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Edward Timmons: Granting the privilege of work in Florida

Edward Timmons

This week marks an important time for veterans, their immediate families and low-income workers in Florida. The House Bill 615 that took effect July 1 will remove some meaningful barriers to employment. Veterans and their spouses moving into Florida will now be allowed to continue working in the profession that they were licensed to perform in their previous state of residence, without having to meet additional licensing requirements. Licensing fees will also be waived for most Florida veterans, spouses of veterans and low-income workers.

Florida lawmakers should be commended for taking these positive steps that will provide veterans and low-income workers with more employment opportunities. A lot of hard work, unfortunately, remains undone.

Veterans in Florida and across the United States that drove commercial vehicles in the military now have the opportunity to apply for a military skills test waiver within one year of the end of their service. But several other aspects of military training continue to not be accepted in the civilian sector. Many veterans receive extensive medical training throughout the course of their service, yet these individuals are still required to complete the same amount of mandated minimum levels of training as any other applicant. Hundreds of dollars of fees have been removed but thousands of dollars of fees associated with mandatory education and training remain.

Far too many Floridians are unnecessarily burdened by occupational licensing laws. According to a report from the Obama administration, 28 percent of the workforce in Florida has a license. This is almost seven full percentage points higher than the national average reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The elimination of licensing fees will be helpful for low-income workers, but what about all the fees for education and training? Florida is one of just three states and jurisdictions to license interior designers. Aspiring designers must complete six years of education and training. Once again, hundreds of dollars in fees may be gone, but thousands of dollars in education and training fees remain intact.

Another bill that would have allowed aspiring professionals in a wide array of job positions, from hair braiders to boxing announcers, to work without a license died in the Senate last month. Earlier versions of the bill also eliminated licensing requirements for interior designers, but successful lobbying efforts of existing interior designers in Florida resulted in a significant rewording of the bill.

Will scaling back education and training requirements of occupational licensing statutes cause undue harm to the public? The evidence that we have available says no. According to the Obama White House, just two of a population of 12 studies estimating the effects of stricter licensing on quality find evidence of any positive effects.

It is important to give credit where credit is due. While the reforms of House Bill 615 will make a meaningful difference for many Floridians, too many citizens in Florida will continue to find their hopes and dreams crushed by seemingly needless occupational licensing laws.


Edward J. Timmons is an associate professor of economics and director of the Center for the Study of Occupational Regulation at Saint Francis University in Loretto, Pennsylvania.


Vern Buchanan: Fighting our modern-day slavery

At a time when America faces serious challenges, it is imperative that Washington put aside partisan hostility in favor of common-sense solutions that move our state and nation forward.

Some people argue that it’s not possible to reshape the dialogue to a more public-spirited approach, but I believe that Florida can lead by example — working together to do what is right. That’s my goal as chairman of a diverse, 29-member Florida congressional delegation that includes Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, 16 Republican House members and 11 Democrats.

A prime example of our bipartisan resolve occurred last week when the Florida delegation held an official hearing to tackle the growing problem of human trafficking — a form of modern-day slavery.

Florida ranks third in the nation, behind California and Texas, in the number of reported trafficking cases and it experienced an alarming 54 percent increase last year. Children account for more than half the cases of human trafficking, a crime in which the victim is abducted or recruited for sexual exploitation. It can also involve illegal organ harvesting and forced labor.

At the hearing I co-chaired with Democrat Alcee Hastings of Fort Lauderdale, we spoke with several Florida experts on ways to combat this vile and monstrous crime.

One of the witnesses was Elizabeth Fisher, founder and head of Selah Freedom, a national anti-sex-trafficking nonprofit based in Sarasota. Ms. Fisher briefed the members on her group’s efforts to help more than 2,000 young women in the Suncoast region. She also shared the harrowing story of a Bradenton girl who was trafficked from 11 years old up until she was 26.

The scope of the global problem is staggering: 27 million people are caught in the modern slave industry, which turns billions of dollars in profits for the heinous individuals behind these crimes.

This is an issue that demands immediate action. Several of the witnesses offered constructive suggestions to confront the problem. Ms. Fisher told us that Congress should focus on helping victims reclaim their lives, given that demand for services is tripling annually.

Another witness at the hearing, Dr. Suzanne Harrison with the Florida State University College of Medicine, noted that training in the medical community is essential to treat the girls and young women who “go unrecognized in clinics and emergency rooms.

Congress should take these suggestions to heart as it moves to address human trafficking.

I have co-sponsored bipartisan legislation, the Abolish Human Trafficking Act, to increase penalties for perpetrators and give law enforcement more tools to treat human trafficking like organized crime.

I also voted for the Put Trafficking Victims First Act, a bill that provides federal grants to train prosecutors on how to best protect victims and investigate human trafficking. It also provides assistance for trauma care and mental health services to victims. The proposal is currently awaiting action in the Senate.

Too often, the subject of human trafficking flies under the radar and only receives mainstream attention when it appears on the movie screen. We must continue the fight, not as Republicans or Democrats but as Americans, to raise awareness and combat this abhorrent crime against women and children in our communities. The time to act is right now.


U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, serving his sixth term, represents Manatee County and parts of Sarasota and Hillsborough counties. He is also a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee.


Hold my beer and watch this! July Fourth fireworks light up ER

As the long July 4 holiday weekend continues, Sachs Media Group’s Breakthrough Research Division wanted to look on the brighter side of our independence-declaring holiday — and by that, we mean fireworks, of course! Specifically, we consulted the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) to look at the volume of recorded injuries involving fireworks since 1997.

We were illuminated to learn from Jim Rosica of FloridaPolitics.com that Floridians purchasing fireworks promise to use them “solely and exclusively in frightening birds from agricultural works and fish hatcheries” with few exceptions.

According to injury data, however, birds shouldn’t be the only ones frightened.

The NEISS uses a sample of hospitals across the US to estimate nationwide totals for ER visits involving an injury associated with consumer products.

Based on these data, a whopping 179,730 Americans have visited the ER for fireworks-related injuries since 1997.

And get this: a shocking two-thirds of these visits occur on or just after one day of the year: July Fourth. Comparatively, Independence Day sees nearly seven times as many fireworks-related injuries as New Year’s Eve each year.

So what happens to cause these injuries? Well, based on the data, we can infer that most injuries involve lighting mistakes. Over 20 percent of all hospital visits due to fireworks include an injury to the hand, and another 12 percent involve an injury of the fingers.

The head also sees as a fair amount of action with 20 percent of all fireworks-related ER visits relating to the eyes, 12 percent to the face area, 3 percent to the ear, and 2 percent to the head.

Less than 1 percent of reported injuries involve the “pubic region,” though this stat may not be of much comfort to the estimated 319 men who experience such an injury each year.

Take these data as a precautionary tale for your July Fourth weekend festivities: don’t pick up a lit firework, stay away from Roman candles, and please, if you find yourself saying to your friend “hold my beer,” you shouldn’t start the fire.


Andrew Bryant is a sophomore at Florida State University majoring in economics and statistics, and is a research intern with Sachs Media Group.

Joe Henderson: There is more to being patriotic than wrapping yourself in the flag

Kellyanne Conway, as she has a way of doing, said something Friday on “Good Morning America” that was over-the-top baloney to, well, everyone – including supporters of President Donald Trump.

If they don’t realize that, they should.

Asked about the escalating war between the president and the media, Conway defended her boss by saying, and I quote, “It doesn’t help the American people to have a president covered in this light. I’m sorry. It’s neither productive nor patriotic. The toxicity is over the top.”

Well, you know what they say – when in doubt, question the patriotism of the opposition. Conservatives have been doing it for years, labeling liberals as subversive cretins out to destroy America.

For the most part, liberals let that happen, and so gradually the American flag became a weapon to be unfurled by conservatives – as Conway just did – whenever things get rough and logic won’t win the day.

Over the years, the attacks have gotten more personal – like the outrageous video the NRA just released with conservative radio host Dana Loesch that sounded an awful lot like a declaration of war against the faceless “them.”

“They use their media to assassinate real news,” Loesch begins. “They use their schools to teach children that their president is another Hitler. They use their movie stars and singers and comedy shows and award shows to repeat their narrative over and over again.”

It gets worse.

“The only way we stop this, the only way we save our country, and our freedom, is to fight this violence of lies with a clenched fist of truth,” she said. “I’m the National Rifle Association of America and I’m freedom’s safest place.”

Notice the wording: save “our” country.

Not “their” country.

“Our” country.

Last time I checked, we’re all in this together. I was born in Dayton, Ohio nearly 66 years ago and that makes me as American as apple pie. Just so my NRA friends understand, I’m not declaring war on anyone who thinks differently, acts differently, looks different, or worships differently.

If someone wants to wave the Second Amendment, fine. But then don’t tell me the First Amendment is “unpatriotic.”

You want to wrap yourself in the flag? Go ahead.

But the holiday we’ll celebrate the Fourth of July got its start because a group of Patriots decided to be decidedly unpatriotic and questioned authority.

While we’re on the subject, just because someone uses the name “patriot” doesn’t make them righteous. The Southern Poverty Law Center has identified 623 “Patriot organizations” in 2016 that it says really are “extreme anti-government groups” in the United States, including 28 in Florida.

A lot of them have names like America, Freedom, Liberty and, of course, Patriots.

So, Kellyanne Conway, it absolutely is “patriotic” for the media to aggressively challenge the most powerful man in the world. That check and balance – or, as you might call it, that freedom – is what really makes America great.

You can wrap yourself in the flag and paint your face red, white and blue. You can change your telephone ringtone to the national anthem. You can trim your bushes in the likeness of Mount Rushmore and ride around with a big American flag flapping proudly from the back of your Ford F-150.

None of that will matter two hoots, though, unless you understand this essential truth: America belongs to all of us and we don’t have to think alike.

Blake Dowling: With ads, 2017 is an all-new animal

Who remembers when beer commercials were awesome? What happened to Spuds McKenzie?

This awesome Lone Star Beer ad really shines:

Or the team of studs at Elsinore Brewery:

And — last but not least – this Schlitz Malt Liquor ads that ruled the early 80s (which might have been the pinnacle). No one does it like the bull:

For so long, TV was everything from a media buyer’s stand point — but then it all changed. When pushing a product, or running a campaign, traditional media outlets stay, but the landscape has changed and opportunities are vast.

Facebook ads, Twitter gurus pushing your product, and utilizing analytics from social engineering.

My friend Michael Sharp, managing director for Nielsen Local Agencies, says this about media buying:

“In today’s fragmented media environment, media buyers need access to dependable, actionable and accurate data that facilitates the advertising planning and buying process. Nielsen’s wide range of solutions enables agencies to effectively deliver on an advertiser’s campaign objectives while helping them uncover new audiences and consumer segments.”

A law firm in North Florida – which definitely does not consult about marketing with anyone from this century – says they still advertise on the back of the phone book.

When is the last time anyone has seen a phone book?

The other day, I heard a kid ask: “What’s a phone book?”

Disruption strikes again. We cannot even keep up with the terminology. You might say “I read something in the newspaper,” but did you really read a “newspaper?” Or are you just referring to a news website of a former newspaper?

Sounds like we need some charts …

Thirty years ago, if Ford and wanted to sell cars, they placed an ad in the auto section of a local paper. Guaranteed return on investment.

Now, there is geo-fencing, tweeting, hiring Matthew McConaughey to drive cars around.

What happened to radio? When I started my career, every morning began with a Mountain Dew, listening to the Regular Guys on 96 Rock while rolling into the downtown ATL (83 Walton Street, Capricorn Records Building).

I have not listened to the radio in 11 years.

Obviously, I am stating some pretty obvious trends here, but when thinking about marketing, you need to start thinking differently. The winner of the past two U.S. presidential elections utilized grassroots social media tools — coupled with finely tuned paid analytics — to sway the vote.

So, TV and radio are certainly not dead, and (according to some experts) local radio still can reach 90 percent of the U.S. population on a weekly basis (I’m a 10-percenter, I guess).

Nevertheless, these experts all agree … it’s a new animal in 2017.

Then, of course, there is the fun of everyone gathering personal info on the web, even as they assure us they will not use it. But, I assure you, they do.

Auto-buying pattern tools are watching and changing your online experience, suggesting and swaying your activities.

Let’s hear from this Princeton dude:

“The modern web is a mashup, which means the content that you’re looking at on the page, which just looks like one single webpage with text and graphics, is in fact assembled from multiple different sources, sometimes dozens, and these different sources can be a variety of different companies,” explains Arvind Narayanan, assistant professor of Computer Science at Princeton, “When you look at a webpage, there’s content visible to you and invisible stuff purely for the purpose of tracking what you’re doing.”

In the end, it’s all pointing to privatized content platforms (such as Netflix), social media, targeted analytics, high-profile influencers, and websites. You have to find your buyers and voters.

Available tools are endless, and (for the love of Spuds McKenzie) stop sending direct mail pieces –this means you, politicians.

They go straight to the trash and don’t even make it through the door.

My advice? Put aside $5M for a Super Bowl ad (as Mike from Nielsen told me offline — TV ads are still very effective) and your message will still get through.

If that’s not in the budget, start with about $200 a month in paid Facebook ads and see what happens.

Good luck out there; let’s close with a classic beer slogan: “If you’ve got the time, we’ve got the beer.

Miller Beer. Perfect.


Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and his favorite TV show is The Fall Guy.


Carol Dover: Thank you, Florida leaders, for your hospitality

This Legislative Session was a tumultuous one, with several lawmakers holding to their convictions, refusing to negotiate, but in the end, compromise prevailed.

Thankfully, in the final hours of the Special Session, legislative leaders realized the unparalleled value of tourism to our state’s overall economy. By allocating $76 million of funding for VISIT FLORIDA, Florida will continue to elevate itself as the leading destination for travelers.

The state’s critical investment will continue Florida’s momentum as the world’s leading travel destination and promote growth that will create employment opportunities across a variety of sectors.

Tourism is the lifeblood of Florida’s economy and this significant support from our state leaders goes a long way to keeping our economy strong.

Gov. Rick Scott was relentless and steadfast in his support of our industry’s 1.4 million employees. Leaders in the Florida House and Florida Senate heard the voices of the constituents in their districts and came together to fund VISIT FLORIDA’s marketing efforts.

Sen. Jack Latvala ensured matching fund calculations were defined and protected local tourist development tax funds from being used as matching funds.

I’m proud of our 10,000 members who served as unyielding advocates for issues impacting the hospitality industry. This challenge presented an opportunity to engage our passionate ambassadors of the tourism and now it’s time to celebrate a victory well earned.

While extremely grateful, it is important to remain cautious.

Our industry’s work is far from finished and we must continue to educate our local, state and federal elected leaders. Tourism is the economic engine of the Sunshine State, with visitors in 2015 spending $108.8 billion, averaging $300 million per day. And with 113 million visitors in 2016, Florida is well on its way to becoming the No.1 travel destination in the world.

VISIT FLORIDA has been given the opportunity to hit the reset button on the way it operates. Now that we’ve been through the trenches, it’s time for our industry partners to get to work! VISIT FLORIDA’s has set an ambitious goal of 120 million visitors to our state in 2017. To get there, we must all work together to welcome tourists to our incredible state.


Carol Dover is President and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) and serves on the board of directors for VISIT FLORIDA.


Apryl Marie Fogel: The true cost of Donald Trump’s tweet

I don’t watch cable television frequently. In fact, I don’t even have it.

I have children at home, and I’m sensitive to what they see and hear; so we are cord-cutters, living on a strict diet of G-rated entertainment.

There are days, like the day of the shooting at the congressional baseball practice, I find myself hankering for the up-to-the-minute, round-the-clock information provided by cable news.

But then, there are days like today.

Returning to my hotel yesterday (in Tallahassee, FL), I turned on CNN. There was a panel discussing President Donald Trump’s tweets. After eating dinner, I did a little work, got ready for bed and looked at the muted screen; hours passed and there was a different panel talking about the same subject. It was on every channel.

As a message from the leader of our nation, Trump’s tweet was out of line. It doesn’t take dozens of experts to debate that fact, yet that’s what was happening all day.

How many times (and ways) does this need to be said?

“Just because you can doesn’t mean you should,” great advice a mentor once gave me, something I wish Trump would heed.

I watched Sarah Huckabee Sanders defend the President’s statement as punching back — “I don’t think it’s a surprise to anybody that he fights fire with fire … As the First Lady has stated publicly in the past, when her husband gets attacked, he will punch back ten times harder.” —  and I winced at the task she’d been given. There she stood behind the presidential seal, a reverend place where historically a press secretary would give updates on issues of great importance to our nation and the world, and she defended the indefensible.

Unlike so many women I saw weighing in on the tweets, I wasn’t offended by a man going after a woman’s looks. We can’t as women say we are equal in every way but too delicate to handle a man using our looks as a target.

Who wouldn’t agree with Sanders that if you can throw a punch, you should be prepared to take one?

The issue as I’d explain to my children: If you’re in a situation and “punching back” involves name calling, insulting one’s appearance or a “your momma” joke, you have probably lost the only fight that matters, and that’s the one for your dignity.

I doubt Mika Brzezinski lost sleep over Trump’s tweet. What a boon for her brand (and her ratings) that in the midst of running the nation the president took the time to “throw a punch” at her.

The loser today wasn’t the President. It was the President’s agenda.

They’re an unhelpful and unnecessary diversion from his agenda of helping the American middle class and “making American great again.”

No one thinks less of Trump because of his tweets. This wasn’t the most shocking thing he’s tweeted since becoming president. I’d say the James Comey tape tweets still take the cake there.

Nevertheless, saying Trump needs to control his message isn’t worth the breath it would take to utter the words because he sees his lack of discipline as a strength.

Hopefully, today’s lesson for him was that the opportunity costs of his tweet was higher than the reward. Yes, Trump can punch back, and I’m sure in the moment he hit send he felt a little better.

But, no, it’s not worth it.


Apryl Marie Fogel is a communications consultant and owner of AM Solutions. She also publishes Alabama Today.

Joe Henderson: Hillsborough Confederate monument controversy isn’t going away

The four Hillsborough County commissioners who voted to keep a Confederate monument on public grounds may have thought/hoped the issue was behind them.

If so, they are mistaken.

That much was clear from Tuesday’s rally in downtown Tampa by a coalition of leaders, clergy and people who are just plain fed up with the divide the monument has created in the community.

That divide can only be closed when the monument is more to a more appropriate location.

Commissioner Pat Kemp, who voted to remove the monument featuring two Confederate soldiers, has said the issue almost certainly will be raised to the county’s governing body again — and it should be.

That will put even more pressure on commissioners Sandra Murman, Victor Crist, Ken Hagan and Stacy White — who were depicted in a protest sign as the “Confederate 4” because of their votes to keep the monument where it is in the name of history.

This is a good time for everyone to take a deep breath and remember that while Tampa has made great strides in race relations, that often has come with great struggle.

Interestingly, protesters have never called for destroying the monument. They have asked that it be moved to a more fitting spot, like a museum or cemetery. They say having it on the county courthouse grounds — where people go for impartial justice — is a stinging reminder of the struggle blacks in Tampa have faced.

Many still remember the violent 1967 riots that were triggered when a black teenager was shot and killed by a white police officer.

Henry Bohler, who died at age 82 in 2007, fought in World War II as a member of the famous Tuskegee Airmen. But he also endured harassment after he filed a federal lawsuit in 1962 to open the city’s parks and recreation centers to blacks.

Police stopped Bohler five times one morning on his way to the courthouse. Clarence Fort remembers the community vitriol that came after he joined with other blacks demanding to be served at the segregated F.W. Woolworth lunch counter in downtown Tampa.

There are many, many other examples.

So, you want to argue the monument today represents history?

Segregated lunch counters were part of history. Denying blacks the right to use public parks was a part of history. Police harassment was a part of history. All of that used to be “just the way things are” until Tampa moved on, but always with a struggle.

That’s really the message from this latest protest.

The vote to keep the monument in place was basically the commissioners telling blacks to get over it. The backlash, including a stinging rebuke of the vote by Mayor Bob Buckhorn, was the community telling commissioners they made a mistake and they better fix it.

Joe Henderson: Lawmakers may write health care bill, but the people always have final say

If you have many hours to spend on a project where the only sure thing is that you will have a headache at the end, the full text of the U.S. Senate Republican health care proposal is available online.

I tried reading it all.

I really did.

I made it about 20 pages before I realized it was a fool’s errand. Read this one snippet, copied and pasted from the actual draft of the bill, and you will understand why:

2 MARK PLAN.—The applicable median cost
3 benchmark plan with respect to any applicable
4 taxpayer is the qualified health plan offered in
5 the individual market in the rating area in
6 which the taxpayer resides which—
7 ‘‘(i) provides a level of coverage that
8 is designed to provide benefits that are ac-
9 tuarially equivalent to 58 percent of the
10 full actuarial value of the benefits (as de-
11 termined under rules similar to the rules of
12 paragraphs (2) and (3) of section 1302(d)
13 of the Patient Protection and Affordable
14 Care Act) provided under the plan ….


Let’s simplify this, shall we?

When people get sick, particularly those with life-threatening illnesses, they don’t care about the “applicable median cost benchmark plan” or any of the subsections, clauses, median premiums, and other jargon that goes into making a law.

They want to know they can go to a doctor they trust and they want a chance to get well. They want prescriptions to be affordable. They want premiums to be reasonable.

When their child, spouse or elderly parent is seriously ill, people don’t care about free-market solutions or whether Planned Parenthood continues to be funded.

The problem with the current debate in Washington is that for all its blah-blah about providing the best health care for patients, it still looks like Republicans are trying to ram something through that will tell 22 million people the “full actuarial value of the benefits (as determined under rules similar to the rules of 12 paragraphs (2) and (3) of section 1302(d)” don’t apply to them.

It still seems to be about ideology, not people.

When you peel back the layers of the bill — as people with longer attention spans than I have done — you find that at the bottom of it is all is the GOP ideal of tax breaks for the wealthiest folks, many of whom happen to be major donors to Republican political candidates.

We have a pretty good idea how Florida’s U.S. senators will vote. Democrat Bill Nelson will vote no. Republican Marco Rubio is (as usual) trying to have it both ways by saying he hasn’t decided, but he’ll be the good lap dog he always is and fall in line with a yes vote.

Before a final version reaches the Senate floor, you’ll probably see lots of quid-pro-pork change hands — vote yes and suddenly a senator’s home state gets paid off with new bridge projects and the like. Winners will call it a landmark great day. Losers will say it’s the darkest day in U.S. history.

All that will really matter though is whether Republicans remembered the fundamental rule: When people get sick, does this give them access to a doctor they trust and a real chance to get well?

Lawmakers may write the bill, but the people will always have the final say.

Linda Geller-Schwartz: Donald Trump should act on Florida’s bipartisan support for judicial nominees

Linda Geller-Schwartz

Donald Trump has been mired in controversy his first few months in office, and by his own admission, the job of being President is harder than he thought. But Trump has an opportunity to get something meaningful done quickly and in a bipartisan fashion for Floridians. He can act on an appeal from our two Senators, Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio to fill vacant seats in our federal courts.

These two senators have jointly asked the president to renominate three of President Barack Obama’s judicial nominees to Florida’s federal courts who had been vetted and approved by both Senators, but left waiting for hearings (along with Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland) when their nominations expired in January.

Sens. Nelson and Rubio’s rare show of bipartisanship couldn’t come at a better time for Florida’s federal courts. There are currently seven federal judicial vacancies in Florida and five of them are formally classified as “judicial emergencies,” meaning there simply are not enough judges to handle the growing caseload. As judicial vacancies remain unfilled, Floridians who rely on our court system are the ones who suffer.

Last year, the watchdog group Integrity Florida issued a report detailing the myriad ways that lengthy judicial vacancies delay and deny justice for Floridians. Prolonged judicial vacancies inevitably result in case delays, higher caseloads, increased administrative stress and judicial burnout. Such judicial vacancies “threaten the timely administration of justice in both criminal and civil cases” according to the report.

In their letter, the senators asked the president to renominate Patricia Barksdale and William Jung for vacancies in the Middle District of Florida, and Phillip Lammens in the Northern District. With our courts already stretched razor thin, it only makes sense to move these qualified bipartisan nominees through the process rather than starting over from scratch. To underscore this point, Nelson and Rubio make clear in their letter that “timely action is needed as the two vacancies in the Middle District are considered judicial emergencies.”

The letter also refers to the failure of Senate leaders to take “timely action in the last Congress.” In addition to the highly publicized blocking of Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, Senate Republicans in recent years have refused to act on numerous lower court vacancies, causing the number of judicial vacancies to skyrocket.

As a result, President Trump now faces the daunting task of filling more than 120 federal court vacancies. Where there are qualified, bipartisan candidates available to be renominated, it makes sense for the president to act quickly. Failing to address these vacancies threatens the stability and fairness of our justice system and delays justice for Americans seeking their day in court.

Floridians expect and deserve to have a fair and functioning judicial system, and that requires our courts to be working at full capacity. Sens. Nelson and Rubio should be commended for setting aside partisan politics for the sake of our judicial system and the public interest. For his part, President Trump should take notice and heed their advice.


Linda Geller-Schwartz is Florida State Policy Advocate for the National Council of Jewish Women.


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