[UPDATE] Florida Legislators: Meet the New Members

By: The News Service of Florida
By: The News Service of Florida

[UPDATE] 1-14 8:00AM

NAME: Rep. Jeanette M. Nuñez, R-Miami

JOB: Nuñez is the vice president of external affairs at Kendall Regional Medical Center and Aventura Medical Center ..

DISTRICT: Nuñez represents House District 112, which includes parts of Miami-Dade and Collier counties.

PRIORITIES: Nuñez said she is most interested in working on issues related to spurring economic development, particularly relaxing regulations for companies. She also hopes to be heavily involved in the Medicaid reform discussions. “I’d like to be involved and add whatever expertise I can,” she said. Nuñez said she is still evaluating which bills she will sponsor, but has already committed to sponsoring one that would create a Health and Human Services Contract Resource Center at the Department of Management Services.

#1 THING THE LEGISLATURE SHOULD DO: “Well, I think obviously critically important to the Legislature this year is the budgetary challenges it faces and how it reconciles that with what our mission and what we campaigned on why many of us our here,” she said. Combined with that, Nuñez said, is the Medicaid reform discussion. “You hear so many horror stories about access and quality in terms of Medicaid recipients, so I think we really need to reassess how we deliver health care and how all that combines into budgetary challenges we face,” she added.


NAME: Rep. Shawn Harrison, R-Tampa

JOB: Harrison is a health care attorney.

DISTRICT: Harrison represents House District 60 in Hillsborough County.

PRIORITIES: “My priorities are private business job creation, especially small business, helping those folks as much as we can,” Harrison said. Harrison is working on a bill that would create apprenticeship programs for higher education students and is also interested in tort reform. “I think it’s the right time,” he said. “The stars are aligning in the state for that. I think we have to do everything we can in Florida to make it business friendly.”

#1 THING THE LEGISLATURE SHOULD DO: “It needs to be something that is bold that shows businesses that Florida is a place they need to be,” Harrison said. “We all talked on the campaign trail about private sector job creation and we need to move there and we need to move there boldly. And I love the governor’s idea about elimination of the corporate income tax. Phasing it out, even if it’s phasing it out over several years, it sends a message and I think it will get attention from the private business community that Florida is really putting its money where its mouth is. So that’s No. 1 for me.”


NAME: Rep. Jason Brodeur, R-Sanford

JOB: Brodeur is a health care consultant.

DISTRICT: Brodeur represents House District 33 in Seminole County.

PRIORITIES: “I think my goal is to make sure everything we do allows us to grow the economy, allows citizens to preserve their rights and encourages personal responsibility,” he said. Brodeur said he is still weighing possibilities for five of his six bill slots, but has already filed one that would make it a felony for a physician or staff member to ask patients or family members of patients if they own guns or store guns at home. “You get six slots and you think how will you ever fill that and then you get 15 ideas and you think ‘I need more,’” Brodeur said. He said he would like to stick to bills that could help the business community by easing regulations.

#1 THING THE LEGISLATURE SHOULD DO: “Let’s go for a limited government,” he said. “I think we tend to forget about what a big deal personal responsibility is. Government can’t solve every problem for everyone. But we can provide the framework for people to have the opportunity to succeed.”

[UPDATE] 1-10 8:50AM

NAME: Rep. Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton

JOB: Boyd works in insurance and real estate.

DISTRICT: Boyd represents House District 68, which includes Bradenton.

PRIORITIES: “I’m about getting our economy back on a good footing and people back to work and trying to be creative and helpful in areas that might accommodate that and accomplish that,” he said. “I don’t have any big, big plans at this stage of my political experience, but I do know that getting our families and friends and neighbors back to work (is) the most important thing.” Boyd is still looking at which bills he might sponsor.

#1 THING THE LEGISLATURE SHOULD DO: “Jobs and our economy,” he said. “With unemployment what it is and how our economy suffered over the past four or five years I think its critical that we get government out of business’ way.”


NAME: Rep. Ben Albritton, R-Wauchula

JOB: Albritton is a citrus grower.

DISTRICT: Albritton represents House District 66 in Polk County.

PRIORITIES: “The first thing to do is to understand the geography in Tallahassee,” he said. “It’s a very good process but at the same time it’s very complex. Understanding the network, the geography and the agencies, the House and the Senate, the governor’s office.” Albritton said his top personal goal though is to “dig down into the process of government and look for opportunities to streamline and enhance our business opportunities.” The new lawmaker is still looking at different possibilities for legislation, but said he is interested in business issues. “We’re only granted six bills so I’m wanting to make sure the six bills are really about the meat and potatoes about our economy,” he said.

#1 THING THE LEGISLATURE SHOULD DO: “No. 1. I will say this, there are a lot of significant issues that need to be dealt with,” he said. “But I think first and foremost, whatever we can do to help the private sector create jobs.”


NAME: Rep. Larry Metz, R-Yalaha

JOB: Metz is a trial attorney.

DISTRICT: Metz represents House District 25 in Lake County.

PRIORITIES: Metz said he is vetting potential projects for five of his six bill slots, but has already decided that one will be reserved to amend the Florida Enterprise Zone Act to broaden the qualifying criteria for municipalities. Metz said he specifically would like Lake County to qualify, but also other areas in need of an economic boost. “Lake County is a county in economic transition,” Metz said. “We used to have a vibrant citrus industry that was undermined or destroyed if you will because of the freezes and canker disease.” Metz said he is also interested in working on tort reform and illegal immigration.

#1 THING THE LEGISLATURE SHOULD DO: “Well, I think the overarching challenge for us is the budget,” he said. “That’s the one thing the Constitution says we must do. And that not an easy task when you consider the $3.5 billion shortfall. But right alongside that, doing something about the economy and jobs.”


[UPDATE] 12-21 9:50AM


JOB: Brandes works in real estate.

DISTRICT: Brandes represents House District 52 in Pinellas County.

PRIORITIES: “I ran on a platform of jobs, insurance and education,” he said. “We think the No. 1 thing we can do to keep jobs is to keep taxes low and fight regulation.” Brandes said he plans to file two jobs bills, two education bills and one insurance bill. He has already started work on an insurance proposal that would allow homeowners to create a hurricane savings account for their homes and create incentives for more private companies to enter the market. He’s also interested in working on school choice issues, but said he wants to see the governor’s plan on the issue before filing anything. “As long as it provides more access and more choice through vouchers, through scholarships,” he said.

#1 THING THE LEGISLATURE SHOULD DO: “Not raise taxes and not increase government regulation,” he said.



JOB: Davis is the executive director at the Northeast Florida Builders Association.

DISTRICT: Davis represents District 13 in the Jacksonville area.

PRIORITIES: “Well, I think it’s pretty important for us to look at all of the opportunities we can to make it easier for people to do business in the state of Florida,” Davis said, specifically suggesting a system to fast track the permitting process and reducing regulation. Davis said he and his staff are working on potential legislation and said he hopes to be involved in growth management issues and deregulation bills.

#1 THING THE LEGISLATURE SHOULD DO: “Create an opportunity for people to expand their business in Florida or bring other companies to our state to operate their businesses,” he said.



JOB: Diaz is an attorney.

DISTRICT: Diaz represents House District 115 in Miami-Dade County, spanning from Cutler Ridge to Westchester.

PRIORITIES: “Our priorities are going to be in no particular order, closing the gap of a large budgetary shortfall, creating a whole lot of jobs and making tough decisions based on the promises we made to the voters during our campaigns,” Diaz said. Diaz has submitted 13 bills to bill drafting – seven repealer bills and six substantive measures. He said he’s developing measures related to property tax discounts, election reform and consumer protection. “I’m a bit of a policy wonk, so I’ve had a lot of ideas for a long time,” he said.

#1 THING THE LEGISLATURE SHOULD DO: “I think it was pretty obvious when we all ran that jobs were at the forefront of every single discussion we had with our constituents,” he said.


[UPDATE] 12-14 7:45AM--


JOB: Costello is a dentist and the former mayor of Ormond Beach.

DISTRICT: Costello represents District 26, which includes Ormond Beach, De Leon Springs and parts of DeLand.

PRIORITIES: Costello says he would like to be involved in any legislation that expands school choice in Florida. The state’s tax credit scholarship program sends 29,000 low income students to private schools in the state, but Costello would like to see school choice available to everyone. “We have got to have some radical education reform unless we want to have our entire country be in the middle or lower tier of the advantaged countries in the world,” he said. Costello’s biggest priority though is a bill that would eliminate all school property taxes and replace the money with revenue from the collection of a tax on internet sales and the elimination of most of the current sales tax exemption loopholes. He said it should be revenue neutral.

#1 THING THE LEGISLATURE SHOULD DO: “No. 1, cut the budget $3.5 billion so we’re only spending what we’re generating,” Costello said, noting that the state is facing a large budget shortfall for the coming fiscal year. “And I don’t want any new revenue. I don’t think now is the time to raise taxes.”



JOB: Hager is a lawyer and reinsurance arbiter. Prior to moving to Florida in 1990, he was involved in Iowa politics as an assistant attorney general and insurance commissioner.

DISTRICT: Hager represents House District 87, which includes Boca Raton and stretches up to South Palm Beach.

PRIORITIES: Hager said his top priorities are working to make Florida more business friendly and helping balance the budget while lowering taxes. He’s still looking at potential legislation, but has agreed to co-sponsor the House version of a proposed constitutional amendment trying to subvert the Obama health care overhaul. “It’s indicative of some of my views,” he said.

#1 THING THE LEGISLATURE SHOULD DO: “I think it’s to do everything in our power to make Florida prosper and grow and be the No. 1 place to start a business,” he said.



JOB: Smith is a security officer at the Crystal River Nuclear Plant.

DISTRICT: Smith represents House District 43, a Nature Coast district including parts of Hernando, Citrus and Levy counties.

PRIORITIES: "Long term, I’m worried about our education system," he said, noting that there is not enough technical training in education currently. "The gaps are in trades and agricultural training," he said. Smith said he has formed a technical education task force to study the issue, but his first bill (HB 43) prohibits severance pay for non-elected public officers.

#1 THING THE LEGISLATURE SHOULD DO: "I want to work on welfare issues and getting into the mindset of the people locally and to repeal red tape that keeps businesses" from prospering, he said. "The Florida House has been authorized to repeal any bureaucratic regulations. My short-term goal is getting with business and getting the red tape off of their backs."


[UPDATE] 12-13 8:00AM --


JOB: Benacquisto is a realtor.

DISTRICT: Benacquisto represents Senate District 27, which includes parts of Palm Beach, Glades, Charlotte and Lee Counties.

PRIORITIES: “Basically any policies that allow jobs to be created in the state,” she said, noting that her district includes some of Florida’s most economically depressed areas. “So my task is to do all that I can to bring high quality jobs to the area.” Benacquisto has not filed any bills because she wanted to spend the first committee week in Tallahassee absorbing all the presentations and meeting with people.

#1 THING THE LEGISLATURE SHOULD DO: “It’s focusing on allowing our small businesses, the entrepreneurs, the bigger companies that stayed with us during this downturn, to work in a less regulated environment so they can thrive,” she said. “And we’re really creating a vision for the next 25, 50 years, so we can really be strong, no matter the crisis.”



JOB: Corcoran is an attorney and also served as former House Speaker Marco Rubio’s chief of staff.

DISTRICT: Corcoran represents House District 45 in Pinellas County.

PRIORITIES: “I’d like to see a reduction in property taxes,” he said. “I think Gov. Scott is going along the right idea with that.” Corcoran said he will probably file a bill related to property taxes, but he is unsure right now what form the bill will take. He also wants to be involved in education reform discussions that involve merit pay and accountability standards for teachers.

#1 THING THE LEGISLATURE SHOULD DO: “I think absolutely the No. 1 issue is economic recovery,” he said.



JOB: Broxson works in the insurance industry.

DISTRICT: Broxson represents House District 1 in Santa Rosa County.

PRIORITIES: “My big priority is really more local,” he said. “We have a big challenge with our BP oil impact. Many people in the state think it’s over. But for us, it’s really got a big impact on our tourism.”

#1 THING THE LEGISLATURE SHOULD DO: “Well I think the No. 1 thing we have to do is control heath care,” he said. “And hopefully with a new governor who has a health care background, we can come up with some creative ways and convince the federal government we need some relief.”


[UPDATE] 12-9 8:00AM --


JOB: Stafford is an attorney for the Miami-Dade County Bar Legal Aid Society.

DISTRICT: Stafford represents House District 109 in Miami, which includes Miami Beach, Gladeview and Brownsville.

PRIORITIES: “Actually my top three priorities, and this is the platform that I ran on, are I want to promote public education, I want to increase economic development in my district and to fight for better health care,” Stafford said.

#1 THING THE LEGISLATURE SHOULD DO: “A lot of folks don’t have jobs and are losing their homes,” Stafford said. “And again I’m looking at district 109’s perspective. I think we need to come together as a cohesive body and work toward improving the life of people in the state and our district.” Stafford said she believes the Legislature should focus on improving the public education system as a way to boost economic growth and thus job creation in the state. “If we have a top notch public education system, then corporations will want to come here and people will want to move here and bring their children here.”



JOB: Grant is an attorney.

DISTRICT: Grant represents House District 47, which includes parts of Tampa.

PRIORITIES: Grant, whose father, John Grant, served in the Florida Senate, said one of his top priorities includes making Florida more business friendly, partially by cutting regulations. He said he is still trying to determine what legislation he will sponsor, but said he is particularly interested in sponsoring a child pornography bill in light of a 2nd District Court of Appeal opinion that ruled a 62-year-old man was not guilty of possession after the man pasted images that contained the faces of two girls, aged 11 and 12, onto a lewd photo of the body of a 19-year-old. The DCA ruled that the man was not guilty because the 19-year-old was shown in the sexual position, not the girls. Grant said that he still needs to do his “homework” on the issue, but that it was “something that quickly jumped up.”

#1 THING THE LEGISLATURE SHOULD DO: Grant said that jobs is the easy answer for the Legislature’s top job, but said that it should not be that simple. “I think truly the No. 1 thing we can do is treat every piece of legislation with the principals we campaigned on,” he said.



JOB: Harrell is a health information technology consultant.

DISTRICT: Harrell represents House District 81, which includes Port St. Lucie. She is returning to the Legislature, having held the same seat from 200-2008 when she left to run for Congress, losing in the GOP primary to Tom Ronney. She defeated incumbent Democrat Adam Fetterman to get the seat back.

PRIORITIES: “Well certainly the No. 1 issue facing the state is jobs and the economy and we need to address this,” Harrell said. She plans to file a bill related to illegal immigration, requiring companies to use the E-verify system to check whether workers are legal Florida residents. She is also working on pill mill legislation with Speaker Pro Tempore John Legg, and hopes to be involved in Medicaid reform discussions, one of House Speaker Dean Cannon’s and Senate President Mike Haridopolos’ biggest priorities. “We need to continue to reform Medicaid,” she said.

#1 THING THE LEGISLATURE SHOULD DO: “I think that comes down the economy, really trying to jump start the economy and working on job creation,” Harrell said. “That is the No. 1 issue that is facing this state.”


[UPDATE] 12-7 8:00AM --



JOB: Campbell is a registered nurse.

DISTRICT: Campbell represents House District 108 in Miami-Dade County, which includes Biscayne Park, North Miami and Golden Glades.

PRIORITIES: Campbell said job creation, Medicaid reform and education are her top priorities. In particular, she wants to get rid of the state’s standardized exam, the FCAT. “FCAT does not need to be reformed,” she said. “It needs to be eliminated completely.”

#1 THING THE LEGISLATURE SHOULD DO: “The No. 1 is to put people back to work,” she said. “That is the top, to put people back to work and to try to cut expenses on jail and increase the expenses in education.”



JOB: Pilon is the community and government affairs director for the Peace River-Manasota Regional Water Supply Authority.

DISTRICT: Pilon represents House District 69 in Sarasota.

PRIORITIES: Pilon said his main priority is working to get the economy “on track,” but he is also interested in issues such as juvenile justice reform and corrections after a career in law enforcement. He hasn’t filed any bills yet. “It’s a little bit harder for the new folks to hone in on things,” he said.

#1 THING THE LEGISLATURE SHOULD DO: Pilon, like many of his colleagues, picked jobs and the general economy as the Legislature’s top priority. He said lawmakers should be working to cut regulations that might make business development more difficult in the state, but noted that these regulations have to be examined carefully, to weigh the effect on the consumer. “We have to strike a balance so we can protect the consumer, so we can protect the professions we’re looking at,” he said.



JOB: Margolis is a licensed real estate agent and investor.

DISTRICT: Margolis represents Senate District 35, which includes northeastern Miami-Dade County and a sliver of Broward County.

PRIORITIES: Margolis said she is working at crafting legislation that would require financial literacy classes in public schools. Students often graduate without understanding basic financial skills, which can be problematic during periods of economic downturn. “Kids are watching their parents go down the tubes and they don’t know why,” she said.

#1 THING THE LEGISLATURE SHOULD DO: “Jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs,” she said. “It’s really jobs and getting people back to work.”


[UPDATE] 12-2 7:45AM --



JOB: Simmons is an attorney. He also served in the Florida House from 2000 to 2008, and was a leading member on education issues.

DISTRICT: Simmons represents Senate District 22, which includes parts of Seminole and Orange counties.

PRIORITIES: “What I’m looking for is improving Florida’s education system so that it is competitive worldwide and certainly the best in our nation,” Simmons said. Simmons said he is looking at a statutory change to the state’s class size law, an issue he worked on as a House member, and also a measure to extend the school day for an hour for low performing schools. “In a period of about five years, they’ll end up having an extra year of schooling,” he said.

#1 THING THE LEGISLATURE SHOULD DO: “I think we’re going to need to effectively balance the budget and in doing so we can improve and find innovative ways to improve the economy and education system,” he said.




JOB: Ahern owns a swimming pool remodeling and commercial fountain business.

DISTRICT: Ahern represents House District 51 in Pinellas County.

PRIORITIES: Ahern said he wants to use his business background to help the Legislature look at ways to make the state budget more efficient and accountable. He has just begun to look at potential bills to sponsor, but he said he is particularly looking at a bill that would deal with the notification of contamination in and around industrial work

#1 THING THE LEGISLATURE SHOULD DO: “We have to overcome the deficit and that should always be our first and foremost objective,” Ahern said. There is a certain allure to filing bills, he added, but said the Legislature’s primary concern should be overcoming the $2.5 billion shortfall facing the state for the next fiscal year. “It has to do with again the theme being trying to get more from less money and in certain cases, if that means looking at what are the essentials of government, what are we supposed to be supplying citizens with.”



JOB: Perman is a chiropractor.

DISTRICT: Perman represents House District 78, which includes parts of Martin, Okeechobee, Palm Beach and St. Lucie counties.

PRIORITIES: “I’m a chiropractic physician of 31 years so I’m very involved in health care access and such,” Perman said. Also, he said, “I think one of the responsibilities we have is to make sure our communities are as safe as possible.”

#1 THING THE LEGISLATURE SHOULD DO: “I think the most important thing we have to do is be responsive to the economic needs of Florida,” Perman said. “Obviously job creation looms large on a national level and certainly in the state of Florida and we need to intelligently find ways to bolster the economy and make sure hard working Floridians can live the American dream.”


[UPDATE] 12-2 10:30AM --


JOB: Norman recently left his job as a community liaison at the Salvation Army, after 31 years. He served on the Hillsborough County Commission from 1991 until his election to the Senate.

DISTRICT: Norman represents Senate District 12, which includes parts of Hillsborough and Pasco Counties.

PRIORITIES: Norman is a big backer of the leadership’s plan to reform Medicaid. “It’s one of our biggest budget items,” he said. “There needs to be a real direction of something being done instead of ‘Hey look, we’re not going to do a thing. We’ll just pass it on to the next House member or next Senate member.’ I like the idea of jumping in and really doing something.” He’s also “scratching around” for different bills to sponsor, he said.





JOB: Clemens is an energy contractor. He was mayor of Lake Worth from March 2007 through 2009. He previously has worked for the city’s redevelopment agency, former state Rep. Mary Brandenburg and the Naples Daily News.

DISTRICT: House District 89 in Lake Worth, replacing state Rep. Mary Brandenburg, who was term limited.

PRIORITIES: “I’m a transportation, infrastructure, and transportation infrastructure guy,” Clemens said. Clemens said he has had some preliminary discussions with some of his new colleagues about potential legislation, but would not divulge all of his plans. He did, however, note he is interested in a road rage bill tentatively being sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Mike Bennett.

#1 THING THE LEGISLATURE SHOULD DO: “No. 1, we need to put together a jobs package and that sounds simple, but that includes an energy package, that includes a plan to help small business cut through red tape, that includes hopefully a tax credit, hopefully specifically tied to job creation, and put Floridians back to work.”



JOB: Slosberg is the president of The Slosberg Report, a weekly thirty minute news magazine show about Israel. He also served in the Legislature previously from 2000 to 2006.

DISTRICT: Slosberg represents House District 90, which comprises parts of Palm Beach and Broward counties. He replaces state Rep. Kelly Skidmore, D-Boca Raton, who left the House to run for Senate and lost to new state Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale.

PRIORITIES: It’s still kind of early but I’m sure I’ll be in the middle of a lot of road transportation bills and senior transportation bills and revenue generating bills. The thing that I want to focus on is revenue generation. I’m an entrepreneur. I know how to generate money and that’s what the state needs now.”

#1 THING THE LEGISLATURE SHOULD DO: “No. 1: Generate money. I’ve got a few ideas,” he said, but would not elaborate.



JOB: Executive Director of the Florida Association of District School Superintendents

DISTRICT: Senate District 6 in Tallahassee, replacing outgoing Senate Minority Leader Al Lawson

PRIORITIES: Montford’s top two priorities as a new state senator are education and state workers, many of whom live in Tallahassee.

#1 THING THE LEGISLATURE SHOULD DO: “We’ve got to advance the economy - jobs - because that drives everything else,” he said.



JOB: Julien served three consecutive terms as a councilman in North Miami Beach.

DISTRICT: Julien represents District 104 in Miami. He replaces Yolly Roberson.

PRIORITIES: “Basically the only reason I ran for office was I felt there was a lack of understanding for what us local officials go through,” Julien said, saying that lawmakers frequently don’t understand the “unfunded mandates” they pass on to city councils or school boards. Legislatively, he hopes to work on inmate transition programs, education and Medicaid reform. He is reserving five of his bills for the five city councils he represents, but said he will most likely use his sixth bill to work on inmate transition issues. “We have made it basically impossible for them to carry on with their life,” Julien said. “And that’s basically giving them a life sentence and that’s not right.”

#1 THING THE LEGISLATURE SHOULD DO: “Well right now it appears as if the leadership is moving toward Medicaid, Medicaid and more Medicaid in terms of reform and I have to say I agree full heartedly,” Julien told the News Service.



JOB: Passidomo is an attorney, working mainly in real estate.

DISTRICT: Passidomo represents House District 76, which includes part of Collier County. She replaces Tom Grady, R-Naples.

PRIORITIES: Passidomo said she is interested in education and the criminal justice system, but she noted that she had practical experience with the foreclosure crisis because of her work representing parties in real estate transactions. “I have some thoughts on how we can address the issues of the backlog of cases in the courts that would not affect the borrowers’ due process rights,” she said.

#1 THING THE LEGISLATURE SHOULD DO: “Jobs. We’ve got to get the people back to work,” she told the News Service.

You must be logged in to post comments.

Password (case sensitive):
Remember Me:
WCTV 1801 Halstead Blvd. Tallahassee, FL 32309
Copyright © 2002-2016 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 111109874 - wctv.tv/a?a=111109874
Gray Television, Inc.