Recoiling from what she called a series of legislative power grabs by Republicans, the Democratic Commissioner of Agriculture rallied legislators Wednesday.
Commissioner Nikki Fried, who is facing a couple of bills that could erode the powers of her office, urged a “united front” among Democrats.
“We’ve constantly had targets on our backs,” Fried said. “Not getting our policies … good public policy that should be independent of partisan politics.”
Fried noted efforts in both the House and the Senate that would erode her department’s authority.
“Sen. Aaron Bean has a bill (SB 1758) that we are calling a kingdom-making bill,” Fried said, “that basically takes all the Cabinet agencies and takes them out of the purview of the Cabinet and puts it over to the discretion of the Governor.”
“That is everything from DEP to the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles to DOAH,” Fried noted, saying that for someone to challenge a rule, they would have to go in front of an agency controlled by the Governor.
Fried reprised comments from Tuesday when she had a media availability about a bill she decried as a “partisan power grab.”
A House committee bill (PCB ANR 20-01) OK’d Tuesday by the Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee, would shift Office of Energy oversight from her office to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
“It had been moved around for many years when it was created,” Fried said, noting that it has been housed in the Department of Agriculture for “eight, nine years.”
By Wednesday, Fried had not moved from that position.
Fried, who stressed putting “state over party” in public comments, has already begun committee fundraising based on the partisan standoff.
“Why is the Governor doing this? Because I’m fighting against climate change and he won’t. Because I’m doing great work to protect consumers and he can’t. Because I’m a forward-thinking, Democratic woman and he can’t stand it,” Fried wrote.
“It’s been efficient because it’s stable,” Fried said.