Friday, November 24, 2017
Politics

The Rookies: Spano finds motivation in new demands

RECOMMENDED READING


RIVERVIEW — Rep. Ross Spano, R-Dover, is having trouble sleeping.

It could be that while in Tallahassee, he's like a like a college kid, crashing on a futon. But it could also be the onslaught of concerns racing through his head each night: a big event the next morning, an upcoming speech, selecting which bills to sponsor.

"I'm not sure I really knew how crazy it would get," Spano said from his district office. "But it's getting a lot crazier than I thought it would."

As a "small-business guy" and attorney, Spano considered himself a busy person. But since taking office, his schedule has redefined the term jam-packed. In Tallahassee, Spano said he engages in back-to-back meetings about every 15 minutes.

"You're jumping from one topic to the next, and each topic you're expected to have some awareness of and knowledge about it and to know which direction you're heading on it and what you believe . . ." he said.

Spano, 46, pledged to read each bill he votes on — in its entirety — plus the staff analysis. He also maintains an open-door policy with constituents.

"Obviously, they're very knowledgeable about those issues, and they want you to have that same level of knowledge and interest," he said. "I do have the interest, but it's impossible for me to have the level of knowledge they do."

Instead of that paralyzing his efforts, it motivates. Spano plans to work harder than others, know the rules and do his research. He's also surrounding himself with people who have been there longer, including staff, senior members and lobbyists.

"I like to hear all sides," he said. "I ask a lot of questions. Probably more than they want me to ask."

The extensive questions stem from his experience as a lawyer. Although he recognizes that lobbyists can be a resource, he said he's uncomfortable with the amount of influence they wield.

"I want my decisions to be rooted in equity, in fairness and in the right policy, not in who has the most money or the loudest voice," Spano said.

In fact, his interests trend more toward the voiceless. One bill he's sponsoring seeks to help human-trafficking victims petition to have a criminal record expunged if they can prove it was a result of victimization or coercion through trafficking.

It's not hard to tell the issues he's passionate about. He'll sit up in his chair and talk faster, as if he has to squeeze every word out before the attention shifts.

He's confident his colleagues will consider the best ideas this session, not just those that fall along party lines or are sent down from leadership.

"There's a change taking place," he said. "We're looking at who's working hardest, who's the brightest. It's not just based on seniority."

Caitlin Johnston can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 225-3111.

Comments
President Trump presents his report card, passes with flying colors

President Trump presents his report card, passes with flying colors

PALM BEACH — President Donald Trump has a Thanksgiving Day message for the nation: Look at all I’ve done. Trump is telling followers in an early-morning holiday tweet that, "your Country is starting to do really well." He says: Jobs are "coming back,...
Published: 11/23/17
As rules change, many Florida immigrants face a choice: Do they stay or go?

As rules change, many Florida immigrants face a choice: Do they stay or go?

Lys Isma was born in Haiti, but she’s used to driving in Miami with a license, going to college and living without fear of being deported.The Florida International University biology student has lived in Florida since she was 9 months old. Undocument...
Published: 11/22/17

Top Trump staffers failed to file financial reports on their way out the door

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s top aides — including chief of staff Reince Priebus and foreign policy adviser Sebastian Gorka — failed to file legally required financial reports after they were dismissed this summer, according to government re...
Published: 11/22/17
William March: Lee says lieutenant governor should work for a living and get a vote

William March: Lee says lieutenant governor should work for a living and get a vote

It’s an old joke that Florida’s lieutenant governor, with no duties specified in the state Constitution except to fill in if the governor is disabled or dies, has little to do except monitor the governor’s health. State Sen. Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa, ...
Published: 11/22/17
Trump calls father of freed UCLA player an ‘ungrateful fool’

Trump calls father of freed UCLA player an ‘ungrateful fool’

Associated PressPALM BEACH — President Donald Trump started off his first day of Thanksgiving vacation by resuming his taunts of the father of a UCLA basketball player detained for shoplifting in China, saying Wednesday that he was an "ungrateful foo...
Published: 11/22/17
Trump speaks up for Moore, warns against his ‘liberal’ rival

Trump speaks up for Moore, warns against his ‘liberal’ rival

WASHINGTON — Silent for more than a week, President Donald Trump all but endorsed embattled Alabama Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore, discounting the sexual assault allegations against him and insisting repeatedly that voters must not support Moor...
Published: 11/22/17
Trump offers support for Moore in Alabama Senate race despite misconduct allegations

Trump offers support for Moore in Alabama Senate race despite misconduct allegations

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump on Tuesday appeared to offer support to Republican candidate Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate race, saying the former state judge "totally denies" allegations that he sexually molested underage girls years ago."He d...
Published: 11/21/17
Before budget ax fell, Visit Florida executives ran up hefty travel bills

Before budget ax fell, Visit Florida executives ran up hefty travel bills

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott’s tourism chiefs at Visit Florida spend a lot of public money taking trips to exotic places to promote Florida as a top worldwide destination.Four former top-level staff members at the state’s tourism promotion and its c...
Published: 11/20/17
Updated: 11/21/17
2nd woman accuses Sen. Al Franken of inappropriate touching

2nd woman accuses Sen. Al Franken of inappropriate touching

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A second woman has accused Minnesota Sen. Al Franken of inappropriate touching.Lindsay Menz tells CNN that Franken placed his hand on her bottom as they posed for a photo at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010, two years into Fran...
Published: 11/20/17
Senator Nelson on tax reform bill: Small business will ‘get it in the neck.’

Senator Nelson on tax reform bill: Small business will ‘get it in the neck.’

TAMPA — A week ahead of the expected vote on a controversial tax reform bill, U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., visited Tampa to deliver a message to small businesses: This bill will hurt you."Small businesses are the economic engine of F...
Published: 11/19/17
Updated: 11/20/17