It seemed that in 2017, Jeff Brandes was involved in every facet of public policy in Tallahassee, introducing 43 separate bills for consideration even before Session began.
A year ago, the St. Petersburg Republican co-sponsored the initiative in the Legislature that led to the August passage of Amendment 4, the constitutional amendment giving tax breaks to companies that buy and install solar devices and equipment.
In the recently ended Session, Brandes sponsored bills on autonomous vehicles (where he has been the key legislative figure to push that technology in Florida), a task force on criminal justice reform, landmark legislation for regulating Uber and Lyft statewide, as well as the most “progressive” of five medical marijuana bills proposed in the Senate.
Initially sent to the Florida House in 2010 and the Senate in 2012, the 41-year-old former Iraq War veteran is content (for now) to wield increasing power in the State Capitol, declining entreaties from local Republicans to consider a run for St. Petersburg mayor against Democratic incumbent Rick Kriseman.
Brandes advanced three places from his 2016 showing, going from eighth to fifth.
Joe Henderson’s Take
“Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like every time I turn around there is a headline with Brandes’ name. Most of them are good (he is an outspoken champion for improving transportation), but let me take advantage of this stage to make a request: Drop the whole civil liberties argument when it comes to passing a law that would make texting while driving a primary offense. You know it’s dangerous. I know it’s dangerous. Everyone does. Stop the charade. Carry on.”
For a complete explanation of how this list was created and who made up the panel that amassed it, please read here.