the University of Florida had also vetted Rivkees.

So whom did Rivkees beat out? No idea. Attempts to obtain copies of all applications for the job from the DeSantis administration have not yet been successful.

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