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Taddeo's arrival shakes up Senate committee assignments

Annette TaddeoSenate President Joe Negron shook up his chamber's committee assignments late Wednesday, appointing Democratic newcomer Annette Taddeo to five committees and rearranging the composition of other committees to offset the addition of a member of the opposing party. 

Taddeo's defeat of Rep. Jose Felix Diaz last week, in the special election for Miami Senate District 40, gives Democrats a hold on 40 percent of the 40-member chamber, 16 votes to Republicans 24 votes. But the new committee assignments don't seem to reflect that new percentages, as Negron added Republican members to offset the arrival of Taddeo's vote. 

Taddeo will be sworn in Tuesday during the first day of committee week.

The impact of the assignment shuffle appears to be greatest on the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee, where Negron replaced Democrat trial lawyer Gary Farmer with Taddeo and then added one more Republican, Sen. Doug Broxson, for good measure. 

The move may be less of a sign that there will be insurance friendly legislation moving this year -- it is an election year -- and more a sign that incoming Senate President Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, is sending a signal to the industry that it should send money to Senate Republican campaigns because when he's president he may be friendly.

The hotly-contested fight over "assignment of benefits" appears to be likely to get more attention from the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee when session begins in January. But will House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron give the insurance industry all it wants in an election year, and antagonize their allies in the trial bar?

The insurance industry wants to deny legal fees to prevailing attorneys representing contractors working under assignments.

Last year, Farmer was the sponsor of the attorneys’ counter proposal that attempts to crack down on the fraud by requiring that insurance companies be notified within 10 days when benefits have been assigned to water damage contractors, but eliminating the ban on attorneys fees.

An option that may emerge may be focus more on giving regulators new tools to crackdown on AOB fraud.

Also on the committee's likely agenda is repeal of Personal Injury Protection, the state's no-fault auto insurance law. Farmer has filed legislation already that would prohibit auto insurers from using someone's zip code and credit rating in setting rates. 

Here are the Senate committee changes announced Wednesday:

Committee on Agriculture

                        Denise Grimsley, Chair                                  Debbie Mayfield

                        Kevin J. Rader, Vice Chair                             Bobby Powell

                        Dennis Baxley                                                 Darryl Ervin Rouson

                        Gary M. Farmer, Jr.                                        Greg Steube

                        Dorothy L. Hukill

Committee on Banking and Insurance

      Anitere Flores, Chair                                      George B. Gainer

      Greg Steube, Vice Chair                                 Rene Garcia

      Randolph Bracy                                              Denise Grimsley

      Rob Bradley                                                    Annette Taddeo

      Oscar Braynon, II                                           Perry E. Thurston, Jr.

      Doug Broxson                                                

Committee on Environmental Preservation and Conservation

      Rob Bradley, Chair                                         Dorothy L. Hukill

      Linda Stewart, Vice Chair                              Travis Hutson

      Aaron Bean                                                    Jack Latvala

      Lauren Book                                                   David Simmons

      Gary M. Farmer, Jr.                                        Annette Taddeo


Committee on Governmental Oversight and Accountability

      Dennis Baxley, Chair                                     Darryl Ervin Rouson

      Debbie Mayfield, Vice Chair                          Kelli Stargel

      Bill Galvano                                                  Linda Stewart

      Kevin J. Rader                       

Committee on Military and Veterans Affairs, Space, and Domestic Security

      Audrey Gibson, Chair                                     David Simmons

      Doug Broxson, Vice Chair                               Kelli Stargel

      Aaron Bean                                                     Annette Taddeo

      George B. Gainer                                            Victor M. Torres, Jr.

Committee on Transportation

      George B. Gainer, Chair                                 Dorothy L. Hukill

      Darryl Ervin Rouson, Vice Chair                       Kevin J. Rader

      Dennis Baxley                                                 Annette Taddeo

      Bill Galvano   

Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government

                        David Simmons, Chair                                   Debbie Mayfield

                        Aaron Bean, Vice Chair                                  Jose Javier Rodriguez

                        Doug Broxson                                                 Darryl Ervin Rouson

                        Daphne Campbell                                           Annette Taddeo                                 

                        George B. Gainer                                            Victor M. Torres, Jr.

                        Rene Garcia