Ken Pruitt

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Ken Pruitt
Ken Pruitt.jpg
President of the Florida Senate
In office
November 2006 – November 2008
Preceded byTom Lee
Succeeded byJeff Atwater
Member of the Florida Senate
from the 28th district
In office
Preceded byRon Klein[1]
Succeeded byJoe Negron[2]
Member of the Florida Senate
from the 27th district
In office
Preceded byWilliam G. "Doc" Myers[3]
Succeeded byDave Aronberg
Member of the Florida House of Representatives
from the 81st district
In office
Preceded byMarian V. Lewis[4]
Succeeded byGayle Harrell[5]
Member of the Florida House of Representatives
from the 79th district
In office
Preceded byChuck Nergard[6]
Succeeded byIrlo Bronson Jr.
Personal details
Born (1957-01-24) January 24, 1957 (age 61)
Miami, Florida
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Aileen Kelly
ResidenceFort Pierce, Florida
OccupationBusiness Development

Ken Pruitt (born January 24, 1957) was a Republican member of the Florida Senate, representing the 28th District from 2000 to 2009. His district includes portions of Indian River, Martin, Okeechobee, Palm Beach and St. Lucie Counties. He was previously a member of the Florida House of Representatives from 1990 through 2000.

On November 21, 2006, Ken Pruitt was chosen by the unanimous vote of his colleagues to serve a two-year term as President of the Florida Senate. He succeeded Tom Lee and preceded Jeff Atwater in this capacity. From 2006 to 2008, Pruitt served as the 78th President of the Florida Senate. His other prominent leadership roles have included committee chairmanships of the Senate Rules Committee (2004–2006), Senate Appropriations Committee (2002–2004) and House Appropriations Committee (1998–2000).

Florida Bright Futures[edit]

After the 1996 general election, with Republicans the majority party in the Florida House of Representatives, Rep. Pruitt was able to shepherd through the Bright Futures Scholarship Act (CS/CS/SB 858 – 1997) during the 1997 legislative session. The bill was responsible for creating the state's popular merit based aid programs for college students known as Florida Bright Futures Scholarships. These lottery funded scholarships have helped more than 300,000 Florida students attend a post-secondary institution and Pruitt has remained an ardent supporter of the program throughout his political career.

In late 2003, Senator Ken Pruitt embarked on a statewide tour of all eleven state universities and all 28 community colleges in an effort to draw up support for higher education in Florida.[7] The Brighter Futures Express Educational Tour traveled to the various state institutions of higher learning with the intention of reminding fellow lawmakers to "keep the promise" they had made to Floridians on programs like Florida Bright Futures and Florida Prepaid. Most notably from the tour was that Pruitt traveled from school to school in a used yellow school bus. The tour concluded on March 17, 2004 with a gathering on the steps of the historic state capitol. Over 3,000 students, teachers, and parents attended the political rally which was addressed by numerous speakers, including Senator Pruitt and Miss America 2004, Ericka Dunlap. The crowd was also treated to a performance by the Florida A&M University Marching 100.[8]

Bright Futures Debate[edit]

The Florida Legislature created the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program to reward students for their academic achievements during high school by providing funding to attend postsecondary education in Florida.[9] The Bright Futures Scholarship was inspired by the Hope Scholarship. Originally the Program dispersed just above 42,000 scholarships for about $70 million. Over the last decade the cost for the scholarship has increased substantially as more students remain in Florida to receive higher education thereby, stopping the brain drain.[10] The Scholarship currently costs the Florida Lottery more than $436.1 million, with about 170,000 students taking advantage of the program this ensures the promise that lottery money will be used to supplement education.[11][12][13]

Lake Okeechobee[edit]

During the 2000 Florida Legislative Session, Pruitt sponsored and passed the landmark Lake Okeechobee Protection Program (LOPP). The act (CS/CS/HB 991 – 2000) called for the implementation of phosphorus load reductions, construction of stormwater treatment areas (STA), monitoring of water quality in the Lake Okeechobee watershed, and the development of "Best Management Practices" (BMP) for both agricultural and non-agricultural sources within the watershed.[14] The enactment of LOPP has helped Florida protect and preserve the largest fresh water lake in the southern United States and contributed to the overall health of the Everglades. This important legislation (along with the 2005 Lake Okeechobee & Estuary Recovery Program (LOER)) has helped earmark tens of millions of dollars to the restoration of Lake Okeechobee, the St. Lucie River and the Indian River Lagoon.

Bert Harris Act & the APA[edit]

In 1992 as a Republican and member of the minority party in the Florida House, Pruitt teamed with veteran Representative and Democrat, Bert J. Harris Jr., in an effort to address the over-regulation and ownership rights of privately owned property. After two unsuccessful pushes to pass their Private Property Rights Protection Act, the two Representatives caught the break they needed in the third year. Prior to the 1995 Florida Legislative Session, Governor Lawton Chiles, having recently experienced a regulatory roadblock when he attempted to build a "cook shack" on his own private property, was ready to support the lawmakers' efforts.[15] The Governor's momentum helped enabled the two representatives to pass the bill (CS/HB 863 - 1995) through both chambers with only a single dissenting vote. Representative Pruitt honored his partner and friend by renaming the bill the Bert J. Harris Jr. Private Property Rights Protection Act. Governor Chiles signed the act on May 18, 1995 and the Bert Harris Act has since served as a model to other states addressing environmental and land use regulation in respect to the rights of private property owners.

Furthermore, the Governor's "cook shack" difficulties and crusade against superfluous rulemaking, government red-tape and over-regulation set the stage for an overhaul of Florida's Administrative Procedures Act, reforms the legislature had been attempting for several years. In addition to sponsoring the Bert Harris Act in 1995, Pruitt was the prime sponsor of the APA legislation. While the act was vetoed by Chiles in 1995 as being too burdensome for the implementing agencies, it was passed the following year, making the first major reforms to Florida's APA since its inception in 1974.[16]

Committee for a Sustainable Treasure Coast and the "Research Coast"[edit]

On March 30, 2004, Governor Jeb Bush signed Executive Order No. 04-61 creating the Committee for a Sustainable Treasure Coast, Pruitt's proposed 37-member, three-county regional commission designed to increase cooperation and coordination between St. Lucie, Martin, and Indian River counties.[17] The committee's main objective was to provide local governments with the tools to plan for and create incentives for responsible and sustainable growth on the Treasure Coast of Florida. A final report was adopted in late September 2005 and delivered to the Governor, Speaker of the House, and Senate President.

The following legislative session in 2006, Senator Pruitt was a fervent supporter of legislation introduced and passed by Senator Mike Fasano creating Florida's Innovation Incentive Program (CS/CS/2728–2006).[18] This economic development initiative provides resources for the recruitment or expansion of major research and development entities and innovation businesses in Florida. With the groundwork already laid by the CSTC, Pruitt and a motivated group of local leaders, both public and private, were able to attract the Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies to Port St. Lucie to set up an east coast operation. Two years later, in April 2008, the Innovative Incentive Fund also helped bring the Oregon Health and Science University Vaccine Gene Therapy Institute (VGTI) to the area. The development of this biotech cluster, in addition to the cluster including the Scripps Research Institute and the Max Planck Institute in Jupiter, Florida, has allowed the area to become known as Florida's "Research Coast," a designation first given by Senator Ken Pruitt.[19]


Ken Pruitt married Aileen Kelly in 1982. They have five children, Kenneth Jr. (deceased) Steven, Ashley, Michelle and Mark. Aileen Pruitt was 1st Lady of the Florida Senate from 2006 to 2008. She is involved in numerous volunteer organizations, is a two-time breast cancer survivor and is Executive Director of National City Corp. Community Development Association for Central & NE Florida.[20] Mrs. Pruitt was also appointed by Governor Charlie Crist to serve on the Governor's Commission on Volunteerism & Community Service.[21]


Ken Pruitt worked with the law firm Weiss, Handler, Angelos and Cornwell[22] as Senior Advisor for Governmental Affairs and Public Policy.[23] He was elected Property Appraiser for St Lucie County, Florida in November, 2010 following the death of then-Property Appraiser, Jeff Furst. Pruitt's term expires in 2016


  • Certificates in Water and Wastewater Treatment from Indian River State College.[4]


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  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ "" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-08-27. Retrieved 2014-08-26.
  8. ^ "" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-08-27. Retrieved 2014-08-26.
  9. ^ [1]"Florida Department of Education"
  10. ^ Tampa Bay Online
  11. ^ article about costs
  12. ^ Sun-Sentinel article about problems Archived December 29, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  13. ^ Expensive Program
  14. ^ "Flsenate Archive: Session > Bills". Retrieved 2014-08-26.
  15. ^ "Elevator chat helped spark the conception of property rights act - South Florida Business Journal". 2002-09-23. Retrieved 2014-08-26.
  16. ^ [2][dead link]
  17. ^ "". Archived from the original on 2014-12-22. Retrieved 2014-08-26.
  18. ^ "Flsenate Archive: Session > Bills". Retrieved 2014-08-26.
  19. ^ Monique Mattiace (2009-01-31). "Torrey Pines Institute of Molecular Studies celebrates official grand opening Saturday - Story". Retrieved 2014-08-26.
  20. ^ "State: As his career hits its peak, senator's ambition dwindles". 2007-03-05. Retrieved 2014-08-26.
  21. ^ [3] Archived May 13, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  22. ^ "Boca Raton law firm, South FL class action, Florida Attorney & Consultation". Retrieved 2014-08-26.
  23. ^ Jim Turner (2009-06-02). "Pruitt joins law firm providing government advice - Story". Retrieved 2014-08-26.

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