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Politics / Issues

Fried Continues Fighting Office Of Energy Move

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, center, said at the Pasco County Tax Collector's Office in Dade City that review times for applications for concealed-weapons licenses have been reduced.
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried used an energy grant to a South Florida City to hightlight her opposition to an effort to move the Office of Energy out of her department.

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried on Friday used an energy grant to a South Florida city to highlight her opposition to a House effort to move the state Office of Energy out of her department.

Fried appeared in Oakland Park to tout a $250,000 grant to retrofit baseball and soccer fields with energy-efficient LED lighting that is expected to save money for the city in the future.

“This local project conserves energy and saves taxpayer money and is just one example how our Office of Energy is working well --- and why it should stay in our department, its home for the last decade,” Fried, the only statewide elected Democrat, said in a prepared statement.

Fried reiterated her stance that a House proposal (HB 5401) to move the office from the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to the Department of Environmental Protection is a “partisan power grab” that won’t save money.

The House proposal would move the energy office’s 14 full-time employees, $1.8 million in salaries and trust-fund authority to the Department of Environmental Protection, which is under Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.

“I think that it's important. It’s a priority of the governor. It's where that department was originally,” House Speaker Jose Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, told reporters after his chamber voted 76-40 for the proposal on Feb. 13.

The office has been in its current location since 2011, when former Commissioner Adam Putnam, a Republican, led the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Senate President Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, has said the Senate will support the proposal if there is a “valid reason” for the move.