Bill to give Rick Scott more power to pick judges stalls

By March 8, 2012

A bill from the State of Florida House that would allow Gov. Rick Scott to fire former Gov. Charlie Crist’s appointees and replace them with his own is now dead in the Legislature. What do you think?
Read the full Miami Herald story here.
By Katie Sanders
Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau
TALLAHASSEE — A proposal to give Gov. Rick Scott more power over the courts appeared dead Wednesday amid a disagreement whether Scott should have the power to fire people appointed by former-Gov. Charlie Crist to a panel that helps select judges.
The panels, known as Judicial Nominating Commissions, screen potential judicial nominees for the governor. A House bill, HB 971, would allow Scott to fire Crist’s appointees and replace them with his own.
Sponsor Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, said the proposal would allow voters to hold Scott more accountable for the decisions made by state judges.
But the Senate amended the provision Wednesday so that it would not apply retroactively to Crist’s appointees. Senate sponsor Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, said Scott had no intention of terminating Crist’s appointments anyway. “Gov. Scott agreed to it without any hesitation,” Simmons said.
But Gaetz said the change defeats the purpose of the bill and that he would not bring the amended measure back to the House floor before the session is scheduled to conclude Friday.
“The Senate bill preserves the dead hand of Charlie Crist,” Gaetz said. “So the issue’s dead.”
The Senate bill passed 24-14, with Republican Sens. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, and Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, joining Democrats in opposition.
Democrats said the proposal consolidated too much power in the hands of the governor.
“I think that by doing what we’re doing here, we’re deteriorating the entire process,” said Sen. Oscar Braynon, R-Miami Gardens.
Other Democrats said they would not be okay with the proposal even if Florida had a Democratic governor.
Read the rest of the story here.