Democratic Sen. Tina Polsky and Republican Sen. Gayle Harrell are the Palm Beach County legislative delegation’s new leaders for the coming term, lawmakers decided at Friday’s organizational meeting.
Polsky, whose new district straddles Broward and Palm Beach counties, was the delegation’s unanimous choice to succeed Republican Rep. Mike Caruso as delegation Chair. And Harrell, whose district straddles Martin, Palm Beach and St. Lucie counties, got a unanimous vote to succeed Polsky as the delegation’s Vice Chair.
“I know we will be in very good hands,” Caruso said.
The Palm Beach County delegation became a little more Republican with the election of Peggy Gossett-Seidman, who will be representing a newly drawn House District 91. HD 91 comprises part of Caruso’s old district and another part that Emily Slosberg-King represented in Tallahassee before her decision to retire from the Legislature earlier this year.
Also new to the delegation: Democratic Rep. Katherine Waldron, who will be representing a newly drawn district, House District 93, mostly made up of Rep. Matt Willhite’s former district.
There was no mention Friday of the partisan divide that threatens to make Democrats more irrelevant than ever when the Legislature convenes again. Republican lawmakers will be returning this year with a supermajority in both chambers, which means they have the power to waive all rules as bills are read, debated, amended and moved forward for a final vote.
Caruso’s opening remarks focused on the local projects that need attention, rather than the broader issues that will be facing lawmakers in Tallahassee, such as the increasing cost of property insurance, abortion rights and various workforce shortages
“We have a lot of work left to do from the flooding — stormwater management, derelict vessels, submerged land acquisitions, Lake Worth Lagoon, and sand dredging,” he said.
The delegation heard from a parade of organizations and individuals making the case for change. Also, the constitutional officers made presentations. Tax Collector Anne Gannon warned the delegation against legislation that would change delinquent tax sales, and Property Appraiser Dorothy Jacks lobbied for having a statewide database of vacation rentals.
Jacks thanked the delegation for their previous efforts.
“I want to thank you for increasing the widows’ (property) exemption,” she said. “If you recall, it had not changed since the 1970s.”