At Tuesday’s Organization Session in Tallahassee, all 40 state senators elected earlier this month will take their oath in office.
Both senators representing Hillsborough County, Darryl Rouson and Dana Young, are new to the job, though not to the Legislature.
Young returns to Tallahassee having fulfilled her goal of advancing into the Senate after six years in the Florida House.
The newly created state Senate District 18 she now represents includes more than half of the same boundaries of her House District 60 seat, and she was more than ready to began campaigning for it once she declared she was in the running back in January, staving off any other GOP hopefuls (such as Sandy Murman, who flirted with the notion of challenging her in primary before opting to run for re-election to her County Commission seat).
Although Young won the seat earlier this month with relative ease over Democrat Bob Buesing, it was anything but an easy campaign. Buesing and independent Joe Redner tore into Young’s voting record, with the liberal activist group Florida Strong and other environmental groups slamming Young’s vote on fracking during the 2016 legislative session.
Young had insisted that her vote for a fracking bill in the House last session was actually a vote against fracking, but her opponents disagreed and went after her hard on the subject.
To clear up any ambiguity, Young announced last week in Orlando she will soon draw up a bill that will ban fracking outright in the Sunshine State.
The statement earned her plaudits from Florida Conservation Voters, a group that strongly backed Buesing in the election.
“Florida Conservation Voters applauds Sen. Dana Young for her commitment to sponsor a true statewide fracking ban,” said Aliki Moncrief, executive director of the group. “Our quality of life and economy depend on a healthy environment —especially in the Tampa Bay area. I’m glad that Sen. Young recognizes that there is no place for fracking anywhere in Florida — our drinking water and Florida’s remarkable rivers, springs, and natural areas are too precious to risk.”
The other state senator representing Hillsborough County is Democrat Darryl Rouson from District 18, which encompasses parts of downtown Tampa, with the majority of the district located in Pinellas County. Rouson defeated Tampa representative Ed Narain by less than 100 votes back in the August primary, essentially winning the race then in the overwhelmingly Democratic district.
On Nov. 8, Rouson defeated Republican John Houman by a 67 percent-33 percent margin. He now moves to the Senate after serving eight years representing Hillsborough, Pinellas, Manatee, and Sarasota counties in House District 70.