Mike Haridopolos Names Senate Committee Chairs
Around the State
As the Senate readies for its special session on Tuesday, incoming Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, named committee and subcommittee chairs.
“Selecting committee chairs has been a member-driven process,” said Haridopolos on Monday. “I took great strides in placing senators on committees they wanted to serve on. I asked each of them to list their top-10 committee priorities and based on their responses, I selected committee chairs. I especially want to thank Senator Dennis Jones, the dean of the Florida Legislature, for his hard work in assisting me in this process.”
Two Democrats will head committees. Sen. Gary Siplin of Orlando will head Agriculture, and Sen. Jeremy Ring of Margate will take over Governmental Oversight and Accountability.
Newly elected Republican senators did well. Incoming Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto of Wellington will take over Communications, Energy, and Public Utilities. Former majority leader and newly returned incoming Sen. Jack Latvala of St. Petersburg will head up Transportation. Incoming Sen. Greg Evers of Crestview takes over Criminal Justice. Incoming Sen. Rene Garcia of Hialeah will chair Health Regulations. Incoming Senate Majority Whip Anitere Flores of Miami will lead Judiciary while incoming Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla of Miami will wield the gavel on the Subcommittee on Ethics and Elections. Incoming Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff of Fort Lauderdale will lead the Subcommittee on Finance and Tax, and incoming Sen. Alan Hays of Umatilla takes over the Subcommittee on General Government Appropriations. Incoming Senate Majority Whip David Simmons of Orlando will chair the Subcommittee on Education and Pre K-12 Appropriations, and incoming Sen. Jim Norman from Hillsborough County will lead the joint committee on Administrative Procedures.
In terms of the Senate leadership’s team, incoming President Pro Tem Michael Bennett, R-Bradenton, takes over Community Affairs. Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, will head the Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development Appropriations as well as Reapportionment.
In terms of returning Senate Republicans, Sen. Charles Dean of Inverness gets Environmental Preservation and Conservation, and Sen. Garrett Richter of Naples will head Banking and Insurance. Sen. Nancy Detert of Venice will lead Commerce and Tourism, and Sen. Dennis Jones of Seminole will chair Regulated Industries. Conservative Sen. Ronda Storms of Brandon will lead Children, Family and Elder Affairs. Sen. Stephen Wise of Jacksonville will chair Education and Pre K-12 while Sen. Steve Oelrich of Gainesville gets Higher Education. Sen. Thad Altman of Melbourne will lead Military Affairs, Space and Domestic Security. Sen. Mike Fasano of New Port Richey will manage the Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations. Sen. Joe Negron of Palm City will take over the Subcommittee on Health and Human Services Appropriations while Sen. Evelyn Lynn of Daytona Beach will chair the Subcommittee on Higher Education Appropriations.
Haridopolos announced last week that Sen. John Thrasher of Jacksonville, the chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, will head the Rules Committee and Calendar Group. Sen. J.D. Alexander of Winter Haven will manage the Budget Committee.
One prominent Republican in the Senate was conspicuously missing from the list of committee chairs -- Sen. Paula Dockery of Lakeland. Dockery, who made a brief run at the Republican gubernatorial nomination before pulling out when Rick Scott emerged as the chief alternative to Attorney General Bill McCollum, has been an avid backer of the newly elected Scott. With Haridopolos not naming Dockery, who chaired the Criminal Justice Committee in the last session, speculation continued to grow that she would be named to a position in the incoming administration. Scott named Dockery to his transition team last week.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (850) 727-0859.