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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Brickfield: Pinellas should fight health care, energy bills



CLEARWATER -- Pinellas County Commissioner Neil Brickfield found a new way to carry Republicans' fight against Democrats' health care and cap-and-trade energy bills in Congress: It's an unfunded mandate, they said.

Brickfield, supported by fellow Republican Commissioner Nancy Bostock, noted during a meeting today that he county will pay its federal lobbying firm Patton Boggs to fight unfunded mandates.

That health care bill? It will cause the county's health care expenses to rise.

The debate during the work session triggered an unusual ideological debate. Commissioner Ken Welch, a Democrat, said the bill might end up saving the county money because Pinellas spends $26 million a year on health care costs, including helping the uninsured. "I think we need to look at the net effect of the entire bill," Welch said.

"I feel like I'm watching O'Reilly or Hannity," quipped Commissioner John Morroni, a Republican, referring to the Fox News commentators.

Brickfield went after the cap and trade energy and pollution legislation? Fight it, he said -- it's a "major tax on business."

Despite the debate, nothing actually changed on the lobbying plan.

"I don't think the House or the Senate care what the Pinellas County Commission says about the health care bill," said Commissioner Susan Latvala,a Republican.

Nonetheless, county officials promised to address any issues involving health care legislation if a bill is passed before a February update to the board.

David DeCamp, Times staff writer

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 12:22pm]


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