Scott taps ex-lawmaker to become utility regulator
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Little more than a year after losing a bid for the Florida Senate, former state Rep. Ritch Workman has been tapped by Gov. Rick Scott to serve as a utility regulator.
Scott late Friday appointed Workman and Gary Clark, a deputy secretary at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, to serve on the state Public Service Commission. Scott also reappointed veteran Commissioner Art Graham to another four-year term on the panel.
Workman, whose appointment is effective Jan. 2, will replace Commissioner Ronald Brise, who sought another term but was not selected by Scott.
Clark, who is deputy secretary of land and recreation at the Department of Environmental Protection, fills a Public Service Commission seat that was left vacant when Scott appointed former Commissioner Jimmy Patronis as state chief financial officer in June. Clark's appointment is effective immediately.
Scott did not comment on the appointments in a news release Friday night.
The five-member Public Service Commission makes decisions that affect the wallets of millions of Florida residents and businesses, in part because it regulates the rates charged by Florida Power & Light, Duke Energy Florida, Tampa Electric Co. and Gulf Power. Commissioners are paid about $131,000 a year.
The terms of Graham and Brise, who each were initially appointed to the commission in 2010 by then-Gov. Charlie Crist, will expire in January. With his reappointment, Graham, 53, a former Jacksonville City Council member, will be able to stay on the commission until January 2022.
Scott made the selections from short lists of candidates forwarded by a nominating council. Brise, who served in the state House before joining the Public Service Commission, was on a short list. Other candidates who made one of the short lists but were not appointed included former Rep. Rich Glorioso, R-Plant City, and former Rep. Ken Littlefield, R-Wesley Chapel.
Workman, 44, a Melbourne Republican, served from 2008 to 2016 in the House. During his final two years, he was a top lieutenant to then-Speaker Steve Crisafulli, chairing the Rules, Calendar & Ethics Committee.
Workman is employed as director of business development for Keiser University but drew attention while in the House for a part-time job as an Uber driver. Among his highest-profile legislative issues, Workman sought to overhaul the state's alimony laws --- controversial efforts that were thwarted twice by Scott vetoes.
Forced to leave the House last year because of term limits, Workman lost an August 2016 primary race in Senate District 17 in Brevard and Indian River counties. The winner of the primary, Rockledge Republican Debbie Mayfield, went on to win the seat in the November general election.
Clark, 49, of Chipley, was the top choice of the nominating council to fill Patronis' seat on the Public Service Commission. Clark's appointment will expire in January 2019, as he finishes Patronis' term.
News Service of Florida