Lawmakers Take on Leadership Roles



With a new class of Florida lawmakers comes to Tallahassee today for a first organizational session, Southwest Florida will see some increase in influence even as a batch of largely fresh lawmakers takes office. A Bradenton lawmaker will serve as the Senate’s top legislator for the first time in nearly two decades, and one freshman representative from Sarasota will hold a leadership role in the House Democratic caucus.

State Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, takes over as Senate President, marking the first time a lawmaker from this region held one of the key positions in the Legislature since former Senate President John McKay left office in 2002. Officials in the president’s office expect McKay to visit Tallahassee for the occasion.

In a media briefing last week, Galvano discussed a range of plans, from restructuring committees to tackling university funding to improve workforce-focused curricula. He’s also held multiple meetings already with Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis, who takes office in January. 

“If the communication we have presently indicated what working relationship he will have with myself and with the Speaker-designate (Jose Oliva, R-Miami Lakes), then I feel pretty good about it,” Galvano said of DeSantis.

State Rep. Margarat Good, D-Sarasota, will be sworn in today to her first full term in the House. On Monday, House Democratic Leader Kionne McGhee named Good among four deputy leaders for the coming legislative session. The leadership role comes as Democrats, while still a minority with 47 of 120 seats, boast a larger caucus than any time in the last 20 years.

“That’s a testament to our message of providing common sense solutions focused on protecting the environment, public education and funding health care solutions,” Good said.

The region enjoys this influence despite sending five freshman lawmakers to Tallahassee this year. New State Sen. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota today will be sworn into his new post after two years in the Florida House. The Republican leader feels excited to work as Sarasota County’s lone senator, and has already met with all the new House members in the delegation, including Good, on what the region will need from Tallahassee in the coming session. 

“I’m looking to file a lot of community bills,” he said, stressing the need for red tide research funding and cultural needs. On the more partisan front, he plans to tackle immigration issues and will file bills on e-Verify, a state version of Kate’s Law and rules against sanctuary cities.

Other lawmakers being sworn in today include new state Reps. James Buchanan, R-Venice, Tommy Gregory, R-Sarasota, and Will Robinson, R-Bradenton. State Rep. Newt Newton, D-St. Petersburg, will be sworn into a second term in the House.

Pictured: Bill Galvano, Margaret Good

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