|Member of the Florida Senate
from the 20th district
November 2, 2010
|Preceded by||Charlie Justice|
|Member of the Florida Senate
from the 19th district
November 8, 1994 – November 5, 2002
|Preceded by||Curt Kiser|
November 3, 1951 |
|Alma mater||Stetson University (B.A.)|
Early life and education
Latvala was born in Oxford, Mississippi, and moved to Florida in 1961, where he later attended Stetson University. He graduated in 1973 and later became the CEO of GCI Printing Services, which is based in Largo.
In 1994, Latvala ran for the Florida Senate from the 19th District, which included northern Pinellas and western Pasco Counties, defeating Democratic nominee Chuck Lehr 59.7 to 40.3%. In 1996, he won reelection over Sue Humphreys by a similar margin, and was reelected without opposition in 2000. Latvala could not run for reelection in 2002 due to term limits.
In 2010, when Democratic State Senator Charlie Justice decided to run for Congress rather than reelection to his 16th District, Latvala opted to run in the Pinellas and Hillsborough County seat. He defeated Pinellas County School Board member Nina Hayden in the general election.
After the 2012 decennial redistricting, Latvala ran in the 20th District, which was based exclusively in northern Pinellas County. Latvala defeated business owner Zahid Roy in the Republican primary, and deaf child welfare advocate Ashley Rhodes-Courter in the general election. The Tampa Bay Times endorsed Latvala for reelection, calling him "the most powerful independent voice among the Republicans," citing several instances in which he vocally opposed his own party. Latvala won nearly 58% of the vote in the general election.
Issues and positions
While serving in the Senate, Latvala strongly supported legislation that would give manufacturers a sales tax break for any equipment they purchased, declaring, "We're going to be able to bring back manufacturing in north Pinellas County" through the legislation. Controversially, he sponsored legislation that aimed to speed up the foreclosure process in Florida, with the purpose of clearing up the foreclosure backlog and benefiting the local economy. Latvala joined with Democrats in the Senate to vote against a proposal advocated for by the Florida House of Representatives that would prevent new state workers from joining the state's publicly funded pension program, noting, "One of the reasons they work for the government is not for the salary. They haven't had raises in six or seven years. It's for the pension and if we want to continue to have the quality of employees that we have, we need to continue to offer that pension." Additionally, he joined with several other Senators, including Eleanor Sobel, to lead the opposition to Public Service Commissioner Lisa Edgar's renomination, asserting that "she does not do an adequate job of representing the ratepayers and consumers of the State of Florida," specifically calling attention to what he felt was her coziness with utility companies.
Beginning almost immediately after his return to the Senate in 2010, Latvala sought the support of his Republican colleagues to become Senate president for the 2016-2018 legislative term. In the following years, Latvala lobbied for pledges while rival conservative Republican Senator Joe Negron did the same. The leadership fight proved contentious and divided the Republican caucus, particularly during a court-ordered redistricting of the chamber's lines in 2015. While Negron declared he had support from a majority of the caucus in August 2015, Latvala refused to conceded.
Latvala eventually conceded in November 2015, at the close of the special session to redraw the Senate districts. He endorsed Negron, who announced that Latvala would chair the Appropriations Committee during his presidency.
- "For Florida Senate, three independent voices". Tampa Bay Times. October 19, 2012. Retrieved May 23, 2013.
- "Gov. Scott in Tampa to trumpet tax cut and big drop in state jobless rate". Tampa Bay Times. May 17, 2013. Retrieved May 23, 2013.
- "New controversial bill could speed up foreclosure process in Florida: Critics say bill would hurt homeowners". ABC Action News. May 16, 2013. Retrieved May 23, 2013.
- "Speaker Will Weatherford loses Senate showdown over Florida pensions". Tampa Bay Times. April 30, 2013. Retrieved May 23, 2013.
- "Edgar gets Senate confirmation despite tough criticism". Tampa Bay Times. May 3, 2013. Retrieved May 23, 2013.
- Bousquet, Steve (December 2, 2015). "Next Florida Senate President Joe Negron promises improved universities". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved June 19, 2016.
- Bousquet, Steve (August 26, 2015). "Negron claims victory in Florida Senate power play, but Latvala won't concede". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved June 19, 2016.
- Kennedy, John (November 5, 2015). "Florida Senate presidency fight ends — with Latvala backing Negron for top job". Palm Beach Post. Retrieved June 19, 2016.