By Jim Turner, The News Service of Florida
TALLAHASSEE — Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis, furthering his links to state House leaders, has tapped a lawmaker he called a “champion for deregulation” to oversee the agency that handles licenses and regulations for a wide range of fields, including the gambling industry.
Rep. Halsey Beshears, a Monticello Republican who was recently named to run the committee that is expected to produce the House’s annual tax cut package, was selected Tuesday by DeSantis to lead the state Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
DeSantis said in a prepared statement he expects the agency under Beshears to become “the focal driver that will make Florida a premier destination for entrepreneurs and companies seeking to relocate.”
“It is vital to our state’s continued success that we streamline the way we approach business regulation and eliminate the bureaucratic barriers that stifle growth,” DeSantis said. “For that reason, I am proud to announce that I have asked Representative Halsey Beshears to serve as the secretary of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
The appointment requires Senate confirmation.
Beshears, who led incoming First Lady Casey DeSantis on a tour of Gulf County after Hurricane Michael in October, is the latest DeSantis appointment with state House ties.
Lt. Gov.-elect Jeanette Nuñez was the House speaker pro tempore the past two years.
Former House Speaker Richard Corcoran has gotten DeSantis’ recommendation to replace Education Commissioner Pam Stewart, and DeSantis has chosen Rep. Jared Moskowitz, D-Coral Springs, to succeed outgoing Division of Emergency Management Director Wes Maul.
Corcoran is also co-chair of the transition team that is helping DeSantis prepare to take office Jan. 8.
Also, Beshears’ brother Thad Beshears, co-owner and chief operating officer of Simpson Nurseries, a wholesale plant nursery in Jefferson County, is a member of DeSantis’ Transition Advisory Committee on Health and Wellness.
Halsey Beshears, who was the CFO of Simpson Nurseries from 1998 into 2013, was re-elected without opposition to his fourth and final term to the House District 7 seat in November. The district covers Calhoun, Franklin, Gulf, Jefferson, Lafayette, Liberty, Madison, Taylor and Wakulla counties and part of Leon County.
Now a co-owner of Bird Legs Bicycles, which has locations in Tallahassee and Jacksonville, the 47-year-old Beshears is a graduate of Florida State University who earned a master’s degree in entrepreneurship from the University of Florida.
In the House, Beshears has chaired the Business and Professional Regulation Subcommittee and last month was named by House Speaker Jose Oliva to run the Ways and Means Committee.
Oliva called Beshears “a highly capable leader who has worked tirelessly to unlock more opportunities for Floridians by cutting unnecessary regulations that impede entrepreneurs and small businesses.”
A special election is expected to replace Beshears.
Republicans Jason Shoaf of Port St. Joe and Mike Watkins of Crawfordville had already opened accounts to run for the seat in 2020. Watkins has raised $123,707 for the campaign.