Mike Haridopolos Names Senate Committee Members
Around the State
Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, unveiled his committee assignments Tuesday, assignments that will shape the course of Florida government for the next two years.
“As I have mentioned many times these past few weeks, it is my vision to have the Florida Senate be a member-driven body,” wrote Haridopolos in a memo. “To that end I asked Sen. Dennis Jones and Sen. Nan Rich to ask each of you to share with me your committee choices in priority order (top 10). I have strived to give members their top choices. As you already know, every Democrat will be the vice chair of their No. 1 choice -- with the exception of one Democrat who will get his second and third choices because his top choice conflicted with that of one of his fellow members, and two Democrats who will chair standing committees.
“We are all elected representatives of the citizens of this great state so I believe we should all have the opportunity to serve on committees that interest each of us and best serve the voters,” added Haridopolos. “It is clear that the selections are a reflection of what your constituents are interested in and as well as what each of you individually can bring in the way of insight, experience, and in many cases real-world expertise. Individual members, I believe, are the best judges of where their time and energies should be directed. I personally never liked getting assigned to a committee I had little interest in.”
Haridopolos noted that he will make appointments to the various appropriations committees in early December.
“It is my hope that you find this new approach to committee appointments both fair and refreshing,” closed Haridopolos. “This is my attempt to give each of you a tangible sign that I want us all to get along and work together to address the needs and concerns facing our citizens and our state.”
While Republicans hold a four-to-three advantage on the Agriculture Committee, Democrats hold its top two positions as Sen. Gary Siplin of Orlando will serve as chair and Sen. Larcenia Bullard of Miami will be the vice chair. The other Republican members are Sen. J.D. Alexander of Lake Wales; Sen. Rene Garcia of Hialeah; Sen. Alan Hays of Umatilla; and Sen. David Simmons of Orlando. Freshman Democrat Sen. Bill Montford of Tallahassee will also serve on the committee.
Communications, Energy and Public Utilities
Freshman Republican Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto of Wellington will chair the Communications, Energy and Public Utilities Committee. She’ll lead eight other Republicans while her vice chair, Sen. Chris Smith of West Palm Beach, will lead three other Democrats. Republicans include Sen. Thad Altman of Melbourne; Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff of Fort Lauderdale; Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla of Miami; Sen. Greg Evers of Baker; Sen. Mike Fasano of New Port Richey; Sen. Anitere Flores of Miami; Sen. Evelyn Lynn of Daytona Beach; and Sen. Joe Negron of Palm City. Smith will lead Sen. Arthenia Joyner of Tampa; Sen. Gwen Margolis of North Miami Beach; and Sen. Maria Sachs of Delray Beach.
Republicans have a healthy advantage on the Community Affairs Committee. Senate President Pro Tem Mike Bennett of Bradenton will lead six other Republicans: Sen. Jim Norman of Tampa who will serve as vice chair; Sen. Paula Dockery of Lakeland; Sen. Garrett Richter of Naples; Sen. Ronda Storms of Brandon; and two senators from Jacksonville -- John Thrasher and Stephen Wise. The two Democrats on the committee are Sen. Tony Hill of Jacksonville and Sen. Jeremy Ring of Margate.
Environmental Preservation and Conservation
Sen. Charlie Dean, R-Inverness, goes from chairing the Agriculture Committee to leading the Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee. Sen. Steve Oelrich, R-Gainesville, will serve as vice chair. Other Republicans on the committee include Sen. Nancy Detert of Venice; Sen. Dennis Jones of Seminole; and Sen. Jack Latvala of St. Petersburg. Democratic Leader Nan Rich of Sunrise and Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hallandale Beach, are also on the committee.
Banking and Insurance
Richter will lead seven other Republicans against three Democrats led by Smith, who also serves as vice chair of the Communications, Energy and Public Utilities Committee. Alexander, Bennett, Bogdanoff, Fasano, Hays, Negron and Oelrich will be on the committee from the Republican ranks. Margolis and Sobel are the Democrats on the committee.
Commerce and Tourism
Detert moved from chair of the Education Pre-K-12 Committee to chairing the Commerce and Tourism Committee; Dockery will be the vice chair. The other Republicans on the committee are Flores, Sen. Don Gaetz of Fort Walton Beach, and Lynn. Montford and Ring are the Democrats on the committee.
Jones will lead Regulated Industries with Sachs as vice chair. Other Republicans joining Jones are Altman, Dean, Diaz de la Portilla, Norman, Thrasher and Wise. Sachs will serve with three other Democrats: Hill, Rich and Siplin.
Latvala, a veteran of the Senate who rose to majority leader during his last stint in Tallahassee, will head up the Transportation Committee, with Evers, who chaired the Roads, Bridges and Ports Policy Committee in the House, as vice chair. Benacquisto, Garcia and Storms are the other Republicans on the committee. Bullard and Joyner are the two Democrats on the committee.
Children, Families and Elder Affairs
Storms continues as chair of Children, Families, and Elder Affairs with Hill as the vice chair. Detert and Hays are the other Republicans on the committee while Rich is the other Democrat besides Hill.
The newly elected Evers was named to lead the Criminal Justice Committee with Dean as vice chair. Dockery is the other Republican on the committee. Democrats Margolis and Smith are also on the committee.
Wise will head up the Education Pre-K-12 Committee with Bullard as vice chair. Republicans Alexander and Benacquisto are also on the committee. Montford is the other Democrat on the committee and seems a natural fit. A longtime teacher and school administrator, Montford served as superintendent of Leon County schools.
Republicans have an overwhelming advantage on the Health Regulation Committee with 10 of the 12 seats on the committee. Garcia will lead the committee and Sobel will serve as vice chair. Altman, Bennett, Diaz de la Portilla, Fasano, Gaetz, Senate Majority Leader Andy Gardiner of Orlando, Jones, Latvala and Norman will represent the Republican caucus on the committee. Ring will join Sobel for the Democrats.
Oelrich will head up the Higher Education Committee with Siplin serving as vice chair. Republicans Lynn and Negron and Democrat Sachs are also on the committee.
Republicans also dominate the Judiciary Committee, holding five of the six seats. Flores will chair the committee while Joyner, the only Democrat on the committee, will be vice chair. Bogdanoff, Richter, Simmons and Thrasher are also on the committee.
Governmental Oversight and Accountability
Despite only holding four of the 13 seats on the Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee, Democrats hold the top two spots. Ring will chair the committee and Siplin is the vice chair. Democrats Margolis and Montford are also on the committee. So are Republicans Benacquisto, Bogdanoff, Dean, Fasano, Flores, Garcia, Latvala, Norman and Wise.
Military Affairs, Space and Domestic Security
Altman was chosen to head up the Military Affairs, Space and Domestic Security Committee with Hill as vice chair. Republicans Bennett, Jones and Storms and Democrats Bullard and Sachs are also on the committee.
Ethics and Elections (Subcommittee)
Diaz de la Portilla will chair the Subcommittee on Ethics and Elections with fellow Republican Detert serving as vice chair. Alexander, Dockery, Evers, Gaetz, Oelrich, Richter, Simmons and Thrasher are the other Republicans on the committee. Democrats Joyner, Rich, Smith and Sobel are also on the committee.
More than half of the Senate’s 40 members will serve on the Reapportionment Committee which Gaetz will chair; Margolis will serve as vice chair. Benacquisto, Dean, Detert, Diaz de la Portilla, Evers, Fasano, Flores, Garcia, Gardiner, Hays, Latvala, Lynn, Negron, Storms and Thrasher are the other Republicans on the committee. Bullard, Montford, Rich, Sachs, Siplin and Sobel are the other Democrats on it.
Thrasher, a former House speaker who is in his last months as chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, will chair the Rules Committee with Alexander, who will be leading the Budget Committee, as vice chair. The other Republicans on the committee are Flores, Gaetz, Gardiner, Jones, Negron, Richter and Wise. Bullard, Margolis, Siplin and Smith are the Democrats on the committee.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (850) 727-0859.