Thursday saw Gov. Rick Scott issue an executive order protecting the public’s access to the beaches, days after two women left a Fort Walton Beach after law enforcement invoked a beach-access restriction bill, HB 631, to ask them to leave.
The theory behind the enforcement action: that parts of what were formerly considered public beaches by customary use were equivalent to homeowners’ backyards.
Scott’s executive order effectively negates the controversial bill.
“Last session, HB631 was passed with overwhelming support from both Democrats and Republicans. Unfortunately, the legislation has now created considerable confusion and some have even interpreted it as restricting beach access,” Scott lamented.
“Today, I am ordering the Department of Environmental Protection to do everything in their power to advocate to keep our beaches open and public. Also, I am putting a moratorium on any new state regulation that could inhibit public beach access and also urging local government officials to take similar steps to protect Floridians’ access to the beach,” Scott added.
State Attorneys are also compelled, by the order, to protect public access to the beach.
The move was instantly snarked by the Florida Democratic Party.
“While it is welcome news that Floridians could now be able to access their beaches without fear of prosecution, this is yet another example of how Rick Scott will say and do anything to get elected,” snarked spox Nate Evans.
“Scott literally just signed the law that allowed residents to restrict beach access. These election year actions remind Floridians that Rick Scott has spent the past seven years as governor looking out for himself at the expense of Florida,” Evans added.