Senate President Andy Gardiner releases list of committee chairs

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Florida Senate President Andy Gardiner has announced his list of Senate Committee Chairs for the 2015-16 term.

“With the exception of a vacancy in District 6,” Gardiner said in a statement, “we have the same Senate as the previous term. We have many Senators who have a great deal of institutional knowledge that has been a great benefit to the Senate.

“For this reason, some Senators are assigned to familiar policy or budget areas. Other Senators are being called upon to utilize their talents in new areas for the best interest of the Senate.”

Earlier, Gardiner named Brandon Sen. Tom Lee as chair of the Appropriations Committee and Miami Sen. Anitere Flores for the Fiscal Policy Committee.

Working under Lee will be former Senate President Don Gaetz, slated to chair the Appropriations Subcommittee on Education; Miami-Dade’s Sen. Rene Garcia leads the Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services; and Sen. Joe Negron will head the Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice.

Sen. Jack Latvala will head the Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism, and Economic Development.

Sen. Aaron Bean is set to head the Health Policy Committee, Fort Myers Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto will head Banking and Insurance, Pinellas’ Jeff Brandes will lead the Transportation committee, Rob Bradley will chair Regulated Industries, and Sen. Nancy Detert of Sarasota will chair Commerce and Tourism.

Sen. Eleanor Sobel will head Children, Families, and Elder Affairs; Sen. Denise Grimsley chairs Communications, Energy, and Public Utilities; and Sen. Wilton Simpson will lead Community Affairs.

Gardiner said that his goal was to keep committees smaller, as a way to provide Senators “more time to meet with constituents and to delve into the important issues of the day.”

To achieve this, the five appropriations subcommittees will meet during the same block of time. Each Senator serves on one Appropriations Subcommittee, where Gardiner expects them “to pay particular attention to the development of that budget area.”

A vast majority of office and parking assignments will remain unchanged.

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Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.