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Thursday, Mar 23, 2017
AP Florida

Florida's new legislative leaders talk issues, personalities

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) Florida Senate President Joe Negron and House Speaker Richard Corcoran are Republican lawyers. But the similarities start to drift from there.

Negron calls himself boring and is the quiet, deliberative type. Corcoran likes listening to music at top volume, and his approach to leadership reflects that.

The Associated Press interviewed each separately about their backgrounds, personalities and priorities as they prepare for their first legislative session as their chambers' leaders. Here's what they had to say:

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What motivated you to first run for office?

Corcoran said his interest in government was a lesson he learned from his parents, who lived through the Great Depression and World War II. "They always were very involved in understanding and following and trying to affect our government at all levels because they recognized and lived through the horrors of what bad government or the wrong philosophy lead to."

Negron: "I've always been fascinated by how the political process works, and I have strong opinions on some core issues, like the sovereignty of the individual. In government service, you have an opportunity to advocate and promote those things you believe in and make a tangible and measurable difference."

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What is the one bill you are most proud of passing?

"I couldn't tell you one," said Corcoran, who listed several bills. The first one he mentioned was a billed passed his freshman year in 2011 that requires urgent-care centers to post the costs of their 50 most frequently provided medical services. Negron sponsored the bill in the Senate.

Negron: "We passed a bill saying that out-of-state insurance companies had to follow the same Florida consumer protection laws if they wanted to sell policies in our state."

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What are your 2017 priorities?

Corcoran: "Scaling back the size of government; eliminating and getting a hold on pork barrel spending and wasteful government spending and cutting that out of the budget, and creating much bigger transparency and accountability; having the toughest ethics standards of any state in the nation; holding elected officials accountable by creating finer lines on the separation of powers, and reining in a Supreme Court that's writing law and trying to be two branches instead of one; cutting taxes; and getting government as much as we can out of the people's pockets."

Negron said increasing water storage capacity south of Lake Okeechobee to reduce and eliminate discharges that have cause algae blooms in rivers flowing to the coast. Also, he said increasing funding to state universities.

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How would you describe your leadership style?

Corcoran: "The book that over the last six years that our class used a lot was 'Good to Great' and we talked about having a real leadership team with people having input." The subtitle of the book is "Why Some Companies Make the Leap ... and Others Don't" and it's a management book on how to improve companies.

Negron: "My colleagues supported me to be the presiding officer based on my commitment to work as a team. I try to make up with attention to detail what I lack in charisma. ... I don't need to be the center of attention."

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What are the similarities and differences between you and the other chamber's leader?

Corcoran: "Both of us would like to accomplishment a tremendous amount." On differences, he said, "He doesn't drink;, he doesn't smoke cigars. When you get together with Joe it's literally business for like 30 minutes."

Negron: "His growing up was very much revolved around playing sports and being competitive with siblings. That's very similar to how I grew up. We both have a strong work ethic and respect for our parents who worked hard for everything they got." On differences, he said he analyzes issues apart from the issue, and Corcoran dives right in. "He's a little bit more animated than I am."

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What's your greatest nonpolitical achievement?

Corcoran: "Being a husband and a father are the things I enjoy the most."

Negron cited a legal case in which he helped exonerate a man wrongfully convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

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What brought your family to Florida?

Corcoran said his family was living in Toronto when his father invested in a Florida concrete plant with some friends. "It was going under and it was losing money, so they got together and they said 'One of us needs to go down there and see what's going on.' So my dad said he would. He went down and of course people were stealing and all that kind of stuff, so he came down to manage it."

Negron: "My grandfather came from Ponce, Puerto Rico, to New York through Ellis Island and then moved to South Florida."

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What is your most interesting hobby or recreational activity?

Corcoran: "Pretty much anything sports. All sports."

Negron: "Visiting courthouses. I've probably personally been in, of our 67 counties, at least 40, maybe as many as 50. Especially in small towns. I just like to go into courthouses and just walk around, poke my head in courtrooms and sit in the back seat for 30 minutes."

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Who is your favorite author?

Corcoran: "For fluff, I'll read any of the best sellers. I'll read (John) Grisham, but I'll also read where there's a new one out like 'The Girl on the Train.' When I see it in the bookstore or see it the New York Times rankings 20 weeks in a row, still in the top 10, then I'll go out and read it."

Negron: "George Will. I've been reading George Will since I was in high school."

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Who is your favorite musician or band?

Corcoran: "U2. That's easy. I crank U2."

Negron: "Billy Joel. I saw him when I was in law school and then I saw him in New York last year."

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