WHY HE MATTERS
After more than two years of campaigning, 32-year-old Greg Steube finally can put his ideas into action as the District 67 representative in the Florida House of Representatives. Steube is the only person to make The East County Observer’s annual “people to watch” list for the second year in a row.
Greg Steube admits the last few months have been a whirlwind.
After winning a seat in the Florida House of Representatives on Nov. 2, the 32-year-old has been busy juggling his new responsibilities with his work as an attorney.
“It’s been great to be able to transition into what you are campaigning for,” he says. “I made a point (when I visited Tallahassee) not to walk on the House floor until I was elected. It’s truly an honor to be one of the few people in the state to represent somebody.”
Steube attended a new-member orientation in Tallahassee Nov. 9-10 and a special session a week later. There, he took an oath of office and quickly set to work, voting on eight bills in two days. On Dec. 17, Steube was assigned to serve on the judiciary committee as well as the energy and utilities subcommittee, the health care appropriations subcommittee and the select committee on water policy.
“I am truly honored that the Speaker has assigned me to committees that are significant areas of concern for our state, such as healthcare appropriations, energy and utilities and water policy,” Steube said. “I greatly look forward to serving on those committees and moving our state in a positive direction.”
Son of Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube and his wife, Debbie, Greg Steube moved to the East County in the sixth grade. With virtually nothing but land for cattle grazing east of Interstate 75, the young Steube quickly realized his desire to work in the cattle industry through his work with the FFA and 4-H organizations.
His interest in politics developed in high school, but Steube didn’t step into the political arena until 2000 as a student at the University of Florida, where he was earning a degree in animal science with a minor in agricultural law. There, he piloted an internship program, working as a legislative assistant with the Legislature through the school’s agricultural department.
After graduating, Steube entered the law school at the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law. He also joined the U.S. Army, spending one year in the infantry and three years in the Army JAG Corps. in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
After returning from active duty, Steube realized it was time to pursue his dream as well as his belief that the most direct way to influence people’s lives was through good policy. He began his campaign to replace Rep. Ron Reagan, who soon would reach his term limit as District 67 representative.
As an attorney with Najmy Thompson, Steube now is learning how to juggle his career — and assuring his clients he can will still have time to handle their cases — with a sometimes grueling travel schedule and his other legislative responsibilities.
The task, Steube admits, has been more difficult than he anticipated but one he’s already working hard to get his hands around.
“We’ll see how this session plays out and kind of go from there,” Steube says.
TEST IN TALLAHASSEE
In just his first two weeks in office, Steube already was receiving e-mails and other messages from constituents about a law that passed last session. The law required an inspection of septic tanks every five years, but constituents said the requirement was unnecessary and would be costly, particularly for those individuals owning multiple properties with septic systems, Steube said.
Steube and fellow legislators passed a provision to make the law effective in July, rather than January, so they could take more time to look at its financial impacts on constituents.
“I just think, especially during this time, regulating something like a septic tank — I don’t really see how that’s the government’s prerogative to make people pay to have their septic tanks (tested),” he says.
Steube again headed to Tallahassee in early December and will spend several more weeks there before the Legislative session starts in March.
There’s still much to learn about the legislative process and becoming an effective legislator, but the freshman representative says he hopes his experiences and relationships with other legislators, such as former Rep. Ron Reagan and current representatives Will Weatherford and Dean Cannon, will make the transition smoother.
“I want to do as much as I can,” Steube says. “Having those relationships certainly helps your ability to communicate.”
Steube says he believes the Legislature may hold several special sessions and will be tackling some challenging issues over the coming year, including the “exponential growth” of Medicare, the state’s budget deficit and even reapportionment of districts, among others.
“I think you’ll see another bill in regard to Medicaid this coming season,” he says. “Any policy we can make for a free market approach would be great. We’re going to have to find something to lessen the burden on taxpayers. ObamaCare placed an inordinate burden on the state.”
Despite the financial challenges ahead, Steube says the House’s leadership has made it clear that placing the burden of overspending will not fall on constituents.
“You are not going to see the leadership raise taxes to meet the financial restraints,” Steube says.
District 67, the largest in the state with the most registered voters, may be one of the districts most affected by reapportionment. Steube’s seat currently serves sections of Hillsborough, Manatee and Sarasota counties.
“I think you’ll see a dramatic change in (this district) because of the growth,” he says. “It’ll be interesting to see how all this works out.”
MAN WITH THE PLAN
Steube says he has several ideas in mind about potential bills to sponsor but will keep his options open until later in the process. Each legislator only is allowed to be the primary sponsor for six bills, although each can co-sponsor as many as he or she likes.
At the top of Steube’s list is finding ways to make regulations less burdensome to small businesses, decreasing taxes on small businesses and looking at policies regarding intangible taxes — assets like tractors and property on a farm that are taxed.
“It’s very rewarding to have the opportunity to author a bill and affect good policy,” Steube says. “I definitely want to do some bills related to small-business growth and economic development.”
Another option Steube is considering is a bill to close the loophole allowing pill mills, a term used for facilities that improperly prescribe pain medication and other prescription narcotics. He’s also interested in authoring legislation pertaining to agriculture and veterans.
Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].