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Bill would let DeSantis appoint environmental leader without Florida Cabinet

Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed Florida’s top environmental official without Cabinet approval.
In August, Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed Shawn Hamilton as the secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection after Hamilton led the agency this summer on an interim basis.
In August, Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed Shawn Hamilton as the secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection after Hamilton led the agency this summer on an interim basis. [ Florida Department of Environmental Protection ]
Published Jan. 7|Updated Jan. 7

A Senate proposal filed Thursday would go along with Gov. Ron DeSantis’ contention that he can bypass the state Cabinet in appointing the secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, filed the proposal (SB 1658) for consideration during the legislative session that will start Tuesday. It comes after DeSantis in September unilaterally named Shawn Hamilton as secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, after previous picks for the job got the sign-off from the Cabinet.

Related: DeSantis appoints Florida’s environmental secretary; Fried challenges hire

The governor’s office pointed to a part of the state Constitution dealing with executive departments. That part of the Constitution says:

“When provided by law, confirmation by the Senate or the approval of three members of the Cabinet shall be required for appointment to or removal from any designated statutory office.”

DeSantis’ move drew opposition from Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who is running to be the Democratic gubernatorial candidate. Fried cited part of a law about the creation of the Department of Environmental Protection that says:

“The head of the Department of Environmental Protection shall be a secretary, who shall be appointed by the Governor, with the concurrence of three members of the Cabinet. The secretary shall be confirmed by the Florida Senate. The secretary shall serve at the pleasure of the Governor.”

Bean’s proposal would change that law to eliminate the Cabinet’s role.

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