TALLAHASSEE — The legislative leadership of the majority Republicans go a long way toward shaping the direction of the Legislature during its 60-day session. Here are the majority and minority leaders for the 2022 Florida Legislature.
Senate President Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby
Simpson, a businessman who owns an industrial egg-farming operation, is entering his second and final legislative session. He’s running for agriculture commissioner in the next election. Expect him to continue a top-down style in the Senate, where he ensured senators passed a highly divisive slate of bills requested by Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2021. If DeSantis gets his way this session, it will be because Simpson kept Republican senators in line.
Incoming Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples
Passidomo, a real estate attorney, is set to become just the third woman to lead the Florida Senate in 2022. (A woman has never led the Florida House of Representatives.) Passidomo’s influence will be instrumental this session on the abortion debate. Already, she’s come out strongly against a Texas-style abortion ban, which essentially deputizes regular people to report violations of the state’s law against nearly all abortions after six weeks. She compared it to neighbors turning in neighbors in Nazi Germany.
Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book, D-Plantation
Book leads the Senate Democrats, who are badly outnumbered by their GOP colleagues and poorly organized — she was chosen as leader during a rare late-session revolt in 2021. As a childhood survivor of sexual assault, she’s been a staunch advocate for child safety and runs the nonprofit Lauren’s Kids, which educates adults and children about sexual abuse prevention. The daughter of a powerful Tallahassee lobbyist, Book has been willing to cut deals with Republicans on controversial issues. When Democrats had the rare chance to block a DeSantis bill on vaccine mandates, neither Book nor other top Democrats voted against it, ensuring it passed.
House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor
Sprowls, an attorney whose career has included prosecuting criminal cases in Pasco and Pinellas counties, is entering his final legislative session and second as speaker. He has not publicly said what he intends to do after his tenure is over, nor has he laid out his priorities for the upcoming session. But expect him to continue pushing for legislation that would make it easier for consumers to opt out of allowing corporations to sell their data. The bill was a big priority for him last year, but the Senate didn’t agree to it. Also, expect Sprowls to keep the Republican-dominated chamber focused on some of DeSantis’ top priorities.
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Incoming House Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast
Renner, an attorney who retired from the U.S. Navy as a commander, is set to become speaker of the Florida House of Representatives in 2022. He will be the first legislator from Northeast Florida to be chosen for the leadership position in more than two decades. Renner has not provided many details on what he hopes to prioritize as speaker. However, he has said he intends to back school choice initiatives and has said he won’t seek to mimic a new Texas law that prohibits abortions after the presence of a fetal heartbeat. He said Florida will follow “our own lead” on the matter.
House Minority Leader Evan Jenne, D-Dania Beach
Jenne is facing term limits, and this legislative session will mark his last one. The 44-year-old has represented House District 99, which includes most of Hollywood in southern Broward County, since 2014. He has been in elected office, on and off, since he was 29 and has developed a reputation as one of the loudest voices against Republican-led priorities in the House. Jenne and fellow Broward Democrat Rep. Bobby DuBose were serving as co-minority leaders in the chamber in 2021. DuBose will not be in office this legislative session, however, because he resigned to run in the race for Florida’s 20th Congressional District.
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