Bill secures a trained workforce
While job growth has remained lackluster during our economic recovery, the construction industry and other highly skilled trades are facing a shortage of qualified workers that threatens the future of the industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the construction industry alone will face a shortage of 1.6 million workers by 2022.
Thankfully, Congress took an important step this month toward building a workforce that will address the needs of our economy. On July 9, the U.S. House passed HR 803, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which the Senate had passed June 26.
The act represents a significant move forward in streamlining and localizing job training efforts, ensuring that our workforce development system is capable of providing workers with the skills they need, and providing our nation with a workforce that can respond to economic demand. The bill does this by ensuring that the small-business owners who make up our local economy have a role in shaping local workforce development and job training programs that fit the needs of the local economy.
The bill also takes an important step in ensuring that training grants are available to programs regardless of labor affiliation. Previously, funding for certain job training programs was available only to firms associated with labor unions, locking out the 86 percent of employees in the construction industry who choose not to be affiliated with a labor union. By opening up job training money for all industry-recognized job training programs, the act allows more workers to access the training they need to be productive members of our workforce.
The act represents a tremendous step forward in bringing much-needed reform to our country's workforce training system, and we hope the president signs the bill into law.
Steve Cona III, president/CEO, Associated Builders and Contractors, Florida Gulf Coast Chapter, Tampa
Protect Tampa cigars | July 11, editorial
A deadly business
Having been a Florida resident only since December, we are still getting used to the way things are down here. Nevertheless, I am appalled at the Tampa Bay Times editorial advocating protecting the J.C. Newman Cigar Co.'s products.
Have we learned nothing in the 60 years since the first surgeon general's report about smoking? It may be a historical company, but look at what it produces. Tobacco, in any form, when used for its intended purpose will kill you. This is what the Times is promoting?
Wayne H. Smith, St. Petersburg
Leave medicine to doctors | July 12, letter
Insurers call the shots
Most patients are not aware that their physician is really not in charge of what prescriptions they are allowed to have. Insurance companies routinely decide what's best for you.
I work for a physician, and it is routine for pharmacies to contact our office, asking the doctor for an alternative prescription because the patient's plan doesn't cover the doctor's chosen medication.
Too often, a time-consuming game is played between the pharmacy and the doctor. The physician changes from the first-choice medicine to an alternative, only to have that choice rejected; a third-string drug is finally approved. Then the patient returns and reports little or no improvement.
The insurance companies are in charge. Drive through cities and note the names on the biggest buildings. They are mostly insurance companies and banks, not doctors' names. Also, insurance CEOs "earn" millions annually on the backs of patients and the health care professionals who generate the income. Reimbursements to doctors go down, patient premiums go up and most of us have very high deductibles. The system is broken.
Diane Wayne, Tarpon Springs
Border influx triggers blame game | July 14
Reaction unworthy of U.S.
I have been following the stories about children coming across our southern borders — and the hateful in-person and online protests against them. I am appalled. If this were happening in any other country in the world, we would be taking up collections in schools, churches and businesses to help these children. We would be having bake sales and selling plastic bracelets proclaiming that we support these innocents. Churches would be sending missionaries to assist with these refugees from oppressive governments.
I am ashamed of our reaction. Have we lost the "goodness" factor that Americans have been known for throughout the world? I fear we may have.
Yvonne Neff Woods, Tarpon Springs
Welcome to Florida
In 1961, I was one of hundreds of unaccompanied Cuban children who arrived in Miami and were warmly welcomed by the good people of Florida. Thank God we did not try to go to Texas.
Maria Emilia, St. Petersburg
Break the impasse on immigration policy July 14, commentary
Senseless lack of action
If folks as disparate as Bill Gates, Sheldon Adelson and Warren Buffett can collaborate on and agree to solutions for reforming our broken immigration laws, then the House of Representatives surely can do the same. The bottom line is that "a Congress that does nothing about these problems is extending an irrational policy by default."
It is truly senseless and unacceptable — as is the cruel and inhumane decision of the Obama administration to return any of the children recently arrived from Central America to their homeland and the horrors that forced them to flee in the first place.
John Hayner, Clearwater
3-D mammograms can spot cancer more easily | July 8
Better screening tests
Thank you for educating women of the Tampa Bay area about the value of the newest technique in breast imaging. Tomosynthesis has been proven in multi-institution studies to save lives. We are finding smaller cancers earlier and, in women with dense breasts, we are seeing cancers that were previously invisible.
Please seek out dedicated mammographers at American College of Radiology-approved facilities.
Marty Landry, M.D., Largo