Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Rep. Ed Hooper already has a to-do list for the Legislature

CLEARWATER — Opposing oil drilling off Florida's coast. Stopping illegal immigrants. Funding Medicaid and smaller class sizes. Dealing with an unpredictable new governor. And much more.

Ed Hooper has quite a to-do list.

After winning re-election with a decisive 20 percentage point victory, he's looking forward to a third term in the Florida House.

Hooper, a Republican, won about 60 percent of the vote in his Clearwater-based district, which includes parts of Largo and Safety Harbor. His opponent, Democrat Shelly Leonard, took 40 percent.

Hooper, who's a deputy majority whip in the House, talked Wednesday about his goals for the next legislative session:

Offshore drilling: Back in 2009, in a break from Republican Party unity, Hooper and other Pinellas Republicans voted against a bill that would have legalized drilling in Florida waters. Republicans in the House passed it, but the Senate didn't.

In the wake of the BP oil spill, Hooper doesn't expect a similar push for offshore drilling next year.

"I cannot imagine somebody trying to open up the shoreline of any part of our state to oil drilling," he said. "If somebody tries, I'll be glad to tell them my vote will be no."

Criminal justice: Florida's new governor, Rick Scott, said during his campaign that he would cut $1 billion from the state Department of Corrections' $2.4 billion budget — a pledge that raised a lot of questions.

Hooper may become chair of the House's Public Safety and Domestic Security Committee. He doesn't see $1 billion in savings.

"Cutting a billion dollars is hard to do," he said. "We have to govern. We're not going to eliminate prisons. We'll have to deal with the criminal justice budget, and I'll be part of that discussion."

Illegal immigration: Hooper will co-sponsor a bill that would bring to Florida a modified version of Arizona's law that would allow police to check IDs of suspected illegal immigrants.

"If you or I get stopped for a traffic violation, the first thing they want to see is your registration and driver's license," he said. "If you can't prove you're in the country legally, you might need a ticket home."

He wants to widen the law to include port security: "Florida has a lot of ports. Arizona doesn't have any."

Long-term plans: Hooper plans to run for re-election in two years for what would be his fourth and final term in the House. Due to upcoming redistricting, he expects District 50 to migrate a bit to the north, toward Dunedin and the Countryside area.

At the end of his fourth term, he would be 67. He doesn't know what he would do then.

"You have to decide if you want to go play golf or see if an opportunity will present itself," he said. "In politics, timing is everything."

Meanwhile, his Democratic challenger, Shelly Leonard, said she might run for office again, although not necessarily for the House. She's going to take some time off from politics and think it over.

Mike Brassfield can be reached at or (727) 445-4160.

Rep. Ed Hooper already has a to-do list for the Legislature 11/03/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 3, 2010 8:17pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trump sprinkles political attacks into Scout Jamboree speech

    GLEN JEAN, W.Va. — Ahead of President Donald Trump's appearance Monday at the National Scout Jamboree in West Virginia, the troops were offered some advice on the gathering's official blog: Fully hydrate. Be "courteous" and "kind." And avoid the kind of divisive chants heard during the 2016 campaign such as "build …

    President Donald Trump addresses the Boy Scouts of America's 2017 National Scout Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel National Scout Reserve in Glen Jean, W.Va., July 24, 2017. [New York Times]
  2. Trump, seething about attorney general, speculates about firing Sessions, sources say

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has spoken with advisers about firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions, as he continues to rage against Sessions' decision to recuse himself from all matters related to the Russia investigation.

  3. John McCain to return to Senate for health care vote

    WASHINGTON — The Senate plans to vote Tuesday to try to advance a sweeping rewrite of the nation's health-care laws with the last-minute arrival of Sen. John McCain — but tough talk from President Donald Trump won no new public support from skeptical GOP senators for the flagging effort that all but …

  4. Last orca calf born in captivity at a SeaWorld park dies


    ORLANDO — The last killer whale born in captivity under SeaWorld's former orca-breeding program died Monday at the company's San Antonio, Texas, park, SeaWorld said.

    Thet orca Takara helps guide her newborn, Kyara, to the water's surface at SeaWorld San Antonio in San Antonio, Texas, in April. Kyara was the final killer whale born under SeaWorld's former orca-breeding program. The Orlando-based company says 3-month-old Kyara died Monday. [Chris Gotshall/SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment via AP]
  5. Blake Snell steps up, but Rays lose to Orioles anyway (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Blake Snell stepped up when he had to Monday and delivered an impressive career-high seven-plus innings for the Rays. That it wasn't enough in what ended up a 5-0 loss to the Orioles that was their season-high fifth straight is symptomatic of the mess they are in right now.

    Tim Beckham stands hands on hips after being doubled off first.