Miami Republican poised to be Florida's next house speaker
The son of Cuban immigrants, state Rep. Daniel Perez, R-Miami, was formally selected Monday to become the next speaker of the Florida House as he offered a message of limited — and more effective — government.
“Members, we are in danger of becoming a conveyor belt — passing along every bill, funding every project without ever stopping, thinking and questioning, is this the appropriate use of our power?” Perez said to House members. “Government cannot be all things to all people.”
Perez, who will succeed Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast, after the 2024 elections, will likely lead a House with a huge Republican majority. But he appeared to caution against abusing the power, saying government “can’t be everything for just some of the people.”
“After the (2022) election, someone mentioned to me our supermajority and they said, ‘Danny, we can make people do anything we want,’” Perez said. “And that might be true. But just because we have the power to do a thing, doesn’t necessarily mean that we should, and just because we think we are right, it doesn’t mean we are justified.”
Perez, a lawyer, has long been in line to become the next House speaker, but a vote Monday by fellow Republicans formalized the designation. The ceremony in the House chamber included numerous references to Perez’s Cuban descent and how that has helped shape him.
“I came to understand how much Fidel Castro had taken from the people of Cuba, and that took root in my mind as a different kind of fear — a fear about how power can be abused and eventually turned into the poor ideology of socialism,” Perez said.
Renner said “faith, family and freedom” are personal for Perez, whose parents came from Cuba in 1969.
“When you lose everything, you never forget what really matters in life,” Renner said.
Perez was first elected in a 2017 special election and serves as chairman of the House Rules Committee. Sen. Ben Albritton, a Wauchula Republican who is expected to become Senate president after the 2024 elections, sat in the front row at Monday’s House ceremony.
During his remarks, Perez did not detail specific policies that he will prioritize as speaker. But speaking to reporters after the ceremony, Perez said his constituents have one priority: addressing the state’s property-insurance problems.
Perez said he thinks changes made by the Legislature are “chipping away” at the problem, but he noted the cost of his homeowners’ insurance has increased 120 percent.
“Do I believe we’re done with property insurance?” he said. “No, no, not a chance.”
During the ceremony, he also said he “cannot tolerate incompetence in government” and offered a personal example. He said his brother, Brian, has severe developmental disabilities and had access to some state and local services.
“But I had to watch as my mother would struggle to access these programs,” Perez said. “I watched how the different programs failed to coordinate with one another and how changes in eligibility criteria could completely disrupt Brian’s life and my family’s ability to manage his condition. So when I first ran for office, I thought to myself, we have to do a better job than this. It has to be possible. What’s the point of throwing someone a lifeline, if we don’t pull them in, if we leave them drowning in the water?”