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At AP Day, Nikki Fried addresses the Tallahassee press corps.

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Budget conference: Senate makes sure Energy Office remains under Nikki Fried’s purview

A proposed shift had been labeled by critics as a power grab.

A push to shift oversight for the Office of Energy from Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried to Gov. Ron DeSantis didn’t survive budget talks with the House and Senate.

The House had passed legislation that would transfer the Office of Energy from the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The Senate has not moved the bill.

That bill would return the office to the Department of Environmental Protection. Before 2008, DEP handled the state’s energy policy. The office was moved to the Agriculture Department in 2011.

But Fried had slammed the attempted “power grab … part of a larger plan to … subvert democracy” by giving “unchecked power to the Governor.”

Speaker Jose Oliva defended the move as “a priority of the Governor.” But that ultimately wasn’t enough reason for the Senate to go along with the move.

“I’m not even sure there’s a Senate bill on that issue and I would not consider that a priority of the Senate,” Senate Budget Chair Rob Bradley said earlier this year.

The budget negotiated between Bradley and House Appropriations Chair Travis Cummings did not include the controversial reorganization.

That marks a significant victory for Fried, the only Democrat currently holding statewide office. That also happened after a provision to put more oversight of DEP was left out of an environmental bill passed by the Legislature.

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A.G. Gancarski reporting used for this report.

Written By

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at jacobogles@hotmail.com.

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