Manatee legislative delegation carrying some clout this year

skennedy@bradenton.comJanuary 28, 2013 

BRADENTON -- Manatee County lawmakers have scored committee posts that will help them to collectively wield plenty of clout during this year's Florida Legislature session.

The delegation includes state Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, chair of the Florida Senate's Appropriations Subcommittee on Education.

The committee will help to make spending decisions for schools and the state university system, Galvano said during a breakfast Monday at the Bradenton Country Club.

Rep. Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton, will be handling election reform in the Florida House as chairman of the Ethics and Elections Subcommittee, focusing on elections, ethics and campaign finance reform, he told the group.

And state Rep. Greg Steube, R-Bradenton, has nabbed a seat on the House Appropriations Committee, which handles the body's spending decisions; and is vice chair of another committee dealing with healthcare.

State Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, whose district includes parts of Manatee, is running for the post of House minority leader.

Delegation members were featured as panelists Monday during a "Pancakes and Politics" breakfast sponsored by the Manatee Chamber of Commerce and Bright House Networks.

The education subcommittee's work represents $27 billion, or 51 percent, of the general revenue budget, Galvano said.

"So, as you can imagine, I have a lot of new friends," Galvano joked. "And hopefully by the time session's over, I don't have a lot of new enemies."

Boyd seemed amenable to a bipartisan solution to solve problems with last year's election.

"I think the elections reform bill that we passed a couple years ago was a good start," Boyd told the crowd.

"Obviously, we made some mistakes, and we're trying to fix those now, so I don't believe there's going to be a long road to getting toward some good, positive reform in the elections, campaign finance and ethics arena."

"My main goal in the process is to work collaboratively with both sides -- our party, the Republican Party -- and Darryl's (Rouson) side, with the Democrats, to do what's right for Florida," Boyd said.

Steube was looking forward to filling a seat on the House Appropriations Committee, which carries a big stick because it makes spending decisions for the House; and as vice chair of the Health Innovation Subcommittee, which will be dealing with Medicaid reform, among other healthcare issues.

One of his bills will address safety in schools. It calls for school resource officers or some type of enforcement officer at schools, plus funding for counseling at schools, Steube said.

Meanwhile, Rouson is seeking the position of minority leader in the House.

"I have won the election, I have collected 29 of 44 pledge cards," Rouson said. "All I needed was 23, but they keep moving the number up on me: I'm trying to bring the bacon home; it's been a long time since we've had a minority leader from the Tampa Bay area."

The Florida Legislature session lasts this year from March 5-May 3.

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.com.

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