News Service Of Florida – Florida Politics

News Service Of Florida

The News Service of Florida provides journalists, lobbyists, government officials and other civic leaders with comprehensive, objective information about the activities of state government year-round.

AG candidate​ ​Frank White says he’ll ‘hold politicians accountable’

State Rep. Frank White, a Republican from Pensacola, decided to seek the statewide Cabinet position of attorney general after serving a single term in the Florida Legislature.

White graduated from Southern Methodist University, where he was the 1999-2000 student body president and where he also received his law degree. He is currently the chief financial officer and general counsel for the Sansing Dealer Group, which has stores in Florida, Alabama and Mississippi.

White is in a primary battle against Ashley Moody, a former Hillsborough County circuit judge, for the Republican nomination. The winner will move on to the November general contest to replace outgoing Attorney General Pam Bondi.

The News Service has five questions for Frank White:

Q: What reforms or improvements do you see as needed within the Attorney General’s Office?

White: I think Attorney General Bondi has done a fantastic job. She has done a wonderful job. She’s saved lives, particularly in the opioid crisis. I think there are some areas where we disagree. One I’d point (to) would be the identity of Jane Doe in the NRA’s lawsuit against the state. It’s just a difference of opinion where I think Jane Doe’s identity should remain anonymous. I think it’s really a difference in terms of emphasis. One important part of it (the job) will be government accountability, making sure politicians are held accountable. That’s just one area where I particularly want to focus on immediately.

(Has she not held politicians accountable?)

White: No, that’s just an area of interest, an area that I particularly think is important for us.

Q: What legislation of which you were the primary sponsor, whether it passed or not, are you the most proud, and why?

White: I’ve been in the House for two years and probably passed two or so bills in those two sessions. But one that I’m most proud of is one that didn’t pass. It was attempting to pull public financing of campaigns out of our Constitution. It was an issue that I didn’t know about until I decided to run for attorney general and realized we’ve given millions and millions of dollars to politicians — established politicians — to run political campaigns. I looked at the results of that program and it looked to me like welfare for politicians. It benefited incumbents and established politicians. I filed a bill to try to try to remove it. Pushed it successfully through a couple of committees, getting support of my colleagues. No surprise other politicians killed it. So, I wasn’t able to make it all the way to put it in front of voters. It’s something a majority of voters agree with me, that it’s a scheme. It isn’t right for Florida. In this race it’s relevant, because I’m not taking any taxpayer dollars to run my campaign and my opponent is. She will be financed by several hundred thousand dollars of taxpayer dollars to be spent so much more widely or given back to taxpayers.

Q: How does your work at an auto dealership translate into being attorney general?

White: My career in law started in private practice. So, I had a great foundational training as a young lawyer with a law firm with a diverse practice and then moved into a group of business, a group of car dealerships. We’ve got 600 employees. We’re in three different states. It gave me a real appreciation for the issues facing job creators in the state. … Being part of a business, I realize the risk that small business owners take. I realize the regulatory pressures. The extra costs of compliance with government regulation is massive and excessive. Just the complexity of it, you have to have lawyers and consultants to do just about anything in business. I understand the issues that you face in real time, particularly the cost of change in regulations. Not having a predictable business climate, a predictable market place, it means you’re not going to invest, you’re not going to invest your capital in a way that will create more jobs and create a healthier economy. Also, just working in business, I know what it takes to run a large organization.

Q: Where do you stand on the legality of Gov. Rick Scott‘s effort to remove cases from a state attorney who said she would not pursue the death penalty?

White: I absolutely support the governor’s leadership on this issue. It’s a travesty that a state attorney is refusing to pursue the death penalty. I sure wish she had said that to voters during her campaign. They would have been able to weigh in then. So, I support the leadership on the issue.

Q: And finally, the Barbara Walters question. You’ve got to make a meal for three people from anytime in history. Who’s at your dinner table and what are you cooking?

White: Oh wow. My wife is a fantastic cook, so I hope that she is with me in preparing it. If I’m involved, we’re grilling. So, it’s steaks or burgers will be served, with some fantastic sides and desserts, which are her specialty. So, any time in history? I’m going with the big man at (the) top. I’m going with President [Donald] Trump. I’d love to be able to spend some time and to break bread with him. Next, I would say, Gov. Rick Scott. He’s somebody who has been a fantastic leader in government and public service, somebody with private sector experience who has helped move our state into the future in real positive way. I’d love to hear his experiences, his perspectives. Beyond that, who’d be the third. … I’m a country music fan, I’d pull George Strait. He’s one of my all-time favorites. To be able to meet George Strait. But I don’t know how the conversation would go. I’m trying to mold it to have a good conversation. So, I’m going to take George Strait off. … So I might pull (U.S. Circuit Judge and U.S. Supreme Court nominee) Brett Kavanaugh. He’s somebody who is just an interesting and fascinating legal mind, an intellectual thought leader on the issues of an administrative state, which is a similar intellectual interest, passionate interest, and I’ve had some practical experience of that fourth branch of government that our founders did not intend to govern so much of our lives. So, to be able to talk with him about his judicial philosophy of the administrative state and how it has altered the structure that our founders intended.

Miami judge resigns amid ethics probe

A Miami judge who admitted using racial epithets resigned Friday, a month after the Florida Supreme Court rejected a recommended 30-day suspension and public reprimand.

Circuit Judge Stephen Millan submitted his resignation to Gov. Rick Scott Friday, saying “it has been my honor and privilege to serve the people of Miami-Dade County.”

In a unanimous order last month, the justices rejected the proposed sanctions against Millan and asked the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission, which investigates judicial wrongdoing, to conduct a more thorough probe.

The justices also rejected a stipulation agreement reached by the judge and an investigative panel of the JQC, in which Millan acknowledged that he used racially disparaging language to describe a criminal defendant and members of the public.

Millan also admitted that he conducted what is known as improper “ex parte communication” with an attorney, according to the agreement dated May 21.

The investigative panel found that Millan used the racial epithet “moolie” to describe an African-American defendant during a one-on-one conversation with the defendant’s lawyer. In another instance, while on a break with attorneys in his chamber, Millan instructed a bailiff to return to the courtroom and retrieve his wallet because he didn’t “trust it in there with those thugs,” the investigative panel wrote in its findings and disciplinary recommendations.

A defense attorney believed Millan was referring to his client or the client’s family or friends. The “ex parte” conversation involved a phone call Millan made to the defense attorney several days after the “thugs” remark.

The attorney said he was uncomfortable talking without the prosecution present, but the judge went on to talk about at least six of the attorney’s cases. In the stipulation agreement, Millan signed off on the suspension and the $5,000 fine recommended by the investigative panel.

The agreement said the judge had also “taken significant steps to address his misconduct,” such as reviewing “scholarly articles and publications about racial bias in the court system” and attending, at his own expense, a “seminar about racial fairness” in the court system.

“Judge Millan apologizes for his misconduct, and deeply regrets that his remarks have damaged the public’s perception of fairness and impartiality of the judiciary,” Alexander Williams, assistant general counsel to the judicial commission, wrote.

It is not unusual for the justices to reject recommended sanctions and order full hearings prior to imposing tougher penalties on judges who have violated standards regulating judicial conduct.

In his resignation letter submitted Friday, Millan said he would serve on the bench until Aug. 3.

Lawmakers weigh more money for state pot office

Less than two weeks after Florida’s new budget year started, the state Office of Medical Marijuana Use is asking lawmakers to set aside an additional $13.29 million to help pay for regulating the medical-marijuana industry and covering litigation costs.

The Joint Legislative Budget Commission, which is made up of House and Senate members, will take up the proposal during a meeting Thursday at the Capitol, according to documents posted online.

The office, which is part of the Florida Department of Health and has sometimes clashed with lawmakers, says it expects costs of more than $14.2 million during the 2018-2019 fiscal year, which started July 1. But the new budget included $935,400 for the operations, according to information submitted to the legislative budget commission. The largest chunk of the expected costs, $7.34 million, stems from plans for the office to issue licenses to an additional four medical-marijuana firms.

The licenses are highly coveted, and the department estimates it will receive up to 400 applications for the additional licenses. The information provided to the legislative budget commission says it will cost $18,354 to review each application. Also, the office is requesting $3.4 million for a computer tracking system that “traces marijuana from seed-to-sale” and allows 24-hour access to data from medical marijuana treatment centers and laboratories, according to the information posted online.

Another $1.67 million would be used to contract with a vendor for expenses such as processing and issuing patient-identification cards, and $1.5 million would go to cover litigation costs.

If the office’s request is granted, about $5.6 million would be released immediately, while another $7.68 million would be placed in reserve. The Department of Health would have to provide documentation to support the release of money from the reserve.

While the full House and Senate are required to pass the overall state budget, the legislative budget commission has authority to make changes during the year.

Supreme Court blocks appointment of judge

In an unusual move, a divided Florida Supreme Court on Thursday at least temporarily blocked Gov. Rick Scott from appointing a Jacksonville-area circuit judge while a legal battle plays out over filling the post.

The Supreme Court, in a 4-3 decision, rejected a decision by the 1st District Court of Appeal and effectively kept in place a preliminary injunction in a case that centers on whether Scott should be able to appoint a replacement for 4th Judicial Circuit Judge Robert Foster — or whether voters should elect a new judge in November.

The Supreme Court did not detail its reasoning, but justices Barbara Pariente, R. Fred Lewis, Peggy Quince and Jorge Labarga were in the majority, while Chief Justice Charles Canady and justices Ricky Polston and Alan Lawson were in the minority.

The majority ruled in favor of a request from Jacksonville attorney David Trotti, who wants to run in the November election to replace Foster in the 4th Judicial Circuit, which is made up of Duval, Clay and Nassau counties. Trotti’s attorneys allege that Foster has engaged in “electoral gamesmanship” to try to clear the way for Scott to make an appointment.

Foster was expected to leave office Jan. 7, 2019, which would be the end of his term, because of a mandatory retirement age. But on April 2, Foster sent a letter to Scott making the retirement effective Dec. 31, four business days ahead of schedule.

The Scott administration takes the position that the governor’s acceptance of a judicial resignation before the start of an election-qualifying period creates a vacancy that should be filled by appointment, rather than election. If Foster retired on Jan. 7, the post would be filled by election.

Trotti filed a lawsuit arguing that the replacement should be elected in November. Leon County Circuit Judge Charles Dodson issued an injunction that, in part, sought to block a judicial nominating commission from continuing with a process to recommend replacements for Foster to Scott.

The Scott administration immediately appealed, which placed an automatic stay on Dodson’s ruling. The case then bounced back to Dodson, who vacated the automatic stay. But the 1st District Court of Appeal then reinstituted the automatic stay — effectively allowing the appointment process to advance while the case continued.

Stymied by the 1st District Court of Appeal, Trotti asked the Supreme Court to step in and halt the appointment process, with Trotti’s attorneys noting in a filing last month that it is not a “routine case.”

In another document filed at the Supreme Court, Trotti’s attorneys argued that the injunction was necessary to prevent Scott from making an appointment while the two sides continue to battle about the underlying legal issues in the case.

“Given that the ‘vacancy’ at issue will not even arise for another six months, it would seem a simple matter to let the litigation play out and allow this (Supreme) Court (as the Florida Constitution envisions) to have the final say on whether Judge Foster’s successor should be chosen by election or by appointment,” Trotti’s attorneys wrote in a document filed Tuesday. “Instead, though, the governor’s approach has been to aggressively push forward with the nominating process and try to run out the clock on this important constitutional issue before it can be presented to this court on its merits.”

In a document filed last week, attorneys for Scott said the 4th Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission on June 20 sent the names of six nominees for Foster’s seat to Scott. But it said Scott has not made an appointment and argued that the Supreme Court did not need to step into the case before the 1st District Court of Appeal rules on the underlying legal issues.

Also, Scott administration attorneys pointed to court precedents that have allowed the governor to make appointments in similar situations, including in a case filed by Trotti in 2014.

“Here, the undisputed facts establish that Judge Foster’s resignation was tendered and accepted by the governor before the election process commenced at the beginning of the candidate qualifying period,” attorneys for Scott and Secretary of State Ken Detzner wrote. “The governor is therefore constitutionally authorized and obligated to fill the vacancy by appointment, and the secretary of state is prohibited from qualifying candidates for a judicial seat that will not be filled by election. Because petitioner’s arguments raised below are contrary to the language of the Florida Constitution and well-established precedent, the trial court (Dodson) erred as a matter of law in issuing the preliminary injunction order.”

Republished with permission of the News Service of Florida.

Florida asks businesses about algae blooms

Florida will survey businesses to determine the economic impact of the algae blooms spreading in the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries.

Gov. Rick Scott on Monday issued an emergency order Monday for Glades, Hendry, Lee, Martin, Okeechobee, Palm Beach and St. Lucie counties over the reemergence of toxic algae outbreaks on both coasts.

On Thursday, Scott’s office announced that the Department of Economic Opportunity has activated the Business Damage Assessment survey. The survey is expected to help the agency develop a business-relief strategy.

“It is important to understand the full impact that this situation is having on local businesses,” Scott said in a press release. “That way, we can respond to help provide the resources they need to minimize any impact.”

According to the release, “the survey will assess businesses affected by the event and share the results with various state and local agencies to implement appropriate relief programs.”

Lake O releases to resume Friday

Freshwater releases from Lake Okeechobee into the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries as a means of managing regional flood risks will resume Friday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Jacksonville announced.

The anticipated announcement comes as politicians continue to blame each other for the toxic algae outbreaks in the estuaries.

After touring impacted waters in Southwest Florida on Monday, Gov. Rick Scott issued an emergency order for Glades, Hendry, Lee, Martin, Okeechobee, Palm Beach and St. Lucie counties over the reemergence of toxic algae outbreaks on both coasts, which residents believe are caused by the releases.

“We acknowledge the multiple challenges in this system including this summer’s extensive algal blooms,” Col. Jason Kirk, Jacksonville District commander with the Army Corps of Engineers, said in a press release Thursday. “Through our federal-state dike rehabilitation and Everglades restoration efforts, along with the state and local community investments to control nutrients from the lake and adjacent waterways, we are collective on the path to remedying these multiple challenges.”

In response to Scott’s order, the South Florida Water Management District on Thursday announced it had started to lower water levels in conservation areas as a way to send more water south from the lake.

“These pumps will increase the capacity of water that can be moved out of Water Conservation Area 3B into Shark River Slough and into Everglades National Park by up to 200 cubic feet per second,” a release from the district stated. “Additionally, numerous other permanent and temporary pumps are currently being operated by the District 24 hours a day to move more water out of the conservation areas.”

In addition to increasing the flow into Everglades National Park, which will also start Friday, the water management district will slow flows into the lake from the Kissimmee River and other points north of the river, while moving as much water as possible into other storage areas on the south side of the lake.

The Army Corps had suspended releases into the St. Lucie Estuary on June 30 and into the Caloosahatchee Estuaries on Sunday so a full assessment of system conditions could be undertaken.

The lake level neared 14.5 feet on Thursday, the third highest for this date in 11 years. The lake level has increased more than a foot-and-a-half since May 13 due to record rainfalls. Rain over the past two weeks has caused the lake level to rise just over two inches.

Kirk said the discharges will operate below the limits allowed in the Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule for the next two weeks.

“We will implement pulse releases with variable flows that simulate rainfall events in an effort to reduce some of the environmental impacts,” he said in the release.

The Army Corps’ move to limit water levels in the lake is intended to reduce the chance of a major breach of the Herbert Hoover Dike, which is basically a 30-foot-high earthen structure that surrounds the lake. Last week, the corps said that $514.2 million is heading toward repairs of the dike.

The toxic blooms have sparked a political firestorm and erupted into major finger pointing by local, state and federal officials operatives.

Palm Beach real estate magnate Jeff Greene, who is running as a Democrat for governor, called the latest algae outbreak “a direct result of the system collapsing after 20 years of Republican leadership” after taking his own tour of the waters on Wednesday.

Scott, who is trying to unseat incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, has blamed his opponent for failing to push Congress to act on water issues affecting South Florida.

State sets deadlines for mail-in votes

The first ballots of Florida’s Aug. 28 primary election need to be in the mail by Saturday, according to deadlines announced Thursday by the state Division of Elections.

The July 14 deadline applies to ballots being mailed overseas to absent stateside voters as well as overseas uniformed service members and overseas civilians, Secretary of State Ken Detzner announced.

The initial window for supervisors of elections to get ballots in the mail to other voters is from July 24 to July 31. The last day for voters to request a vote-by-mail ballot is Aug. 22, and the last day for supervisors to send out the mail-in ballots is Aug. 24. Voters can also pick up vote-by-mail ballots from their local supervisor’s office up to the day before the election.

According to the Division of Elections, all 67 Florida counties will offer early voting at select polling locations from Aug. 18 to Aug. 25. The deadline to be registered to vote in the primary election is July 30.

State urges dismissal of challenge to gun law

Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office this week urged a circuit judge to dismiss a challenge to a law that imposes strict penalties on local governments and officials who violate a restriction on regulating guns and ammunition.

Numerous local governments and officials are plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which was filed in April in Leon County circuit court. The case is rooted in a decades-old law that gives the state power to regulate firearms and ammunition and “preempts” the ability of local governments to approve such regulations.

In 2011, the Legislature approved stiff penalties for local governments and officials who violate the state preemption law, including potential removal from office and fines. The municipalities allege in the lawsuit that the penalties are unconstitutional. But Bondi’s office this week filed a motion to dismiss the case on a number of grounds, including that the local governments’ arguments are “speculative” because the state has not threatened to enforce the law against the plaintiffs.

“Plaintiffs do not allege that any of the defendants named in these actions (or any other state official) has ‘actually threatened’ them (or anyone else) with enforcement of the challenged provisions,” the motion said. “Instead, plaintiffs allege only that, because they wish to enact and enforce ordinances that may be preempted … they are concerned that they may, at some indeterminate point in the future, be threatened with enforcement by some entity or individual they do not identify. Accordingly, these actions should be dismissed for a lack of judiciable case or controversy.”

The case has been assigned to Leon County Circuit Judge Charles Dodson.

‘Bastion of principle’ Nat Reed, longtime environmental advocate, dies

NathanielNatReed, an environmental advisor for six Florida governors and assistant secretary of the interior to Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford who was considered one of the founders of the modern conservation movement, died Wednesday. He was 84.

The Jupiter Island resident who started his career in the family real estate and hotel business, the Hobe Sound Company, began his state work under Republican Gov. Claude R. Kirk Jr. in 1967. He later was appointed by Democratic Gov. Bob Graham to the South Florida Water Management District, where he served for 14 years.

Reed’s son, Adrian, told The Tampa Bay Times his father died a week after falling on a gravel riverbank while fishing in Canada.

The environmental icon received bipartisan accolades as news of his death spread Wednesday.

“Floridians for generations to come are indebted to Nathaniel Reed for protecting our beautiful environment and our Florida Everglades,” U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, a Democrat who served as Florida governor as a Republican, said in a statement. “We will honor his memory by recommitting ourselves to being good stewards of our environment.”

U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, a Republican who at one time represented the Treasure Coast, tweeted that Reed was “a great man and mentor.”

Senate President Joe Negron, a Stuart Republican whose district includes Jupiter Island, called Reed “a resolute force of nature who devoted his life to protecting the environment of Florida and the United States.”

“I will personally never forget his unwavering support for the Senate Bill 10 EAA Southern Reservoir and his lifelong commitment to Everglades restoration,” Negron said in a statement. “Mr. Reed loved Jupiter Island, Hobe Sound and Martin County. His prominent standing in the modern history of Florida is secure and irreplaceable.”

And U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, praised Reed on the Senate floor Wednesday, after hailing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ support for the $1.6 billion reservoir project.

Reed was “one of Florida’s greatest environmental advocates,” Nelson said, adding that the state should name the new reservoir in Reed’s honor.

“It saddens me so much to announce this good news at the same time of announcing the death of one of the nation’s true environmental champions,” Nelson said. “Nat and I have been so focused on advancing this new reservoir project south of Lake Okeechobee … It would be a fitting tribute to name that project in Nat Reed’s honor.”

In 2017, the National Audubon Society awarded Reed its Dan W. Lufkin Prize for Environmental Leadership “for his lifelong commitment to conservation and role in protecting America’s Everglades.”

“Nat was a giant in conservation — that phrase is used a lot but in Nat’s case it’s true. His scientific knowledge and his passion for birds and wild places made him a hero for decades and Audubon will miss him dearly,” said David Yarnold, president and CEO of the National Audubon Society,.

Audubon Florida Executive Director Julie Wraithmell called Reed “a giant of a conservationist, with his fingerprints on many of the most significant national conservation accomplishments of the last 60 years.”

As assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior for Fish, Wildlife and National Parks, a post he held until 1977, Reed is credited with the crafting and passage of the Endangered Species and Clean Water acts.

In Florida, he played a pivotal role in the late 1960s in the successful fight to block construction of a new jetport in the Big Cypress Swamp, successfully convincing Nixon to withdraw funding for the project.

Author and Miami Herald columnist Carl Hiaasen tweeted that “the Everglades has lost a great friend and champion. Nat Reed was literally a force of nature.”

Among his many achievements in the Sunshine State, Reed helped found both 1000 Friends of Florida and the Everglades Foundation.

“He was an avid fisherman and golfer with an unparalleled passion for restoring the Everglades,” Everglades Foundation CEO Eric Eikenberg said in a press release Wednesday. “Personally, I’ve been privileged to know and work with Nathaniel over the last 16 years, and I am proud to have called him my friend. He was a master of words, bastion of principle, and a constant provider of sound counsel.”

Reed also served on the boards of the Atlantic Salmon Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, National Geographic Society and Yellowstone National Park.

The Bob Graham Center at the University of Florida noted on Twitter: “Mourning the loss of our friend, board member and inaugural Citizen of the Year Nathaniel Reed. Nat dedicated his life to public service and working to protect the environment.”

Photo: Camilla Cerea/Audubon

Court sides with FPL, Duke on nuclear costs

A federal appeals court Wednesday backed Florida Power & Light and Duke Energy Florida in a class-action lawsuit that sought to recover money paid by utility customers under a controversial 2006 nuclear-power law.

A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a decision by a federal district judge to dismiss the lawsuit, which alleged “unjust enrichment” and contended that the law is unconstitutional. Attorneys for the plaintiffs sought to recover $2 billion that they said the utilities had collected from customers.

The law, approved by the Legislature and then-Gov. Jeb Bush, was intended to spur development of more nuclear energy in Florida. But it has been highly controversial, as it allowed utilities to collect money for nuclear projects that might never be built.

FPL used a portion of the money it has collected to upgrade already-existing nuclear plants. But, for example, Duke in 2013 shelved plans to build two reactors in Levy County after billing customers for early stages of the project.

The lawsuit alleged that the law was unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution and that it is “preempted” under a federal law known as the Atomic Energy Act. The plaintiffs contended that, under the Atomic Energy Act, Congress did not intend for states to have a role in financing and promoting nuclear projects.

But in rejecting the Atomic Energy Act argument, the Atlanta-based appeals court pointed to a 1983 U.S. Supreme Court decision in a California nuclear-power case. It said the Supreme Court concluded “there was an economic (and non-safety) rationale for the California law, and this was enough to save it from preemption.”

“The (Florida law) is based on an economic rationale — whether flawed or not — that utilities like Duke Energy Florida and Florida Power & Light should be able to recoup from their customers the costs associated with a project for the construction of a nuclear power plant, and that they should not have to return the funds received even if the project is not completed,” said Wednesday’s 14-page ruling, written by Judge Gerald Tjoflat and joined by judges Adalberto Jordan and John Steele. “Plaintiffs point to no cases holding (nor authorities suggesting) that state laws promoting investment in new nuclear plants, or shifting the costs of nuclear plant construction, are preempted by the Atomic Energy Act.”

The Commerce Clause issue stemmed from a contention by the plaintiffs that the 2006 law discriminated against interstate commerce, at least in part because out-of-state wholesale energy providers would not be able to compete.

But the appeals court said such legal issues, involving what is known as the “dormant” Commerce Clause, are focused on out-of-state people or entities being harmed by other states’ actions.

“This is far from the case here,” the ruling said. “Plaintiffs are Florida electric utility customers. (The) utilities are Florida companies. Utilities are not ‘states’ such that their actions could give rise to (dormant Commerce Clause) claims from an out-of-state person or entity. Plaintiffs’ interests are well beyond the zone the (dormant Commerce Clause) is meant to protect.”

The lawsuit, which included one Duke customer and one FPL customer as named plaintiffs, is part of years of legal and legislative wrangling about the 2006 law. The Florida Supreme Court in 2013 rejected a challenge that was based on alleged violations of the Florida Constitution.

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