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Florida House education committees set for 2021 session

For the first time, the speaker has named an education whip to his leadership team
Rep. Randy Fine sits with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as others watch him sign state anti-Semitism bill in the King David. Fine will chair PreK-12 Appropriations and sit on the Education and Employment Committee. [Jeffrey Schweers | USA Today Network - Florida]
Rep. Randy Fine sits with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as others watch him sign state anti-Semitism bill in the King David. Fine will chair PreK-12 Appropriations and sit on the Education and Employment Committee. [Jeffrey Schweers | USA Today Network - Florida]
Published Dec. 18, 2020
Updated Dec. 18, 2020

Just in time for the holidays, House Speaker Chris Sprowls has released the membership of the lower chamber’s various education committees and subcommittees.

They feature some familiar faces.

Rep. Randy Fine, R-Brevard County, shifts from his role overseeing higher education appropriations to chairing the prek-12 budget. Fine took a sometimes blistering approach to his post last session, making university leaders squirm as he demanded financial accountability and sometimes made pronouncements that went a bit farther than his reach — such as suggesting the closure of the University of Central Florida. Fine also led the charge on issues such as treating anti-Semitism in schools as a hate offense, and promoting Holocaust education.

He takes over for Rep. Chris Latvala, R-Clearwater, who will chair the Education and Employment policy committee and sit on the overarching Appropriations Committee.

Related: Pinellas Rep. Chris Latvala is state House’s new leader on education

Others key players returning to the education table include Rep. Vance Aloupis, R-Miami, a strong prekindergarten proponent who will chair the new Early Learning and Elementary Education subcommittee; Reps. Rene Plasencia, R-Orlando and a teacher, and Amber Mariano, R-New Port Richey, who jointly will lead both higher education appropriations and the new Post-secondary Education and Lifelong Learning subcommittee; and Reps. Susan Valdés, D-Tampa, and Patricia Williams, D-Lauderdale Lakes, who have offered vocal counterpoints to the Republican majority on education issues.

In one key difference from previous sessions, the speaker has named an education and employment whip to manage those issues. It’s Rep. Alex Andrade, a Pensacola Republican who’s a lawyer first elected in 2018. The role, as Latvala explained it, will be to help count votes on issues related to the topic committees and subcommittees — a job previously done by deputy whips who were assigned more generically.

It also is intended to improve communication among the 78-member GOP caucus about key measures moving through the chamber. Each of the five major policy committees have been assigned a whip.

Andrade has not been a player in previous education debates. He did not serve on any education-related committees in his past sessions, and has sponsored just one education bill. In 2019, his legislation to require Medicaid reimbursements for certain school-based services died on the second-reading calendar. It became law in 2020.

The Senate announced its committees earlier in December. Here are the House membership lists.

Higher Education Appropriations: Rene Plasencia, chair; Amber Mariano, vice chair; Michael Grieco (D-113); Fred Hawkins (R-42); Dotie Joseph (D-108); Patt Maney (R-4); Travaris McCurdy (D-46); Angie Nixon (D-14); Alex Rizo (R-110); Anthony Rodriguez (R-118); Bob Rommel (R-106); Jason Shoaf (R-7); Geraldine Thompson (D-44); Kaylee Tuck (R-55); Ardian Zika (R-37)

PreK-12 Appropriations: Randy Fine, chair; Melony Bell, vice chair; Vance Aloupis (R-115); Alex Andrade (R-2); Robin Bartleman (D-104); James Bush (D-109); Elizabeth Fetterhoff (R-26); Brett Hage (R-33); Stan McClain (R-23); Spencer Roach (R-79); David Smith (R-28); Keith Truenow (R-31); Susan Valdés (D-62); Matt Willhite (D-86); Patricia Williams (D-92)

Education and Employment: Chris Latvala, chair; Stan McClain, vice chair; Vance Aloupis (R-115); Kristen Arrington (D-43); Melony Bell (R-56); David Borrero (R-105); James Bush (D-109); Randy Fine (R-53); Joe Harding (R-22); Fred Hawkins (R-42); Christine Hunschofsky (D-96); Chip LaMarca (R-93); Patt Maney (R-4); Amber Mariano (R-36); Travaris McCurdy (D-46); Daisy Morales (D-48); Dana Trabulsy (R-84); Kaylee Tuck (R-55); Susan Valdés (D-62); Patricia Williams (D-92)

Early Learning and Elementary Education: Vance Aloupis, chair; Elizabeth Fetterhoff, vice chair; Linda Chaney (R-69); Tracie Davis (D-13); Fred Hawkins (R-42); Christine Hunschofsky (D-96); Traci Koster (R-64); Chip LaMarca (R-93); Andrew Learned (D-59); Travaris McCurdy (D-46); Fiona McFarland (R-72); Jim Mooney (R-120); Angie Nixon (D-14); Spencer Roach (R-79); Anthony Rodriguez (R-118); Dana Trabulsy (R-84); Keith Truenow (R-31); Patricia Williams (D-92)

Secondary Education and Career Development: Stan McClain, chair; Jason Shoaf, vice chair; Alex Andrade (R-2); Christopher Benjamin (D-107); David Borrero (R-105); James Bush (D-109); Jason Fischer (R-16); Mike Giallombardo (R-77); Joe Harding (R-22); Randy Maggard (R-38); Patt Maney (R-4); Anika Omphroy (D-95); Alex Rizo (R-110); Felicia Robinson (D-102); Kaylee Tuck (R-55); Susan Valdés (D-62); Marie Woodson (D-101); Clay Yarborough (R-12)

Post-secondary Education and Lifelong Learning: Amber Mariano, chair; Rene Plasencia, vice chair; Ramon Alexander (D-8); Alex Andrade (R-2); Kristen Arrington (D-43); Melony Bell (R-56); Adam Botana (R-76); Michael Caruso (R-89); Tom Fabricio (R-103); Juan Fernandez-Barquin (R-119); Michael Gottlieb (D-98); Lauren Melo (R-80); Jim Mooney (R-120); Daisy Morales (D-48); Jenna Persons (R-78); Michelle Salzman (R-1); Allison Tant (D-9); Geraldine Thompson (D-44)