Complete with traditional pomp and circumstance, the Florida Legislature convened Tuesday for the purposes of organizational session. The 160 member body was sworn-in before friends, family, state dignitaries and staff. This process, pursuant to the Florida Constitution, must occur 14 days following a general election.
Outgoing House Speaker Chris Sprowls and Senate President – turned Commissioner of Agriculture-Elect - Wilton Simpson, formally handed over the legislative reigns to House Speaker Paul Renner and Senate President Kathleen Passidomo. This transfer of power establishes the commencement of a new era, ushering in a new Republican super-majority.
Upon the formal election of officers, Renner and Passidomo unveiled their legislative priorities and vision for the next two years. Speaker Renner and President Passidomo expressed many shared goals to address during their tenure. These objectives include confronting the costs of rising inflation in Florida through the reduction of taxes, addressing the insurance market, identifying and developing affordable housing needs and focusing on fuel and utility bill relief. Parental rights in education has also been long-standing priority of the Legislature. Renner and Passidomo vow to continue to fight for the next generation through conservative policies and appropriate funding, to provide each child the opportunity to have a world-class education.
Speaker Renner and President Passidomo emphasized the importance of long-term environmental and transportation infrastructure for the state. Renner announced the new House committee structure will allow for members to “develop strategic solutions for the future of our water supply, water quality, transportation, land conservation, and resiliency.”
Additionally, Speaker Renner introduced his plan to address the Wall Street ideologue policies and demands under Environmental, Social and Governance – or ESG. ESG scoring will soon become a factor in the state’s credit rating. The Legislature will introduce policy to ensure Florida’s credit rating is protected and that “fiscally irresponsible states like California [do not] receive a better credit rating than Florida simply because they embrace ESG’s political agenda.”
Renner also announced the establishment of a Select Committee on Hurricane Resiliency and Recovery to help the state rebound from Hurricane Ian and Hurricane Nicole and to prepare for future storms.
Prior to the Tuesday session, Speaker Renner and President Passidomo announced their leadership team for the 2022-2024 legislative term. Speaker Renner appointed Representative Michael Grant as Majority Leader and Representative Chuck Clemons as Speaker Pro Tempore.
Additionally, Renner’s expanded leadership team includes:
- Representative Tom Leek, Appropriations Committee Chair:
The Appropriations Committee produces the House’s proposed budget and conforming and implementing legislation. The committee provides legislative oversight regarding the expenditure of appropriated funds, reviews the Governor’s budget recommendations and agency legislative budget requests, and analyzes trust funds for creation, termination or modification. Additionally, legislation with a fiscal impact is typically heard by the Appropriations Committee or one of its subcommittees. Some budget issues within the jurisdiction of the full committee include education fixed capital outlay and state employee pay, benefits, and retirement.
- Representative Bob Rommel, Commerce Committee Chair:
The Commerce Committee considers matters related to Florida’s economy; business and professional regulation; energy, utilities, telecommunications, and cybersecurity policy; the regulation of insurance companies and financial entities; and gaming regulation.
- Representative Ralph Massullo, Education & Employment Committee Chair:
The Education & Employment Committee considers matters related to Florida’s education system, from early education through postsecondary education, adult education, and job training. Additionally, the committee has jurisdiction over policies and programs providing opportunities for all Floridians to prepare for the 21st century workforce.
- Representative Bobby Payne, Infrastructure Strategies Committee Chair:
The Infrastructure Strategies Committee considers matters related to infrastructure planning for Florida’s growth, including transportation, water, resilience, and land acquisition. The committee also considers matters related to Florida’s agriculture and citrus industries, conservation of natural resources, fish and wildlife issues, water quality and supply, and transportation services.
- Representative Randy Fine, Health & Human Services Committee Chair
The Health & Human Services Committee examines issues related to health care provider regulation, health insurance regulation, and public health. This policy area also includes the extent and manner in which government provides a safety net for low-income or otherwise vulnerable Floridians.
- Representative Tommy Gregory, Judiciary Committee Chair:
The Judiciary Committee considers civil and criminal law issues, including public safety and the administration of the court system.
- Representative Daniel Perez, Rules Committee Chair:
The Rules Committee submits Special Order Calendars for adoption by the House. The committee also recommends procedures for the management of the floor process.
- Representative Lawrence McClure, State Affairs Committee Chair:
The State Affairs Committee considers matters related to state agency governance, local government oversight and accountability, emergency management, administrative procedure, affordable housing, state and local government retirement programs and benefits, elections, and ethics and standards of conduct for public officers and employees, including House members.
- Representative Stan McClain, Ways & Means Committee Chair:
The Ways & Means Committee’s purview encompasses issues concerning all state and local taxes and select non-tax revenue sources, and addresses statutory and constitutional policy regarding tax rates, tax base design, and collection and enforcement parameters. The committee’s work also addresses debt financing policy, tax administration, and enforcement of tax laws
- Representative Mike Grant, Select Committee on Hurricane Resiliency & Recovery Chair:
The Select Committee on Hurricane Resiliency and Recovery will consider matters related to recovery from recent storms and lessons learned to achieve best practices for future storms.
President Passidomo announced a robust slate of leaders to round out her Senate leadership team. Passidomo’s appointments include:
- Senator Dennis Baxley – Baxley will serve as Senate President Pro Tempore.
- Senator Travis Hutson – Hutson will lead the Committee on Fiscal Policy – a new committee for the Senate. This committee will work in conjunction with the Committee on Appropriations.
- Senator Debbie Mayfield – Mayfield will serve as the Chair of the Senate Committee on Rules.
- Senator Doug Broxson – Broxson will Chair the Senate Committee on Appropriations.
- Senator Ben Albritton – Albritton will serve as the Senate Majority Leader. Leader Albritton also holds the title of Senate President-Designate.
- Senator Keith Perry will assist Passidomo in the implementation of her vision for the Senate.
The House Democratic Caucus elected Representative Fentrice Driskell to lead the minority legislative party. Upon acceptance, Driskell announced the caucus leadership team. Her appointments include:
- Representative Dotie Joseph – Joseph will serve as Leader Pro-Tempore.
- Representative Kelly Skidmore – Skidmore will serve as Policy Chair.
- Representative Michael “Mike” Gottlieb – Gottlieb will serve as Floor Leader.
- Representative Christine Hunschofsky – Hunschofsky will serve as Minority Whip.
Senator Lauren Book retains her post as the Minority Leader with Senator Jason Pizzo serving as the Minority Leader Pro-Tempore.