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Rep. McKeel of Lakeland will be House budget chairman

House Speaker-Designate Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, announced his first major committee assignment Tuesday, naming Rep. Seth McKeel, R-Lakeland, as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

Here's the text of Weatherford's statement:

"It is hard to believe that it has been more than six months since the gavel fell and we gathered in the rotunda to mark Sine Die. I am grateful to Speaker Cannon for the way he and his staff have allowed my team to conduct the transition process. I understand and support the concept of "one Speaker at a time;" therefore, the ability to prepare and plan during the interim is appreciated.

In order to keep you as informed as possible, I write today to announce my intention to appoint Representative Seth McKeel as the Appropriations Chairman during my term as the Speaker. Seth's expertise and background as a small business owner, a former Lakeland City Commissioner and the previous Chairman of the House State Affairs Committee will prove to be invaluable as we manage our state's future budget priorities. Representative McKeel has demonstrated a commitment to putting the priorities of our state over his own interests and will serve the House well as we develop an appropriations plan in the coming months.

We have a great task before us. The constitutional responsibility to pass a balanced budget and the public duty to fund the basic needs of our state will take every ounce of thoughtful, principled, and serious effort. Seth McKeel will be a great leader by example for the next two years.

I look forward to sharing further insight at the appropriate times in the weeks ahead."

-- Steve Bousquet