MANATEE — With legislators meeting next week in Tallahassee to organize for next spring’s session, the Florida House Democratic Caucus has announced its list of ranking members, including two reappointments from this area.
State Rep. Keith Fitzgerald, D-Sarasota, was reappointed to the policy council. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, will serve on the House Criminal & Civil Justice Appropriation Committee.
The policy council has clout, Fitzgerald said Friday, because it takes care of issues that might not have been vetted through other committees.
“It’s often the case that when it does do something, it’s something important,” said Fitzgerald, a New College professor who will serve on the council with Rep. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton.
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Fitzgerald said the job is not a gigantic responsibility. He just tries to make sure every member of his party is aware of important issues before each meeting.
Last year, a bill that would have allowed oil drilling near Florida’s Gulf beaches popped up suddenly late in the session — appearing practically overnight for discussion.
“I did not spend a lot of time speechifying about it, like some other people did, making sure other members were up to speed about what was going on,” Fitzgerald said. “Other people blew up; I was more the quarterback or the coach, that’s what the ranking member does.”
Rouson, an attorney, also serves with another local legislator, Rep. Doug Holder, R-Sarasota.
“I’m very excited to be reappointed, and I take that as a vote of confidence by the Democratic leadership in the House and the Republican leadership that I have some value,” he said Friday.
A ranking memberis expected to be well-versed and knowledgeable in all the bills and issues that come before the committee.
The House has 120 members, 44 of whom are Democrats. The Florida Senate has 40 members, 14 of whom are Democrats.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at (941) 745-7031 or at firstname.lastname@example.org