Joe Negron shuffles Senate leadership ahead of Session

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Senate President Joe Negron is shaking up budget-related and other panels, embarking on an aggressive round of leadership changes in advance of the 2018 Legislative Session.

Negron appointed new heads of five budget subcommittees, while changing the leaders of committees that oversee policy areas involving the environment, agriculture, utilities and elections. Also, Negron added members to numerous committees.

“In the era of term limits, I believe it is important for each Senator to be considered for the opportunity to participate in the committee process based on demonstrated competence, expertise, and interest,” Negron, a Stuart Republican, wrote in a Tuesday memo to senators.

Perhaps the biggest changes announced Tuesday will affect appropriations subcommittees, which play an important role in drawing up the state budget.

Negron appointed Sen. Kathleen Passidomo to replace Sen. David Simmons as chair of the Pre-K-12 Education Appropriations Subcommittee, which oversees public-school funding. Simmons will shift to the chairmanship of the General Government Appropriations Subcommittee, replacing Sen. Denise Grimsley.

Similarly, Sen. Rob Bradley will leave the chairmanship of the Environment and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee and become chairman of the Transportation, Tourism & Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee. Sen. Lauren Book will replace Bradley as leader of the Environment and Natural Resources budget panel.

Sen. Jeff Brandes is shifting from the leadership of the Transportation, Tourism & Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee to replace Sen. Aaron Bean as chairman of the Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Subcommittee.

While Grimsley and Bean will stop chairing the budget subcommittees, Negron appointed both to lead policy committees.

Grimsley, who is running for state agriculture commissioner next year, was appointed to chair the Agriculture Committee. In that role, she replaces Sen. Keith Perry, a Gainesville Republican who was named by Negron to replace Passidomo as head of the Ethics and Elections Committee.

Bean, meanwhile, was appointed chairman of the Communications, Energy and Public Utilities Committee. That position was held for much of the 2017 session by former Sen. Frank Artiles, a Miami Republican who resigned from the Legislature in April amid a controversy about vulgar and racially charged remarks he made at a private club. Sen. Kelli Stargel finished the 2017 session as chair of the committee after Artiles’ resignation.

Negron also named Bradley, who played a key role on Everglades-related issues during the 2017 session, to serve as chairman of the Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee. Bradley will replace Book in that role.

Material from the News Service of Florida was used in this report.

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