1. Sen. Joe Gruters (DUKE)
Starting off our list is Senator Joe Gruters. Apart from being elected the Chair of the Republican Party of Florida, he's had a major hand in some of the largest bills this legislative session.
With over half of the bills this session being filed by Gruters (or so it feels like), the leader of the RPOF isn't taking this 2019 session off, leading his colleagues with 69 bills. This Sarasota legislator is tackling hot-button issues -- abortion, immigration, environment, education, etc. -- and is leading the charge on many of them.
Although controversial, his measures would make any conservative happy. Moving forward, he looks to ban abortions after 20 weeks and outlaw sanctuary cities in the state.
Like the Duke Blue Devils, Gruters is both hated and loved (by Democrats and Republicans) The Trump advocate is lauded by many Trump enthusiasts, and those who support the president believe the lawmaker will help deliver Florida for Trump in 2020. However, those who oppose him point to bipartisan bills he has introduced as the chink in his conservative armor.
Love him or hate him, Gruters is a powerhouse in Florida. He is carving a new path for the state GOP, and he will look to unite the presidency and the party in 2020.
2. Sen. Dennis Baxley (FLORIDA STATE)
A pro-life leader in the Senate, Senator Dennis Baxley is leading the charge to protect the life of an unborn child. Arguably the most conservative abortion bill, his fetal heartbeat proposal would prohibit a person from performing or inducing an abortion on a pregnant person when a fetal heartbeat has been detected. The proposal would also make it a felony to knowingly perform or induce an abortion on a pregnant person if a fetal heartbeat has been detected.
While beloved by conservatives, his abortion bill has sparked debate in both chambers, with prominent Democrats lambasting the potential law. Two weeks ago, Baxley headlined a Right to Life press conference alongside officials and President Lynda Bell.
Baxley is also fighting to limit the terms of school board members to eight years like all state Cabinet members and legislators. His joint resolution would allow voters across the state the ability to decide whether to limit the tenure of all school board members to eight consecutive years in office.
Given the recent debacle that saw Broward County's School Board vote to keep the embattled superintendent Robert Runcie, Baxley's bill could prevent such close ties and favoritism forming on future boards.
Like Florida State, Baxley has been here before. He's a leader in his party, and he doesn't shy away from the big game. Not to mention, he graduated from FSU.
3. Sen. Jeff Brandes (TENNESSEE)
Senator Jeff Brandes has been a leading voice in the Florida Legislature calling for drastic changes to the state’s criminal justice system. His "Florida First Step Act" would aim to reduce criminal sentences by allowing judges to depart from mandatory minimums for drug trafficking charges.
The proposal is modeled on federal legislation signed by President Donald Trump last year.
Brandes was also instrumental in getting the ban on smokable medical marijuana lifted. His medical cannabis bill allows patients to purchase up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana for smoking every 35 days, ban smoking of medical marijuana in public places and allow terminally ill children to smoke the treatment, but only if they have a second opinion from a pediatrician.
That bill was approved by Governor Ron DeSantis on March 18.
A no-nonsense Republican, Brandes embodies Tennessee's style, determination, and grit. He's experienced and ready to make a splash this legislative session.
4. Sen. Manny Diaz Jr. (NORTH CAROLINA)
Leading the charge to reform Florida's fractured educational system, Senator Manny Diaz Jr. is brining sweeping changes to how Floridians view education in the state.
His proposals not only shift the landscape, they expand school-choice in the state -- something conservatives have been clamoring for for years.
One bill, would would require a minimum percentage of certain funds be spent on classrooms and teachers. measure creates a clause that would direct to teachers and classrooms 80 percent of the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP) dollars received by each district.
Diaz also wants to enlarge the Hope Scholarship Program, which is funded by a sales tax credit on automobile purchases. The scholarship was established to allow children in district schools to attend different private or public schools if they had been abused or harassed. Diaz's new proposal would allow private school students to be eligible for a scholarship, as well.
His bill would also take schools out of the decision making, giving more freedom to parents. It would have parents whose children were subjected to an incident listed in the law go directly to a scholarship funding organization for an application.
Diaz, who chairs the all-important Senate Committee on Education, is a proponent of supporting families’ decisions to choose what’s best for their children’s education. He, along with Gov. DeSantis and Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, will look to reshape Florida's dismal education scene.
Battle-tested and unapologetic, Diaz has proved that he is a competent legislator. Like, the Tar Heels, he's flashy and at the top of his game. His political stock continues to rise, and like North Carolina, he'll be elite for years to come.
5. Sen. Doug Broxson (MICHIGAN STATE)
Senator Doug Broxson, who works in real estate and insurance sales, is committed to solving Florida's Assignment of benefits (AOB) crisis. His bill would add provisions to protect consumers and halt the awarding of one-way attorney’s fees, which are fueling AOB abuse.
An unethical insurance practice, assignment of benefits or AOB, refers to contractors and attorneys abusing the assignment of benefits process, raising insurance costs. Controversial for years, the topic of AOB has gained notoriety more recently counties hit hard by Hurricane Michael.
Insurers have been fighting to close loopholes in the contracts, which they say has resulted in frivolous lawsuits.
Under current law, insurance companies often have to pay a contractor's legal fees when suing the insurer.
They say the excessive litigation has driven up rates for consumers.
Like the Michigan State program, Broxson is respected by his colleagues. On top of that, he is a force in the Senate and continues to be a top-tier legislator. Like the Tom Izzo (head coach of Michigan State), the Pensacola official leads by example.
6. Sen. Rob Bradley (TEXAS TECH)
2 reasons Senator Rob Bradley makes the list:
1.) Chairman of the Appropriations Committee
2.) Chairman of the Appropriations Committee
Did I tell you he chairs the most important committee in the legislature? In all seriousness, Bradley is very important to setting the state's fiscal budget.
Bradley is also pushing a bill that will create a state hemp program that would be overseen by the Florida Department of Agriculture. The proposal comes after a 2018 federal law legalized the industrial use of hemp.
The Senate Agriculture Committee will take up the bill later today.
Like Texas Tech's suffocating defense, Bradley is always ready to defend his conservative values. He's an important piece of the puzzle, and a formidable opponent.
7. Sen. Tom Lee (PURDUE)
Senator Tom Lee has sponsored a variety of bills -- many center on education, property rights, and more.
One of the bills he sponsored would remove from public record video, audio, or images of mass violence victims.
If the bill is passed, the public would not be allowed to get photos, videos, or audio recordings of someone dying in an act of mass violence.
The Braden Republican is also ushering in Senate President Bill Galvano's new transportation plan that would extend the Suncoast Parkway from the Tampa Bay area to the Georgia border and extend the Florida Turnpike west to connect with the Suncoast Parkway.
Why Purdue? Why not? Lee personifies the fight that Purdue produces each game. The Boilermakers aren't afraid of the deep ball, and Lee isn't afraid to shoot from the hip and tackle the contentious issues.
8. Sen. George Gainer (KENTUCKY)
Gainer Socks. Need I say more?
Like the Wild Cats, Gainers is always trending.
9. Rep. Mike Hill (GONZAGA)
Like his Senate counterpart, Representative Mike Hill is leading the charge against abortion in the House. Like Baxley, his sister measure seeks to make it a felony to perform an abortion after a heartbeat is detected.
He also headlined the Right to Life press conference for representatives in the House.
Apart from this, Hill is also tackling gun legislation and has sponsored a bill that would prohibit damage or removal to certain monuments and statues.
As reliable as Gonzaga, Hill proves that he will show up and get the job done. And like a Bulldog, he isn't afraid of a fight.
10. Rep. Jay Trumbull (AUBURN)
Very rarely do politicians dedicate their service to their constituents. Usually, officials are committed to advancing their own agenda and increasing their political stock in an effort to hold a higher office. Representative Jay Trumbull, however, bucks this trend entirely.
Like past legislative sessions, Trumbull is devoting the majority of his bills to the people that make up his district -- only this time for another reason. With the devastation left behind by Hurricane Michael, Trumbull is leading the effort to help rebuild the place he calls home.
Last week, Trumbull announced nearly $200 million for projects in Bay County, as well as other Panhandle communities, is included in the appropriations requests from the Transportation and Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee, which he chairs. The funds will go toward infrastructure repair and affordable housing needs as part of recovery efforts following the Category 4 storm that ripped through the Panhandle
Each appropriation project passed unanimously in the Transportation and Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee. The proposals are now in the Appropriations Committee, which Trumbull is part of.
Most of the bills that Rep. Trumbull sponsored this legislative session are focused on hurricane relief efforts.
So what makes Trumbull Auburn? Like Auburn's basketball team, he's a young legislator with a bright future. Much like Auburn's starting five, Trumbull is a team player who understands how to play the game. Oh yeah, he also attended Auburn...
11. Rep. Anthony Sabatini (OREGON)
Never the one to shy away from a fight, Representative Anthony Sabatini is the Cinderella story in the legislature. New to the process, the Republican from New York is experiencing his first legislative session. But unlike most fresh-faced officials, Sabatini is performing like a veteran.
The young lawmaker has his eyes set of firearms, wanting to expand gun rights in 2019. His firearms bill is a game changer, allowing people with concealed-weapons licenses to carry guns on college and university campuses.
Under the current law, people are banned from carrying firearms on college and university campuses. Gun-rights enthusiasts have lobbied for years to be allowed to carry on campuses, permitted they have a concealed-weapons license.
In hypersensitive gun-control climate, expect this bill to receive a lot of push back from the political left. Nevertheless, if successful, the bill could see Florida embrace the ability to use guns as a deterrent.
Apart from this contentious bill, Sabatini is allowing pursuing legislation that would have major impacts on local breweries and bars if approved. The bill introduced by the state rep. would legally allow dogs in breweries and bars and loosen restrictions on cider packaging.
Because of his experience, Sabatini is an underdog like Oregon. But like the Ducks, Sabatini is a quick learner, and his rise is not surprising.
12. Rep. Tom Leek (HOUSTON)
While lawmakers are battling headline issues, Representative Tom Leek is combating an ongoing problem in the Sunshine State that gets overlooked.
Leek is looking to pass comprehensive legislation to cut down on frivolous lawsuits that directly impact insurance businesses and insurance rates for Floridians. The bill, if successful, would impose restrictions on product lawsuits in which the product was “unreasonably misused."
"'Unreasonable misuse' means a type of misuse in which a product was used for a purpose or in a manner that was not reasonably foreseeable by the seller, or a reasonably prudent person would not have used the product in the same or similar manner or circumstances," according to language in the bill.
Essentially, the bill would protect sellers from being sued by consumers for misusing a product, allowing them not to be held liable. The bill also seeks to bring back a cap on damages at $1 million.
Like Houston, Leek gets overlooked in a crowded field. His game may not be as exciting as a Duke or Tennessee, but he plays his game and plays it well.
13. Rep. MaryLynn Magar (VIRGINIA)
Like Gov. DeSantis, Representative MaryLynn Magar is spearheading a push to prove that Republicans are environmentally conscious.
Serving her fourth and final term, the conservative from Marion County will look to finish what she started when she was first elected back in 2012. On her agenda. the vice president and general manager of HeartCare Imaging Inc., will look to upgrade facilities that are directly related to water quality in the district she represents.
The majority of her bills this session will largely look to allocate resources to improve facilities and infrastructure -- many of which, would vastly enhance the 82nd District. Magar, has been an outspoken supporter of projects related to improving local water quality, and in her final run, she will look to make her district her number one priority.
With a pro-environment governor at the helm, Magar's bills will fit nicely with Gov. DeSantis' "bold vision." Magar's well-received agenda is desperately needed as Florida attempts to crackdown on its water-related concerns moving forward.
Magar is doing it right in her final farewell -- putting her district and the people she represents above others. Her initiatives should pass with little opposition, and in time, flourish within her district. With the administration determined to make the environment a top-priority, Magar's steadfast approach to improving water quality should serve as the catalyst moving forward.
Steadfast and always in the mix, Magar embodies Virginia basketball. She's a strong Republican, respected legislator, and she's committed to the people that voted her into office. Like the Cavaliers, she has a high ceiling in the game of Florida politics.
14. Rep. Byron Donalds (MICHIGAN)
A jack-of-all-trades, Representative Byron Donalds has his hand in many important legislative proposals. From education to opioid abuse, the Republican is tackling a host of problems that both sides of the aisle can get behind.
The vice-chair of the PreK-12 Appropriations Committee is pushing a bipartisan bill that would extend the length of time teachers have to pass the GK test, while reducing the cost of any retakes. The measure would also create alternatives to the exam, allowing districts the ability to waive the score for teachers who complete a two-year mentorship program.
Year after year, the Michigan Wolverines make a deep run during March Madness. They're a rich program that consists of numerous players known for their swagger. Donalds, like the Fab Five, has been a force in the legislature since he arrived in 2016.
(p.s. let's play some time)
15. Rep. Cord Byrd (LSU)
Representative Cord Byrd is another official that is wanting to expand gun laws. His a gun-related bull that would allow licensed concealed carry for adults in school campus parking lots, provided the guns stays locked in the car, passed unanimously in the Criminal Justice Subcommittee.
Aside from guns, he also introduced a bill on federal immigration.
Like the Tigers, Byrd is not to be passed over. LSU is looking show that they're more than just a football program, while Byrd is eager to prove that he's the real deal when it comes to expanding gun laws and cracking down on sanctuary cities.
16. Rep. Jackie Toledo (VIRGINIA TECH)
Representative Jackie Toldeo is the final legislator on our list. She filed one of the more important “transparency” bills, which is geared towards lowering health costs. The bill is in-line with Gov. DeSantis' agenda on the issue.
On top of this, she's targeting distracted drivers in the state, sponsoring legislation that would created stricter laws, leading to safer roads. By eliminating added distractions, Toledo hopes to save lives.
Many of her bills are also aimed at improving various enterprises in the district she represents.
Not the strongest or the biggest, Toledo may get overlooked by some. But like Virginia Tech, she brings her A game when the game is on the line. Teams (or Democrats) better not overlook the Tampa official. She's proven she can get things done.