Bill puts victims at greater risk
I am disappointed that Gov. Rick Scott is prepared to sign a bill that would prohibit licensed private investigators from using GPS tracking devices to monitor the whereabouts of certain violent offenders. While the original intent of the legislation was to prohibit ordinary people from stalking others with the use of GPS tracking devices, last-minute changes to the bill included prohibiting private investigators from using the devices.
These professionals typically use the devices as a relatively inexpensive investigative tool to track the locations of abusive spouses or partners or sexual predators who could stalk and harm or even kill their victims. These victims typically cannot afford the only alternative to such devices, actual surveillance. Conducting actual surveillance is still permissible, but it will be costly to the victims and can potentially lead to confrontations with suspects.
Why does the bill prohibit licensed private investigators from employing the device but not plumbers, for example? As a retired chief of police, I can assure you that the bill will have expensive and potentially extremely dangerous consequences for the victims of domestic violence and sexual predators.
This bill harms the victims' interests and further places victims of violence in the precarious position of choosing to pay the rent or pay an investigator to track the whereabouts of an unpredictable and treacherous abuser or stalker. Police will do nothing until they're dealing with an actual crime in progress. Unless these victims can afford to hire a bodyguard, private investigator or lawyer, or start carrying a gun, they are going to be exposed to greater harm.
Walter Zalisko, Fort Myers
Florida lacks plan to address rising seas May 11
The high cost of denial
The Times has published two articles on sea level rise recently. The first was an article on the flooding in St. Augustine and how the state was no help at all. The second stated that the sea level was rising faster than anticipated.
Gov. Rick Scott has forbidden state agencies to even say the words "climate change." How much of Florida must disappear under the waves before we stop electing climate change deniers?
Christopher Radulich, Apollo Beach
Work together on climate | May 13, letter
Running the numbers
In this letter, the writer, in response to Florida not having a plan for addressing rising seas, expressed concern about the politicizing of "global warming."
Interestingly, a day before the letter was published, the Times ran a Washington Post article, "Sea levels are rising at faster clip." In that item, it was reported that a recent study by a group of Australian scientists revealed an unexpected increase in ocean levels throughout the world. According to their study, ocean levels over the past two decades have risen at a rate of 2.6 to 2.9 millimeters a year. In the same item, it was reported that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projects that at these rates, "sea levels could rise as much as 3 feet by the end of the century."
Doing the math — 2.9 millimeters per year for 85 years — results in less than a one-foot rise in sea levels by 2100. Apparently, the IPCC has inserted an unreported "factor" into its calculation. It's no wonder skepticism over the findings of "global warming" advocates has turned this issue into a political football.
A.E. Roberts, St. Petersburg
Here's why expanding Medicaid is a bad idea May 13, commentary
Saving lives and money
Former Sen. George LeMieux does not want our federal tax dollars (not "free money") returned to us to provide up to 1 million Floridians with access to health care, including cost-saving preventive care. (The other 29 states that have expanded Medicaid will be happy to have our federal dollars.)
He does want our tax dollars dispersed in a very costly, wasteful and discontinued program (the Low Income Pool) to cover some of those whose only access to medical care is a hospital emergency room — still leaving 1 million Floridians without adequate health care.
LeMieux wants to tax us twice: Since the state would have to match the requested LIP funds of $1.3 billion, our share of another $1.3 billion per year is in addition to the money we have already sent to Washington that is now going to other states for their Medicaid expansion.
He does not want our state's budget to realize a net $1.2 billion cost savings over five years (as estimated by the Legislature) by accepting our federal dollars for Medicaid expansion.
LeMieux offers nothing new or credible. Please, no more muddled thoughts by political hacks — all sounding like Republican robo-calls.
Robert White, Valrico
Tax rates and burdens
Gov. Rick Scott wants to use the budget surplus to reduce taxes. In his column, George LeMieux wants to avoid Medicaid expansion because it could lead to a tax increase someday.
What taxes are they talking about? Florida has no state income tax or inheritance tax. The state sales tax, motor vehicle tax, fuel tax and phone tax are regressive taxes that put more burden on the poor and middle class. Florida's corporate taxes rank among the lowest in the nation.
Allan Ardis, Wesley Chapel
A record of success
According to media reports, there have never been more private jobs in the state of Florida. All the jobs lost in the last recession have been replaced, and not with government jobs that have to be funded by taxpayers but with private sector jobs, just as Gov. Rick Scott promised this state.
I'm just wondering when the Times will get around to acknowledging the governor's success.
Ronnie Dubs, St. Petersburg