TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida’s next state House speaker promised more bi-partisanship from the GOP supermajority and an independent legislatureon Monday.
Rep. Danny Perez (R-Miami) was formally appointed to the role in Tallahassee. He is now set to hold the Florida House gavel in 2025 and 2026.
Since first getting elected in 2017, the Cuban-American has shot like a rocket through the ranks of the Florida House GOP. He's carried several Republican priorities during previous legislative sessions, including an election law that created the controversial Office of Election Crimes and a condo reform policy in the wake of the Surfside collapse.
During a speech in front of lawmakers on Monday, Perez made waves, saying he'd like the House to return to a time where votes weren't preordained.
"What I would like to see is a House where every decision hasn’t been worked out in advance," the future leader said. "Where committees have a dialog about bills and make decisions together. If we spend less time with agendas with bills that don't really matter — we can spend more time talking about the things that do matter."
Perez vowed true bi-partisanship with Democrats, a focus on limited government, and a belief that the legislature was the "first branch." That suggested more autonomy from the governor, but later Perez told reporters he was not trying to cross swords.
"I’m sorry to disappoint you guys but it's not a message to the governor,} the speaker-designate said. "The governor is a dear friend and part of the reason the State of Florida is the State of Florida is the governor."
As far as goals, Perez wanted to clear a state services waitlist for those with developmental challenges, approximately 22,000 persons long. Plus, he wanted to take a further look at something everyone seems frustrated with, property insurance.
"Do I believe we are done with property insurance? No," Perez said. "Not a chance. We can't say we are done discussing property insurance until when I start to knock on doors in the homes of my district people understand that they are seeing the positive change."
For Democrats, Perez's speech had some highlights. Though minority leader said the devil would be in the details. House Minority Leader Fentrice Driskell (D-Tampa) said her mission was unchanged. She aimed to find common ground where possible and, she said, hold the majority accountable.
"We have to wait and see," Driskell said. "I think this is always a big day for speaker designates. They give grand speeches with beautiful sweeping visions then sometimes it’s more difficult to operationalize those things."
Florida finds out what's next when Perez picks up the gavel in March 2025.
For now, preparations are well underway for the 2024 legislative session. Interim committee weeks begin this week on Tuesday. Several lawmakers have filed bills. Current House Speaker Paul Renner drops the gavel in the lower chamber in January of next year.