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Speaker Cretul Revamps House Committee Assignments

House Speaker Larry Cretul on Monday unveiled revamped committee assignments that cut the number of panels and concentrate fiscal control into fewer hands.

“My guiding principles have been threefold: to improve efficiency, to maintain stability, and to build continuity with the future,” Cretul said in a memo to members.

Toward that end, Cretul is peeling back on some changes made by former House Speaker Ray Sansom, R-Destin. The new structure more closely mirrors the set up in the Senate, which should make budget negotiations run more smoothly next session.

Rep. David Rivera, R-Miami, will head up House budget negotiations as he chairs a pair of appropriations committees that will replace a more decentralized system in place when Cretul took over last year from Sansom. Rivera, who is running for state senate in 2010, will preside over both top budget committees, the membership of each will be the same – so they will essentially function as one panel.

Meanwhile, Sansom will not serve on any committees as he faces corruption charges that prompted him to be stripped of his leadership post last year.

Other top committee assignments went to Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, who will chair the House Education Council and Rep. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, who will head up Finance and Tax. Rep. Dave Murzin, R-Pensacola will head the Economic Development and Community Affairs Council.

Cretul, who took over the committee structure set up by his predecessor, did away with a trio of spending panels. Stripped of their members are appropriations committees dealing with community colleges, elder affairs and human services In addition, Cretul axed the state and community college policy committee, diverting legislation to the higher education committee.

“I have retained the core structural framework, given the highest possible accommodation to individual member preferences, and increased the distribution of leadership assignments,” Cretul wrote.

In other action, Rep. Will Snyder, R-Stuart, will be chairman of the House Criminal and Civil Justice Council. Rep. Marcelo Llorente, R-Miami, will be chairman of the House Policy Council, a position held last session by Sansom.

Other changes include moving Rep. Kevin Ambler, R-Tampa, from his post as Health Care Appropriations Committee chairman to a post as head of the Public Safety & Domestic Security Policy Committee.

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