Lawmakers, both returning and newly elected, returned to Tallahassee this week to participate in the 2020 Organizational Legislative Session where new leadership took over and newly elected members where sworn in. This year's Session was markedly different than prior years because of Covid. Guests and non-essential personnel were strictly limited from attending, making for a somewhat surreal scene in and around the Capitol that is usually packed and bustling in any other year for this event. It is still unclear how the Legislature will handle the necessary gathering of lawmakers, staff, and lobbyist in the midst of the pandemic, but leaders have announced they have have contracted with Florida based healthcare organizations, Tampa General Hospital and the University of South Florida in an effort to create guidelines and protocols for upcoming committee weeks and session.
In any event, lawmakers went about the task of organizing the Legislative body by swearing in Speaker Chris Sprowls (R-Clearwater) and Senate President Wilton Simpson (R-Spring Hill) in preparation for the 2021 Session slated to begin on march 4, 2021. The leaders set forth new rules governing the Senate and House and selected their top lieutenants to fill out leadership teams that we will discuss below.
Important Legislative New Rules
New Senate Rules
- Imposes an earlier time for delivery of committee meeting notices to the Secretary's Office from 4:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
- Permits the President to authorize a recessed committee meeting to reassemble on the same day at another place and time to consider items not reached on the original notice. The rule change further permits the President to allow an authorized recessed meeting to convene and continue to meet past 6:00 p.m.
- Removes unnecessary language and adds clarifying language.
- Allows member of a committee presenting the bill on behalf of sponsor to also present an amendment.
- Adds language that prohibits voting for another Senator during quorum call
New House Rules
Changes have been made to the appropriations project bill process to both streamline the existing process and increase accountability when appropriating state dollars to local projects.
Fiscal committees will have the option to consider noticed appropriations project bills on a consent agenda via a single vote. Members wishing to vote “no” on a specific bill or bills may do so by submitting a form to the committee or subcommittee before the vote commences on the consent agenda.
The filing process has also been modified to now require an attestation from the organization or entity for which an appropriations project request form was submitted. The organization/entity must attest under penalty of perjury that:
1. The information they have submitted to the member is true and accurate
2. Any inaccuracies will be promptly corrected
3. They consent to investigation of such information and any matter relevant thereto The attestation will be filed with the Public Integrity & Elections Committee, the committee typically charged with performing investigations on behalf of the House.
When an appropriations project bill is filed, the member will receive an email with the attestation form attached. An appropriations project bill cannot be placed on a committee or subcommittee's notice unless the attestation form has been received.
The rule also provides that a House bill is out of order if it funds an appropriations project in an amount less than 50% of the amount of funding proposed in an appropriations project bill as originally filed.
Amendments offered in committee must relate to the same general subject matter of the bill and must include any necessary title amendment. If the “relating to” clause of the bill is changed by an amendment adopted in committee, the bill will be automatically postponed, able to be considered at a later meeting in the form of a proposed committee substitute that reflects the corrected title.
Current germanity requirements will continue to be strictly applied to floor amendments
Legislative Leadership Announced
Listed below are the leadership position we know to date. Many of the committee chairs not named as of yet will be released shortly by the respective chambers.
|Speaker Pro Tempore – Representative Bryan Avila|
|Speaker-designate Sprowls said, “Representative Avila is a person who exudes the very best of service and duty that Florida has to offer. I have no doubt that his leadership experience and devotion to his state and country will serve him and this body well in the coming term.”|
|Majority Leader – Representative Michael Grant|
|Speaker-designate Sprowls said, “Representative Grant's experienced leadership and business acumen will help to guide decisions and shape policy in the Florida House. As the owner of a successful company, he knows first-hand how decisions we make here impact small businesses in Florida.”|
|Appropriations Committee Chair – Representative Jay Trumball|
|Speaker-designate Sprowls said, “Representative Trumbull has deep Florida roots and a strong commitment to serving his state. In the wake of Hurricane Michael's devastation, Jay Trumbull rose to meet the hurdle head-on. He is an undeniable leader who won't back down from a challenge and won't be afraid to make the difficult choices. Representative Trumbull is exactly the leader we need in our appropriations process.”|
|Rules Committee Chair – Representative Paul Renner|
|Speaker-designate Sprowls said, “Having served with distinction as Judiciary Chair, Paul Renner is being called upon to serve in a key leadership role once more, as Rules Committee Chairman. He will bring the same resolute fairness and integrity to this role that he has demonstrated throughout his life of service.”|
|Commerce Committee Chair – Representative Blaise Ingoglia|
|Speaker-designate Sprowls said, “Representative Ingoglia's passion for public service, his willingness to do the hard work to find good solutions and dedication to his constituents draws respect from his colleagues and the people he serves. He cares about the work he does and the people of Florida. It is with great enthusiasm that I appoint Blaise Ingoglia to my leadership team as the chair of the House Commerce Committee.”|
|Education & Employment Committee Chair – Representative Chris Latvala|
|Speaker-designate Sprowls said, “Representative Latvala is an experienced chairman and proven leader on education policy – an area where Florida has excelled. With goals ranging from expanding literacy among students to creating paths to careers for adults, Representative Latvala has the depth of understanding needed to lead Florida into its bright future in education and employment.”|
|Health & Human Services Committee Chair – Representative Colleen Burton|
|Speaker-designate Sprowls said, “Representative Burton has been a vocal and proven leader on health care policy and a strong mentor to her peers in our legislative body. Her longtime dedication to community involvement and public service means that she deeply understands Floridians' health and human services needs. I am proud to appoint her to this key leadership role in the Florida House.”|
|Judiciary Committee Chair – Representative Daniel Perez|
|Speaker-designate Sprowls said, “Representative Perez is a dynamic leader who will enact policies to ensure a fair justice system where rights are protected and every Floridian can feel safe. His public service and his tenacity has drawn admiration from his peers and his constituents alike. Representative Perez will be a strong and capable Judiciary Committee Chair.”|
|State Affairs Committee Chair – Representative Ralph Massullo|
|Speaker-designate Sprowls said, “Representative Massullo's commitment to solving real problems across the state and keeping government accountable is demonstrated through his legislative record. A doctor, employer, and servant leader, Ralph Massullo brings a unique and broad perspective to the House that makes him the ideal Chairman of the State Affairs Committee.”|
|Ways & Means Committee Chair – Representative Bobby Payne|
|Speaker-designate Sprowls said, “Representative Payne has earned the trust and confidence of his fellow Members. He never backs down from a challenge or gives up in a fight. He will apply common sense and conservative values to Florida's tax policy.”|
|Pandemics & Public Emergencies Chair – Representative Tom Leek|
|Speaker-designate Sprowls said, “The Florida House and the people of Florida are fortunate to have Representative Leek to serve in two key chairmanships: the new Pandemics & Public Emergencies Committee and the Redistricting Committee. He has demonstrated decisive leadership, impartiality and fairness as Chair of the Committee on Public Integrity and Ethics during the past two years – traits that will serve him well in his new roles.”|
|Public Integrity & Elections Chair – Representative Erin Grall|
|Speaker-designate Sprowls said, “While chairing the select committee investigating Chinese government interference in Florida's research institutions, I watched Erin Grall persistently pursue the truth. A highly skilled lawyer and a deeply principled individual, Representative Grall has the determination, the skill, and the character to lead the Public Integrity & Elections Committee. She is always honest and unwavering in her commitment to doing the right thing.”|
As the reapportionment process does not begin in earnest until later, I have asked Representative Leek to play a dual role as Redistricting Chair and Pandemics & Public Emergencies Chair. Also, I have tasked Representative Avila with the additional responsibility of serving as the point person and Member liaison for the House's internal COVID‐19 protocols.
Proposed 2020‐2022 Committee Structure for the Florida House of Representatives
– Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee
– Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee
– Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee
– Infrastructure & Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee
– Justice Appropriations Subcommittee
– PreK‐12 Appropriations Subcommittee
– State Administration & Technology Appropriations Subcommittee
– Insurance & Banking Subcommittee
– Regulatory Reform Subcommittee
– Tourism, Infrastructure & Energy Subcommittee
Education & Employment Committee
– Early Learning & Elementary Education Subcommittee
– Secondary Education & Career Development Subcommittee
– Post‐Secondary Education & Lifelong Learning Subcommittee
Health & Human Services Committee
– Children, Families & Seniors Subcommittee
– Finance & Facilities Subcommittee
– Professions & Public Health Subcommittee
– Civil Justice & Property Rights Subcommittee
– Criminal Justice & Public Safety Subcommittee
Pandemics & Public Emergencies Committee
Public Integrity & Elections Committee
– Congressional Redistricting Subcommittee
– State Legislative Redistricting Subcommittee
State Affairs Committee
– Environment, Agriculture & Flooding Subcommittee
– Government Operations Subcommittee
– Local Administration & Veterans Affairs Subcommittee Ways & Means Committee
Senator Aaron Bean selected as President Pro Tempore
Senator Passidomo selected as Senate Committee on Rules Chairwoman
Senator Stargel will serve as Chair of the Senate Committee on Appropriations
Senator Gary Farmer Elected Senate Democratic Leader
Senator Bobby Powell, Jr., selected as Pro Tempore of the Senate Democratic Caucus
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.