Rick Scott wants to be known as the job creation governor, but almost seven months into office he's become more known for what he's destroyed, or tried to. After killing Florida's federally funded high-speed rail program, and reports that he attempted to do away with Citizens Property Insurance, a new report claims that Scott was also behind a push in the last legislative session to completely eliminate the Florida Highway Patrol.
The FHP has been patrolling state-owned roads and highways since 1939 and has helped to take the traffic enforcement burden off local police departments and sheriff's offices while enforcing uniform traffic laws across the state.
Florida Highway Patrol troopers came close to wearing the green uniforms of Sheriff's deputies this past legislative session. The jobs of more than 1500 troopers were almost given to local sheriffs. It would have been the biggest outsourcing in recent history and it was backed by Governor Rick Scott. It was the Sheriffs, not the patrol, that pushed back and said no.
"If a deal was worked out, the funding might be here one year and the funding could disappear in the next legislative session," Harrell Reid, president of the Florida Sheriff's Association said.
Local sheriff's offices were worried that the move could also lead to higher local property taxes.
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That plan may have ultimately died this year, but Scott still seems keen on possibly eliminating or altering the FHP.
"It's good to have a conversation about how can we do a good job with what the state ought to be involved with in law enforcement," Scott told the news service.
The legislature also passed a bill amendment that requires a study of the possibility of consolidating all state-run law enforcement agencies, including the FHP and Fish and Wildlife Commission into one unit. Previous lawmakers felt it was best to keep those departments separate so too much divergent power and responsibility wasn't concentrated under one department.