Section 120.56, Florida Statutes 2009
120.56 Challenges to rules.--
(1) GENERAL PROCEDURES FOR CHALLENGING THE VALIDITY OF A RULE OR A PROPOSED RULE.--
(a) Any person substantially affected by a rule or a proposed rule may seek an administrative determination of the invalidity of the rule on the ground that the rule is an invalid exercise of delegated legislative authority.
(b) The petition seeking an administrative determination must state with particularity the provisions alleged to be invalid with sufficient explanation of the facts or grounds for the alleged invalidity and facts sufficient to show that the person challenging a rule is substantially affected by it, or that the person challenging a proposed rule would be substantially affected by it.
(c) The petition shall be filed with the division which shall, immediately upon filing, forward copies to the agency whose rule is challenged, the Department of State, and the committee. Within 10 days after receiving the petition, the division director shall, if the petition complies with the requirements of paragraph (b), assign an administrative law judge who shall conduct a hearing within 30 days thereafter, unless the petition is withdrawn or a continuance is granted by agreement of the parties or for good cause shown. Evidence of good cause includes, but is not limited to, written notice of an agency's decision to modify or withdraw the proposed rule or a written notice from the chair of the committee stating that the committee will consider an objection to the rule at its next scheduled meeting. The failure of an agency to follow the applicable rulemaking procedures or requirements set forth in this chapter shall be presumed to be material; however, the agency may rebut this presumption by showing that the substantial interests of the petitioner and the fairness of the proceedings have not been impaired.
(d) Within 30 days after the hearing, the administrative law judge shall render a decision and state the reasons therefor in writing. The division shall forthwith transmit copies of the administrative law judge's decision to the agency, the Department of State, and the committee.
(e) Hearings held under this section shall be de novo in nature. The standard of proof shall be the preponderance of the evidence. Hearings shall be conducted in the same manner as provided by ss. 120.569 and 120.57, except that the administrative law judge's order shall be final agency action. The petitioner and the agency whose rule is challenged shall be adverse parties. Other substantially affected persons may join the proceedings as intervenors on appropriate terms which shall not unduly delay the proceedings. Failure to proceed under this section shall not constitute failure to exhaust administrative remedies.
(2) CHALLENGING PROPOSED RULES; SPECIAL PROVISIONS.--
(a) Any substantially affected person may seek an administrative determination of the invalidity of any proposed rule by filing a petition seeking such a determination with the division within 21 days after the date of publication of the notice required by s. 120.54(3)(a), within 10 days after the final public hearing is held on the proposed rule as provided by s. 120.54(3)(e)2., within 20 days after the statement of estimated regulatory costs required pursuant to s. 120.541, if applicable, has been provided to all persons who submitted a lower cost regulatory alternative and made available to the public, or within 20 days after the date of publication of the notice required by s. 120.54(3)(d). The petition shall state with particularity the objections to the proposed rule and the reasons that the proposed rule is an invalid exercise of delegated legislative authority. The petitioner has the burden of going forward. The agency then has the burden to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the proposed rule is not an invalid exercise of delegated legislative authority as to the objections raised. Any person who is substantially affected by a change in the proposed rule may seek a determination of the validity of such change. Any person not substantially affected by the proposed rule as initially noticed, but who is substantially affected by the rule as a result of a change, may challenge any provision of the rule and is not limited to challenging the change to the proposed rule.
(b) The administrative law judge may declare the proposed rule wholly or partly invalid. Unless the decision of the administrative law judge is reversed on appeal, the proposed rule or provision of a proposed rule declared invalid shall not be adopted. After a petition for administrative determination has been filed, the agency may proceed with all other steps in the rulemaking process, including the holding of a factfinding hearing. In the event part of a proposed rule is declared invalid, the adopting agency may, in its sole discretion, withdraw the proposed rule in its entirety. The agency whose proposed rule has been declared invalid in whole or part shall give notice of the decision in the first available issue of the Florida Administrative Weekly.
(c) When any substantially affected person seeks determination of the invalidity of a proposed rule pursuant to this section, the proposed rule is not presumed to be valid or invalid.
(3) CHALLENGING EXISTING RULES; SPECIAL PROVISIONS.--
(a) A substantially affected person may seek an administrative determination of the invalidity of an existing rule at any time during the existence of the rule. The petitioner has a burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that the existing rule is an invalid exercise of delegated legislative authority as to the objections raised.
(b) The administrative law judge may declare all or part of a rule invalid. The rule or part thereof declared invalid shall become void when the time for filing an appeal expires. The agency whose rule has been declared invalid in whole or part shall give notice of the decision in the Florida Administrative Weekly in the first available issue after the rule has become void.
(4) CHALLENGING AGENCY STATEMENTS DEFINED AS RULES; SPECIAL PROVISIONS.--
(a) Any person substantially affected by an agency statement may seek an administrative determination that the statement violates s. 120.54(1)(a). The petition shall include the text of the statement or a description of the statement and shall state with particularity facts sufficient to show that the statement constitutes a rule under s. 120.52 and that the agency has not adopted the statement by the rulemaking procedure provided by s. 120.54.
(b) The administrative law judge may extend the hearing date beyond 30 days after assignment of the case for good cause. Upon notification to the administrative law judge provided before the final hearing that the agency has published a notice of rulemaking under s. 120.54(3), such notice shall automatically operate as a stay of proceedings pending adoption of the statement as a rule. The administrative law judge may vacate the stay for good cause shown. A stay of proceedings pending rulemaking shall remain in effect so long as the agency is proceeding expeditiously and in good faith to adopt the statement as a rule. If a hearing is held and the petitioner proves the allegations of the petition, the agency shall have the burden of proving that rulemaking is not feasible or not practicable under s. 120.54(1)(a).
(c) The administrative law judge may determine whether all or part of a statement violates s. 120.54(1)(a). The decision of the administrative law judge shall constitute a final order. The division shall transmit a copy of the final order to the Department of State and the committee. The Department of State shall publish notice of the final order in the first available issue of the Florida Administrative Weekly.
(d) If an administrative law judge enters a final order that all or part of an agency statement violates s. 120.54(1)(a), the agency shall immediately discontinue all reliance upon the statement or any substantially similar statement as a basis for agency action. This paragraph shall not be construed to impair the obligation of contracts existing at the time the final order is entered.
(e) If proposed rules addressing the challenged statement are determined to be an invalid exercise of delegated legislative authority as defined in s. 120.52(8)(b)-(f), the agency must immediately discontinue reliance on the statement and any substantially similar statement until rules addressing the subject are properly adopted, and the administrative law judge shall enter a final order to that effect.
(f) All proceedings to determine a violation of s. 120.54(1)(a) shall be brought pursuant to this subsection. A proceeding pursuant to this subsection may be consolidated with a proceeding under subsection (3) or under any other section of this chapter. This paragraph does not prevent a party whose substantial interests have been determined by an agency action from bringing a proceeding pursuant to s. 120.57(1)(e).
(5) CHALLENGING EMERGENCY RULES; SPECIAL PROVISIONS.--Challenges to the validity of an emergency rule shall be subject to the following time schedules in lieu of those established by paragraphs (1)(c) and (d). Within 7 days after receiving the petition, the division director shall, if the petition complies with paragraph (1)(b), assign an administrative law judge, who shall conduct a hearing within 14 days, unless the petition is withdrawn. The administrative law judge shall render a decision within 14 days after the hearing.
History.--s. 1, ch. 74-310; s. 5, ch. 75-191; s. 6, ch. 76-131; s. 1, ch. 77-174; s. 4, ch. 78-425; s. 759, ch. 95-147; s. 16, ch. 96-159; s. 6, ch. 97-176; s. 5, ch. 99-379; s. 3, ch. 2003-94; s. 5, ch. 2006-82; ss. 10, 11, ch. 2008-104.