Bills good for Florida's economy
Associated Builders and Contractors and our 2,500 members are pleased to report that new legislation will strengthen competition and reduce abusive litigation in Florida's multibillion-dollar commercial and public construction markets. We also want to thank Gov. Rick Scott for his support of these two pro-business, pro-consumer bills.
With the help of Rep. Jayer Williamson, R-Pace, and Sen. Keith Perry, R-Gainesville, ABC successfully landed House Bill 599 (Public Works Projects), which will promote a more open, honest and competitive bid process for public construction projects where state dollars represent 50 percent or more of the funding. Before this bill, local governments could establish arbitrary pre-bid mandates on contractors telling them whom they must hire, where they must train and what benefit packages they must offer if they want to bid a job with that entity. For many small businesses, these mandates made it unaffordable to bid many public projects. Increasing competition will benefit Florida taxpayers as well.
With the support of Rep. Thomas Leek, R-Ormond Beach, and Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, ABC also brought home House Bill 377 (Limitations on Actions other than for the Recovery of Real Property), which helps clarify when and how Florida's 10-year Statute of Repose begins to run on a completed project. The Statute of Repose defines the period in which an owner can sue for alleged construction defects. Previously, some owners and their attorneys delayed (or shorted) making final payment for construction in an effort lengthen the repose period well beyond the 10 years the Legislature had envisioned. This created open-ended liability, which cost the system millions of dollars in abusive lawsuits. House Bill 377 now defines "completion of the contract," which acknowledges that there are two parties to a deal — the owner and the contractor — and that both have a say in when the 10-year period may begin to run.
Carol Bowen, Coconut Creek
The writer is ABC's vice president of government affairs.
Allow NPs to give more care | June 16, letter
More competition needed
A letter writer makes a persuasive argument to allow solo practice by nurse practitioners. The same arguments apply to physician assistants. These medical professionals help satisfy increased demands on our health care system as baby boomers age. But this benefit occurs regardless of whether they practice solo or under the supervision of a M.D.-level physician.
A more crucial issue is whether allowing NPs and PAs to practice solo will reduce the cost of health care. If NPs and PAs who practice independently charge their patients less than medical doctors, we could see a direct reduction in health care costs. It might also inject a bit of healthy competition into the marketplace. That would benefit all of us.
Bill Sacco, Tampa
Troubled board must stay, for now | June 14, editorial
Board can't do its job
I was surprised to see the Times take the position that the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board "can't be allowed to go broke and close its doors" until "its responsibilities (are) transferred to the county in the long run." I would agree with your position if the board was indeed protecting Pinellas consumers from shoddy contractors, but clearly it is not.
Your paper has clearly documented the shortcomings of this board. Not only do they have no authority to collect fines, but given their reduced staff and current deficit, they have no way to make sure contractors are even licensed in the first place, let alone do anything about any consumer complaints. So exactly who are they protecting?
Rather than lend the board an amount that is currently unknown (and will most certainly grow after the loan is extended), the county's tax dollars would be much better spent if it created its own board and let the current one die a slow and inevitable death. And yes, it would be better for Pinellas taxpayers if the state bailed the board out, but that will still require tax dollars. That's a better solution — the cost would mostly be covered by taxpayers outside the county.
Scott Stolz, Tarpon Springs
Gunman targets GOP congressmen | June 15
Two shootings, two results
There were two active shooter incidents that happened in two different cities this week. In one incident the bad guy with a gun shot and killed his intended targets, three innocent people. He only stopped shooting when he turned the gun on himself. In the other incident the bad guy with a gun was not able kill any of his intended targets. He was killed by good guys with guns.
If I ever find myself in a similar situation I will thank God for the Second Amendment. I carry a firearm with me everywhere. In these troubling times I recommend everyone learn how to handle a firearm and carry. You have a right to choose to carry a firearm or not. What you do not have a right to do is to take that choice away from me.
Gordon T. Brown, Lutz
Lost art of compromise
I am seriously distressed by the eroding political situation in our country and our state. We have a president who does not know the secret of keeping one's mouth shut, and who truly could shoot someone on 5th Avenue without upsetting his rabid base. We have a congressman actually being shot by a rabid Democrat.
We have a "victory tour" by a Republican governor who managed to work out some issues with his fellow Republicans, while the Democrats may as well not even show up in Tallahassee. We have unlimited super PAC money flowing to politicians of both parties, creating extremists on both sides.
We have serious problems that need to be addressed. Unfortunately, I fear that things will continue to erode until our politicians remember that politics itself is about compromise or, dare I say it, the art of the deal.
Stuart Berger, Clearwater