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Charlie Crist, Gus Bilirakis team up to fight newspaper tariffs

The Tampa Bay lawmakers are part of effort to fight levies that the publishing industry says threatens jobs.

WASHINGTON – While the Trump administration ratchets up a trade war, a bipartisan group of lawmakers is fighting tariffs imposed against newsprint, an issue affecting the publishing industry.

Rep. Charlie Crist, D-St. Petersburg, and Rep. Kristi Noem, a Republican from South Dakota, have introduced the Protecting Rational Incentives in Newsprint Trade Act, which has gained bipartisan support, including Rep. Gus Bilirakis of Palm Harbor.

"An unnecessary trade war with some of our closest partners is already having real, negative consequences for our economy and the newspaper industry in particular.  The Tampa Bay Times recently announced 50 employees would be laid off due to new tariffs – shrinking newsrooms at a time when thoughtful, credible reporting is needed most," Crist said Friday.

"Newspapers are an integral part of our communities, employing our neighbors and keeping us informed. It's encouraging to see bipartisan and bicameral support for protecting local news."

The legislation, already introduced in the Senate by Susan Collins and Angus King, both of Maine, would suspend the import taxes on uncoated groundwood paper while the Department of Commerce examines the effects on the printing and publishing industry, according to sponsors.

The publishing industry is also mounting an advertising campaign, highlighting the 600,000 jobs it provides. And next week, 50 newspaper executives will travel to Washington to press their case.

The Commerce Department has imposed newsprint tariffs up to 32 percent in response to a complaint from a Washington state mill that contends Canadian makers are dumping product in the U.S.

Recently 15 Florida lawmakers sent a letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross about the issue.

"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 read.

An ad from the coalition known as Stop Tariffs on Printers and Publishers.
An ad from the coalition known as Stop Tariffs on Printers and Publishers.

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