By JIM SAUNDERS
THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA
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THE CAPITAL, TALLAHASSEE, September 18, 2014……….Looking to a political ally to fill the job, Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday named state Rep. Jimmy Patronis to a seat on the Florida Public Service Commission.
Scott also reappointed Commissioner Julie Brown to a four-year term on the panel that regulates utilities. Both appointments take effect in January, when the current terms of Brown and outgoing Commissioner Eduardo Balbis expire.
Patronis, 42, a Panama City Republican, is scheduled to leave the House in November because of term limits. Patronis, vice president of the family-run Captain Anderson’s Restaurant, was an early political supporter of Scott in 2010 and most recently has served as chairman of the House Economic Affairs Committee.
“Representative Patronis has faithfully served Florida families during his years of service in the Florida House of Representatives,” Scott said in a prepared statement. “I am confident that Jimmy will make an excellent addition to the Public Service Commission as he continues to put Florida families first.”
Brown, 39, an attorney from Tampa, has served on the Public Service Commission since January 2011. Balbis declined to seek another term.
Scott chose Patronis and Brown from a list of seven finalists that also included former state Rep. Dave Murzin, R-Pensacola, and Patrick Sheehan, director of the Office of Energy in the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Public Service Commission members are paid an annual salary of $131,036, according to the state budget.
Appointments to the Public Service Commission can have far-reaching implications, as the panel approves utility rates and, in recent years, has grappled with thorny issues such as the costs of nuclear-power projects. In three earlier selections to the five-member panel, Scott reappointed Art Graham, Ronald Brise and Lisa Edgar.
In his application for a seat on the commission, Patronis pointed to his experience in helping run the restaurant, which he described as “one of the largest-grossing, family-owned, independent restaurants in the state of Florida.” He also cited his work in the Legislature, though he did not point to particular experience on utility-related issues.
Patronis has been part of the conservative leadership of the House, and his Twitter feed includes numerous postings in support of Scott. On Thursday morning, he tweeted that it was “dress your own way” day at his son’s school. The posting was accompanied by a picture of his son wearing a “Rick Scott” campaign t-shirt.