Florida Legislation Would Take First Steps Toward Withdrawing from OSHA

By Michael Boldin

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Nov. 8, 2021) – Bills filed in the Florida House and Senate would require the governor to take the first steps toward withdrawing the state from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), setting the state to implement a “state plan” in its place.

Today, Sen. Travis Hutson (R-St. Augustine) filed Senate Bill 6 (SB6-B) and Rep. Ardian Zika (R-Land O’Lakes) House Bill 5B (HB5-B) . The legislation would take the first step toward developing a proposal to withdraw from OSHA and assert state jurisdiction over occupational safety and health issues. The bills are part of the joint “Keep Florida Free” agenda that their respective chambers will pursue during the Florida Legislature’s upcoming special session.

Stating that it is “the intent of the Legislature to provide for the establishment of the Florida Occupational Safety and Health State Plan,” the legislation would require the office of Gov. DeSantis to “develop a proposal for a state plan to assert state jurisdiction over occupational safety and health issues for government and private employees.”

The legislation would appropriate $1 million to the Executive Office of the Governor from the General Revenue Fund for the purpose of implementing the act, and would give Office until Jan. 17, 2022 to submit a status report to leadership of the legislature that includes, at a minimum:

1. Timelines for the completion of the proposal and for the completion of the state plan, including the establishment of an agency to oversee the state plan, legislation necessary to implement the state plan, and the scope of coverage with respect to employees covered under, and excluded from, the state plan.

2. An explanation of whether additional employees, consultants, or contractors need to be hired to assist with the development of the proposal and the state plan and whether additional funds need to be appropriated for that purpose.

“If OSHA, the Department of Labor and OSHA, is going to be weaponized as a way to hold hostage businesses throughout the state of Florida, no problem. We want a different plan,” said House Speaker Chris Sprowls (R-Palm Harbor). “We want out of OSHA. We’ll submit our own regulatory authority and say goodbye to the federal government.”

THE PROCESS

Under OSHA regulations, implementation and enforcement can be done on either a state or a federal level, and should Florida successfully withdraw from the federal program, it would join 22 other states that are currently on a “state plan.”

Once a state plan is formulated, it’s then sent to the federal government, which must give it approval before OSHA withdraws its own resources. Some experts have suggested that the process could take multiple years.

And even once a state plan is approved, OSHA monitors those plans and requires them to be at least as strict as OSHA’s guidelines and regulations. According to OSHA, the agency “monitors and evaluates State Plans annually through the Federal Annual Monitoring Evaluation (FAME) process. This process is used to: determine whether the State Plan is continuing to operate at least as effectively as OSHA, track a State Plan’s progress in achieving its strategic and annual performance goals, and ensure that the State Plan is meeting its mandated responsibilities under the Act and other relevant regulations.” [emphasis added]

ENFORCEMENT

With just under 800 inspectors working for OSHA, and another 1200 administering the remaining state plans, federal officials have repeatedly noted that it would take the agency approximately 160 years to inspect every business under its jurisdiction just one time.

With that achilles heel in mind, sources close to the Tenth Amendment Center have indicated that multiple states are likely to consider legislation to not just set up a state plan, but ban the state from participating in the enforcement of the new mandates, relying on the fact that the person power and resources available on the federal level will make those mandates nearly impossible to enforce should there be widespread resistance on a business and individual level.

NEXT UP



SB6 has been referred to the Senate committees on Judiciary and Appropriations. HB5 has been referred to the House Pandemics & Public Emergencies Committee. Both will need to pass by a majority vote through those committees before the full chambers will have an opportunity to consider them.

Source: Tenth Amendment Center

Michael Boldin [send him email] is the founder of the Tenth Amendment Center. He was raised in Milwaukee, WI, and currently resides in Los Angeles, CA. Follow him on twitter – @michaelboldin and Facebook.

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