An important step towards the start of the 2015 Florida Legislative Session occurs Monday. Caucuses in the Florida House and Senate will select their respective leaders for the next two years. Republicans control both the House and Senate and Steve Crisafulli, R-Meritt Island and Sen. Andy Gardiner are expected to be named presiding officers Tuesday.
Crisafulli will lead a Republican supermajority in the House. He has served as a House majority leader and moved into leadership role unexpectedly two years ago when Chris Dorworth lost a central Florida seat.
Crisafulli’s background is in real estate and agriculture and he has served as chair of the State Affairs Committee and vice-chair of the Appropriations Committee. The Florida Chamber scored his 2014 legislative session performance 100 and Crisafulli voted with the Florida Sheriffs Association on five issues the FSA tracked in the House last session.
Ballotpedia provides information on Crisafulli fundraising and votes here.
Gardiner has served on the Senate Appropriations, Gaming and Judiciary committees. The Florida Chamber graded his 2014 legislative session performance a 95 and Gardiner voted with the Florida Sheriff’s Association on three of the four issues the FSA tracked last session. Ballotpedia has more data here.
Senate Democrats are expected to name Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, their leader Monday afternoon. Joyner is an attorney and former school teacher. The Florida Chamber scored her 2014 session performance 72 and she voted with the FSA on the four issues it tracked in the Senate. Ballotpedia page on Joyner is here.
House Democrats will meet at 6:00 p.m. West Palm Beach Rep. Mark Pafford is the leader designate but Daytona Beach Rep. Dwayne Taylor last week said he would mount a challenge. Pafford appears to have the votes to retain the leadership position.
The Florida Chamber scored Pafford at 58 for the 2014 Florida Legislative session and he voted with the FSA on three of the five issues the FSA tracked.
Observers expect the new Republican leadership in the legislature to work well with Gov. Rick Scott. Scott won re-election on an economic platform stressing fiscal discipline and diversifying the state’s economy.
Veteran Holland & Knight lobbyist Mark Delegal said the stage is set for Scott to pursue a bold agenda. Delegal noted that both Gardiner and Crisafulli are agreeable accommodating types of personalities.
“If the governor wants to do 10 bold things then the attitude will be let’s go,” said Delegal.
The only question, according to Delegal, is how much political capital Scott wants to spend.
“We’re going to see more of the same,” said Pafford. “I think you are going to see more dollars going to the very, very wealthy. You are going to see more dollars going to the big corporations. I think that is the pattern.”