Kathy Castor Archives - Page 6 of 29 - Florida Politics

Realtors back David Singer in HD 60 race

The Greater Tampa Realtors unveiled their list of endorsements in the upcoming election on Tuesday, and one of their most provocative selections is choosing Democrat David Singer over Republican Jackie Toledo in the House District 60 campaign.

The Realtors made 20 selections in all: 10 Republicans, six Democrats, and four candidates running in nonpartisan races.

All of the Democrats, except one, the Realtors are backing are incumbents or, in some cases, running in open seats where they are heavily favored: CD 14 Rep. Kathy Castor, SD 19 Senate candidate Darryl Rouson, Hillsborough Clerk of the Court Pat Frank, Property Appraiser Bob Henriquez, and HD 70 Representative candidate Wengay Newton.

The exception is Singer, the Tampa land-use attorney who is an extremely competitive battle against engineer Jackie Toledo for the Hillsborough County House District 60 race. Toledo narrowly defeated businesswoman Rebecca Smith in the GOP primary back in August.

In a press release, the Realtors say the candidates endorsed have been selected based on their position on issues, “particularly those affecting real estate and private property rights.”

The full list of endorsed candidates is listed below:

  • Marco Rubio, U.S. Senator
  • Gus Bilirakis, U.S. Representative, District 12
  • Kathy Castor, U.S. Representative, District 14
  • Dennis Ross, U.S. Representative, District 15
  • Vern Buchanan, U.S. Representative, District 16
  • Dana Young, Florida Senate, District 18
  • Darryl Rouson, Florida Senate, District 19
  • Daniel Raulerson, State Representative, District 58
  • Ross Spano, State Representative, District 59
  • David Singer, State Representative, District 60
  • Shawn Harrison, State Representative, District 63
  • Wengay “Newt” Newton, State Representative, District 70
  • Mark Ober, State Attorney, Circuit 13
  • Pat Frank, Hillsborough County Clerk of Circuit Court
  • Bob Henriquez, Hillsborough County Property Appraiser
  • Sandra Murman, Hillsborough County Commissioner, District 1
  • Melissa Polo, Circuit Judge, 13th Judicial Circuit Group 24
  • Joe Jordon-Robinson, Hillsborough County School Board, District 5
  • Lynn Gray, Hillsborough County School Board, District 7
  • Frank Chillura, Temple Terrace City Council

As early voting begins, Missouri Congressman Emanuel Cleaver praises Florida’s system

Early voting commenced in Hillsborough County (and 49 other counties in Florida) on Monday, and by the end of the day, 18,887 voters had turned up at the polls, according to Supervisor of Elections Craig Lattimer.

On Tuesday, USA Today reported Hillsborough County is one of the premier bellwether areas of the country when it comes to electing a president. Hillsborough has picked the winner in 19 of the last 20 presidential elections, and the Hillary Clinton campaign is pulling out all the stops this week to highlight the beginning of early voting. Actress Angela Bassett and actor Josh Gad held events today, and on Monday, Missouri Democratic Rep. Emanuel Cleaver made his way to Tampa, where he said he was envious of Florida’s approach to elections.

“I hope people in Florida realize how fortunate they are that they have early voting,” Cleaver said while appearing with Tampa Rep. Kathy Castor at the College Hill Library in East Tampa. “I think early voting is an indication that there are people in Florida who believe that maximizing democracy is getting as many people out to vote as possible. In Missouri, we are not quite that enlightened.”

In fact, the “Show Me State” is in the minority of just 13 states around the country that don’t offer early voting.

Missouri used to have the reputation as a so-called bellwether during presidential elections, but that hasn’t been the case over the past couple of elections, when the state when red while the nation chose Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. However, while Missouri was considered relatively safe for the GOP going into this year, Cleaver says it has now suddenly become competitive because of the U.S. Senate race between GOP incumbent Roy Blount and Democratic hopeful Jason Kander (though the RealClearPolitics average right now still shows Donald Trump with a seven-point margin in Mizzou).

Although national and state polls vary, Democrats are increasingly optimistic the election results will be favorable to their cause, causing Castor and Cleaver to hope that the divisions in Congress can be swept away to begin getting matters accomplished for the American people.

“That’s what we’re going to have to do after this election,” Castor said on Monday. “We’ve got significant issues, boosting the economy, cutting student loan debt, what’s going on all across the world with terrorism. We’ve got to keep America safe, and these are going to be the kind of problems that will require everybody coming together to tackle.”

“Democracy demands compromise. That is the only way it’s going to work, so I hope that the Republicans will work with Hillary Clinton, because she’s probably going to be one of the easiest individuals that we’ve had in the Oval Office in a long time,” said Cleaver, who supported Clinton over Obama in 2008. “It’s almost treasonous not to do things that we need. We need a highway bill, we need desperately tax reform, all kinds of things that we need to do in the best interests of the American public. And to say I’m not going to work with a human being for some puny, political reason? It’s treasonous.”

Cleaver believes Obama never had a chance with congressional Republicans after his victory in 2008. “There was no way that the Republicans were going to work with Barack Obama,” he says. “They had made up their minds before the swearing in that they were not going to work with him.”

Cleaver also dismissed any allegations there could be fraud at the election polls on Nov. 8, as frequently cited by Trump. “We’re embarrassed that this movement that is going around the country actually is an attempt to stop people from voting,” he said.

The St. Louis-Post Dispatch did report Monday that prosecutors in St. Louis County, Missouri are investigating vote fraud allegations, specifically whether the mayor and his supporters illegally interfered with the absentee ballot process.

Joining Castor and Emanuel was Hillsborough Clerk of the Courts Pat Frank, also on the ballot next month against Republican Eric Seidel.

“That is absolutely absurd,” she charges. “Let me tell you; in Hillsborough County, we have electronic machines, but we have a paper trail. There is a backup to the electronics, and most of the counties in Florida went in that direction when they started to remove their old machines. So you can always determine what the vote was by an accurate count of the paper. And other states have adopted the same measure, so you’d have to have a gigantic corruption scheme in place, which is impossible in this country.”

 

Marco Rubio decries new FDA cigar regulations while visiting Tampa factory

Marco Rubio‘s re-election campaign brought him to a 13o-year-old cigar factory in Tampa Wednesday, where he blasted proposed federal rules which could severely harm it and other cigar manufacturers in the U.S.

A recent FDA ruling initially intended to regulate smokeless tobacco products, but summarily expanded to include cigars, would compel manufacturers like the J.C. Newman Company to go through a rigorous and costly application before any new product could go on the market. Officials said the imposed verification process would radically slow the rate of new cigars going on shelves as well as the number of new cigars in general.

“This is one more added cost to production. It’s going to put these companies unfortunately out of business,” said Rubio, who received a tour of the factory before addressing the media. “When you tell any company you can no longer offer new products, without going through a very expensive process, any industry … I don’t care what you sell … you’re going to struggle to survive, especially facing unfair foreign competition.”

Eric Newman, president of the 130-year-old J.C. Newman Company located in Tampa’s V.M. Ybor section, calls the new proposal “draconian,” and said it would cost his company $2.5 million in compliance costs to fully implement.

Rubio and his U.S. Senate colleague from Florida, Democrat Bill Nelson, initially introduced legislation called the “Traditional Cigar Manufacturing & Small Business Jobs Preservation Act” in 2011, which would remove the FDA’s jurisdiction over the premium cigar industry by amending the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor filed similar legislation in the House. They’ve introduced similar bills in the 2013 and 2015 sessions, to no avail. Rubio said that he and Nelson would again push for that bill’s passage before the end of the year.

Rubio was joined by Tampa state House District 60 Republican Dana Young, who, like Rubio, is on the ballot next month, where she is running for the Senate District 18 seat.

“This is a classic example of how in a bipartisan way, at the state and federal level, we can work together and try to stop both regulations of small businesses like this one and needless red tape involved with lumping in one product that is part of our culture with others that cause harm to the public,” she said.

Adding insult to injury, both Newman and Rubio said, was President Obama’s announcement last Friday that it is eliminating a $100 limit on the value of Cuban rum and cigars that American travelers can bring back from the island. Travelers can now purchase unlimited quantities of Cuban cigars in any country where they are sold but they can only be for personal use and cannot be sold.

“We love the competition,” insisted Newman, but said it wouldn’t be a fair fight between his cigars and the ones imported from Cuba, since they won’t be required to do the compliance costs the FDA requires of American cigar manufacturers.

“At a time when Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton talk about bringing back American manufacturing jobs … the American government wants to shut us down, ” Newman said. “We’re horrified by that.”

Rubio also fielded questions on his Senate campaign, where the polls have suddenly tightened with Democrat Patrick Murphy with less than three weeks to go before Election Day.

“You don’t win in Florida in a presidential year as a Republican by 10 points. Or even by five points,” he said. “It is becoming the race I knew it would, which is a close race.” He then spent several moments listing what he said were his achievements in the Senate in the past six years.

Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards to USF students: Millennials will decide this election

Cecile Richards paid a visit to the University of South Florida campus Monday, where she told an audience consisting of mostly female students, that people like themselves — especially those living in Florida’s Interstate 4 corridor — will help decide the presidential election next month.

“Millennial voters are going to determine who the next president is,” said Richards, who has been president of Planned Parenthood for the past decade. “And the millennial voters who are going to matter the most are the ones here in Florida.”

Richards is an unabashed supporter of Hillary Clinton, and she made the trip to USF to advocate that students make sure to try to get as many people registered as possible before the deadline, which was extended by a judge to Wednesday.

“Your votes are disproportionately important,” Richards said, referring to the power of the I-4 corridor, and the fact that unlike so many other college campuses where she visits in non-battleground states, the students sitting before her on Monday “actually have an opportunity to make a difference.”

Richards rejected Donald Trump’s description of his lewd remarks from 2005 that were made public at the debate as “locker-room talk,” saying it was flat-out “sexual harassment and sexual assault.”

“It’s little too late to be appalled by what Donald Trump is saying,” she continued. “He has gone after Muslims in this country, immigrants in this county, Mexicans, women. It’s time to stand up and say this is not who we are. We’re better than this.”

Richards is also a big fan of Barack Obama, who she said history ultimately will consider one of America’s greatest presidents. She offered big praise for his selection of Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, and applauded passage of the Affordable Care Act, the president’s signature domestic achievement that seems to be garnering more negative headlines these days.

Richards celebrated three separate provisions of the ACA which she said were incredibly important: 1) the provision that allows people to stay under their parents’ health care coverage until 26, 2) the end of gender discrimination in health care premiums, and  3) that maternity care is now included.

Joining Richards in speaking to the group of approximately 50 students who crammed into a conference room at the Marshall Center was Hillsborough County Democratic Rep. Kathy Castor. She complained congressional Republicans have been “sidelining” Democrats from addressing issues like immigration and student debt or jobs to instead attack Planned Parenthood.

In February, the House of Representatives failed to override President Obama’s veto of a bill that would have denied Planned Parenthood funding from Medicaid. A congressional panel was convened in 2015 after videos from a pro-life group called the Center for Medical Progress appeared to show Planned Parenthood officials selling human body parts. That case ultimately went to court in Texas, but a Houston grand jury did not charge the abortion provider with any wrongdoing, and instead indicted one of the activists, David Daleiden, with offering to purchase human organs from the group.

“This is not what we should be doing in Washington D.C.,” Castor charged regarding the votes to defund the organization.

Although the event was designed around ginning up support for Clinton, not everyone in the audience was signing on to the program.

Rachel Piotrowski, a 22-year-old graduate student in public health and Bernie Sanders supporter, says she may write in the Vermont senator for president.

“I don’t find her relatable or honest,” Piotrowski said on why she couldn’t get behind Clinton. “I just think she’ll say anything when the time is right and it’s politically advantageous for her to say so.”

She did say she’s concerned about how a Trump presidency could lead to Supreme Court justices who could overturn Roe v. Wade, but said regardless of who’s president, “people will need to take more personal responsibility and advocacy for the things that they want to support.”

Planned Parenthood PAC president to stump for Hillary Clinton in Florida

Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Cecile Richards has been an active surrogate for Hillary Clinton throughout the campaign.

And on Sunday and Monday, Richards will be active in Florida for the Democratic nominee and the current front-runner.

Richards will be in Gainesville Sunday, rallying the troops at 4 p.m. at a phone bank at 4056 W. Newberry Road, before an 8 p.m. appearance at a debate watch party at 1731 NW 6th St.

Monday finds Richards with two voter registration drive stops.

Monday at 10:30 sees Richards at Orlando’s University of Central Florida’s Student Union, where she will rally the troops with the UCF College Democrats.

At 3 p.m. on Monday, Richards will appear with Rep. Kathy Castor at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

Organizers bill the USF event as a voter registration kickoff.

Florida Democratic delegation calls on Rick Scott to extend registration deadline to Oct. 14

(UPDATE) As Gov. Rick Scott continues to offer updates on Hurricane Matthew while it slowly moves up Florida’s Atlantic Coast, members of Florida’s Democratic delegation are calling on him to extend the voter registration deadline from next Tuesday to Friday, Oct. 14.

“We strongly urge you to extend the deadline for our citizens to register to vote in November’s election, at least from October 11th to October 14th,” reads the letter. “It goes without saying that our democracy is stronger when more people vote. With a natural disaster on our doorstep, registering to vote understandably will not be possible in the immediate aftermath of such a significant storm. Of course, clean up and dealing with storm-related damage will be many Floridians’ primary focus.”

The letter was sent by Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and co-signed by Sen. Bill Nelson, and Congress members Alcee Hastings, Corrine Brown, Kathy Castor, Ted Deutch, Frederica Wilson, Alan Grayson, Lois Frankel, Patrick Murphy, and Gwen Graham.

Scott rejected such a request made on Thursday by the Hillary Clinton campaign.

“I’m not going to extend it,” the governor told reporters Thursday. “Everybody has had a lot of time to register. On top of that, we have lots of opportunities to vote: early voting, absentee voting, Election Day. So I don’t intend to make any changes.”

Another Republican governor whose state is preparing to be hit by Hurricane Matthew, South Carolina’s Nikki Haley, has extended her state’s registration deadline, which was scheduled for Saturday. That prompted the ACLU of Florida to join the Democratic delegation in calling on Scott to extend Florida’s registration deadline.

Later on Friday the ACLU of Florida made their own request to extend the voter registration deadline.

“This is a simple, non-partisan request for the governor to use his authority to ensure that every eligible voter has the opportunity to participate in this important election,” said ACLU of Florida Executive Director Howard Simon. “Preparing our state for a natural disaster and enabling full and fair participation in our democratic process aren’t mutually exclusive – in fact, they should go hand in hand.”

There has been some speculation the Democrats may sue Scott to extend the registration deadline if he doesn’t adhere to their request. But as election expert Rick Hasen wrote on Thursday in Slate, Scott could be sued for actually extending the deadline on the basis that such an extension is illegal, since only the Florida Legislature is allowed to set the rules on presidential elections.

The request to extend the deadline is hardly trivial, as parts of the state contend with the hurricane. As as has been widely reported in the past 24 hours, University of Florida political science professor Dan Smith has estimated “roughly” 50,000 people were registered in Florida over the last five days before the deadline in 2012.

Read the letter below:

Dear Governor Scott:

Thank you for your leadership and all of the hard work that you and state employees are doing to ensure the safety and security of Floridians as we prepare for Hurricane Matthew and related tropical storm and hurricane watches and warnings.

We appreciate your steady communication with federal, state, and local leaders, as well as public health, transportation, and law enforcement experts, to ensure our state is fully prepared for evacuations, shelter openings, prevention of power outages, monitoring of fuel supply, search and rescue, and provisioning of resources and supplies.

As you have rightly cautioned our citizens, Hurricane Matthew is a life-threatening storm that Floridians must take seriously, or risk being killed by it. President Obama has officially declared Hurricane Matthew’s expected impact in Florida to be a federal emergency, and we will work with you to ensure Florida has the federal recovery resources and support we need.

Some of the potential impacts of the storm include structural damage to even the sturdiest buildings, which will be worsened by large airborne projectiles, and make some locations uninhabitable for months. In addition, we can expect trees to snap or uproot, rendering many roads impassable and causing widespread power and communications outages.

The federal government has further cautioned that surging and deadly winds are not the only areas of concern — major rainfall flooding can also be life-threatening, with rivers and tributaries rapidly overflowing their banks, causing flood control systems and barriers to become stressed, and escape routes to become submerged.

The bottom line is that Floridians do not and should not have anything on their minds right now other than keeping themselves and their families safe from what could be a historic Category 4 blow to a large part of our state. As a result, it will be logistically challenging and likely impossible for many who would like to register to vote to be able to do so before the impending deadline on October 11th.

We strongly urge you to extend the deadline for our citizens to register to vote in November’s election, at least from October 11th to October 14th. It goes without saying that our democracy is stronger when more people vote.  With a natural disaster on our doorstep, registering to vote understandably will not be possible in the immediate aftermath of such a significant storm. Of course, clean up and dealing with storm-related damage will be many Floridians’ primary focus.

Therefore, we respectfully request an extension of the voter registration deadline so that we may ensure the franchise, the integrity of our democracy, and the rights we as Americans hold dear, are fully protected.

As elected officials, we must do all that we can to keep our citizens safe as well as safeguard the freedom of every individual to elect their representatives, from the state house to the White House.

 

 

Marco Rubio latest lawmaker to call for the EPA to investigate St. Petersburg sewage issue

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio is the most latest Florida lawmaker calling on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to investigate St. Petersburg’s sewage crisis.

“It is important that residents know if their City leadership turned a blind eye towards the inevitability of a sewage spill at the cost of the local waterways and beaches,” Rubio writes in a letter penned to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “I welcome the EPA’s immediate assistance into this matter, and stand ready to work with you to fix these problems.”

The aftermath of the result of more than 150 million gallons of partially treated sewage and wastewater that was discharged into Boca Ceiga Bay and Tampa Bay from Hurricane Hermine has become a huge political issue for Mayor Rick Kriseman and his administration in the past week. Rubio’s entreaty to the EPA is following similar requests made by Tampa Bay area Congress members David Jolly and Kathy Castor. On Wednesday, Governor Rick Scott  ordered the state’s Department of Environmental Protection to investigate.

In his letter, Rubio references the comments made last week by Craven R. Askew, the chief plant operator at St. Petersburg’s Northeast wastewater treatment facility, who told city officials that a consultant’s report from 2014 stated that that sewage dumps and spills were possible if the city shut down the Albert Whitted sewer plant, which happened in 2015.

Kriseman says he never saw the report, and has called for an investigation to determine why.

On Wednesday, the mayor put two top city wastewater officials who were involved in the closure of the Albert Whitted plant on unpaid leave. One of them, engineering director Tom Gibson, signed the task order for that consultant’s report, the Tampa Bay Times reported on Thursday.

Rubio, a Republican running for re-election to the U.S. Senate this November against Democratic Congressman Patrick Murphy, also questions the transparency of the Kriseman administration in his letter.

“It is troubling that the City itself cannot agree on what was contained in the sewage released, and this begs the question of whether this was a factor in City officials’ decision not to tell the public about the release until five days after it occurred,” Rubio writes. In fact, a whistleblower, Mr. Craven Askew, claims the City was aware a sewage spill could happen and did nothing to halt the release.  It is my understanding that previous spills in 2015 and 2016 were conveyed by consultants to the City as early as 2014, and that City leadership chose not to act and instead moved forward with closing the Albert Whitted Water Reclamation Facility even after being advised against it.  It is important that residents know if their City leadership turned a blind eye towards the inevitability of a sewage spill at the cost of the local waterways and beaches.”

The full text of Rubio’s letter can be read below:

The Honorable Gina McCarthy

Administrator

Environmental Protection Agency

1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.

Washington, DC 20460

September 21, 2016

Dear Administrator McCarthy,

As Hurricane Hermine moved through the Tampa Bay region, it left in its wake an environmental issue that appears to have been wholly preventable and, as recently reported in a whistleblower complaint, should have been foreseen and dealt with a number of years ago.  Although the State of Florida is currently investigating the situation, I request the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) assist the State of Florida in assessing this spill brought on by the City of St. Petersburg.

According to recent reports, the City of St. Petersburg released about 151 million gallons of raw and partially-treated sewage into Tampa and Boca Ciega Bays.  The exact amount of the release is actually unknown due to a broken flow meter out of the wastewater treatment plant.  The sewage release occurred after the City’s wastewater treatment plants were overwhelmed during Hurricane Hermine, a result of the City’s decision to close one of its plants in 2015.  I believe the residents of Pinellas County deserve to know what, and how much, was released into their waterways and how it may affect the water quality in the area.

It is troubling that the City itself cannot agree on what was contained in the sewage released, and this begs the question of whether this was a factor in City officials’ decision not to tell the public about the release until five days after it occurred.  In fact, a whistleblower, Mr. Craven Askew, claims the City was aware a sewage spill could happen and did nothing to halt the release.  It is my understanding that previous spills in 2015 and 2016 were conveyed by consultants to the City as early as 2014, and that City leadership chose not to act and instead moved forward with closing the Albert Whitted Water Reclamation Facility even after being advised against it.  It is important that residents know if their City leadership turned a blind eye towards the inevitability of a sewage spill at the cost of the local waterways and beaches.

Tampa Bay’s waters are a cherished and economically fruitful ecosystem.  I am concerned its rebounded sea grasses will suffer now and into the future, especially because we are not yet done with the current hurricane season and another storm could yield another disturbing spillage.  For these reasons, I welcome the EPA’s immediate assistance into this matter, and stand ready to work with you to fix these problems.

Respectfully,

Marco Rubio

U.S. Senator

 

Mitch Perry Report for 9.22.16 – The fire down below

In Charlotte last night, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory called for a state of emergency a night after violence escalated as residents continued to protest the fatal shooting of a black man by a police officer a day prior.

While in Tulsa, the Dept. of Justice is investigating officer Betty Shelby’s use of force in the shooting death of  40-year-old unarmed black man Terence Crutcher on Friday night.

Meanwhile, what about the shooting death of that unarmed black man in our neck of the woods that caused more than a week’s worth of civic unrest?

To remind you, Hillsborough County SWAT Deputy Caleb Johnson shot and killed 22-year-old Levonia Riggins while helping serve a search warrant on his home. Johnson has said that he thought that Riggins was motioning towards his waistband when he was apprehended in his bedroom, and fearing that Riggins was reaching for a weapon, shot him dead.

Like a similar incident that occurred in Seminole Heights a couple of years ago with the Tampa Police Dept., a lot of people have been wondering why law enforcement would send in a SWAT team to apprehend a low-level drug dealer (Riggins had reportedly sold pot on two occasions to from undercover Hillsborough sheriff’s detectives).

Well, presumably we have our reason now, as the Tampa Bay Times Dan Sullivan reported earlier this week that when detectives drafted an application for a search warrant of Riggins’ home last month, they learned of a 2015 incident in which guns were found on Riggins property.

I still don’t get how that justified bringing a SWAT team in to bust a man who had twice sold undercover deputies marijuana. Obviously I’m missing something, because I don’t get that at all. Wondering if that happens in other parts of town where law enforcement is aware of someone selling pot?

Of course, when it comes to pot, Hillsborough County law enforcement seems to be behind the curve in addressing the issue. After months of criticism for not following in Tampa’s path when it comes to decriminalizing those arrested with marijuana , the Sheriffs Department announced last month that they’ve begun a year-long pilot program with other local agencies that will offer an alternative to arrest for first-time offenders caught with marijuana between the ages of 8 to 17.

Meanwhile, the Riggins shooting is being investigated by  Sarasota State Attorney Ed Brodsky.

In other news..

We’ve got specific dates when the “Cross-Bay Ferry” running from Tampa to St. Pete will begin their daily runs.

Kathy Castor signs on to bipartisan legislation calling for drug price transparency.

Gwen Graham wants to know when the Florida DEP began contacting local residents about that Mosaic toxic sinkhole spill last month.

And an environmental group is trying to tie Mosaic’s issues with Representative Dana Young, the Tampa Republican running for the state Senate District 18 seat this November.

Vern Buchanan’s bill to Florida orange farms contending with citrus greening has passed the House of Representatives. 

Kathy Castor signs on to bipartisan legislation calling for drug price transparency

Tampa Bay-area Congresswoman Kathy Castor is the latest Democrat to sign on to bipartisan legislation that addresses skyrocketing prescription drug price increases.

On Tuesday, the Tampa Representative announced she was co-sponsoring the FAIR Drug Pricing Actwould require manufacturers who increase the price of a drug by more than ten percent a year to disclose the information behind that decision to taxpayers, including their spending on research and development, as well as advertising and marketing.

“We must work to ensure that lifesaving treatments are never out of reach for all of our neighbors and especially our most vulnerable,” Castor said. “U.S. prescription drug spending has already reached a record high of $425 billion in 2015, with expectations that such spending will surpass $600 billion by 2020. The ‘hands off’ approach in the Republican-led Congress has allowed pharmaceutical corporations to stick it to consumers, and that must stop. ”

How bad his the problem become? Thirty-two percent of adults over 50 fail to renew a prescription primarily because of cost, according to a survey by the AARP. A recent study of about 3,000 brand-name prescription drugs found that prices more than doubled for 60 and at least quadrupled for 20 since December 2014, Bloomberg News reported in February.

The legislation would also require drug manufacturers to notify the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and submit a transparency and justification report 30 days before they increase the price of certain drug products by more than 10 percent.

Last week, Castor called for a hearing on the rising cost of EpiPen, calling the hike from $100 in 2007 to today’s price of more than $600 “unconscionable” and a “prime example of unseemly profiteering.” She also stated, “We must bring transparency and accountability to the issue by holding a hearing in our committee and working to ensure that all Americans have access to this lifesaving treatment at an affordable cost.” ‎

The Senate Homeland Security subcommittee on investigations announced last week that it opened an inquiry into the pricing of the EpiPen, which stops allergic reactions by injecting epinephrine into the body. Heather Bresch, the CEO of Mylan, which makes the EpiPen, is scheduled to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Wednesday at a hearing called by Republicans and Democrats on the panel.

“Like many Americans, far too many Arizonans have been unfairly burdened by the rising costs of prescription medication,” said Senator John McCain last week in announcing his sponsorship of the bill in the Senate, alongside Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin. “The American people should not be forced to choose between filling a prescription or making their monthly mortgage payment. This legislation would bring much-needed transparency to prescription drug prices — a policy that 8 in 10 Americans support, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Transparency leads to accountability, and it is past time that mantra applied to the skyrocketing cost of prescription medication.

Supporting the legislation is The Medicare Rights Center, Consumers Union, Doctors for America: Drug Price, Value, and Affordability Campaign, Families USA and the Center for Medicare Advocacy, Inc. and Public Citizen.

Mitch Perry Report for 9.20.16 — Rick Kriseman works on turning it around

David Jolly seemed to take particular relish in last night’s debate, after Charlie Crist attacked him for being unresponsive to asking for federal help for St. Petersburg’s sewage problems post-Hurricane Hermine.

“Because the mayor who’s endorsed you who oversaw this catastrophe did not ask for it,” Jolly responded, which received a loud cheer from the crowd, which seemed evenly split among Jolly and Crist supporters.

It’s undoubtedly true the recent issues with sewage have become Mayor Rick Kriseman’s biggest challenge to date since he was elected 34 months ago to become the leader of St. Petersburg. Although many of the infrastructure issues preceded him into office, his failure to publicly disclose the fact that 58 million gallons of mostly treated wastewater out of the Northwest sewage plant has been his worse offense. And now he vows to do better.

“While we provided notification, future notification will be more robust without creating unnecessary alarm,” the mayor writes in an op-ed in Tuesday’s Tampa Bay Times.

“Another short-term goal is to give our residents ample opportunity to learn about our system and plans for the future,” Kriseman adds. “In the coming weeks and months, our public works administration will literally and figuratively open their doors. A public information session will be held so that residents are as aware of our infrastructure upgrades as they are about other, more flashy, endeavors. We also intend to welcome the community into our facilities to meet our team members, take a tour, and learn more about our operations. It may be a little smelly, but it’s a fascinating process and, along with public safety, a top priority.”

Kriseman is doing the right thing now. He’s also called for an investigation to determine why he wasn’t shown a consultant’s report warning that closing down the Albert Whitted Water treatment plant was the wrong way to go. Kriseman ordered the investigation immediately after the consultant, Craven Askew, came forward late last week.

There’s no doubt the mayor’s critics have exploited his miscues in handling this crisis, but that’s politics in the big city — especially when it comes to weather events. Or aren’t you familiar with how Ed Koch, Michael Bloomberg, and Bill deBlasio have had to do with how they handled the act of shoveling snow?

No doubt the mayor may be raked over the coals as both the local legislative delegation and the city council address the issue this week, but it need not be a fatal blow. It’s just time for that much-vaunted government term “transparency” to be employed “robustly” at 175 Fifth Street North.

In other news …

As mentioned above, David Jolly and Charlie Crist had at each other in a live, one-hour televised CD 13 debate Monday night at the Palladium Theatre in St. Pete.

Patrick Murphy came to West Tampa Monday, where he hoped to continue to build up his name ID with the Latino vote.

Kathy Castor is taking Dr. Samuel Wright to be her guest at the opening of the  National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C. this weekend.

HART board member Kathleen Shanahan is calling for the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission to be abolished.

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