There’s a joke in some parts of Southwest Florida that the region’s chief exports are sea shells and Majority Leaders. Rep. Michael Grant, a Port Charlotte Republican, likes to think the latter means more.
“At least we keep returning to the community,” the incoming House Majority Leader said. “The sea shell someone just puts on their shelf somewhere.”
When the Florida House comes together for its organizational session, Grant will be part of Speaker Chris Sprowls’ leadership team after serving two years as Majority Whip and two as a Deputy Whip. He follows in the footsteps of Dane Eagle, a Cape Coral Republican recently tapped for executive director of the Department of Economic Opportunity. Eagle followed Estero Republican Ray Rodrigues in the role, who just won election to the Florida Senate.
Notably, during Eagle’s time, Naples Republican Kathleen Passimodo served as Majority Leader in the Senate, and Fort Myers Republican Lizbeth Benacquisto served as Senate Majority during Rodrigues’ tenure. Passidomo, likely Senate President in 2022, will serve as Rules Committee chair in the coming Session, but no Senate Majority Leader has been announced.
Grant feels like the long-line of leadership from the region helped Southwest Florida all around. “For someone like me, whose private business activity spans from Collier County to Manatee so I look at everything regionally, I think of it as I’m not just representing Charlotte but the entire region,” he said.
Looking toward Session, the first issues confronting the House will not necessarily be partisan.
”First and foremost is the budget crisis, and the fiscal reality we are all looking at,” he said. “Revenues are not going to be what we thought they were in February and March, and we will need some revisions to that. It will be painful, and we need to figure out where we are going to be for a budget next year with the uncertainty of COVID impacting how we do things.”
While dollars recede, demands with Medicaid and the Division of Emergency Management will surely skyrocket. The impacts on education, environmental spending and a host of other challenges will be felt in time.
Grant the past two years most notably fought issues regarding licensing preemption, though he doesn’t care much for the latter half of that term. He found a willing enough audience in the House but not the Senate, and wonders if the plan suffered from poor branding.
“Maybe I didn’t do a good job at communicating what we were trying to do,” he said. “It wasn’t about trying to preempt local regulation. It was about having a statewide review of ordinances having an impact on the working men and women in the state of Florida. Why have a requirement for a painter in one county and not in the next county, when anyone can paint their own house without a license?”
He had meetings with Equality Florida to stress this wasn’t about workforce protections, but faced huge pushback from local government advocates. He expects a conversation will continue as far as questioning if it’s truly health and safety needs creating a patchwork of business regulations in Florida. “Sometimes someone needs to step in and say this is crazy,” he said.
When it comes to leading the caucus generally, Grant will place a priority on communication, both making clear what the caucus’ priorities are to its own members and to those on the other side of the aisle. He expects a good working relationship with Democrats.
“Hopefully we just facilitate the caucus’ ability to get it done in the Florida House,” Grant said.
Notably, Grant takes on this role with more years in the Capitol than most of his peers even in Leadership. He served two terms in the House from 2002 to 2008 before an unsuccessful Senate run, then returned to the House in 2016. While technically beginning in his third consecutive term, he will embark on his ninth Legislative Session in the Spring.
That gives him a range of experience, dating back to fighting for recovery and redevelopment dollars after Hurricane Charley leveled Punta Gorda in 2004. That gave him a knowledge of the system useful in a recent conversation with DEM Director Jared Moskowitz about Charlotte County being left out of an Eta-related state of emergency and ensuring reimbursement options remain open to local governments.
It also just grants him the benefit of long relationships. He served in the House with Moskowitz and worked closely with Eagle and Rodrigues. While he dismisses the notion of using his position to apply leverage, there’s plenty of people working in and around the Capitol he knows he can trust.
“It just helps to be on a first-name basis with folks,” he said.
November 16, 2020 at 8:23 am
He is perfect for the job; A major arrogant twit!!!
November 16, 2020 at 8:42 am
Harold, it is obvious you do not know mike grant. He is certainly not arrogant. He is a businessman who gets the job done, pushes hard for team play, and will work hard across the isle to insure a better florida for all of us.
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