Residents in Lee and Broward Counties took Gov. Rick Scott to the Florida Supreme Court this week. They’re trying to overturn Scott’s vetoes of state money owed to them after agriculture officials destroyed their healthy citrus trees. The homeowners also took the state’s agriculture commissioner to lower courts.
Nearly two decades ago, the Florida Department of Agriculture destroyed the healthy citrus trees of thousands of Lee and Broward residents. It was a failed effort to eradicate the disease citrus canker. This spring, the state legislature budgeted about $37,000,000 to repay those residents. Then Gov. Scott vetoed the reimbursements.
Attorney for the residents, Bobby Gilbert, said he filed a petition with the state Supreme Court, asking to overturn the vetoes.
“What we argued essentially is that the governor over stepped his constitutional boundaries, abused the discretion that's afforded to him under the constitution, and by vetoing these appropriations, he actually violated the constitutional rights of the Lee County home owners and the Broward county home owners,” said Gilbert.
In an official response to the petition, Gov. Scott said the vetoes were constitutional and asked the Supreme Court to dismiss the petition. And Bobby Gilbert, the attorney for the homeowners, sent the court an official rebuttal. So now he and thousands of Floridians are waiting on the high court’s decision.
In the meantime, Gilbert has also filed petitions in Lee and Broward circuit courts to force Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and his department to compensate for the thousands of healthy citrus trees they destroyed.