Senate committee TPs bill letting Gov. DeSantis appoint DEP head without Cabinet input
Image via Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

Shawn Hamilton
This bill had been poised to be through the committee process by the end of the week.

A bill set up to clear two committees this week may not accomplish that after the Environmental and Natural Resources committee temporarily postponed hearing it Tuesday.

Sen. Aaron Bean’s bill (SB 1658) would remove the requirement to run the new Department of Environmental Protection head by the Florida Cabinet, allowing Senate confirmation without Cabinet review. It was to be heard Tuesday in Environment and Natural Resources ahead of being heard Thursday by the Rules Committee.

That timetable is delayed now, at the least. Bean said the legislation, which amounts to just a few lines, is being “fine tuned.”

The bill would streamline the confirmation process for acting DEP Secretary Shawn Hamilton. The measure removes the requirement that an appointee to lead the DEP be subject to the concurrence of three members of the Cabinet.

The Bean bill contemplates no other changes. The Senate would still confirm the Governor’s appointee. The bill would become effective immediately upon becoming law.

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, a Democrat looking to challenge DeSantis in the 2022 gubernatorial contest, took issue with the timing of the bill when it was filed this month.

“Unfortunately, this is par for the course when it comes to transparency from Florida Republicans. DeSantis is too scared to have a real discussion about the DEP nominee so instead he’s having his allies in the Legislature change the whole appointee process and circumvent oversight from the Cabinet. Maybe now he’ll stop canceling meetings and start doing the state’s business,” Fried asserted, in response to an inquiry from Florida Politics.

Bean was not willing to say whether the bill was intended to check Fried, saying only that “it makes the DEP Secretary, like so many other secretaries, serve at the pleasure of the Governor.”

There likely will be little meaningful pushback in the Senate against the appointment of Hamilton, however the nomination advances. Hamilton has served 13 years at DEP. He has served as Interim Secretary since June 2021 and was Deputy Secretary of Lands and Recreation before that.

Even Fried said she would have voted for Hamilton.

Fried objected in September to DeSantis removing the interim tag from Hamilton’s title, saying she wanted the nominee presented to the Cabinet for “unanimous confirmation.”

The timing of the TP is notable, coming just days after the Governor’s Office submitted a congressional redistricting map radically differing from the maps from the Senate and House.

Even with the absence of Environmental and Natural Resources Chair Jason Brodeur, three of the five senators in attendance were Republicans, enough to pass the bill if that was their desire.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


3 comments

  • Alex

    January 18, 2022 at 7:20 am

    Sounds to me like the Rightislature is greasing DeFascists power.

    Next time when he picks a moon bat follower, he’ll claim “But nobody complained before when I did it” and Faux will repeat it, hence the ‘wingers will parrot it faithfully.

  • just sayin

    January 18, 2022 at 4:02 pm

    Does anybody ever sound intelligent when they misspell words to “own” the “other team”?

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