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  • | 10:37 p.m. August 25, 2011
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A freshman legislator might seem like an unlikely if not foolish choice to be handed a top-priority bill and a centerpiece of both the governor's and the business community's legislative agendas.

But Florida House leaders trusted first-year Representative Dana Young, R-Tampa to sponsor a bill intended to make the state's ports more competitive and help lead the state's economic recovery.

Young, 46, took home a “Champions for Business” award from Associated Industries of Florida this month, one of 18 winners of the lobbying group's prestigious award, and the only freshman selected. She is also one of 33 House members who voted in favor of AIF positions 100% of the time, the most ever.

“Certainly, Dana Young was absolutely outstanding,” says Barney Bishop, AIF's CEO, who recently announced he's resigning his post at the end of the year. “She may not be the first freshman, but if not, she's right up there, maybe the second. It's unusual for a freshman legislator — they're generally not in position. She did an extraordinary job on the port-security bill.”

“She had a great session,” says State House Speaker-Designate Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, about his fellow member of the Hillsborough County delegation. “She's a very sharp lady.”

A sixth-generation Floridian, University of Virginia law school graduate and a former Fowler White Boggs land use lawyer comfortable navigating regulatory minefields, Young proved to be the right choice to sponsor the bipartisan bill. “I am unabashedly pro-business,” says Young, now a full-time mom when she's not representing her west Tampa district. “I look at a business issue and try to figure out how to make a better business climate.”

Now law, the measure passed one vote short of unanimous. It's a key piece of Gov. Rick Scott's agenda for regulatory reform and job creation.

House Bill 283 removed costly and duplicative security background security procedures and aligned Florida's procedures with those administered by the Department of Homeland Security.

According to a staff analysis of the measure, Florida is believed to have been the only state with seaport security standards on top of the federal requirements. Young says her bill saves millions of dollars for port employees and tenants no longer needing an extra credential. It also removed a layer of state bureaucracy.

Her good work earned her an appointment by Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, to serve as vice chair of the Government Operations Subcommittee, a spot on the State Affairs Committee plus four other subcommittee assignments.

“Prior to this bill becoming law, our ports were at a competitive disadvantage,” Young says.


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