House Bill 727
Put an end to 'drive-by' lawsuits
I have defended businesses for almost 15 years against a handful of law firms that abuse the Americans with Disabilities Act by filing lawsuits by the hundreds against unsuspecting hoteliers, restaurateurs and other local businesses.
This month, I filed HB 727 relating to places of public accommodation. This bill gives the ADA back to the people for whom it was written: Americans with disabilities. In the Senate, Sens. Linda Stewart, D-Orlando, and Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, are introducing SB 1398, which increases the accessibility of places of public accommodation for Floridians with disabilities by incentivizing businesses to become more compliant with the ADA. It provides businesses with the necessary resources to self-evaluate their premises for ADA compliance. It also gives courts a tool to deny claims for attorneys' fees and costs for "drive-by" ADA lawsuits.
Congress enacted the ADA in 1992. It provides that all places of public accommodation must be accessible to people with disabilities. Since 2012, nearly 6,000 ADA compliance lawsuits have been filed in Florida. Over 1,000 of those were filed by single person.
The ADA is a good law with a good purpose. However, its purpose has been frustrated by a handful of law firms perverting a good law for their own monetary gain. In the end, only Congress can fix the ADA's flaws, but this bill will cut down on the abuses while preserving truly valid ADA claims. HB 727 takes a big step forward for Florida's disability and business communities.
Florida Rep. Tom Leek, District 25, R-Daytona Beach
Trump plan adds $54B for military | Feb. 28
Go after defense waste
President Donald Trump wants to increase defense spending by $54 billion by taking funding from the State Department, EPA and other discretionary spending accounts. Not only is this wrongheaded for any number of reasons, it ignores a recent independent study of Defense Department operations (which the department commissioned but then attempted to bury) that estimated some $25 billion in Pentagon spending each year was wasteful.
Adding $54 billion to the Pentagon's already bloated budget without first addressing the Pentagon's glaring administrative shortcomings will only compound its seemingly intractable abuse of taxpayer dollars.
Fred Kalhammer, Sun City Center
Stick to entertainment | Feb. 28, letter
If the shoe fits
The letter writer says that celebrities having no "experience with war or terrorism or politics" should stick to entertainment. That is precisely the problem with Donald Trump. He has no experience with war or terrorism or politics.
George Bickner, Largo
In harm's way | Feb. 27
Keep up with this danger
Thank you for the three long articles that focused on gun deaths among kids. Perhaps you could post a map of Florida each time a child is involved in a gun death, with a gun or some other symbol at each town or city with a child-related gun death. That might help bring the danger home to Floridians.
Elizabeth Corwin, Tampa
Reeves' story disputed | March 2
Options other than guns
My feelings about the "stand your ground" law are just that — feelings. But as a person who stays fit and can take "care of myself," I still pack protection at certain times.
And if Curtis Reeves had obeyed the rules of the theater and not packed his "killing machine" but instead had packed a mace gun, like I do, he would have been safe and not the widow maker he is today.
William Dixon, Odessa
U.S. 'must put its own citizens first' | March 1
Failed to take responsibility
Whether he likes it or not, as commander in chief President Donald Trump is ultimately responsible for the ill-fated military operation that resulted in the death of Navy SEAL Ryan Owens and a number of civilians, including children. But instead of accepting responsibility and expressing regret and remorse about being instrumental in bringing about this loss of life, he blames "my respected generals" and his predecessor in the Oval Office.
If that weren't bad enough, he puts the fallen soldier's widow on display in his speech before Congress, exploiting her grief and tears for his political gain.
Bill Grothmann, Tampa
Widow deserved equal play
It was unfair to bury information inside your newspaper after President Donald Trump paid such a beautiful tribute to the widow of a fallen Navy SEAL during his speech to Congress.
By comparison, the Times prominently displayed on its front page that the father of Navy SEAL William "Ryan" Owens essentially blamed the president for his son's death in a Jan. 28 anti-terrorism raid in Yemen.
Don't both of them deserve equal time in your newspaper? Doesn't the widow of a fallen American soldier — whose husband was honored in such a prominent and historically significant fashion during a major address to Congress — deserve similar treatment by the Times?
Did the Times even consider placing on its front page at least a mention of the protracted applause given Carryn Owens? It was heartfelt and emotionally wrenching, very powerful and moving.
Very few of us can ever know the grief suffered by a spouse or a parent who loses someone in defense of their country. We can only honor them the best we can.
But the Times failed in that regard and did a disservice to Sgt. Owens and his grieving widow.
Mike Kersmarki, Tampa