Tallahassee- State Representative Jimmy Patronis was named today to chair Florida's Defense Support Task Force for another term. The appointment was announced by Senate President Don Gaetz (R-Niceville).
The Defense Support Task Force was created by the Legislature to represent the state in advocating for Florida's military bases and missions. The panel is charged with proposing military-friendly policies to the Governor and Legislature and conducting research and advocacy to support the state's $74.3 billion defense industry. The task force is appointed by the Senate President, House Speaker and Governor and includes flag-rank retired military officers living in Florida, private sector business leaders involved in the defense industry, and local and state government officials.
Patronis (R-Panama City) was Speaker Will Weatherford's pick as the group's chairman for the 2012-2013 term. The chair rotates to the Senate President's choice for 2013-2014. However, President Gaetz asked Patronis to remain in office through November, 2014, when Patronis is term-limited as a member of the House of Representatives.
"As a business owner in Bay County, Representative Patronis lives and breathes the importance of the military, military families and the defense industry every day," Gaetz said. "Speaker Weatherford and I both have confidence in Jimmy's commitment to the bases and missions that mean so much to our nation and our state. Though it may be unprecedented for the Senate to name a House member to this kind of leadership position, I am grateful that Representative Patronis has agreed to continue his service on this extraordinarily important issue."
"With sequestration threatening to hollow out our preparedness and contraction of the military a very real possibility under the current federal administration, Speaker Weatherford, Governor Scott and I intend to double down to make Florida's case at the Pentagon and in Congress and to make Florida's communities the most military-friendly in America," Gaetz said. "The work of the Defense Support Task Force is critical to preserving and protecting Florida's bases and missions."
State economist Amy Baker testified before a joint House-Senate budget commission last week that, if Congress does not act to avoid a prolonged sequestration, the state's revenues could drop by $2.239 billion. The effect on the private sector would be much greater, Baker noted.
Other members of the Defense Support Task Force include Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fort Walton Beach); Rep. Dana Young (R-Tampa); Brigadier Chip Diehl, USAF (Ret.); Dr. David L. Goetsch; John B. McDonald, Jr.; Tom Neubauer; Major General Joseph J Taluto, USA (Ret.); Rear Admiral Kevin Delaney, US Navy (Ret.); Judge Patt Maney; Dr. Ed Naggiar; Major General Emmett R. Titshaw, Jr.; and Commissioner Barbara Stewart.