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Florida editorial roundup

January 7, 2014
Associated Press

Recent editorials from Florida newspapers:

Jan. 6

The Tallahassee Democrat on freeze warning:

Yes, it's that cold, so prepare yourself, your neighbor and your pets for bone chilling weather this morning and Wednesday, when temperatures are expected to be in the low 20s, but actually feel a lot colder with the wind-chill factor. Temperatures could reach the single digits in some parts of our area this morning, with temperatures not expected to rise above 35 degrees during the day.

Be prepared for a repeat on Wednesday morning.

This is the time of the year when we can expect to experience chilly mornings. Some of you may remember the record-breaking 18-degree temperatures in January 2012. Parents of children returning to school from the winter break this morning need to make sure those children are bundled up and secure with layers of clothing, especially those children who will be out waiting at bus stops when some of the coldest temperatures are evident.

Another critical group is the city's homeless population. City and county officials, along with members of various faith-based communities have worked diligently and quickly to ensure that the temporary cold night shelter is open tonight and Wednesday night. This community is served well by the congregation of Jacob Chapel Baptist Church, 2333 Lake Bradford Road, where members have opened their doors to address this important community need. The temporary shelter is open to men, who will be bused from The Shelter downtown to the church at 9 p.m. If you know of someone in need, make sure they are pre-registered at The Shelter by 6:45 p.m. Women and families with children will be allowed to stay at The Shelter.

It's also important to check on seniors in your neighborhood, as they are among the most vulnerable and possibly in need of blankets, clothing and emergency services.

Stay safe, protected and prepared.



Jan. 7

The Gainesville (Fla.) Sun on throwing bombs:

If only U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho put as much energy into writing bills with a realistic shot at becoming law as he did crafting clever acronyms.

Yoho, R-Gainesville, last month introduced two measures related to the Affordable Care Act. Not surprisingly, they're more about firing up his tea-party base than seriously addressing the country's challenges involving health care coverage and costs.

The Nullifying the Unconstitutional Mandate By Evaluating Results, or NUMBER, Act would repeal the Affordable Care Act if the Obama administration fails to meet its goal of 7 million people being enrolled in health-care exchanges by March 31.

The Government Lacks Insight To Choose Health, or GLITCH, Act would implement a 5 percent salary cut for Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for each month that the website isn't fully functional.

We're all for holding Sebelius or another administration official accountable for the disastrous rollout of the website. In fact, Yoho had a strong case in joining 33 other House Republicans in calling for Sebelius' resignation.

But cutting her pay is politics at its most petty.

Yoho's first bill is similarly silly. It's not as if he hopes the measure will create pressure that leads to the enrollment goals being met. Instead, he's rooting for the Affordable Care Act's failure without offering any alternative that covers millions of uninsured Americans.

While we don't expect Yoho to become a cheerleader for the Affordable Care Act any time soon, he should lay off legislation that lacks even a remote shot of becoming law. Throwing bombs at the president's signature achievement may please the tea party, but it does nothing to improve the lives of Yoho's constituents.



Jan. 5

The News-Journal, Daytona Beach, Fla., on state surplus should be used to help WORC:

With the state government's surplus fattening, it's time for legislators to examine their priorities for that extra cash.

There is plenty of talk of a $400 million fee cut for motorists, and that's a laudable goal. But discussion about any surplus should also include how it might be used to help the mentally disabled in the Sunshine State.

Last week, Work Orientation Rehabilitation Center Inc. (WORC) closed its doors in Bunnell due to a lack of funding. With the closing, Flagler County lost a vital service for the mentally disabled and their families.

The vehicle registration fee cut that Gov. Rick Scott wants would give back $25 to each motorist. But aid to the mentally disabled would have a much bigger payoff. And the need is major.

That the Bunnell center is being forced to consolidate with the Volusia County office just adds a degree of difficulty to the families of citizens with developmental disabilities in Flagler County. If people cannot find care for their mentally disabled adult sons or daughters, then a member of the household often has to drop out of the workforce to care for that family member. That has very real costs to both the household and the community.

It is for this reason we taxpayers pay a portion of our taxes to help pay for social programs that WORC and similar agencies provide. These programs assist the most vulnerable in our communities. The programs enable other members of households containing mentally disabled adults to continue working themselves, so the funding pays off in more than one way.

No doubt, the recession, followed by years of weak recovery, have been tough on all Floridians, and on state coffers as well. The state Legislature and former Gov. Charlie Crist raised the auto registration fees in 2009 to help balance the budget. Giving some of that increase back to motorists is a worthy idea to consider.

But there are other vital areas of the budget, ones involving social-service agencies, to consider as well.

It seems likely that 2014 will be a year in which Florida sees solid growth in the private sector and, as a result tax coffers should see a surplus. Some estimates have pegged the surplus to be as much as $1.2 billion.

There's nothing wrong with Scott's goal to give some of that surplus back to citizens in the form of reduced vehicle registration fees.

But part of the surplus should also be earmarked to strengthen services for people in the state who have developmental disabilities, mental illness or addiction struggles.




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