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2001 Opinions

Date:   August 30, 2001
Prepared By:   James A. Robinson
Phone:   (850) 488-7707
Suncom:   278-7707
Opinion No.:   01-15
Staff Contact:   None
MEMORANDUM OPINION
TO: Craig Kiser, Esquire
Director, Division of Blind Services
FROM: James A. Robinson, General Counsel
SUBJECT: Authority of Council Members
RE: My presentation to the Florida Rehabilitation Council for the Blind on July 27

QUESTION PRESENTED: What are the limitations on authority of council members?

CONCLUSION: Any action taken by the Council other than in performance of its statutorily prescribed planning and policy role in the Vocational Rehabilitation Program would be ultra vires. The expenditure of public money in connection with such action would be inappropriate.

DISCUSSION: I advised the Council that it lacked jurisdiction and authority to involve itself in matters other than the Vocational Rehabilitation Program (e.g., the Gifts and Donations Trust Fund), the Council asked you to appoint it as an advisory council for 2 purposes:

  1. To review and recommend on the investment and use of proceeds from the Gifts and Donations Trust Fund, and
  2. To review and make recommendations with respect to all programs within the Division of Blind Services.

The desire of the Council members to volunteer their time for these purposes is commendable. Unfortunately, I must respectfully reaffirm my earlier advice that there is no legal authority to support its request. As previously opined, the Council's purview is restricted to policy and planning within the Vocational Rehabilitation Program. As Division Director, you are not authorized or expected to abrogate, share, or delegate your duties and responsibilities, whether based on statute or rule or assigned to you by the Commissioner. I would also point out that Section 20.052, Florida Statutes, imposes conditions and requirements on the creation, functions and powers of advisory bodies, commissions and boards. This section reads as follows:

20.052 Advisory bodies, commissions, boards; establishment.--Each advisory body, commission, board of trustees, or any other collegial body created by specific statutory enactment as an adjunct to an executive agency must be established, evaluated, or maintained in accordance with the following provisions:

(1) It may be created only when it is found to be necessary and beneficial to the furtherance of a public purpose.
(2) It must be terminated by the Legislature when it is no longer necessary and beneficial to the furtherance of a public purpose. The executive agency to which the advisory body, commission, board of trustees, or other collegial body is made an adjunct must advise the Legislature at the time the advisory body, commission, board of trustees, or other collegial body ceases to be essential to the furtherance of a public purpose.
(3) The Legislature and the public must be kept informed of the numbers, purposes, memberships, activities, and expenses of advisory bodies, commissions, boards of trustees, and other collegial bodies established as adjuncts to executive agencies.
(4) An advisory body, commission, board of trustees, and other collegial body may not be created or reestablished unless:
(a) It meets a statutorily defined purpose;
(b) Its powers and responsibilities conform with the definitions for governmental units in s. 20.03;
(c) Its members, unless expressly provided otherwise in the State Constitution, are appointed for 4-year staggered terms; and
(d) Its members, unless expressly provided otherwise by specific statutory enactment, serve without additional compensation or honorarium, and are authorized to receive only per diem and reimbursement for travel expenses as provided in s. 112.061.
(5)(a) The private citizen members of an advisory body that is adjunct to an executive agency must be appointed by the Governor, the head of the department, the executive director of the department, or a Cabinet officer.
(b) The private citizen members of a commission or board of trustees that is adjunct to an executive agency must be appointed by the Governor unless otherwise provided by law, must be confirmed by the Senate, and must be subject to the dual-office-holding prohibition of s. 5(a), Art. II of the State Constitution.
(c) Unless an exemption is otherwise specifically provided by law, all meetings of an advisory body, commission, board of trustees, or other collegial body adjunct to an executive agency are public meetings under s. 286.011. Minutes, including a record of all votes cast, must be maintained for all meetings.
(d) If an advisory body, commission, board of trustees, or other collegial body that is adjunct to an executive agency is abolished, its records must be appropriately stored, within 30 days after the effective date of its abolition, by the executive agency to which it was adjunct, and any property assigned to it must be reclaimed by the executive agency. The advisory body, commission, board of trustees, or other collegial body may not perform any activities after the effective date of its abolition.
(6) This section does not affect the right to institute or prosecute any cause of action by or against an abolished advisory body, commission, board of trustees, or other collegial body that was adjunct to an executive agency if the cause of the action accrued before the date it was abolished. Any cause of action pending on the date the advisory body, commission, board of trustees, or other collegial body is abolished, or instituted thereafter, must be prosecuted or defended in the name of the state by the Department of Legal Affairs.

Please let me know if you need my further assistance in this matter.

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