dumps pair for dissent
The only 2 'no' voters on
the insurance bill lose their leadership posts in the House.
Article Courtesy of The Sun Sentinel
Garcia and John Kennedy
Published January 25, 2007
-- House Speaker Marco Rubio forced a pair of lawmakers from their
leadership posts Wednesday, two days after they voted against a
high-profile insurance package.
Rubio removed Rep. Don Brown, R-DeFuniak Springs, as chairman of the House
Jobs & Entrepreneurship Council, and Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland, as
chairman of the Safety & Security Council. The two also were stripped
of seats on the powerful Rules & Calendar Council, which controls
which bills make it to the House floor.
Brown and Ross cast the sole dissenting votes in Monday's 116-2 vote in
the House on the insurance plan, which seeks to lower rates by making
Floridians assume more of the financial risk from hurricanes. The bill
passed unanimously in the Senate, and Gov. Charlie Crist is expected to
sign it today.
Ross said Rubio called him into his office in the afternoon and asked for
his resignation. Ross said Rubio told him that "he needs leaders that
are with him on major votes."
"My vote cost me my chairmanship. That's the price you pay if you
want to express yourself," Ross said, though he added that he did not
hold hard feelings toward the speaker.
Brown, an insurance agent, declined to discuss what happened.
A spokeswoman for Rubio would not comment beyond a terse statement in
which Rubio said Brown and Ross "offered" their resignations as
Both men had been expected to play lead roles in crafting insurance
changes this year. Brown began the year as the House's point man on the
issue, though he had been pushed aside in recent weeks. Ross had chaired
the House's Insurance Committee until only a month ago, when he was
promoted to the council post.
The two lawmakers also were heavily involved in shaping insurance
legislation last year, which passed overwhelmingly at the time but has
since been derided as too industry-friendly. The package approved by the
Legislature this week erases much of that law.
Ross said this year's bill drives the state too far into the insurance
"Now you've created insurance as an essential government function,
the same as you have done with transportation and public safety and
education," he said.
After their demotions, Brown was named chairman of the Insurance
Committee, suggesting that little more action on the issue may happen
during this spring's regular legislative session. He also received three
other lesser assignments.