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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Disability group wants to weigh in on Supreme Court case against Gov. Scott



Yet another group has asked the Supreme Court to participate in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Gov. Rick Scott's rule-making freeze. Disability Rights Florida filed a motion Monday asking for permission to file a brief in support of Rosalie Whiley, an Opa Locka woman who filed suit against the Governor last week.

In court papers, Disability Rights says the rule-making freeze, among other things, suspends consideration of extending Medicare waiver benefits to some people with autism, is delaying discussion of treatment for at-risk  juveniles with emotional disturbances, and slows implementation of rules for the Florida Division of Vocational Rehabilitation.

"Not only does this delay impose unreasonable burdens on individuals with disabilities, on a state-wide scale this delay inevitably will result in more citizens with disabilites no longer able to reside safely in their communities," say court documents. That means more people will be forced into institutions "which is both unnecessary and costly" and a "burden on Florida taxpayers," according to the motion. 

The rule-freeze was one of Scott’s first acts as governor, included in an executive order signed less than an hour after his Jan. 4 inauguration. More than 900 rules on their way to approval were affected. Many have received an OK from the governor, but many more are still on hold.

The Audubon Society last week also asked for permission to file a brief in support of Whiley, and the court granted that permission on Monday. The Court on Monda also ordered Scott to respond to the suit by April 25.

Whiley is a blind womanseeking to reapply for food stamps who alleges one of the rules on hold would make it easier for her to handle that task on-line. She wants the executive order revoked. She filed a petition in the Florida Supreme Court saying the freeze violates the state Constitution.

Among other things, the lawsuit alleges Scott is usurping the power given by the Legislature to agency heads to make rules. It also charges the standards for reviewing agency rules are too vague, and that the executive order keeps the Secretary of State from publishing rules as required by Florida law.

[Last modified: Monday, April 4, 2011 6:57pm]


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