Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Editorials

Editorial: VA dragging its feet on health claims

The Department of Veterans Affairs is playing with the health of America's military families by dragging its feet on following a law to help those who were exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. As the Tampa Bay Times' William R. Levesque reported Sunday, the VA recently disclosed it may take until 2015 to implement a health care provision that President Barack Obama signed into law in August 2012. The agency needs to speed up this timetable for the sake of veterans' families and its own credibility.

The Janey Ensminger Act enables family members of some veterans who were stationed at Camp Lejeune to apply for VA medical benefits. The law is intended to meet the health care needs of nonveterans who may have been exposed to tainted water while living on the North Carolina base. As many as to 1 million people were exposed to carcinogens at Camp Lejeune from 1953 to 1987 in what scientists have called one of the nation's worst cases of contamination of a large drinking water system. The number affected includes as many as tens of thousands of Floridians.

Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., said he may move to freeze the bonuses of VA leaders to get their cooperation in speeding up the timetable. The threat by the ranking Republican on the Veterans Affairs Committee came after the VA told him that it would be between 2014 and 2015 when the law would be implemented, up to three years after Obama signed the legislation. In a statement to Burr's office, the VA maintained that carrying out the law was a "complex" process that could not be completed before March 2014.

The rulemaking process can be time-consuming, partly because the public and affected parties deserve the chance to provide feedback to federal authorities on the practical implications of any law. But there is no reason the VA is not further along. Burr said he was particularly troubled that the VA had not indicated the extent of the delays until this month.

The agency needs to give these military families a higher priority. Turning a blind eye compounds the health care risks and damages public confidence in the VA's ability to carry out its mission. Florida's congressional delegation should join Burr in insisting that the VA get on the ball and in holding its leaders accountable.

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Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Timing is everything, and Sen. Bill Nelson seized the right moment this week to call on his colleagues to pass legislation he filed earlier this year that would block the Trump administration from opening additional areas to offshore drilling. With t...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Another voice: Alabama picks an honorable man

THANK YOU, Alabama.In Tuesdayís special election, the state by a narrow margin chose to spare the nation the indignity of seating an accused child molester in the U.S. Senate. Though the stain of electing Republican Roy Moore would have sullied Alaba...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Editorial: Tax cuts arenít worth harm to Tampa Bay

Editorial: Tax cuts arenít worth harm to Tampa Bay

As congressional negotiators hammer out the details on an enormous, unnecessary tax cut, the potential negative impact on Tampa Bay and Florida is becoming clearer. The harmful consequences stretch far beyond adding more than $1.4 trillion to the fed...
Published: 12/12/17

Another voice: Privacy in the internet age

How much information about you is on your cellphone? Likely the most intimate details of your life: photographs, internet searches, text and email conversations with friends and colleagues. And though you might not know it, your phone is constantly c...
Published: 12/10/17
Updated: 12/11/17
Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Confronted with documentation of sanctioned brutality and sexual abuse in Floridaís juvenile detention centers, the reaction from Gov. Rick Scottís administration was defensive and obtuse. So itís welcome news that Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/11/17

Editorial: U.S. House sides with NRA over stateís rights on concealed weapons permits

With the horror of the mass shootings at a Las Vegas country music concert and a small Texas church still fresh, the U.S. House finally has taken action on guns. But the bill it passed last week wonít make Americans safer from gun violence. It is an ...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

There is no satisfaction for anyone in the standoff over pay raises between the Hillsborough County School District and its teachers. Most teachers across the nation already are underpaid, but this district simply cannot afford the raises teachers ex...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

With a buildout of $3 billion encompassing entire city blocks, itís obvious that Jeff Vinikís plans will change the look and feel of downtown Tampa. But the Tampa Bay Lightning owner unveiled a broader vision last week that reflects how far the impac...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/08/17
Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

It is dangerous and illegal to text while driving in Florida, and police should be able to pull over and ticket those lawbreakers without witnessing another violation first. House Speaker Richard Corcoran has lent his powerful voice to legislation th...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Editorial: Outsourcing common sense on St. Petersburg Pier naming rights

St. Petersburg officials predict that selling the naming rights to parts of the new Pier could generate $100,000 in annual revenue. But first the city wants to pay a consultant to tell it how and to whom to sell the rights. Why do city officials need...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17