Reading between the lines: Richard Corcoran’s subcommittee appointment choices
Florida House of Representatives speaker designate Richard Corcoran in his office in the Florida Capitol December 2, 2015.

Speaker pro tempore Richard Corcoran

House Speaker Richard Corcoran says he’s “proud of the way” his subcommittee chairs were chosen – which makes you wonder what devils were in the details.

In a statement, the Land O’Lakes Republican said he wanted to “decentralize authority” in selecting the chairs for the next two legislative sessions.

The decisions were made based on “member consultations, preferences, committee chair interviews, leadership team meetings, and input from the Minority Leader (Democrat Janet Cruz of Tampa).”

As The Wire’s Omar Little liked to say, “Indeed.” That said, if one reads between the lines, there are some appointments and assignment which really stand out, including:

— In the case of Manny Diaz chairing the PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee, this is a case of the right man in the right place at the right time.

— As Florida Trend’s Jason Garcia first noted on Twitter, Corcoran — already viewed as being sympathetic to Florida’s trial attorneys — handed the Civil Justice & Claims Subcommittee to Heather Fitzenhagen, an attorney at Morgan & Morgan. And as The Capitolist’s Brian Burgess points out, Fitzenhagen isn’t the only trial lawyer on that committee. Danny Burgess, an attorney at the firm of Lucas Magazine, also sits on the panel.

— The gaming industry isn’t expecting much out of Corcoran’s House, especially from a subcommittee with the words “Gaming Control” in its name, but the appointment of two Orlando (read as probably pro-Disney) lawmakers – Mike La Rosa and Mike Miller – as chair and vice chair only made lobbyists for gambling interests even more suspect. Still, one lobbyist’s nose count has the committee at plus-one for a smart, Senate-initiated gaming bill.

— Another sector which has to be somewhat worried by the chair appointed to oversee it is the utility industry. Pinellas’ Kathleen Peters is in charge of the Energy & Utilities Subcommittee. She’s also an ally of state Sen. Jack Latvala, who has been a tough but fair critic of some of FPL, Duke, etc.

— Blaise Ingoglia quarterbacking the Government Operations & Technology Appropriations Subcommittee. This is the panel which has oversight over much of the Rick Scott administration’s budget. And while publicly Ingoglia and Scott get along, don’t think for one second the Hernando Republican has forgotten how little Scott has done for Ignoglia’s Florida GOP. Kevin O’Reilly, Scott’s Director of Legislative Affairs, has his work cut out for him here.

— Increased funding for higher education is one of Senate President Joe Negron‘s top priorities, so it’s, um, interesting that Corcoran tapped veteran lawmaker Larry Ahern as the chair of appropriations subcommittee that oversees funding for the state’s colleges and universities. Ahern is a well-meaning, principled conservative, but he’s never struck me as a rah-rah guy for the Gators, Noles, etc. Maybe that is Corcoran’s point.

— She didn’t receive a gavel in her first term, but Tampa state Rep. Jackie Toledo did score some nice committee assignments, including a spot on the Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee, where the engineer can put her experience to work.

— As POLTICO Florida’s Matt Dixon observed, Scott Plakon seems to be the only lieutenant of Eric Eisnaugle, who was muscled out by Corcoran’s allies from one day serving as House Speaker, who ended up with a chairmanship. Speaking of Dixon, kudos to him for pushing out the likely subcommittee chairs well in advance of the rest of the press corps.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.


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