Florida bypasses Transocean suit | April 20
State's 'plan' leaves us at mercy of polluter
How credulous does this current administration think we are?
Gov. Rick Scott's taking a pass on the lawsuit to force Transocean to do the right thing leaves the fox in charge of the chicken coop. He says, "We have a plan," but then fails to describe it. Does BP know what our "plan" is, other than to rely on its goodwill? In its most charitable light, the word "naive" comes to mind. Less charitably, it smells more like a backroom deal. What's the plan, governor?
Even more alarming is Deputy Attorney General Carlos Muniz's understanding of basic legal concepts. By definition, a contingency-fee contract is contingent upon a result and is a percentage of the recovery for the client. If there is no recovery, there is no fee. What's the risk in that?
So now, in the face of this environmental disaster, we have a governor without a real plan and a deputy attorney general without a clue.
Tom Carey, Clearwater
Striking a balance on rules
Pinellas County's fertilizer rules have been met with mixed views, but the county is not the only one with its own regulations. While a uniform, statewide rule to the problem of impaired waterways is a reasonable approach, local control can also play a role in fertilizer regulation.
To address these issues, Florida House Bill 457, with an amendment I offered, is under consideration. The bill earned unanimous, bipartisan support in the House on April 15.
Under current law, every city and county in Florida with impaired waterways is required to either adopt the state's model fertilizer ordinance or determine its own science-backed local rules. These rules, much like the model ordinance, instruct homeowners when and where fertilizer can be applied to their lawns and gardens. For example, the state model ordinance prohibits residents from applying fertilizer before a heavy rain and requires a 10-foot buffer zone between a fertilized area and any water bodies.
Many local rules follow these recommendations. However, some local regulations began to impede the ability of Florida commerce and distribution of a legal and Florida-licensed product. There were also concerns surrounding the way localities selected additional rules and the science supporting those claims. If one county chooses to ignore science and another chooses to follow it, the waters statewide are not equally protected.
To help solve this commerce-restricting and fact-checking conundrum, HB 457 was introduced to offer a statewide approach. It was met with resistance. Thanks to a recent compromise amendment, this bill now creates a more retail-friendly environment while maintaining local control. Additionally, a grandfather clause allows for the Pinellas County fertilizer rules, and other localities with pre-existing regulations, to remain exactly as they are.
In some cases, critics would argue a statewide solution isn't the best approach and local control needs to play a role. But we've seen that regulatory methods have also wreaked havoc on Florida commerce and created tension between local governments. There must be a common ground, and I believe, with the help of many stakeholders, we've reached one.
State Rep. Jeff Brandes, District 52, St. Petersburg
Millions in malaria drugs stolen | April 21
Look at the good done
The Associated Press report about $2.5 million stolen drugs implies the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is not doing a good job of controlling its resources. But consider that the global fund has approved proposals since its founding totaling more than $20 billion.
The global fund is very transparent. The AP information came from the fund's internal investigations. Congress' own report from its Congressional Research Service, titled "The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria: U.S. Contributions and Issues for Congress," describes the fund's continuing effort to evaluate its own performance and the strides it takes to improve the accuracy and relevance of its performance measuring devices. The global fund is a model of how foreign assistance should work.
Nobody wants to see people suffer or die due to those stolen drugs. But why not talk about the millions of people who are benefiting from the global fund programs?
Ken Schatz, Tampa
Bills will reduce costs
This legislative session, state policymakers are working on addressing a variety of cost drivers in our insurance system. From increasing sinkhole claims to fraudulent activities by medical clinics and public adjusters, Florida's insurance system is among the worst in the country.
Floridians deserve a better insurance marketplace where insurance companies don't have unnecessary costs that are then passed on to consumers.
For example, under current law, consumers can file a hurricane claim for up to five years. However, most people know they have days or weeks — not years. Therefore, leaving a "window of opportunity" open for too long allows public insurance adjusters to egg on consumers to file questionable claims — driving up costs for everyone.
Additionally, in the absence of hurricanes, Florida has witnessed an explosion of sinkhole claims, with many coming from areas of the state that historically have had little to no sinkhole activity. And companies are not bringing in the appropriate premiums to cover these sinkhole claims. As an illustration of the problem, in 2009 Citizens Property Insurance Corp. took in $19.6 million in premiums for sinkhole coverage but paid out $97 million in claims. Again, these costs are then passed on to consumers.
I hope our state lawmakers make it a priority to reduce costs within our insurance system — making the market a better place for consumers to buy coverage at reasonable prices. I encourage our leaders to support Senate Bill 408 and companion House Bill 803.
Tim E. Abbey, Safety Harbor
Gov. Rick Scott
Keeping his word
Everyone appears to be upset and even angry with Gov. Rick Scott and giving him low marks for his performance thus far.
During his campaign he told us what he wanted to do. We voted him into office. Now he is doing what he promised.
What's the problem?
H.E. Woodbury Jr., Safety Harbor
Formula for success
Donald Trump says that while some of his enterprises have declared bankruptcy, he has never filed for personal bankruptcy. I am reminded of this definition from Ambrose Bierce:
"Corporation: an ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility."
Palmer O. Hanson Jr., Largo