Medicaid helped speaker's family | March 6
Medicaid benefits Florida middle class families
It is not surprising Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford didn't initially know his family benefitted from Medicaid. Most of the people who will benefit from Obamacare in general or from the Medicaid expansion don't realize how these programs will benefit them and countless others.
It is also not surprising that Republican lawmakers fear a tea party opponent in the next election more than they value the health of their constituents. Pediatricians all know families in the middle class who rely on Medicaid for help with devastating and chronic illness like that of Weatherford's brother. We also know families whose private insurance ended with the loss of a job.
Republicans say Medicaid is "broken," but my experience with the program over many years says otherwise. It is the current private plans that don't serve families who lose a job or who have a child with a devastating illness.
Let's work together to expand Medicaid to those who need it most and to free the rest of our families from insurance that may not be there when they need it most.
Mark Morris, M.D., Tampa
An irresponsible move on Medicaid March 5, editorial
The money's not there
Your editorial suggests that "to leave billions of federal dollars on the table and deprive nearly 1 million Floridians of Medicaid coverage would be fiscally irresponsible and morally indefensible."
Accepting billions of dollars that the federal government has borrowed, with no intent, let alone a plan, to pay back, dumping the debt on our children and grandchildren because we think we deserve free stuff — that is fiscally irresponsible and morally indefensible.
Dave Loeffert, Dunedin
The about-face of Gov. Rick Scott's Medicaid expansion position, suddenly seeing the light and becoming a man of the people, hit the wall hard when it got to Tallahassee.
What a great strategy. Take a short-term hit from the tea party supporters, knowing those same folks will render the expansion dead on arrival in the Legislature.
This way he can say, "See, I tried," while the House ideologues can keep their tea party purity. From the hard-core right standpoint, it's all good. They can all look the other way while thousands of Floridians are denied desperately needed health care services. Well played indeed, governor.
Robert Mathews, St. Petersburg
Cardinals not in a rush to plan church's future | March 6
Church must address abuse
The church, as it chooses a new pope, must realize that one of the biggest problems weighing on it is the molestation of innocent boys at the hands of not just priests, but higher-ranking clergy. It is time for reflection on not just this generation of priests, but the past generation and the future priests who are drawn to the church.
As men of God, priests in cannot honestly think these actions would win approval from Jesus. The Catholic Church should have an amnesty period of, say, one month. In that time, if a priest felt the urge to hurt innocent children, or knew of someone who did, this would be the time to leave the church. The church wants change and members to return. Let's start with honesty.
Brian Duncan, Tampa
Bay area nourishes the scene | Feb. 28
Bravo for coverage
Cheers and thanks to John Fleming for his article in Weekend bringing attention to our local community theaters. Because of the lack of newspaper publicity over the years, these theaters, which bring Broadway-quality productions to our community, go largely unrecognized in favor of the more costly professional theaters. Both are extremely important and should be publicized, but increasingly residents are not aware of the gold mines in their midst performed by the very talented and dedicated unpaid volunteers who make it all happen. Ticket prices usually range from $15 to $25, far less than one might expect considering the quality of participating artists.
Community theaters fill an important need in every area fortunate enough to have them, and should be recognized and publicized by all news media. We thank you for this recognition.
The mission statement of St. Petersburg City Theatre is: To promote the advancement of live theater and provide quality entertainment while developing and encouraging local nonprofessional talent.
Ann Parrish, St. Petersburg
Internet sales tax plan picks up steam March 3
Level the playing field
For too many years, out-of-state online-only retailers like Amazon.com have exploited a tax loophole that allows them to avoid collecting Florida sales tax, giving them an unfair price advantage that threatens to put stores like mine out of business. Meanwhile, each month we dutifully remit the sales taxes collected on behalf of the state, which Florida relies on to pay for parks, police, schools and more.
The Times reported that state lawmakers are considering legislation that will close this loophole and level the playing field for Florida's traditional brick-and-mortar businesses. We're hopeful as each year as the Legislature slowly moves closer to a solution, but discouraged to see misinformation repeated. Contrary to state Senate President Don Gaetz's claim, e-Fairness legislation is not a new tax. It merely creates a process for businesses to collect sales tax that is already owed.
Main Street businesses are essential threads in the fabric of communities throughout Florida, and many are struggling to recover from the economic downturn. It is fundamentally unfair for the state to continue to basically subsidize out-of-state businesses at the expense of those of us who have invested here — providing jobs, keeping proceeds and profits circulating locally, and reinvesting in our home state. State lawmakers can help Florida businesses stay competitive by finally passing this commonsense legislation.
Carla Jimenez, co-owner, Inkwood Books, St. Petersburg
Lopano lovefest sets Tampa mayor on edge March 2
Since 2010, I have been honored to represent the district that includes Tampa International Airport in the Florida Legislature. The airport is a crucial economic engine for the entire region as it creates jobs, attracts businesses and facilitates tourism, which is such a vital part of our economy.
Many changes have been made to improve Tampa International Airport, such as the volunteer ambassador program, the opening of a USO center, new restaurants that reflect Tampa's culture and aggressive marketing of the airport to attract new flights.
Our community cannot risk taking a step back and losing CEO Joe Lopano to another airport and city. It is my sincerest hope that the Aviation Authority board will work to find a way to keep him here for many years.
Janet Cruz, state representative, District 62, Tampa