Thursday, June 21, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Florida's step forward for immigrants

The Florida Legislature has taken a significant step toward recognizing this state's diversity as one of its strengths and that it is smart public policy as well as smart politics to invest in the future. Legislation sent to Gov. Rick Scott on Friday that allows undocumented immigrants who graduate from Florida high schools to pay in-state tuition at state colleges and universities initially could benefit more than 1,300 students. The return will be much broader, for it signals Florida is a compassionate state that wants to continue to provide opportunities for its brightest young people, regardless of where they were born and how they got here.

This has been a yearslong effort to level the playing field for undocumented immigrants who excelled in Florida high schools but found out-of-state tuition rates made it difficult to continue their education. Much of the credit for persuading their colleagues to recognize the benefits of offering in-state tuition to these young people goes to two Tampa Bay Republicans: House Speaker Will Weatherford of Wesley Chapel and Sen. Jack Latvala of Clearwater. Without their leadership, the issue easily could have died again. Scott, who will sign the legislation into law, also provided a helping hand in the final days of the legislative session.

Along the way, there still were the unenlightened lawmakers who argued that in-state tuition should be paid only by high school students who are American citizens. What they failed to appreciate is that these undocumented students were brought to Florida as young children by their parents or other relatives and had no choice. Taxpayers already have invested heavily in their public education, and these students already are contributing to their high schools and to their broader communities. Providing them with the same opportunity as their classmates to attend a state college or university will prepare those students to make even more significant contributions to the state's economy and civic life.

Several Tampa Bay legislators who voted against the bill, HB 851, will find themselves on the wrong side of history: Republican Sens. Jeff Brandes of St. Petersburg and Tom Lee of Brandon, and Republican Reps. Larry Ahern of Seminole, Richard Corcoran of Land O'Lakes, Jamie Grant of Tampa and Jimmie Smith of Inverness.

For other Republicans, there is a political calculus to embracing this public policy. This is an election year, and Republicans have been losing support from Hispanic voters who are upset with Scott's botched attempt to purge the voter rolls and other issues. Allowing undocumented high school students to pay in-state tuition could start to repair some of that political damage.

Regardless of the various motivations, this is a positive step for the state and most of Tampa Bay's legislators from both political parties agreed. Florida will become the 20th state to allow in-state tuition for undocumented students who were brought to the country illegally. The state and all of its residents will be better for it.

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Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

It turns out the U.S. Supreme Court has a better grasp of the economic realities of the 21st century than Congress or the Florida Legislature. The court ruled Thursday that states can require online retailers to collect sales taxes even if the retail...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

The shocking scenes of immigrant children crying after being taken from their parents at the border exposed a new level of cruelty by the Trump administration, and though the president reversed course Wednesday, Congress needs to end the shameful pra...
Published: 06/21/18
Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Good job, Jeff Sessions! It seems the attorney generalís misguided attempts to revive the unpopular and unjust federal war on marijuana may be having the exact opposite effect ó prompting a new bipartisan effort in Congress to allow states to legaliz...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18
Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Forty years ago today, Nelson Poynter died. He was the last individual to own this newspaper, and to keep the Times connected to this community, he did something remarkable. He gave it away.In his last years, Mr. Poynter recognized that sooner or lat...
Published: 06/15/18

There was no FBI anti-Trump conspiracy

The Justice Department released Thursday the highly anticipated report on the FBIís handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe and other sensitive issues in the 2016 election. It is not the report President Donald Trump wanted. But there is enough i...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Voter purge may be legal, but itís also suppression

The Supreme Courtís ruling last Monday to allow Ohioís purging of its voter rolls is difficult to dispute legally. While federal law prohibits removing citizens from voter rolls simply because they havenít voted, Ohioís purge is slightly different. T...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18