Women senators make some inroads in FL Senate’s committee appointments

The Florida Capitol, in Tallahassee, is expected to have ramped-up security amid ongoing political tension that led to insurrection Wednesday in the nation's Capitol. Credit: Colin Hackley

Last legislative session, Democratic State Sen. Annette Taddeo was the only woman on the eight-member Banking & Insurance Committee in the Florida Senate.

But in the upcoming 2021 session, Taddeo will have the company of at least a few more females. Overall, the committee will have 12 senators, with four women: Taddeo, Kathleen Passidomo, Kelli Stargel, and Linda Stewart.

The Phoenix wrote earlier that Kelli Stargel will be chair of the powerful Appropriations Committee, and Passidomo will be chair of the pivotal Rules Committee.

And Senate President Wilton Simpson announced last month that State Sen. Debbie Mayfield will be Senate Majority Leader, or Republican Leader. She represents Indian County and part of Brevard County, in Central Florida on the Atlantic Coast.

But when it comes to who sits on the various committees that create state laws, and who chairs those committees, is a complex assignment.

In a perfect world, where women make up 51 percent of Florida’s population, the Senate’s make up should be half-and-half men and women, but that’s not the case.

Thursday’s announcements on committee assignments in the Senate show that six women will serve as chairs in regular Senate committees, while 17 men will serve as chairmen. That’s the same overall make up of last year’s committee assignments.

However, in some cases, the Phoenix found that women will be making inroads, with more female members added to some committees.

For example, last session, only one woman sat on the eight-member Finance and Tax Committee. This coming session, four women will be on that committee — 50 percent of the committee’s make up. The women senators are: Ana Maria Rodriguez (the chair); Janet Cruz, Lori Berman and Gayle Harrell.

In another example, only five men sat on the Senate’s Agriculture Committee last session. This session, there will be nine members on that committee, including four women senators: Jennifer Bradley, Loranne Ausley, Tina Polsky and Ana Maria Rodriguez. That would make up 44 percent of the committee members.

The committee assignments span from 2020-2022.