Courtesy of The Tampa Bay Times
By Jim Saunders
Published February 23, 2021
Longtime state utility regulator Julie Brown was named
Thursday by Gov. Ron DeSantis to become secretary of the Florida Department
of Business and Professional Regulation, continuing a series of changes in
the upper levels of the DeSantis administration.
Brown, a lawyer who has served on the Florida Public Service Commission
since 2011, will replace Halsey Beshears, who announced last month he was
resigning as Department of Business and Professional Regulation secretary
because of health reasons.
In a prepared statement, DeSantis said he was confident Brown will “do a
great job in our continued fight to cut red tape and ease regulation on our
businesses and hard-working Floridians.”
Beshears helped spearhead efforts of the DeSantis administration to reduce
regulations, a direction Brown signaled Thursday that she will continue.
“I’m honored to be appointed by Governor DeSantis to this important
position, which impacts millions of Floridians,” she said in a statement
released by DeSantis’ office. “As secretary, I will work to build on the
governor’s foundation to implement meaningful occupational licensing reform,
as well with business leaders and business owners during Florida’s economic
With DeSantis a little more than halfway through his four-year term, the
administration is going through a transition.
In addition to Brown replacing Beshears, leadership changes have occurred —
or are planned — at the Agency for Health Care Administration, the
Department of Children and Families, the Department of Juvenile Justice, the
Department of Management Services and the Division of Emergency Management.
Also, DeSantis’ chief of staff, Shane Strum, is leaving to become chief
executive officer at the North Broward Hospital District,
The Department of Business and Professional Regulation oversees industries
such as gambling, alcohol and tobacco. The agency also handles licensing and
regulation for a wide range of professions, including barbers,
cosmetologists and real estate agents.
Beshears, a Republican from Monticello, was elected to the Florida House in
2012 and was among DeSantis’ first agency-head selections after the governor
was elected in 2018.
Brown’s appointment to lead the agency is effective Monday. She was
appointed to the Public Service Commission by former Gov. Charlie Crist and
was reappointed twice by former Gov. Rick Scott and chaired the regulatory
panel from 2016 to 2018.
DeSantis’ pick of Brown to run the state agency also will give the governor
an opportunity to make an appointment to the five-member commission.
DeSantis last year appointed former state Rep. Mike La Rosa, R-St. Cloud, to
the commission. La Rosa, who replaced former Commissioner Donald Polmann,
began the job last month.