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Panuccio clears another committee, but Latvala awaits

At this pace, the man who oversaw the troubled launch of Florida’s troubled unemployment website will soon be the state’s go-to guy on all things technology.

On Monday, Jesse Panuccio, the executive director of the Department of Economic Opportunity, won his second round of confirmation to his $141,000 job with an 11-0 vote by the Senate’s Commerce and Tourism Committee.

Four Democrats and seven Republicans approved  Panuccio’s confirmation -- which some hoped would provide him a chance to instruct others on complicated technical issues.

“Put down a few ideas, based on your experience with this project,” said Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, who said Panuccio had performed exemplary. “‘How can we avoid some of these pitfalls?’ -- is my big question you can answer later on.”

Panuccio has been busy rounding up support, and, according to Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, it’s been effective.

“This is our man, he’s met with everybody, and he continues to meet with everybody to update them,” Bean said.

Panuccio has two more committees, Community Affairs and Ethics and Elections, before he’s up for a floor vote by senators.

Even though Panuccio has won unanimous support so far, his confirmation is no sure thing.

Last year, he passed the committee confirmation process, only never to come up on the floor for a vote. The senator who comes up with that list, as chair of the ethics and elections committee, is Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater.

Latvala stepped out last week when the Senate’s appropriations subcommittee on transportation, tourism and economic development approved Panuccio’s first confirmation, and didn’t vote. His committee is the last one Panuccio must clear.

He wouldn’t say on Monday which way he would vote on the confirmation.

“We’ll just have to see,” Latvala said.