J.R. Kelly, a lawyer who since 2007 has represented consumer utility issues as the state’s public counsel, is stepping down from the position.
Kelly’s resignation comes roughly nine months after the Florida Legislature approved terms limits applicable to the position. Kelly’s resignation, reported first by POLITICO, will take effect Jan. 15.
“Even though I am eligible to apply for another term, I believe the Legislature has made clear its preference that no person should serve in the position longer than the 12-year limit adopted in the statute,” Kelly wrote in a resignation letter to Senate President Wilton Simpson and House Speaker Chris Sprowls. “After giving this matter much thought over the past few weeks in discussions with my family and seeking guidance through prayer, I have decided that now is the time for me to step down to facilitate a transition to a new public counsel on March 1, 2021.”
In his role, Kelly served on behalf of consumers facing utility issues in Florida, oftentimes before the Florida Public Service Commission. According to the Office of Public Counsel, the office is involved with an array of utility services including gas, water and electric.
A Florida State University Law graduate, Kelly worked for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services as a senior attorney and division director before his 2007 appointment.
“We thank Mr. Kelly for his many years of service in state government, and wish him all the best moving forward,” Simpson said Tuesday in a statement.
A law signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis last year requires the legislative Joint Committee on Public Counsel Oversight to appoint an individual to the position to four-year terms starting March 1, with a 12-year cap on service.
The committee is composed of five senators and six House members, of which seven are Republicans and four are Democrats.
The Office of the Public Counsel was created by the Florida Legislature in 1974.