The Senate Ethics and Elections Committee has recommended the chamber confirm Melanie Griffin as Secretary of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR).
Gov. Ron DeSantis named Griffin in December to replace outgoing Secretary Julie Brown, who shifted over to the new Florida Gaming Control Commission. With the committee’s recommendation on Monday, the next step for Griffin’s confirmation will be a vote by the full Senate.
Griffin, a Bradenton native, was a lawyer with Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick before her appointment. She also is a senior adviser for business-to-business relationships for Shumaker Advisors Florida and the founder of Spread Your Sunshine, which provides speaking and professional training services and sells inspirational products.
Speaking before the ethics panel, Griffin told Senators she has always wanted to serve in Tallahassee.
“I came here as a 17-year-old kid to Girls State and sat in the Capitol and thought, ‘I am meant to be here and serve in some capacity,'” Griffin said.
She received finance, business and law degrees from Florida State University. Previously, she worked in the House, the Governor’s Office and twice previously at DBPR.
Since taking the helm of DBPR, Griffin has overseen a modernization project to overhaul the call center and website to make it friendlier to licensees. Keeping the agency fully staffed also has been a challenge, she noted.
“We also are focused on keeping our employee morale up and appreciating their efforts as they come to work every day with a servant’s heart to serve the citizens of the state of Florida,” Griffin said.
Griffin told the committee that Monday also marks her 13th wedding anniversary with her husband, Mike. Her four-year-old son and golden lab also are at home in Tampa.
DBPR oversees regulated industries such as food service, alcohol and gambling. The department also handles licensing and regulation for a wide range of professions, such as barbers, cosmetologists and real estate agents.
Griffin marked the third DBPR Secretary crowned within a year.
Former Secretary Halsey Beshears stepped down in January 2021, citing personal health issues. Beshears is a notable figure in the ongoing investigation into U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz. A former Republican lawmaker from Monticello, Beshears was elected to the House in 2012 and was among DeSantis’ first agency-head selections in 2018.
Brown, meanwhile, served the agency for less than a year. She spent 10 years on the Florida Public Service Commission, serving as chair from 2016 to 2018. A lawyer and University of Florida graduate, she previously served on the Florida Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission and is a former president of the League of Women Voters of Hillsborough County.
Brown is leading the five-member government Florida Gaming Control Commission, which is responsible for exercising state regulatory and executive powers over gambling in Florida, including oversight of gaming compacts under the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. Lawmakers established the commission last year and have allocated $26.9 million and 185 positions for the commission under both proposed House and Senate budgets.