WASHINGTON – Saying they are "extremely concerned" about the effect on Florida's economy and public discourse, a bipartisan group of lawmakers on Friday urged Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to take action to prevent steep newsprint tariffs.
"At a time when credible and responsible reporting is needed most, a devastating new tax on the newspaper industry would be a grave mistake," the Florida lawmakers wrote in a letter to Ross, whose Commerce Department imposed the tariffs due to a complaint from a Washington state mill that contends Canadian makers are dumping product in the U.S.
"Not only would the tariffs cause severe economic turmoil in Florida and across the country but they would also make it harder for the public to get the information needed to sustain a government of the people, by the people, and for the people."
The letter was signed by 15 Florida lawmakers: Sen. Bill Nelson and Reps. Gus Bilirakis, Stephanie Murphy, Dennis Ross, Darren Soto, Charlie Crist, Frederica Wilson, Kathy Castor, Alcee Hastings, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Al Lawson, Ted Deutch, Lois Frankel, Val Demings and Carlos Curbelo.
The Tampa Bay Times alone announced in April that it must layoff 50 employees as a result, with extra costs at $3 million. Other newspapers are bracing for the impact as well.
Paul Tash, chairman and CEO of Times Publishing Company: Tariffs on paper will hurt us, and our readers.
Washington Post editorial: Newsprint tariffs cost journalists their jobs.