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On Wednesday, new state Senate President Wilton Simpson, R-Spring Hill, announced he will create a Select Committee on Pandemic Preparedness and Response as Florida continues to grapple with COVID-19.

Simpson announced the new select committee in a memo sent out on Wednesday. Newly elected Sen. Danny Burgess, R-Zephyrhills, will lead the select committee with state Sen. Randolph Bracy, D-Orlando, as vice chair.

“The select committee will review all facets of the state response to the ongoing pandemic, and identify, as necessary, areas where there may be a specific role for the Legislature to make improvements to benefit our state moving forward,” Simpson noted in the memo.

In the meantime, Simpson passed for the moment on naming leadership to tackle redistricting.

“As mentioned in a prior communication, I do not intend to make appointments to the Committee on Reapportionment until we get a little closer to the timeframe when the bulk of the committee work in this subject area will occur. I will provide updates regarding that specific timeframe as they become available,” Simpson wrote.

Simpson did name chairs and vice chairs for the other committees though he plans to name members to the committees in the days to come.

“The day-to-day, year-round work that takes places within our Senate committees is a critical component of the legislative process. In my view, the tremendous responsibility to chair a Senate committee is the most significant and impactful leadership role senators have during their tenure. With this in mind, over the last several weeks, I have been considering our committee structure, and which senators I believe can best serve the Senate in various committee leadership positions. I have attached a list of chair and vice chair assignments by committee. Moving forward, I have requested that the staff director assigned to each committee contact the chair and vice chair by the end of the week to begin the process of formulating a schedule for the upcoming interim committee weeks,” Simpson wrote.

Simpson reached across the aisle to tap Sen. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, to lead the Agriculture Committee. Sen. Jennifer Bradley, R-Orange Park, will serve as the vice chairwoman.

Having already tapped Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, to lead the Appropriations Committee, Simpson turned to Senate President Pro Tempore Aaron Bean, R-Jacksonville, to be its vice chairman. Sen. Ben Albritton will chair the Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Environment and General Government with Sen. Ray Rodrigues, R-Fort Myers, as the vice chairman. Sen. Keith Perry, R-Gainesville, will lead the Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice and Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg will be the vice chairman. Sen. Doug Broxson, R-Pensacola, will wield the gavel on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Education with Sen. Manny Diaz, R-Hialeah Gardens, as the vice chairman. Bean will lead the Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services with Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez, R-Doral, as vice chairwoman. Over at the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development, Sen. George Gainer, R-Panama City, will be the chairman with Sen. Ed Hooper, R-Palm Harbor, as the vice chairman.

Sen. Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton, will chair the Banking and Insurance Committee with Broxson as vice chairman.

Simpson tapped state Sen. Lauren Book, D-Plantation, to chair the Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee with Albritton as the vice chairman.

Hooper will lead the Commerce and Tourism Committee with Sen. Tom Wright, R-Port Orange, as the vice chairman.

Bradley will chair the Community Affairs Committee with Sen. Ileana Garcia, R-Miami, as the vice chairwoman.

Sen. Jason Pizzo, D-Miami, was tapped to lead the Criminal Justice Committee with Brandes as vice chairman.

Sen. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, will lead the Education Committee with Sen. Shev Jones, D-West Park, as the vice chairman.

The Environment and Natural Resources Committee will have Sen. Jason Brodeur, R-Oviedo, as the chairman with Sen. Linda Stewart, D-Orlando, as the vice chairwoman.

Sen. Dennis Baxley, R-Lady Lake, will lead the Ethics and Elections Committee with Sen. Annette Taddeo, D-Miami, serving as the vice chairwoman.

Rodriguez will head up the Finance and Tax Committee with Sen. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, as the vice chairwoman.

Rodrigues will lead the Governmental Oversight and Accountability with Gruters as vice chairman.

Simpson opted for Diaz to lead the Health Policy Committee with Brodeur as the vice chairman.

Brandes will lead the Judiciary Committee with Sen. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville, as the vice chairwoman.

Wright will helm the Military and Veterans Affairs, Space and Domestic Security Committee with Sen. Gayle Harrell, R-Stuart, as vice chairwoman.

Sen. Travis Hutson, R-Palm Coast, will chair the Regulated Industries Committee with Book as the vice chairwoman.

The Rules Committee will be chaired by Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, with Garcia as vice chairwoman.

Harrell will lead the Transportation Committee with Perry as vice chairman.

Stargel will be the alternate chair of the Joint Legislative Budget Commission. Albritton will be the alternate chair of Joint Administrative Procedures Committee. Sen. Bobby Powell, D-West Palm Brach, will be the alternate chair of the Joint Committee on Public Counsel Oversight while Baxley will be the alternate chair of the Joint Legislative Auditing Committee. Rodrigues will be the alternate chair of the Joint Select Committee on Collective Bargaining.


Reach Kevin Derby at kevin.derby@floridadaily.com.


Kevin Derby
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