by Andrew Powell
Florida Senate and House committees are having interim meetings this week to kick off the new legislative session for 2023, and several new committees will be meeting for the first time – and chaired by freshman Republicans.
Originally, the interim meetings were set to take place from Dec. 12-16, but were postponed and instead replaced with a special session. Lawmakers took the opportunity during that special session to address the growing issue of property insurance costs in Florida, as well as recovery after Hurricane Ian and Hurricane Nicole ripped through the Sunshine State in September 2022.
The two-day meetings start with the Committee of Agriculture in the Florida Senate, and new Republican Sen. Jay Collins has taken the position of committee chair. The Florida House of Representatives will begin with the Choice and Innovation subcommittee, Civil Justice subcommittee, Infrastructure & Tourism Appropriations subcommittee and the Insurance & Banking subcommittee.
In total, six Senate committees and 12 House subcommittees will be meeting, kicking off what promises to be a busy year for Florida lawmakers during the 2023 regular session that begins on March 7.
Florida has a Republican supermajority, with the midterm elections seeing the GOP sweep each of the Florida House, Senate and governor races, with Gov. Ron DeSantis winning a clear majority over his Democrat opposition Charlie Crist.
Interim meetings are set for Wednesday because of New Year’s Day being a state holiday on Monday and DeSantis holding his inauguration on Tuesday.
Former Republican Majority Leader Kathleen Passidomo will also take up her new post officially as the president of the Florida Senate after being sworn in on Nov. 22. Passidomo is one of only three women to preside over the chamber in 177 years.
Passidomo said she is focused on rebuilding Florida after Hurricane Ian – her Naples home being one of those damaged when the category 4 storm slammed into Southwest Florida. The economy and affordable housing are also a focal point and included Passidomo stressing the need for both parties to work together for the betterment of the citizens of Florida.
“Most issues we will agree on, such as workforce housing, protection of the environment, safeguarding our vulnerable population, and honoring our veterans and first responders. There are a few issues we will not agree on, and that is OK,” Passidomo said.
Passidomo also offered glimpse of the agenda to come for the legislative session in 2023 and reiterated that the approach will be no nonsense.
“We must remain focused. If it is not broken, we’re not going to fix it. I am not interested in food fights between special interests. We are here to serve the constituents we represent,” Passidomo said.
“It may require late nights and long weeks. It may include special sessions during interim committee weeks. But we will not adjourn until we get the job done. That is what Floridians sent us here to do. And, together with our governor, cabinet and colleagues in the Florida House, we will deliver.”
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