Fair Economy Act
Close loopholes for big companies
Recently a group of legislators filed the Fair Economy Act in Tallahassee. This bill, which is intended to close corporate tax loopholes for major corporations that are avoiding their income tax obligations, is a major step toward responsibly closing our budget shortfall in Florida.
Small business owners and middle-class Floridians pay their fair share of taxes. It's time that multibillion-dollar corporations that are reaping record profits do the same.
The most interesting part of this legislation is that it never imposes a tax increase on anyone, but instead seeks to make the system fairer for small business owners and middle-class families by making it harder for large corporations to skirt their tax obligation.
This is a common sense solution to our budget problems that I hope all of our leaders will support.
Daniel Rubin, Tampa
Plans for PIP aim at fraud | Jan. 14
Clinics serve vital function
As the owner of a clinic that takes care of injured drivers in Pinellas County, I think there should be great concern about a PIP bill that recently passed a committee along party lines. The bill (HB 119) says that an injured driver can go only to the emergency room for treatment within 72 hours of the accident. It also limits what type of treatment the patient can access afterward based on that visit to an ER doctor.
Does anyone see the logic in jamming up emergency rooms with whiplash patients in an effort to save money? Hospitals, although staffed with competent and caring professionals, are hardly known for their low costs and efficient patient care. Private clinics serve a vital function for thousands of injured people each year.
The bill also restricts access to effective treatments such as chiropractic and massage therapy. By restricting these types of treatments, patients are more likely to be prescribed pain medication. Is it a good idea to increase the number of people on pain pills in this state?
Dr. Marc J. Rogers, Largo
Obama rejects permit for pipeline | Jan. 19
Turning our back on an ally
Frustration only partially describes my feelings about President Barack Obama's decision to deny a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, which has the promise of alleviating our dependence on foreign oil.
Now because of the ineptitude of our government and continued obstructionism, the Canadians, our neighbor and a tested ally, have announced that they will seek markets in China and other Asian countries. And who can blame them? A friendly neighbor who preferred to deal with us has been rebuked because of political motivation.
If this administration wonders about its shameful approval ratings, this action is a prime example of why they are so low.
Orfeo Trombetta, Seminole
Mitt, meet Rick
Mitt Romney took out a quarter-page ad in your Thursday edition. It was an open letter to President Barack Obama, and it begins: "Welcome to Florida. I have a simple question for you: Where are the jobs?" He goes on to add that the president's economic policies "have failed."
I seem to recall Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican like Romney, recently taking credit for creating a lot of jobs in Florida and bringing down the unemployment rate. In his State of the State address Scott proclaimed, "In the past year, Floridians, not government, created almost 135,000 new private sector jobs. We netted more than 120,000 total jobs in the first 11 months of 2011; the third most of any state in the nation."
But apparently all these new jobs in Florida only count when they are touted by a Republican. Perhaps Romney should check with the governor before he sends off his next letter to the president.
Rick Carson, St. Petersburg
Keep public water for public uses | Jan. 16, editorial
Bill isn't a water giveaway
House Bill 639 is not a giveaway, as the Times suggested. Under House Bill 639, Florida's waters, which belong to all of its citizens, are not privatized, continue to be protected by the water management districts, and incentives become available to utilities on which they can rely to increase the use of reclaimed water. It will also ensure that the city of Tampa will have the opportunity to optimize the use of reclaimed water without the possibility of that water being unilaterally redirected. And the way it accomplishes those goals is by clarifying the authority of the water management districts.
In past years, here in the Southwest Florida Water Management District, partnerships were formed between the district and utilities through cooperative funding. Those partnerships were the financial engine to expand the use of reclaimed water. That nonregulatory approach seemed to be working, as you noted in your editorial. However, a few years ago, another district proposed restrictions on the use of reclaimed water. These new regulations would have interfered with the operation of the utilities, subjected them to potential enforcement actions, and squashed the incentive-based system.
At almost the same time, the Southwest Florida Water Management District told the city that since it wasn't distributing all of its reclaimed water, it wanted the city to send its reclaimed water to a use outside of the city, even though Tampa citizens had paid to produce it. We disagreed that they had the authority to do that, and Councilman Charlie Miranda made sure the district heard the city's position.
House Bill 639 clarifies existing law regarding a district's authority over reclaimed water and ensures that a utility can rely on its plans for its reclaimed water for the benefit of its ratepayers. Producing reclaimed water is expensive and subject to multiple regulatory constraints. The bill provides the incentive to increase the use of reclaimed water and thus protect Florida's most precious resource, its natural waters, by decreasing the use of those waters and substituting reclaimed water for such things as irrigation and rehydration of wetlands.
Bob Buckhorn, mayor, Tampa
Captain blamed for cruise disaster | Jan. 16
Help at the helm
So how do we know, the next time we board a plane, train or ship, if the man we are entrusting our lives to is a Sullenberger or a Schettino?
Ramona Billings, St. Petersburg