TALLAHASSEE -- With the bipartisan spirit receding from last week’s swearing-in ceremony, Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford looked more like a typical conservative Florida Republican with the unveiling of his committee assignments.
Weatherford placed a trusted social conservative, Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, in charge of the powerful Judiciary Committee, and he left Rep. Bryan Nelson, R-Apopka, an insurance agent, as chairman of the Insurance & Banking Subcommittee.
Rep. Richard Corcoran, the Pasco Republican who is in line to be speaker in 2016, got two significant posts: chairman of the Health and Human Services Committee and chairman of a select committee that will oversee the implementation of Obamacare.
Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami, will oversee nearly a third of the state budget as chairman of the Education Appropriations Subcommittee, which now is in charge of K-12, community college and university spending.
The Ethics & Elections Committee, revived after six years of dormancy in the House, will be led by a second-term lawmaker, Rep. Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton. The ranking Democrat on that panel is Rep. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa.
Meanwhile, one of the banking and insurance industry’s most vocal critics, Rep. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, was left off the Insurance & Banking Subcomittee, despite listing it as his top preference along with the Transportation & Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee (he was given a slot on that subcommittee).
"Having Bryan Nelson chairing Banking & Insurance is one of the worst things to happen to the consumer," Fasano said. "It's the wolf guarding the hen house. Bryan Nelson carries the water for the insurance industry."
It'll be Nelson's job during the next year to oversee changes to Citizens Property Insurance, which is currently embroiled in scandalous revelations from an internal probe.
See below for the complete list of assignments.
-- Steve Bousquet and Michael Van Sickler