Saturday, January 20, 2018
Editorials

Bad bills still lurking at Capitol

Doctors take an oath to do no harm. The same should be required of Florida legislators. With two weeks left in the legislative session, some of the best decisions so far have been to stop bad ideas. But there are plenty of others that lawmakers should kill before they adjourn March 9.

Thankfully dead

Casinos Ambitious plans to add a pair of Vegas-style casinos were rife with bad consequences, including the biggest expansion of gambling in the state's history. That's economic development Florida doesn't need. (HB 487/SB 710)

Private prisons When the Legislature looks to exempt itself from the requirements it puts on everyone else, watch out. Senate leaders never made a good case (as required under law) for this rush to privatize so many prisons across 18 South Florida counties. (SB 2038)

Bad faith A surprising defeat in a House committee early this session killed insurance companies' perennial effort to make it harder to sue them on allegations that they acted in "bad faith" in refusing to settle a claim. (HB 427/SB 1224)

Legislative immunity A last-ditch House effort to shield lawmakers from producing documents or giving testimony in civil actions, including on redistricting, died quickly once its hubris was exposed. (HB 7123)

Should be dead

citizens property insurance takeouts This bad idea would allow unregulated companies to take over policies written by the state's insurer of last resort, leaving homeowners without vital consumer protections. (HB 245/SB 578)

Politicizing selection of judges A plan to give the governor power to remove his members of judicial nominating commissions would just further politicize judge selection, undermining courts' independence as a third branch of government. (HB 971/SB 1570)

More politics on water management Last year the governor and Legislature undercut decades of science-based policy by slashing tax revenues for Florida's five water management districts. Now Senate leaders want to restore some of that funding but still maintain authority over districts' budgets, ensuring special interest politics, not science, dominate decisionmaking. (SB 1986)

Abortion Nearly four decades after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled women have a right to make their own reproductive decisions, bills would make access to an abortion even harder for women by mandating new training requirements for doctors, requiring a 24-hour waiting period and insisting any new abortion clinic be owned by a doctor. (HB 277/SB 290)

Minimum wage This half-cooked idea would allow restaurants to cut the state's minimum wage in half, from $4.65 an hour to $2.13, as it applies to restaurant servers, so-called "tipped employees." (SB 2106)

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Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

The death last fall of a 20-year-old Florida State University fraternity pledge revealed pervasive dangerous behavior within the school’s Greek system. Andrew Coffey, a Pi Kappa Phi pledge, died from alcohol poisoning after an off-campus party, and a...
Published: 01/19/18

Editorial: Confronting racial distrust in St. Petersburg, one conversation at a time

The St. Petersburg Police Department’s heavy presence in Midtown on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the community animosity it stirred have raised a familiar, troubling question: Can St. Petersburg’s racial divisions ever be reconciled?That big ideal ...
Published: 01/19/18
William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

A surge of Democrats seeking local legislative offices and hoping for a "blue wave" in the 2018 election continued last week, led by Bob Buesing filing to run again versus state Sen. Dana Young, R-Tampa.In addition:• Heather Kenyon Stahl of Tampa has...
Published: 01/19/18
Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

The smiles, applause and at least one hug belied the grim impetus for a gathering last week at a neighborhood center in Tampa — the Seminole Heights killings.The Tampa Police Department held a ceremony to thank those who helped in the investigation t...
Published: 01/19/18

Editorial: State’s warning shot should get attention of Hillsborough schools

The state Board of Education hopefully sent the message this week with its warning shot about the slow pace of the turnaround at Hillsborough County’s low-performing schools.The board criticized the school system for failing to replace administrators...
Published: 01/18/18
Updated: 01/19/18
Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

The Florida Legislature’s abrupt move to strip the University of South Florida St. Petersburg of its hard-earned separate accreditation and transform it back into a satellite of the major research university lacks detail and an appreciation for histo...
Published: 01/18/18

Another voice: Self-dealing by nursing home owners threatens patient care

The outsourcing of logistical support services, which became commonplace in the U.S. military in the 1990s and later was adopted by state prison systems, has now come to dominate the nursing home industry. And while nursing homes, unlike the military...
Published: 01/17/18
Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Three years into a crisis with its sewer system, St. Petersburg has a dandy new idea for dealing with the environmental fallout of dumping dirty water into the aquifer. Instead of committing to banning the outlawed practice, a consultant suggested th...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18
Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

A substitute teacher at a Plant City elementary school berated a class of fourth graders — and then the school principal. Another compared a student to a stripper. Others were caught napping, hitting children, making sexual remarks, giving students b...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18
Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

For the longest time, injured workers in Florida were basically at the mercy of the whims of employers to treat them fairly. A 2003 law aimed at reducing the cost of workers’ compensation coverage for businesses had the desired impact, but it also di...
Published: 01/16/18