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Ag Commissioner Nikki Fried bemoans energy power grab.

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Déjà vu: Nikki Fried slams Energy Office power grab as attempt to ‘subvert democracy’

GOP seeks to move Energy Office.

Democratic Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried continues to weigh in against what she calls a Republican “power grab.”

Ahead of Wednesday’s House Appropriations Committee meeting, Fried again slammed a proposed committee bill moving the Office of Energy from her department.

Arguing that it was a “power grab,” the Commissioner made her case to media as legislators entered the building just steps from the standup.

“They say moves like this happen all the time,” Fried said, noting that she already knew what would go down in the committee.

Today, she outlined the effectiveness of the office: “funded by federal grants … efficient, cost-effective, does more with less.”

Fried noted that the attack on her office was unprecedented, “part of a larger plan to … subvert democracy” by giving “unchecked power to the Governor.”

A House committee bill (PCB ANR 20-01) would shift the Office of Energy oversight from her office to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

Bill analysis notes that before “2008, there was a state energy program within the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) that was responsible for developing the state’s energy policy. Chapter 2008-227, L.O.F., transferred all of the powers, duties, functions, records, personnel, and property of the state energy program in DEP by a type two transfer to the Florida Energy and Climate Commission in the Executive Office of the Governor. The Commission was responsible for the state’s energy program until 2011.”

In 2011, with the politically favored Adam Putnam in Fried’s office, the energy program seemed a natural fit for the department. However, the House proposal sees it differently.

“The bill conforms to the proposed House of Representatives’ Fiscal Year 2020-2021 General Appropriations Act, which transfers 14 full-time equivalent positions, $605,934 in Salary Rate, $539,080 in general revenue funds, and $1,214,900 in trust fund authority from the Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services to the Department of Environmental Protection,” the analysis adds.

Fried has sounded the alarm, even working to activate the Democratic caucus on her behalf.

As for the sticker controversy, Fried insisted they “worked” when it came to raising awareness for skimmers.

Fried also said that it took nine months to put the stickers on, “a lot of work … we’d be missing some other kinds of inspections” to remove them.

Last September, Speaker José Oliva decried the stickers in a letter, remarking that the expectation was that they are to be removed by July 1.

Rep. Evan Jenne likewise bemoaned the “blatant” power grab, “designed to make sure Nikki doesn’t get a win.”

Republicans were unmoved, meanwhile.

Chair Holly Raschein of the Agriculture and Natural Resources committee noted that unless the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services removes all gas pump stickers with Commissioner Nikki Fried‘s face, the department would be unfunded beginning July 1 … a sharp rejoinder to Fried bemoaning partisan attacks on her office before the meeting.

When asked if she was planning a run for Governor, Fried again said she is focused on her job as Commissioner of Agriculture, stopping short of answering the question

“A Democratic woman gets elected statewide,” Fried said, “and the old boys club can’t stand it.”

“It’s petty and absolutely pathetic,” she added.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at AG@FloridaPolitics.com

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