Because of an undisclosed illness, Rep. Webster Barnaby, a Deltona Republican in his first term in the House, has been absent from committee meetings since the start of the Legislative Session and is likely to miss meetings until at least Feb. 7.
In a letter dated Jan. 17 to House Commerce Committee Chair Blaise Ingoglia, a Spring Hill Republican, Barnaby requested to be excused from all committee meetings until Feb. 7 “due to medical reasons.” .
Jenna Sarkissian, spokeswoman for House Speaker Chris Sprowls, said she couldn’t provide further details. A voicemail left at Barnaby’s office Thursday afternoon was not returned.
Barnaby, 62, is the only Black Republican in the Florida House. He sits on six House committees: the Commerce Committee, the Insurance & Banking Subcommittee, the Criminal Justice & Public Safety Subcommittee, the Justice Appropriations Subcommittee, the Local Administration & Veterans Affairs Subcommittee and the State Legislative Redistricting Subcommittee.
Some lawmakers have been absent in the early days of Session, which began Jan. 11, because of positive COVID-19 tests. But Barnaby has been out longer than his colleagues, who have since returned. Records show Barnaby was absent for committee meetings the first week of Session, too, and was excused.
One of Barnaby’s bills, though, is ready for a House floor vote. HB 1195, which would remove the sunset date on the law allowing Gov. Ron DeSantis to award the Governor’s Medal of Freedom, passed through two committee stops this Session. It was presented by co-sponsor Rep. Jason Shoaf, a Port. St. Joe Republican.