(1) Strict application of uniformly applicable rule requirements can lead to unreasonable, unfair, and unintended results in particular instances. The Legislature finds that it is appropriate in such cases to adopt a procedure for agencies to provide relief to persons subject to regulation. A public employee is not a person subject to regulation under this section for the purpose of petitioning for a variance or waiver to a rule that affects that public employee in his or her capacity as a public employee. Agencies are authorized to grant variances and waivers to requirements of their rules consistent with this section and with rules adopted under the authority of this section. An agency may limit the duration of any grant of a variance or waiver or otherwise impose conditions on the grant only to the extent necessary for the purpose of the underlying statute to be achieved. This section does not authorize agencies to grant variances or waivers to statutes or to rules required by the Federal Government for the agency’s implementation or retention of any federally approved or delegated program, except as allowed by the program or when the variance or waiver is also approved by the appropriate agency of the Federal Government. This section is supplemental to, and does not abrogate, the variance and waiver provisions in any other statute.
(2) Variances and waivers shall be granted when the person subject to the rule demonstrates that the purpose of the underlying statute will be or has been achieved by other means by the person and when application of a rule would create a substantial hardship or would violate principles of fairness. For purposes of this section, “substantial hardship” means a demonstrated economic, technological, legal, or other type of hardship to the person requesting the variance or waiver. For purposes of this section, “principles of fairness” are violated when the literal application of a rule affects a particular person in a manner significantly different from the way it affects other similarly situated persons who are subject to the rule.
(3) The Governor and Cabinet, sitting as the Administration Commission, shall adopt uniform rules of procedure pursuant to the requirements of s. 120.54(5) establishing procedures for granting or denying petitions for variances and waivers. The uniform rules shall include procedures for the granting, denying, or revoking of emergency and temporary variances and waivers. Such provisions may provide for expedited timeframes, waiver of or limited public notice, and limitations on comments on the petition in the case of such temporary or emergency variances and waivers.
(4) Agencies shall advise persons of the remedies available through this section and shall provide copies of this section, the uniform rules on variances and waivers, and, if requested, the underlying statute, to persons who inquire about the possibility of relief from rule requirements.
(5) A person who is subject to regulation by an agency rule may file a petition with that agency, with a copy to the committee, requesting a variance or waiver from the agency’s rule. In addition to any requirements mandated by the uniform rules, each petition shall specify:
(a) The rule from which a variance or waiver is requested.
(b) The type of action requested.
(c) The specific facts that would justify a waiver or variance for the petitioner.
(d) The reason why the variance or the waiver requested would serve the purposes of the underlying statute.
(6) Within 15 days after receipt of a petition for variance or waiver, an agency shall provide notice of the petition to the Department of State, which shall publish notice of the petition in the first available issue of the Florida Administrative Weekly. The notice shall contain the name of the petitioner, the date the petition was filed, the rule number and nature of the rule from which variance or waiver is sought, and an explanation of how a copy of the petition can be obtained. The uniform rules shall provide a means for interested persons to provide comments on the petition.
(7) Except for requests for emergency variances or waivers, within 30 days after receipt of a petition for a variance or waiver, an agency shall review the petition and request submittal of all additional information that the agency is permitted by this section to require. Within 30 days after receipt of such additional information, the agency shall review it and may request only that information needed to clarify the additional information or to answer new questions raised by or directly related to the additional information. If the petitioner asserts that any request for additional information is not authorized by law or by rule of the affected agency, the agency shall proceed, at the petitioner’s written request, to process the petition.
(8) An agency shall grant or deny a petition for variance or waiver within 90 days after receipt of the original petition, the last item of timely requested additional material, or the petitioner’s written request to finish processing the petition. A petition not granted or denied within 90 days after receipt of a completed petition is deemed approved. A copy of the order granting or denying the petition shall be filed with the committee and shall contain a statement of the relevant facts and reasons supporting the agency’s action. The agency shall provide notice of the disposition of the petition to the Department of State, which shall publish the notice in the next available issue of the Florida Administrative Weekly. The notice shall contain the name of the petitioner, the date the petition was filed, the rule number and nature of the rule from which the waiver or variance is sought, a reference to the place and date of publication of the notice of the petition, the date of the order denying or approving the variance or waiver, the general basis for the agency decision, and an explanation of how a copy of the order can be obtained. The agency’s decision to grant or deny the petition shall be supported by competent substantial evidence and is subject to ss. 120.569 and 120.57. Any proceeding pursuant to ss. 120.569 and 120.57 in regard to a variance or waiver shall be limited to the agency action on the request for the variance or waiver, except that a proceeding in regard to a variance or waiver may be consolidated with any other proceeding authorized by this chapter.
(9) Each agency shall maintain a record of the type and disposition of each petition, including temporary or emergency variances and waivers, filed pursuant to this section.