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Rubio announces chairmanships

House Speaker Marco Rubio today announced his list of chairmen who will serve as his closest advisors to lead the 9 policy councils and their committees in the Florida House. These 9 members will have the added clout of serving as the only Republican members on the powerful Rules and Budget committees. Democrats on those committees have been yet to be named.

There are no surprises -- no Democrats made the list and Rubio kept those closest to him in the most crucial jobs.

Rep. Ray Sansom will serve as the chairman of the Policy and Budget Council, the critical committee that will hammer out details to the state's $73 billion budget. The Destin Republican is the next in line to replace Rubio and, along with Rep. Dean Cannon of Orlando, has played a pivotal role in setting the 100 Ideas agenda for Rubio's two years.

The new committee structure under Rubio will have each of the policy committees also decide the budget appropriations for those areas -- giving special interests fewer places to go to tuck in their special projects and requiring legislators to become experts on all facets of an issue. Their final stop will be Sansom's council, giving that group the final say on budget and policy initiatives. Each committee will also have a Democrat serve as a ranking member, creating a go-to person for negotiations and policy.

Check here for the House organizational chart. Download HouseStructure.pdf

The powerful Rules Committee will be steered by Miami Rep. David Rivera, Rubio's right-hand man. Rivera has worked for the last month with Democratic Reps. Jack Seiler of Wilton Manors and Lorann Ausley of Tallahassee to hammer out the Rules. Rivera will be given the final say on all Rules challenges during debate and what bills get heard on the floor. Rivera is the only member of the Miami-Dade delegation to be picked for a top policy job.

Rep. Stan Mayfield, the Vero Beach Republican who lobbied heavily to become head of the Budget Council, will continue in the area of environment and agriculture as Chairman of the Policy and Natural Resources Council. Mayfield's stock may have dropped in recent months, especially after he was at former Rep. Ralph Arza's Miami Lakes home in October when Rubio arrived for a meeting with Arza to discuss the racially-charged phone messages Arza had made. Mayfield has been chairman of the Environmental and Agriculture Appropriations Commitee for the past two years.

Rep. Don Brown of Defuniak Springs, will continue to be the head honco in the House on insurance issues. He will head the Jobs and Entrepreneurship Council, a role similar to the one he recently held as head of the State Administrative Council, and the insurance committee will be under him.

Other appointments include: Rep. Aaron Bean, Healthcare Council; Rep. Holly Benson, Safety and Security Council; Rep. Dean Cannon, Economic Expansion & Infrastructure Council; Rep. Andy Gardiner, Government Efficiency & Accountability Council; and Rep. Joe Pickens, Schools and Learning Council.

Rubio has yet to name his committee chairmen under these council chairmen. Rubio has said committee assignments will then be made in mid-December, after House members go through an application process of sorts with committee chairmen and policy chairs, who will screen them for experience and interest.