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Corcoran Looks for Answers in the 'Why'

November 21, 2016 - 11:15pm
Richard Corcoran
Richard Corcoran

As he was formally nominated Monday by his Republican colleagues to be the next speaker of the Florida House, Rep. Richard Corcoran gave few new indications of where he will take the chamber over the next two years.

Corcoran, R-Land O' Lakes, alluded briefly to changes to the House rules that are set to be approved by the full chamber Tuesday during an organization session. But he spoke to the Republican meeting Monday for less than five minutes, saying he would be more expansive when speaking to the entire House.

Instead, he encouraged members to focus on their motivations for seeking office, something he said had helped him handle two defeats in elections before finally winning his current House seat in 2010.

"And what guides me through those moments of adversity, what will guide me over the next two years, is I try very, very hard to do my best to remember, what's my why," Corcoran said. " ... My why is truth, goodness and beauty."

Corcoran promoted aspects of the new rules intended to weaken ties between legislators and lobbyists. Among other changes set to be approved Tuesday are bans on lobbyists texting lawmakers during legislative meetings and a prohibition on House members flying on planes provided by lobbyists or their clients.

"We have to remove those temptations," Corcoran said. "We have to remind ourselves that the power that we hold we don't hold for ourselves. ... We hold it in a sacred trust with the people we have sworn to represent."

Corcoran's nomination still has to be approved by the full House, but because of the overwhelming Republican majority in the chamber, that is essentially assured.

House Republicans hailed Corcoran's approach to the rules, even as one of them recognized that they could face questions about how genuine the changes are.

Rep. Chris Sprowls, a Palm Harbor Republican set to become speaker in four years, said the dubious attitude was understandable because of the past misdeeds by elected officials.

"So when someone comes forth and ushers in a new era of unprecedented transparency and high standards of governing, our skepticism takes hold," Sprowls said. "Our cynicism sets in and we remain often in disbelief. But I can tell the men and women of this caucus what you already know: With Richard Corcoran, it's real."

Republicans also nominated Rep. Jeanette Nunez, R-Miami, to serve as the No. 2 Republican in the House. If approved by the full House, she will become the highest-ranking Hispanic woman in the chamber's history. Also, the GOP approved guidelines for its own caucus meant to slow down contests for future leadership spots.

Speaking with reporters after the meeting, Corcoran also discussed how the House would address one potentially ticklish area of budget negotiations under its rules. He reiterated that the House would not accept any project during the budget process that has not been filed as a separate bill.

The Senate does not have a similar provision in its new rules. But Corcoran said Senate members would still have to get a project filed with the House if they want it in the budget. That Senate project would not necessarily have to be approved by the House before negotiations to get into the final draft.

"If they want that, then they have to come down, find one of the 120 members to file that earmark or project for them, and then it's in play," Corcoran said. "It's in play all the way to the end of the session."

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