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Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried.

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House Democrats fail to defang bill targeting Agriculture Commissioner

A bad day in the House for Nikki Fried.

Democrats filed amendments to a bill that would remove a prized function of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, but couldn’t get them through the GOP majority Wednesday.

The bill is cued up for a floor vote Thursday.

PCB ANR 20-01, a bill deemed a “partisan power grab” by Commissioner Nikki Fried, would take the Office of Energy out of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

That bill would return the office to the Department of Environmental Protection, which held it until shortly after Adam Putnam became Commissioner in 2011.

The bill was on the Special Order calendar Wednesday.

Rep. Holly Raschein noted that the bill conforms to the budget, which moves the energy office out of Fried’s fiefdom.

Rep. Evan Jenne, a leading Democrat, questioned the need for the change.

Raschein’s response?

“Why not? Gov. Ron DeSantis has made the environment one of his priorities,” the Keys Republican said breezily, noting that there is no fiscal impact to the re-org.

Among the amendments: a Rep. Javier Fernandez filing called for a “comprehensive plan” ahead of the transfer, including how all key functions of the Office of Energy would be handled.

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Raschein deemed the amendment “unfriendly … at this time.”

A Rep. Anna Eskamani amendment called for a strategy to make Florida carbon neutral by 2050. It was also deemed unfriendly and tanked.

A Rep. Margaret Good proposal, withdrawn, urged a “greenhouse gas inventory and climate impacts assessment to establish a baseline against which progress on emissions reductions goals can be measured.”

The hits kept coming for Fried Wednesday in the House.

Rep. Holly Raschein previously reiterated the majority position: that unless the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services removes all gas pump stickers with Commissioner Nikki Fried‘s face, the department would lose its funding beginning July 1 — a sharp rejoinder to Fried bemoaning partisan attacks on her office before the meeting.

However, the Senate budget does not contemplate that outcome.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades. 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 a.g.gancarski@gmail.com.

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