Saturday, June 23, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: House Republicans must deal with immigration

By now, the House should have passed the Senate's immigration reforms and President Barack Obama should have signed the legislation into law. Or the House could have passed its own comprehensive approach and started negotiating with the Senate on a final version. Instead House Republicans from Florida and elsewhere are stalling and fearful of bipartisanship, compromise or consensus-building that could lead to real reform.

The lack of urgency and the willingness to continue to be obstructionists is discouraging but not unexpected. The bipartisan 68-32 Senate vote for sweeping immigration reform last month sent a strong message that was understood by everyone but House Republicans. They remain hostage to the party's most conservative members, vowing not to pursue a comprehensive solution and to put off tackling immigration until the fall or later.

Translation: Republicans may vote for separate pieces of legislation such as spending more money on border security, but they do not want to deal with 11 million undocumented immigrants who already are in this country and part of our communities. They fear passing anything that could lead to negotiations with the Senate that could produce a more enlightened approach.

Don't look for any help from Florida Republicans. Reps. Dennis Ross of Lakeland, Vern Buchanan of Sarasota and Richard Nugent of Spring Hill are among those embracing an incremental approach that will not address the real issue. Reps. Gus Bilirakis of Palm Harbor and C.W. Bill Young of Indian Shores, who represent more moderate districts, also are more willing to follow the Republican leadership in Washington than address the needs of their communities. Even Sen. Marco Rubio, who helped lead the way on immigration reform in the Senate, is shying away from encouraging the House to act as he takes the heat from conservatives who oppose even a difficult path to citizenship.

The Senate legislation is not perfect, but it offers an overall vision that could be improved upon. It illustrates why the best hope for a comprehensive approach is one piece of legislation instead of multiple bills, because it forces compromises. The Senate bill includes a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, even though it would take more than a decade and include strict requirements from learning English to paying fines and back taxes. It also addresses issues such as guest visas for low-skilled immigrants, visas for highly skilled workers and a new agricultural guest worker program — all important issues to Florida. But to win more votes from conservative Republicans, Democrats agreed to spend $46 billion to strengthen the border and set security requirements that must be met before permanent resident green cards are issued.

Those tradeoffs reflect the art of compromise, but compromise is a dirty word to House Republicans. Stalling will not make the immigration issue disappear, and attempting to increase border security without providing a path to citizenship will not win Republicans any support among Hispanic voters, who turned away from the party in the 2012 election. Rubio and 13 other Senate Republicans recognized that reality and embraced comprehensive reform. Now Obama, the Senate and the voters should keep the pressure on the House to do the same.

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Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Itís hard to pick the biggest outrage in the financial and ethical swamp that has swallowed Tampa Bayís two primary job placement agencies, CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay. Is it the boiler room atmosphere where CareerSource recruite...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18

Family separation crisis is not over

The family-separation crisis that President Donald Trump created is not over. The executive order Trump signed Wednesday purporting to end the routine tearing of children from their undocumented parents stands on uncertain legal ground. U.S. border a...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Veterans can help veterans deal with trauma resulting from military service in a way no one else can. Thatís the theory behind a special hotline set up in the Tampa Bay area that proponents are hoping to take statewide.The expansion would cost some $...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
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...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
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...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/21/18
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