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Wilton Simpson appointed Senate Majority Leader for 2016-18 term

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Sen. Wilton Simpson has been appointed Senate Majority Leader for the 2016-18 legislative term, marking the second term in a row a likely Senate President has held the role.

Senate President Joe Negron appointed Simpson to the position Tuesday. The announcement came as the Stuart Republican announced committee chair assignments for the two-year legislative term.

“Wilton is a conservative leader whose tremendous success in the private sector serves as a foundation for his belief in limited government and the supremacy of the individual, values many Senators on both sides of the political aisle share,” said Negron in a statement. “Over the last four years, Wilton has gained the confidence of his colleagues in matters both large and small.”

First elected to the Senate in 2012, Simpson was re-elected earlier this year when no one else filed to run for the seat. The Trilby Republican represents Senate District 10, and is the owner of Simpson Environmental Services and Simpson Farms.

“Today I am both humbled and honored to have the trust of Senate President Joe Negron and my colleagues in the Republican Caucus. Leading the Senate Republicans comes with a responsibility to continue our caucus tradition of advocating for the success of this great state, and the people who call Florida home,” said Simpson in a statement. “During the next two years, we will continue job growth and economic development by instituting more common sense instead of more government regulation, inspire and provide the means for a world-class education system, and protect our water and other natural treasures that God has bestowed upon Florida.”

Rachel Perrin Rogers, Simpson’s chief legislative aide, will stay on as Simpson’s top staffer and spokeswoman. Brian Hughes, her husband, is an outside political advisor to Simpson.

Simpson is on track to assume the Senate presidency in 2020-22, as long as the GOP maintains its controlling majority in the upper chamber. Sen. Bill Galvano, a Bradenton Republican, served as Majority Leader for the 2014-16 role. Galvano is line to be Senate President for the 2019 legislative session, assuming the GOP maintains its majority.

Negron also announced Tuesday that Sen. Kelli Stargel, a Lakeland Republican, will serve as the Deputy Majority Leader. Stargel will also serve as the chairwoman of the Senate finance and tax appropriations subcommittee.

“Kelli is a fighter who is not afraid to take on difficult issues,” said Negron. “She is a dedicated conservative with a wealth of legislative experience. Together, Senator Simpson and Senator Stargel will be strong leaders for our Republican Caucus.”

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