A whole lot of nobody's business | Feb. 24, commentary
Waking up to religious overreach
Columnist Connie Schultz is rightfully upset by what she perceives as the integration of the religious right's morals into public policy via the political pandering of the Republican Party.
And it's not just Schultz who is upset. Everywhere there seems to be a general backlash by women's groups of all stripes regarding the invasion into private lives by the government. Schultz and women everywhere should be concerned about Rick Santorum and his policies, but they shouldn't be surprised. The religious right, by taking over the Republican Party, has long sought to impose its morals.
Finally, it seems, decent people everywhere have come to realize the dangers of allowing government control over bedroom issues.
Douglas E. Smith, Riverview
An unsettling assault
The assault on the separation of church and state is unsettling. First, St. Petersburg Bishop Robert Lynch attempted to unduly influence federal and state judges to overturn portions of the health care law.
Then Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum talked about imposing church views upon the entire country. Now comes Luanne Panacek, CEO of the Children's Board of Hillsborough County, spreading "holy oil" in her government office after hours to exorcise a demon.
Isn't it time to say "enough already" to the uber-religionists?
Chuck Hudson, Tampa
Obama: Fixing fuel problems isn't easy Feb. 26
Heavy toll of taxation
The next time you fill up your gas tank think about this: In Florida, we pay 52 cents per gallon in taxes. Of that, 18.4 cents per gallon goes to the federal government. Maybe it's time for some tax relief for our citizens, who have to buy gas as a necessity, not a luxury.
There are so many hidden taxes that most of us don't know about, such as phone, cable, power, cigarettes, alcohol, to name a few. So as our politicians talk about the income tax rates, they should consider these taxes as part of that picture to give us a true idea of how much we really pay.
Dennis Donnelly, Lutz
New face of motherhood | Feb. 26
Thanks to Jamie Lee Zehnder for showing the bleak reality for most women of what it means to be a single mom in 2012. It sure ain't the Hollywood version. But in the article, Ms. Zehnder claims to have "realized she really could do this on her own" about a year and a half ago. Respectfully, if you are receiving welfare and living with your parents rent-free, you are not "doing this on your own." The father should also know that since his child needs welfare, then the child-support payments he makes are obviously insufficient.
I hope Ms. Zehnder agrees that hers is a cautionary tale despite the fairy-tale ending, because not all single moms will be as lucky as her to find and marry a man who has his priorities straight. My wife and I sincerely wish Ms. Zehnder all happiness and success in her upcoming marriage.
Thomas Rask, Seminole
The professor learns that history trumps ideology | Feb. 27
Lessons in public service
Thank you for the great article on the behind-the-scenes operations by the Senate president. Our elected senators and representatives are sent to Tallahassee to do what is best for their district and the state of Florida and to exercise independent thinking — not to be a rubber stamp for the leadership. Pinellas County is fortunate to have independent thinkers like Sens. Jack Latvala and Mike Fasano to represent us.
Tom Anderson, former state representative, Dunedin
Attack on women's rights
The Florida Legislature is at it again, once more introducing bill after bill — 10 this year — to limit women's access to health care.
Last week, committees in both the House and Senate passed versions of an omnibus bill that would add more unnecessary government regulation on abortion providers and in so doing drive up the cost of reproductive health care.
The bill would ultimately restrict health care providers like Planned Parenthood from providing lifesaving cancer screenings, birth control, sexually transmitted infection testing and treatment, and other preventive health care services by preventing new health centers from opening.
While pretending to care about women's safety, legislators are attacking women's health and rights with this legislation designed to drive abortion providers out of practice — which will only force women to turn to unsafe options.
This anti-women's health agenda is being pushed through the Legislature at a time when Florida women already face grave obstacles when seeking access to affordable, quality health care. A recent study released by the Florida Association of Planned Parenthood Affiliates reveals that Florida women's health is already at serious risk. Key findings in the report reveal:
• Nearly 2 million women across the state do not have health insurance.
• Almost a third of the people living with HIV/AIDS in Florida are women.
• There are nearly a quarter-million unintended pregnancies each year in Florida.
• Women and communities of color are disproportionately impacted by the health care crisis in the state.
Sara Scher, Tampa