Senate panel advances proposed constitutional amendment changing CFO duties

A Senate bill that would put a constitutional amendment expanding the Chief Financial Officer’s duties on the ballot cleared its second committee stop Tuesday.

SB 792, sponsored by Brandon Republican Sen. Tom Lee, would have the CFO participate in economic, demographic, and revenue estimating conferences.

It would also require the CFO to review and certify contracts over $10 million proposed by state agencies, and follow up on them to ensure any payments due don’t exceed the amount appropriated for them.

Lee said the bill addresses “glaring oversights” in the Cabinet position that have been present since it was created in 2002.

“To this day we lack the constitutional footing for the officer to play his role,” Lee said, adding that the bill would change the CFO position from focusing on “the back end as a treasurer writing checks” to a more “front end” role ensuring compliance in state contracts.

Lee is expected to run for CFO in 2018, but hasn’t given a timeline for when he’ll jump in the race.

If and when he enters the race, he’ll face sitting CFO Jimmy Patronis and Antoanet Iotova in the Republican Primary. Patronis was appointed to the seat last year by Gov. Rick Scott after elected CFO Jeff Atwater left the job to take a position at Florida Atlantic University.

Also running for the seat is former Democratic state Sen. Jeremy Ring.

SB 792 cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee without any questions, appearances or debate, and the lack of noise, at least from the Florida Department of Financial Services, didn’t go unnoticed by Lee, who was chagrined that he didn’t get an opportunity to rebut “misinformation” he said DFS spread when the bill went before the Ethics and Elections Committee earlier this year.

The bill now heads to the Senate Rules Committee, its final stop before a floor vote. A similar bill in the House, HB 1421, has not yet been heard in committee.

Sign Up for Updates