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#8 on list of Tampa Bay’s Most Powerful Politicians — Jack Latvala

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

His reputation as a power broker of sorts took a hit last year, when his favored candidate to succeed the late U.S. Rep. Bill Young, Kathleen Peters, failed to make it out of a GOP primary.

But he remains an influential figure in the Florida Senate and with his considerable legislative experience, he hasn’t given up hope of becoming Senate president in 2017.

Jack Latvala has championed the burgeoning craft beer industry’s growth in Pinellas County, and last December (once again) introduced a simple, two-page bill to repeal the ban on 64-ounce growlers.

But this is Tallahassee, Jack. And hopes of a “clean” growler bill have already become muddied in committee hearings.

Latvala is also behind legislation that has raised the ire of the Koch Brothers-funded group Americans for Prosperity.

His 2014 stadium bill that increases the amount of money available to professional stadium projects now has four applicants. But groups like AFP have been advocating against taxpayer incentives for sports stadiums. They’re also gunning for his legislation that would replenish a tax incentive plan for film, television and digital productions.

Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development, Latvala earned plaudits from the Orlando Sentinel last month, after he called for an “open-mic day” meeting for his panel, where senators seeking public funding for projects worth more than $1 million made their pitch in public, as opposed to behind closed doors.

One of the highlights of the 2014 legislative session was watching the senator maneuver legislation to offer in-state tuition rates to undocumented children. The eyes of America are on us,” Latvala said before senators voted on the contentious legislation last year. “I think we’re setting an example. I think we’re doing the right thing.”


For a complete explanation of how this list was created and who comprised the panel that assembled it, please read here.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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