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  • Renzo Downey, Florida Politics

Chris Sprowls announces leadership team for 2021 Session

Incoming Speaker Chris Sprowls wants to allow lawmakers to file one more bill each.

Rep. Bryan Avila will be Speaker Pro Tempore and Rep. Mike Grant will be Majority Leader.

House Speaker-Designate Chris Sprowls has selected his leadership team for the upcoming Legislative Session.

The Clearwater Republican has tapped Miami Lakes Rep. Bryan Avila as Speaker Pro Tempore and Port Charlotte Rep. Mike Grant as Majority Leader.

Panama City Rep. Jay Trumbull will also take a prominent role as Chair of the Appropriations Committee, taking the helm of budget talks in a year when the the state’s finances are uncertain as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

Palm Coast Rep. Paul Renner, the expected House Speaker for 2022-2024, will lead the Rules Committee.

Spring Hill Rep. Blaise Ingoglia will chair the Commerce Committee, and Clearwater Republican Rep. Chris Latvala will lead the Education and Employment Committee, expanded to cover workforce and job training. The Health and Human Services Committee will belong to Lakeland Rep. Colleen Burton.

Miami Rep. Daniel Perez, who is expected to be the 2024-2026 House Speaker, will lead the Judiciary Committee.

The State Affairs Committee will belong to Lecanto Rep. Ralph Massullo and Palatka Rep. Bobby Payne will chair the Ways and Means Committee. Vero Beach Republican Rep. Erin Grall will helm the Public Integrity and Elections Committee.

Rep. Tom Leek will lead the Pandemics and Public Emergencies Committee and the Redistricting Committee, two topics likely to keep the Ormond Beach Republican busy over the coming year. The Pandemics and Public Emergencies Committee is a new panel to explore topics relate to COVID-19 but also emergency management more broadly.

The incoming Speaker announced the appointments in a tweet Thursday after a memo was distributed to House members.

He issued support for Avila, who will also be the “COVID-19 Czar” and oversee health and safety protocols.

“Representative Avila is a person who exudes the very best of service and duty that Florida has to offer,” he wrote. “I have no doubt that his leadership experience and devotion to his state and country will serve him and this body well in the coming term.”

Sprowls also hit on Grant’s leadership experience and “business acumen,” which he said would help shape policy and decisions in the chamber.

“As the owner of a successful company, he knows first-hand how decisions we make here impact small businesses in Florida,” he said.

Grant called it “a tremendous honor” to be named Majority Leader.

“I deeply appreciate the trust place in me by Speaker Sprowls, and I look forward to working together with our House team to enact policies that continue to ensure Florida is the best place to live, work and play!” he said in a statement.

The Legislature will hold committee weeks beginning in January, a delayed start in an effort to give lawmakers a better sense of the state of the pandemic before they begin to develop policy for the coming year.

Ingoglia, Latvala, Leek and Massullo tweeted their appreciation soon after the announcement.

Fred Piccolo, Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ communications director, a friend of Sprowls who intended to remain at the top of the House communications team before being tapped by the Governor, also tweeted support.

Trumbull, who chaired the Transportation and Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee from 2018 to this year, issued his thanks in a statement.

“Florida is facing challenges, but I am confident that if we continue to govern with the same conservative principles that have served us well in the past, we will have more than enough to fund education, healthcare and our public safety while also protecting the taxpayers and consumers that elected us,” Trumbull said.

DeSantis has placed a continued emphasis on hurricane recovery funds in the Panhandle following 2018’s Hurricane Michael, which affected Trumbull’s home district. The Republican Representative will now hold important sway over the state’s expenditures.

Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, also a former Representative for Bay County, congratulated Trumbull.

“I’ve known Jay Trumbull his whole life; he is one of the hardest-working people I know both in business and in his public service positions. He’s a fighter for Florida’s families and always puts them first,” Patronis said. “He will also be an incredible protector of Florida’s taxpayer money, and that’s exactly what we need as our economy continues to recover from the effects of the pandemic.”


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