House Rules Chair Chris Sprowls, a Palm Harbor Republican, was formally chosen Tuesday by his Republican colleagues to become the next House Speaker. Sprowls will take the gavel after the November 2020 elections and serve as Speaker for two years.
After making remarks during Tuesday’s ceremony, Sprowls, 35, talked with reporters about issues such as the state budget, the need for inspectors general to investigate financial wrongdoing, social media and his support for a plan that could lead to building or expanding three toll roads.
Here are five questions for Sprowls from his discussion with reporters:
Q: You talked about budgets in (your) remarks … it sounds like you’re indicting previous generations of the party for overspending and not setting parameters.
SPROWLS: We can’t ignore our own failing. So, what I was saying is that we haven’t allowed our reserves to keep up with our growth and our budget, and that is something we should make a priority. So, I was specifically pointing out something that we as a caucus can do better.
Q: About your proposal for inspectors general, and what you mean by strengthening, what specifics do you have in mind?
SPROWLS: I think the inspectors general need to have some teeth so that they can go and investigate these organizations. If you all recall, and really it was the reporters that brought it up first in the Career Source example that I used. It was brought to us by the press. It wasn’t something that government initiated. It wasn’t initiated by a state attorney or the Attorney General’s Office. So, my point there was, we need more teeth, so when there is instances like this where they can go in, they can investigate, they can recover misspent money. And if it’s really, really bad, they can go forward with criminal prosecution.
Q: At the beginning of your speech you talked about two different worlds, D.C. and Tallahassee, and people being filled with apocalyptic rage and being obsessed with what they do on Twitter. What are your thoughts about the president and his use of Twitter and the way he engages with people?
SPROWLS: I don’t like sometimes what the President tweets. It isn’t what I would tweet. I actually candidly think it distracts from all the great things that he is doing. What I would say is, it was a message about all of us. All of us are engaged in a social-media world where people react quickly. They react loudly. It’s apocalyptic. And it’s not reality. My point to everyone was we should be grounded firmly, focusing on real problems, not being worried about what the emotional moment is on Twitter.
Q: You mentioned not getting caught up in semantics. Do you think the Republican Party nationally has gotten too caught up in, like, being afraid of the words “climate change?”
SPROWLS: I think both parties have gotten amped up about words. Part of the problem when you talk about things like the environment is that it’s been so hyper-politicized by everyone that we’re not having an actual conversation as to what do we need to do. What is a reasonable step? What’s a practical way to mitigate things like risks of flooding in our coastal communities? So, my point was to stop the national nonsense of the conversations that are so toxic and focus on what are practical solutions.
Q: The bill will be due when you’re Speaker on those toll roads that were approved this past year. It’s an idea that mostly emanated from the Senate, but it’s going to come on your watch. Are you four-square in favor of those?
SPROWLS: I voted for it. I supported the plans. And I continue to support the plan.