Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed a new law stripping Pinellas County's embattled construction licensing board of its independence and giving control to the county commission.

Legislators and county commissioners alike hope the new law will subject the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board to the oversight and transparency that they believe it has lacked.

The Legislature created the board in 1973 as an independent agency, reporting to its own governing board, so only lawmakers could change that. The bill the governor signed has been waiting for a decision ever since legislators passed it March 8.

"We're glad he signed it," Pinellas County Commission Chair Ken Welch said. "We can start to move forward and offer better services to residents."


Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board plays fast and loose with disciplinary process

Pinellas licensing board leader Rodney Fischer described as a 'bully' and 'suspicious' in clashes with employees and county officials

Pinellas licensing board executive director settled hundreds of cases without getting his board's approval

Times investigation: Pinellas County construction agency steered work to board member

A series of Tampa Bay Times articles detailed how the licensing board's leaders and staff operated without oversight or accountability, disregarding agency rules and state law. The series also raised questions about whether the agency, tasked with protecting consumers from shady contractors, treated either groups farily.

Under criticism from local and state officials, the PCCLB’s leader resigned and the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office had to step in to help the agency do its job.