February 14, 2020

TALLAHASSEE — Florida’s Office of Energy would be moved out of the agency run by the only statewide elected Democrat and into an agency controlled by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis under a bill passed by the House on Thursday.

The GOP-dominated House voted 76-40 to move the Office of Energy from the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to the Department of Environmental Protection in what Democrats are calling a power grab. Democrat Nikki Fried is the state’s agriculture commissioner.

“Under our Department, the Office of Energy is finally working, so let’s call it what it is – a power grab to benefit the Governor (and) slow down our progress on energy and climate change. I’m hopeful that cooler heads will prevail in the Florida Senate,” Fried said in a statement emailed to the media.

House Democrats also suggested the bill was politically motivated.

“I pray that we do not allow politics to hinder the progression of the state of Florida,” said Democratic Rep. Kimberly Daniels. “It’s a scary thing to do things just because we can.”

But Republican Rep. Rick Roth pointed out that the Office of Energy was once part of the Department of Environmental Protection and said it’s a good decision to return it to the agency.

“It’s not politics. It’s an effort to try to consolidate agencies that are doing like functions,” he said. “This is good policy.”