Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

District 51 Rep. Janet Long says she'll lead on fire, EMS reform

SEMINOLE — State Rep. Janet Long says the county's system of fire and emergency medical services costs too much, and she says she will lead the way in getting state laws changed so the system can be revamped.

Long, a Democrat who is running for re-election to state House District 51, made her comments last week to the St. Petersburg Times editorial board.

"At the end of the day, we can't afford it. It's not sustainable," Long said. "I'm happy to take that leadership role."

Pinellas County officials have complained that a 1989 court judgment that, they say, requires them to fully fund EMS requests from 10 cities is the main stumbling block to change. They also have said that some of the smaller fire districts in Pinellas might have to disappear to make way for a better system.

Long said she would be "happy to take on the mantle" of sponsoring a bill to override the 1989 lawsuit. As for the possibility that the Legislature might be asked to eliminate, or otherwise limit, the taxing authority of so-called independent fire districts — those that can levy taxes on their own — Long said, "Everything should be on the table in the world we live in."

Long also referred to the Pinellas Park Water Management District, which is comprised of pieces of Pinellas Park, St. Petersburg, Kenneth City, unincorporated Lealman and the unincorporated area between Pinellas Park and Seminole. The district was formed 44 years ago to eliminate flooding in that area.

Long used the district as an example of special taxing districts that were created for a limited purpose but live on, collecting taxes with little or no oversight.

"I don't think it would be a bad idea to look at some of them," Long said. That could include eliminating them or allowing voters a chance to decide whether they should continue.

"At the end of the day," Long said, "it's the people who pay the bill."

Long said she also wants to improve education for prekindergarteners. Long wants to make it a requirement that every pre-K classroom has at least one teacher with a bachelor's degree. Early education is important and worth the money, she said, because it cuts down on dropouts, juvenile delinquency and helps overall achievement in the long run. She estimated the overall annual savings would be $380 million that would not be spent on kids who have to repeat the third grade.

Long also took a swipe at her Republican opponent, Larry Ahern, a St. Petersburg business owner. Ahern has said he doesn't think people should rely on unemployment, but instead should be forced to go out and find jobs.

Unemployment benefits are a federal program, she said, and the Florida Legislature has little or no control over it.

That statement of Ahern's, she said, shows the problem with term limits. Rather than studying and understanding issues, "you don't really have to know anything anymore to get up in the morning and decide to run for the Legislature."

Long, 65, and Ahern are being opposed by Victoria Torres, a tea party candidate who lives in Orlando.

Long is married, has three children and three grandchildren.

District 51 covers Seminole, South Pasadena and parts of Largo, Pinellas Park, St. Petersburg and the unincorporated Lealman area.

Reach Anne Lindberg at or (727) 893-8450.

District 51 Rep. Janet Long says she'll lead on fire, EMS reform 09/18/10 [Last modified: Saturday, September 18, 2010 4:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Search for missing Army helicopter crew suspended in Hawaii


    HONOLULU — Officials have suspended the search for five Army soldiers who were aboard a helicopter that crashed during offshore training in Hawaii last week.

    Water safety officials hand over possible debris from an Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crash to military personnel stationed at a command center in a harbor, Wednesday in Haleiwa, Hawaii, a day after. an Army helicopter with five on board crashed several miles off Oahu's North Shore. Officials  suspended the search for five Army soldiers in a helicopter crash during offshore training in Hawaii on Monday. [Associated Press]
  2. Rubio praises Trump for 'excellent' speech on Afghanistan


    Sen. Marco Rubio praised President Donald Trump's "excellent" speech on Afghanistan. Sen. Bill Nelson was less effusive but agreed with the goal.

  3. Gov. Rick Scott blasts report of shifting words on Charlottesville


    Gov. Rick Scott, one of the most scripted politicians in modern Florida history, said Monday that "both sides” bear blame for Charlottesville.

  4. Record $417 million awarded in lawsuit linking baby powder to cancer


    LOS ANGELES — A Los Angeles jury on Monday ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay a record $417 million to a hospitalized woman who claimed in a lawsuit that the talc in the company's iconic baby powder causes ovarian cancer when applied regularly for feminine hygiene.

    A bottle of Johnson's baby powder is displayed. On Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, a Los Angeles County Superior Court spokeswoman confirmed that a jury has ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $417 million in a case to a woman who claimed in a lawsuit that the talc in the company's iconic baby powder causes ovarian cancer when applied regularly for feminine hygiene. [Associated Press]
  5. Search under way for missing sailors; Navy chief orders inquiry


    SINGAPORE — The U.S. Navy ordered a broad investigation Monday into the performance and readiness of the Pacific-based 7th Fleet after the USS John S. McCain collided with an oil tanker in Southeast Asian waters, leaving 10 U.S. sailors missing and others injured.

    Damage is visible as the USS John S. McCain steers toward Singapore’s naval base on Monday.