Lesser Known Aspects of the APA.

Author:Belz, Richard A.
Position:Florida's Administrative Procedure Act
 
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If you asked an attorney who the major actor is within Florida's administrative procedure process, the response would likely be the Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH) (1). There are other lesser-known agencies of which all attorneys should be aware, such as the Administration Commission, the Joint Administrative Procedures Committee (JAPC), and the Department of State. These agencies act in accordance with the Florida Administrative Procedure Act (APA). (2) This article is not a procedural manual, but an explanation of some of the important sources of information regarding the APA.

Administration Commission

The Florida Legislature created the Administration Commission, (3) which consists of the governor and cabinet. (4) For administrative purposes, it is situated within the executive office of the governor. (5) The governor is the chair of the commission, and affirmative action requires the approval of the governor and at least two other members of the commission. (6) The commission's statement of agency organization and operation (7) lists the following duties pursuant to the APA:

* Adopt uniform rules of procedure to comply with requirements of the Administrative Procedures Act; (8)

* Adopt rules for granting or denying petitions for variances and waivers to requirements of the uniform rules; (9)

* Consider agency applications for exemptions from the processes or proceedings governed by the APA; (10)

* Appoint the [d]irector of DOAH and receive annual reports[] and hear appeals of Executive Office of Gover nor actions that affect amendments to DOAH's approved operating budget or any personnel actions; (11)

* Appoint an attorney to serve as administrative law judge in hearings in which DOAH is a party; (12)

The statement of agency organization and operation (13) shows the commission's myriad duties and also provides contact information for the commission's clerk and other useful information. An additional resource available online is the final orders of the commission issued since July 1, 2015, which may be accessed through the consolidated database maintained by DOAH. (14)

The commission maintains machine-readable, yearly subject-matter indexes of all final orders required by F.S. [section]120.53, although they are not accessible online. The individual year indexes are available for download in PDF format upon request from the clerk of the commission. However, the indexes only cover final orders issued since 1989. (15) This severely impacts research of commission decisions made during the early days of the APA, including those regarding time-limited exemptions considered under F.S. [section]120.63. (16) The agendas, minutes, videos, and transcripts of the meetings of the cabinet for the current year are online, as are the videos and transcripts of the precursor meetings of the cabinet aides. (17) Savvy practitioners know to attend the cabinet aides' meeting whenever a matter affecting one of their clients is on the cabinet's agenda. Attending the meetings provides an avenue to ensure that the issues are fairly presented and will be understood by the individual cabinet members. Agendas, minutes, and other documents dating back to 1995 are also available online, (18) although further back in time, there is less and less detailed material available.

JAPC

The Joint Administrative Procedures Committee (JAPC) is a joint standing committee of the Florida Legislature. (19) It is currently composed of five senators appointed by the president of the Senate and six representatives appointed by the speaker of the House. (20)

The primary function of the JAPC is to review agency action pursuant to the operation of the APA, particularly as these actions relate to the rulemaking process. The JAPC is responsible for ensuring that the rules promulgated by agencies do not create new law, but rather stay within the authority specifically delegated by the legislature as...

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