Danny Burgess, a state Representative, is interviewing to become head of the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs, according to sources close to the Zephyrhills Republican and the Ron DeSantis transition team.
Burgess, first elected in 2014, is a U.S. Army Reserve captain who has a Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal and Meritorious Service Medal, his House bio says.
The 32-year-old lawmaker earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of South Florida and his law degree from Barry University. He also studied at the Army Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School.
He sits on the Veteran & Military Affairs Subcommittee, as well as the Justice Appropriations Subcommittee, the Local & Federal Affairs Committee, and the Rulemaking Oversight & Repeal Subcommittee.
Burgess has sponsored a number of bills related to veterans issues during his tenure in the House, from the ceremonial to the substantive.
In his first Legislative Session on the job, he co-sponsored a resolution recognizing May 16 as Armed Forces Day in Florida; in 2016, he sponsored the House version of bill creating the Gold Star license plate for the parents, grandparents, children and siblings of fallen servicemembers; in 2017 he sponsored a number of bills to secure better health care options for veterans and ended up securing a $485,000 appropriation for a veteran intervention program at BayCare Behavioral Health.
The 2018 Legislative Session saw him re-secure the BayCare appropriation and get money for a veterans program at WestCare Gulfcoast Florida into the budget. He also secured $1 million for facility improvements and operations funding at Veterans Alternative, a retreat program that has shown promising results in the treatment of PTSD, depression and anxiety among combat veterans.
Burgess interview for the Veterans Affairs job comes shortly after he opened a campaign account to run for another term in the House in 2020.
If he ends up being the pick for the executive branch position, that campaign would be scuttled and DeSantis would have to call a special election to replace Burgess in House District 38.
The Pasco-based seat is heavily Republican.
Prior to Burgess’ election in 2014, the seat was held by former House Speaker Will Weatherford. DeSantis recently tapped Weatherford to chair the transition’s economic advisory panel.
Burgess didn’t face a Democratic challenger this year and he easily defeated unaffiliated candidate David “TK” Hayes on Election Day to win his third term in the House.