Phil Ammann - 4/384 - SaintPetersBlog

Phil Ammann

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

Glades landowners double down on Joe Negron to reveal his ‘willing sellers’

Joe Negron recently visited Pahokee High School for a town hall meeting to discuss his plans for taking farmland in the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA).

During the meeting, the Senate President said he is in discussion with “many owners of land south of the lake” in the effort to acquire 153,000 acres of productive land to set up a reservoir for Lake Okeechobee runoff.

That claim didn’t go over well with farmers and landowners.

In a letter to Negron sent Monday, owners of more than 2,500 acres of farmland in the EAA each reaffirm that they will not support any government acquisition of lands south of Lake O.

Negron argues the land is necessary to store water to avoid discharging into the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries. Last summer, discharges were connected to a rash of blue-green algal blooms in regional waters, leading the state to declare a four-county state of emergency.

Nevertheless, many in the Glades area communities insist taking such productive farmland would result in widespread job losses. They are unwilling to sell private property to the government under Negron’s SB 10, which seeks to buy the land from “willing sellers.”

At the town hall held March 17, state Rep. Rick Roth asked, “If we find no willing sellers, which I believe is the case, you are not going to find any, sir, what does the second part of the bill say and what is going to happen if the bill becomes law?”

Negron replied: “Well, first of all, with all due respect, I do not agree with you that we will not be able to find sellers. And there are many owners of land south of the lake that are in discussion with us to try to solve this problem once and for all.”

Negron’s claims forced landowners in the EAA to reassert their position, calling the senator to reveal these so-called “willing sellers.”

For Negron’s plan to work, said John Scott Hundley, of EAA Farmers, Inc., it would require the “participation of landowners who own larger tracts of contiguous land.”

“If Senator Negron is in discussion with landowners south of the lake, he should make it clear who he is referencing because they are not the co-signers of this letter,” Hundley said.

EAA Farmers stands for a coalition of farmers and supporters in the Everglades Agricultural Area, which they point out is one of the nation’s most vital farming regions and the largest supplier of winter vegetables — sweet corn, radishes, green beans, lettuce and other leafy greens.

According to Everglades farmers — who strongly oppose Negron’s SB 10 — the EAA region is the largest producer of rice in the Southeast and the nation’s top producer of sugar cane.

Donald Trump blames Democrats for health bill’s failure

The Latest on an effort in Congress to pass a health care bill (all times local):

4:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump says his health care reform fell short because it lacked support from Democrats.

Trump made his first comments about the failure of a signature legislative item Friday in the Oval Office a short time after a House vote on the bill was canceled.

Trump told reporters “we were very close” and tried to blame Democrats, through Republicans control both the House and the Senate.

He also predicted the Affordable Care Act would soon implode, forcing Democrats to join the Republicans at the negotiating table.

3:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump has marked Greek Independence Day with a rather ominous message.

At a White House reception, Trump said that in the years to come “we don’t know what will be required to defend our freedom.”

But he says it will take “great courage, and we will show it.”

Greek Independence Day commemorates the start of the 1821 war that led to Greece’s independence after nearly 400 years as part of the Ottoman Empire. It’s celebrated annually on March 25.

Trump told the crowd, “I love the Greeks.” He also introduced Greek-American members of the White House staff, including chief of staff Reince Priebus (ryns PREE’-bus).

Trump said Priebus is “really terrific and hard-working,” along with being “one of the top Greeks in the country.”

Republican leaders have abruptly pulled their troubled health care overhaul bill off the House floor, short of votes and eager to avoid a humiliating defeat for President Donald Trump and GOP leaders.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., withdrew the legislation after Trump called him and asked him to halt debate without a vote, according to Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong. Just a day earlier, Trump had demanded a House vote and said if the measure lost, he would move on to other issues.

1:55 p.m.

The White House is no longer expressing confidence that the upcoming House vote on health care will be successful.

Instead, spokesman Sean Spicer says President Donald Trump is confident that the White House has done “every single thing possible” to corral the 216 votes needed to pass legislation to repeal the Obama-era health care law.

House lawmakers and aides say the bill is short of support before the vote Trump insists be held.

The White House says it expects that vote at 3:30 p.m., as scheduled.

___

1:30 p.m.

The White House says it still remains optimistic about a troubled Republican-led health care bill to repeal and replace “Obamacare.”

White House press secretary Sean Spicer says President Donald Trump is looking forward to the House passing the bill and it expects the House to vote on the bill later Friday.

Spicer says the president is meeting with House Speaker Paul Ryan to “discuss the way forward” on the bill.

He says the president has “left everything on the field” on the bill.

According to GOP lawmakers and congressional aides, House Republican leaders were short of the votes needed for the bill to pass.

___

1:20 p.m.

House Republican leaders were short of the votes needed for their health care overhaul bill hours ahead of a vote demanded by President Donald Trump.

That’s the word Friday from GOP lawmakers and congressional aides as Speaker Paul Ryan met with the president at the White House to deliver the sobering news.

Separately, Vice President Mike Pence was meeting near the Capitol with recalcitrant members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus in a last-ditch effort to secure support.

Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., told reporters, “As of right now, I’m not sure that we are across the finish line. We’ve still got three or four hours and there’s still discussions happening.”

___

12:40 p.m.

Democrats and some veterans’ groups say a provision of the Republican health care bill could raise costs for millions of veterans who use tax credits to buy private insurance. An amendment to the bill would make veterans who are not enrolled in government care ineligible for health-care tax credits.

Republicans said the veterans’ provision could be added back into the bill later.

Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, who lost both legs in combat in Iraq, said Republicans either were “intentionally sacrificing veterans and putting them on a chopping block” or wrote the bill so “haphazardly” they don’t know what’s in it.

Minnesota Rep. Tim Walz, the top Democrat on the House Veterans Affairs panel, called the GOP plan “shameful” and said it would leave many veterans without affordable insurance options.

___

12:30 p.m.

House Speaker Paul Ryan is at the White House to brief President Donald Trump on the state of play on the health care bill.

The visit comes ahead of a planned showdown vote on the legislation later in the day Friday.

The outcome was looking dicey with the legislation apparently still short of votes around midday, and few public signs that the situation was changing.

A group of conservative hold-outs had yet to swing in favor despite lobbying from Trump and others, while opposition also came from moderate-leaning and rank-and-file Republicans.

The legislation is the GOP’s long-promised bill to repeal and replace former President Barack Obama’s health care law. Trump decided Thursday that negotiations were over and it was time to vote.

___

12:25 p.m.

House Democrats are trying to make the vote on the House GOP health plan personal for their Republican counterparts.

After each Republican speaks on the House floor in favor of the bill, Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., cites the number of people in their congressional district who will lose health insurance under the bill.

Under the bill, 24 million fewer people will have health insurance by 2026, according to congressional estimates.

Rep. Clay Higgins, a Republican from Louisiana, proclaimed that a vote against the bill is “a vote against freedom.”

Yarmuth replied that the bill would result in 50,100 people from his Higgins’ congressional district losing health coverage.

Republicans disputed the numbers. They noted that Yarmuth got his congressional district estimates from the Center for American Progress, a liberal advocacy group.

___

11:05 a.m.

Republicans have pushed the GOP health care overhaul past an initial procedural hurdle in the House. That moves the chamber toward a climactic final vote that’s a big gamble for President Donald Trump and congressional leaders.

Friday’s procedural vote was 230-194.

The early vote inserted changes into the measure that leaders hoped would win over unhappy Republicans. It would improve Medicaid benefits for some older and handicapped people and abolish coverage requirements President Barack Obama’s 2010 law imposes on insurers.

It remained uncertain whether GOP leaders had enough votes to prevail on final passage.

Conservatives complain the Republican bill doesn’t do enough to erase Obama’s law. GOP moderates are unhappy that it would cause millions of voters to lose coverage and boost medical costs for others.

Democrats were solidly opposed.

___

10:45 a.m.

President Donald Trump says, “we’ll see what happens,” in response to a question about what happens if the vote on the Republican-backed health care bill fails in the House.

Trump is offering his support for House Speaker Paul Ryan at a White House event announcing the presidential permit about the Keystone XL pipeline. Asked if Ryan should remain as speaker if the bill fails, Trump says, “Yes.”

The administration is trying to steer a GOP-backed health care bill through the House. The White House and Republican leaders say the vote will be tight and it’s unclear if the legislation will pass.

___

8:40 a.m.

President Donald Trump is telling lawmakers who oppose abortion that a vote against the health care bill would favor Planned Parenthood.

The president tweeted Friday, “the irony is that the Freedom Caucus, which is very pro-life and against Planned Parenthood, allows P.P. to continue if they stop this plan!”

In a bid to coax support from conservatives, House leaders proposed a fresh amendment repealing Obama’s requirement that insurers cover 10 specified services like maternity and mental health care.

Lawmakers will vote later Friday.

Conservatives have demanded the removal of those and other conditions the law imposes on insurers, arguing they drive up premiums.

The president met with members of the Freedom Caucus Thursday in an effort to win them over. But the vote was postponed after administration officials fell short.

___

8:25 a.m.

President Donald Trump is endorsing the Republican proposal on health care as “a great plan,” ahead of a make-or-break vote in the House.

The president tweeted Friday that “After seven horrible years of ObamaCare (skyrocketing premiums & deductibles, bad healthcare), this is finally your chance for a great plan!”

The vote had been scheduled for late Thursday but was postponed after administration officials failed to convince skeptical conservative Republicans to support the bill.

Trump claimed he was finished negotiating with GOP holdouts and determined to pursue the rest of his agenda, win or lose.

Barring any further delays, the vote is expected to take place later Friday.

__

7:50 a.m.

White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney says he has “a lot of confidence” in President Donald Trump’s ability to salvage a congressional Republican health care plan, but warns that Trump “also wants to move on” if the deal collapses.

Mulvaney said Friday on ABC’s “Good Morning America” of the president: “He’s a tremendous closer. I wouldn’t count him out.”

Mulvaney delivered a similar message to House Republicans Thursday night, warning that Trump would turn to other priorities such as a tax overhaul if the health plan pushed by House Speaker Paul Ryan is rejected by rebels in his own party.

Mulvaney also rejected a new Congressional Budget Office analysis that warns the latest health plan version would reduce cost savings by $200 billion. “The CBO score is just wrong on that,” Mulvaney said.

___

7:55 a.m.

A lack of women in a photo of negotiations over the GOP health care bill that was tweeted out by Vice President Mike Pence is drawing criticism from Democrats.

The photo shows Pence at the center of a conference table during negotiations with the House Freedom Caucus. About two dozen men can be seen in the photo and not a single woman.

Washington U.S. Sen. Patty Murray drew attention to the absence of women in the room by retweeting the photo and sarcastically adding, “A rare look inside the GOP’s women’s health caucus.”

A repeal of a maternity care requirement is among the concessions the Freedom Caucus is demanding in exchange for support of the bill.

Reprinted with permission of the Associated Press

American Medical Association sides against optometrists in Florida Eyeball Wars

The nation’s largest association of physicians is the latest group to come out against a bill at the center of Florida’s so-called “Eyeball Wars” between ophthalmologists and optometrists.

On Thursday, American Medical Association President and CEO James Madara sent a letter to House Health & Human Services Committee chair Travis Cummings, in which he called on lawmakers to reject HB 1037, a measure that seeks give optometrists expanded practice to perform a certain type of laser surgeries in Florida.

The two-page letter expresses several concerns with the bill, including the relative lack of education and experience of optometrists compared to ophthalmologists — who “possess the comprehensive medical knowledge necessary to safely perform surgical procedures on patients.”

“Patient safety and quality of care demand that patients be assured that individuals who perform invasive procedures have appropriate medical education and training,” Madara wrote. ” Quite simply, safe use of lasers and scalpels requires extensive medical education and training. Surgery on or around the human eye is not something to be taken lightly.

“The AMA strongly opposes HB 1037 because there is no way to safely perform surgical procedures without the comprehensive education and clinical training received in medical or osteopathic school,” Madara added. “The lack of specific additional education and training proposed by HB 1037 comes nowhere near this standard.”

In a procedural move, House Speaker Richard Corcoran removed HB 1037 from the schedule of the House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee. In response, Florida Society of Ophthalmology President Adam Katz said the move — which he suggested was “orchestrated” — gave his organization one less opportunity to stop the measure from becoming law.

Supporting HB 1037 include the Florida Optometric Association, which has hired a team of a dozen lobbyists to promote the bill, including Michael Corcoran, brother of the House Speaker.

POLITICO Florida reports that March 20, the FOA hired influential Capital City Consulting lobbyist Nick Iarossi.

White House, in gamble, demands make-or-break health vote

Abandoning negotiations, President Donald Trump demanded a make-or-break vote on health care legislation in the House, threatening to leave “Obamacare” in place and move on to other issues if Friday’s vote fails.

The risky move, part gamble and part threat, was presented to GOP lawmakers behind closed doors Thursday night after a long and intense day that saw a planned vote on the health care bill scrapped as the legislation remained short of votes amid cascading negotiations among conservative lawmakers, moderates and others.

At the end of it the president had had enough and was ready to vote and move on, whatever the result, Trump’s budget director Mick Mulvaney told lawmakers.

“‘Negotiations are over, we’d like to vote tomorrow and let’s get this done for the American people.’ That was it,” Rep. Duncan Hunter of California said as he left the meeting, summarizing Mulvaney’s message to lawmakers.

“Let’s vote,” White House chief strategist Steve Bannon said as he walked out.

“For seven and a half years we have been promising the American people that we will repeal and replace this broken law because it’s collapsing and it’s failing families, and tomorrow we’re proceeding,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said, then walked off without answering as reporters demanded to know whether the bill had the votes to pass.

The outcome of Friday’s vote was impossible to predict. Both conservative and moderate lawmakers had claimed the bill lacked votes after a long day of talks. But the White House appeared ready to gamble that the prospect of failing to repeal former President Barack Obama‘s health law, after seven years of promising to do exactly that, would force lawmakers into the “yes” column.

“It’s done tomorrow. Or ‘Obamacare’ stays,” said Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., a top Trump ally in the House.

Collins was among those predicting success Friday, but others didn’t hide their anxiety about the outcome.

Asked whether Republicans would be unified on Friday’s vote, freshman Rep Matt Gaetz of Florida said, “I sure hope so, or we’ll have the opportunity to watch a unified Democratic caucus impeach Donald Trump in two years when we lose the majority.”

Thursday’s maneuvers added up to high drama on Capitol Hill, but Friday promised even more suspense with the prospect of leadership putting a major bill on the floor uncertain about whether it would pass or fail.

The Republican legislation would halt Obama’s tax penalties against people who don’t buy coverage and cut the federal-state Medicaid program for low earners, which the Obama statute had expanded. It would provide tax credits to help people pay medical bills, though generally skimpier than Obama’s statute provides. It also would allow insurers to charge older Americans more and repeal tax boosts the law imposed on high-income people and health industry companies.

The measure would also block federal payments to Planned Parenthood for a year, another stumbling block for GOP moderates.

In a concession to the conservative House Freedom Caucus, many of whose members have withheld support, the legislation would repeal requirements for insurers to cover “essential health benefits” such as maternity care and substance abuse treatment.

The drama unfolded seven years to the day after Obama signed his landmark law, an anniversary GOP leaders meant to celebrate with a vote to undo the divisive legislation. “Obamacare” gave birth to the tea party movement and helped Republicans win and keep control of Congress and then take the White House.

Instead, as GOP leaders were forced to delay the vote Thursday, C-SPAN filled up the time playing footage of Obama signing the Affordable Care Act.

“In the final analysis, this bill falls short,” GOP Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington state said in a statement Thursday as she became the latest rank-and-file Republican, normally loyal to leadership, to declare her opposition. “The difficulties this bill would create for millions of children were left unaddressed,” she said, citing the unraveling of Medicaid.

In a danger sign for Republicans, a Quinnipiac University poll found that people disapprove of the GOP legislation by 56 percent to 17 percent, with 26 percent undecided. Trump’s handling of health care was viewed unfavorably by 6 in 10.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who as speaker was Obama’s crucial lieutenant in passing the Democratic bill in the first place, couldn’t resist a dig at the GOP disarray.

“You may be a great negotiator,” she said of Trump. “Rookie’s error for bringing this up on a day when clearly you’re not ready.”

Obama declared in a statement that “America is stronger” because of the current law and said Democrats must make sure “any changes will make our health care system better, not worse for hardworking Americans.” Trump tweeted to supporters, “Go with our plan! Call your Rep & let them know.”

Unlike Obama and Pelosi when they passed Obamacare, the Republicans had failed to build an outside constituency or coalition to support their bill. Instead, medical professionals, doctors and hospitals — major employers in some districts — as well as the AARP and other influential consumer groups were nearly unanimously opposed. So were outside conservative groups who argued the bill didn’t go far enough. The Chamber of Commerce was in favor.

Moderates were given pause by projections of 24 million Americans losing coverage in a decade and higher out-of-pocket costs for many low-income and older people, as predicted by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. In an updated analysis Thursday, the CBO said late changes to the bill meant to win over reluctant lawmakers would cut beneficial deficit reduction in half, while failing to cover more people.

And, House members were mindful that the bill, even if passed by the House, faces a tough climb in the Senate.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Speaker moves ‘Eyeball Wars’ closer to House floor; docs say optometrist testimony ‘patently false’

Florida’s “Eyeball Wars” between ophthalmologists and optometrists could soon be spilling onto the House floor.

On Monday, Speaker Richard Corcoran removed HB 1037 — a controversial bill to allow optometrists to perform surgery, among other things — off the agenda of the House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee.

A representative for Corcoran told POLITICO Florida that the measure, which seeks to expand optometry further into the practice of surgery, was one of 12 bills removed from Appropriations under Rule 7.18(c) because they had “no fiscal impact.”

The move has raised the alarm of Adam Katz, president of the Florida Society of Ophthalmology, who felt the appropriations hearing would represent his organization’s best shot at defeating the bill.

“We feel like this is being orchestrated,” Katz, a Vero Beach ophthalmologist, told Christine Sexton of POLITICO Florida.

In the bill’s earlier stop — the House Health Quality Subcommittee — HB 1037 was narrowly passed by an 8-7 vote.

Sponsored by Rep. Manny Diaz, the bill is strongly opposed by both the Florida Society of Ophthalmology and the American College of Surgeons. The measure is still on the schedule for the House Health & Human Services Committee.

“We have a responsibility to make sure everyone has access,” Diaz told reporters last week.

Nevertheless, testimony at last week’s subcommittee hearing did not sit well with the American Academy of Ophthalmology, which makes Corcoran’s procedural move even more disturbing. The Florida Optometric Association have strongly pushed HB 1037, employing a team of a more than a dozen lobbyists that include Michael Corcoran, Speaker Corcoran’s brother.

In a letter to House Health Quality chair Cary Pigman, an Avon Park Republican and emergency care physician, Dr. Mark Michels, board member of the Florida Society of Ophthalmology, pointed out several misleading and inaccurate accusation made during testimony from optometrists and their representatives.

“I cannot stay silent when the process is used by others to perpetuate falsehoods, especially when those falsehoods could endanger patients,” Michels writes. “It is for that reason, and out of respect for all of you and the integrity of our legislative process, that I am writing to bring your attention to two patently incorrect statements made by the representative of the Florida Optometric Association (FOA) at the hearing. “

One of the major selling points for HB 1037 is that it would expand access to glaucoma surgery for Medicaid patients, because in some rural regions — Bradenton was the example used in testimony — ophthalmologists do not accept Medicaid.

Michels called that claim “spurious,” pointing out that “information readily accessible in the State’s database–the AHCA Provider Master List — clearly shows that there are at least 24 active individual ophthalmologists that see Medicaid patients in Bradenton.”

He also pushed back on testimony that said “there are “less than 400 ophthalmologists in the entire State that take Medicaid.” In fact, there are nearly 1,200 active, enrolled ophthalmologists in Florida that see Medicaid patients.

A second issue is a contention that the surgery optometrists are asking to perform is not “invasive” and restricted to only lasers to “stimulate tissue in the eye.”

“Those statements are fallacious and exemplify a dangerous ignorance of what laser surgery is and the complications that can arise from the use of lasers,” Michels writes.

Lasers authorized by HB 1037 are powerful enough to cut ocular tissue — in a process called photodisruption — which can lead to several complications which can be adequately understood only by a medical professional with the training and experience of ophthalmologists.

“This knowledge is obtained from years of experience and seeing thousands of patients,” Michels writes, “all while being directly supervised by a board certified ophthalmic surgeon.”

Michels then calls out the FOA representative for holding himself as a “subject matter expert,” pledging to the committee that lasers authorized in the bill “do not cut,” are “noninvasive” and are only “stimulating” lasers similar to those used in “a new product contained in a baseball hat and used to stimulate hair growth.”

This stance is both “inexcusable and dangerous,” Michels said, before calling Pigman to do his part to “stop this dangerous bill from becoming law.”

Next for HB 1037 — the latest battle in Florida’s Eyeball Wars — is the House Health and Human Services Committee, one of only two stops before heading to the House floor.

Young Americans: Most see Donald Trump as illegitimate president

Jermaine Anderson keeps going back to the same memory of Donald Trump, then a candidate for president of the United States, referring to some Mexican immigrants as rapists and murderers.

“You can’t be saying that (if) you’re the president,” says Anderson, a 21-year-old student from Coconut Creek, Florida.

That Trump is undeniably the nation’s 45th president doesn’t sit easily with young Americans like Anderson who are the nation’s increasingly diverse electorate of the future, according to a new poll. A majority of young adults — 57 percent — see Trump’s presidency as illegitimate, including about three-quarters of blacks and large majorities of Latinos and Asians, the GenForward poll found.

GenForward is a poll of adults age 18 to 30 conducted by the Black Youth Project at the University of Chicago with The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

A slim majority of young whites in the poll, 53 percent, consider Trump a legitimate president, but even among that group 55 percent disapprove of the job he’s doing, according to the survey.

“That’s who we voted for. And obviously America wanted him more than Hillary Clinton,” said Rebecca Gallardo, a 30-year-old nursing student from Kansas City, Missouri, who voted for Trump.

Trump’s legitimacy as president was questioned earlier this year by Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga.: “I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected. And they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.”

Trump routinely denies that and says he captured the presidency in large part by winning states such as Michigan and Wisconsin that Clinton may have taken for granted.

Overall, just 22 percent of young adults approve of the job he is doing as president, while 62 percent disapprove.

Trump’s rhetoric as a candidate and his presidential decisions have done much to keep the question of who belongs in America atop the news, though he’s struggling to accomplish some key goals. Powered by supporters chanting, “build the wall,” Trump has vowed to erect a barrier along the southern U.S. border and make Mexico pay for it — which Mexico refuses to do. Federal judges in three states have blocked Trump’s executive orders to ban travel to the U.S. from seven — then six — majority-Muslim nations.

In Honolulu, U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson this week cited “significant and unrebutted evidence of religious animus” behind the travel ban, citing Trump’s own words calling for “a complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”

And yes, Trump did say in his campaign announcement speech June 6, 2015: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best … They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” He went farther in subsequent statements, later telling CNN: “Some are good and some are rapists and some are killers.”

It’s extraordinary rhetoric for the leader of a country where by around 2020, half of the nation’s children will be part of a minority race or ethnic group, the Census Bureau projects. Non-Hispanic whites are expected to be a minority by 2044.

Of all of Trump’s tweets and rhetoric, the statements about Mexicans are the ones to which Anderson returns. He says Trump’s business background on paper is impressive enough to qualify him for the presidency. But he suggests that’s different than Trump earning legitimacy as president.

“I’m thinking, he’s saying that most of the people in the world who are raping and killing people are the immigrants. That’s not true,” said Anderson, whose parents are from Jamaica.

Megan Desrochers, a 21-year-old student from Lansing, Michigan, says her sense of Trump’s illegitimacy is more about why he was elected.

“I just think it was kind of a situation where he was voted in based on his celebrity status versus his ethics,” she said, adding that she is not necessarily against Trump’s immigration policies.

The poll participants said in interviews that they don’t necessarily vote for one party’s candidates over another’s, a prominent tendency among young Americans, experts say. And in the survey, neither party fares especially strongly.

Just a quarter of young Americans have a favorable view of the Republican Party, and 6 in 10 have an unfavorable view. Majorities of young people across racial and ethnic lines hold negative views of the GOP.

The Democratic Party performs better, but views aren’t overwhelmingly positive. Young people are more likely to have a favorable than an unfavorable view of the Democratic Party by a 47 percent to 36 percent margin. But just 14 percent say they have a strongly favorable view of the Democrats.

Views of the Democratic Party are most favorable among young people of color. Roughly 6 in 10 blacks, Asians and Latinos hold positive views of the party. Young whites are somewhat more likely to have unfavorable than favorable views, 47 percent to 39 percent.

As for Trump, 8 in 10 young people think he is doing poorly in terms of the policies he’s put forward and 7 in 10 have negative views of his presidential demeanor.

“I do not like him as a person,” says Gallardo of Trump. She nonetheless voted for Trump because she didn’t trust Clinton. “I felt like there wasn’t much choice.”

___

The poll of 1,833 adults age 18-30 was conducted Feb. 16 through March 6 using a sample drawn from the probability-based GenForward panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. young adult population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

The survey was paid for by the Black Youth Project at the University of Chicago, using grants from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Ford Foundation.

Respondents were first selected randomly using address-based sampling methods, and later interviewed online or by phone.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Ophthalmologists ‘disheartened’ by House advancing bill for optometrists to practice surgery

Cary Pigman, the Avon Park Republican and emergency care physician who chairs the Health Quality Subcommittee.

Optometrists enjoyed a narrow victory Wednesday in Florida’s renewed Eyeball Wars when a House committee advanced a bill to allow optometrists to perform certain types of eye surgery.

After a two-hour hearing, the House Health Quality Subcommittee approved HB 1037, sponsored by Rep. Manny Diaz and opposed by both the Florida Society of Ophthalmology and the American College of Surgeons.

Diaz, a Republican from Hialeah, argued the bill gives patients in rural areas better access to eye surgery, as well as helping lower-income patients since ophthalmologists rarely accept Medicaid.

“We have a responsibility to make sure everyone has access,” Diaz told the committee.

Dr. Ken Lawson, chair of the Florida Optometric Association, told lawmakers that the laser-based surgical procedures were non-invasive and did not involve actually cutting into the eye.

Ophthalmologists have always maintained that optometrists do not have the same medical training or qualifications to perform eye surgery.

For the past four years, optometrists and ophthalmologists have held a truce in the so-called “Eyeball Wars,” which optometrists are now actively seeking to break.

Signed into law in 2013 by Gov. Rick Scott, HB 239 had allowed optometrists to prescribe a limited number of oral medications and forbid them from prescribing Schedule I and II controlled substances. It also said optometrists must complete 20 hours of added training, pass an examination, and carry medical malpractice coverage at the same level as medical doctors. The bill also needed optometrists to report all adverse medical incidents – the same as ophthalmologists and other practitioners.

Optometrists would also have to refer patients with severe glaucoma to an ophthalmologist within 72 hours.

Dr. David Hoyt, executive director of the American College of Surgeons, sent a letter of protest Tuesday to Rep. Cary Pigman, the Avon Park Republican and emergency care physician who chairs the Health Quality Subcommittee, saying the bill worked against the “interest of patient safety and maintaining the highest standards of surgical care.”

Jason Goldman, Coral Springs-based physician who sits on the Florida medical Association Board of Governors argued in the hearing that Medicaid reimbursement is no excuse to allow optometrists – who are without the training and education required for ophthalmologists – to perform surgery.

Several Legislators opposing the bill echoed the same argument.

In a statement, Dr. Adam Katz, President of the Florida Society of Ophthalmology said he was “disheartened” by the vote.

“The bill language, created without the consultation of a single Ophthalmologist, allows Optometrists to bypass medical school and begin performing surgery after a brief period of instruction,” Katz said. “The first patient an Optometrist performs surgery on will be their first experience with a live patient. This puts the health and well-being of all Floridians in jeopardy and drastically lowers the standard of care our patients deserve.

“If an optometrist wants to perform surgery,” he added, “their first stop should be medical school, not the Legislature.”

Joe Ayoub wins solid victory to return as Safety Harbor mayor

Joe Ayoub will again serve as Safety Harbor mayor, after decisively defeating City Council member Janet Hooper by more than 30 points in Tuesday’s municipal elections. He will replace Mayor Andy Steingold, who had retired from local politics.

“We have a special city and I absolutely love serving our community,” Ayoub said. “it is humbling and an extreme honor to become your next Mayor. I am ready to roll my sleeves up and get to work to protect our small-town charm and give a voice to all of our residents.”

Unofficial results from the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections show Ayoub received 3,001 votes, just under 66 percent of the 4,579 votes cast.

In a statement Tuesday evening, Ayoub vowed to continue a “thriving downtown, a waterfront park that is usable and attractive for all residents” as well as “laser focused on keeping taxes low and our spending is in check. I am looking forward to working with the Commission to improve Safety Harbor for all residents.”

Nick Janovsky, Ayoub’s campaign manager, added: “Safety Harbor voters have spoken with a resounding message and they want a fiscal hawk with a proven track record who has a vision for progress as their Mayor by electing Joe Ayoub with 66 percent.

“I’m proud of the issues based campaign Joe Ayoub ran and his hard work to give all residents a voice in city hall,” Janovsky continued. “Joe is a rising star and I can’t wait to see the results he brings Safety Harbor and Pinellas County in the future.”

From March 2007 to January 2013, Ayoub was a City Council member, before chosen as mayor, a job he held until March 2014, losing re-election to Steingold.

In his bid to return to City Hall, Ayoub received bipartisan support, earning endorsements from both former Florida chief financial officer Alex Sink, a Democrat and Neil Brickfield, a Republican.

As a Countryside High School graduate, Ayoub earned an accounting degree from the University of Florida and a master’s degree from the University of South Florida. The 26-year Safety Harbor resident serves as CFO at Data Blue.

Minority Whip Steny Hoyer returns to Florida for Charlie Crist fundraiser March 24

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer will be back in Florida later this month as special guest at a fundraiser for St. Petersburg Democrat Charlie Crist.

Hosted by Kathy and Joe Saunders, JoAnn and John Nestor, Janette and Tom Carey and Watson Haynes, the reception will be Friday, March 24, at the Saunders’ St. Petersburg home at 4916 62nd Ave. S. The $500-a-ticket event begins 5 p.m.

Hoyer represents Maryland’s 5th Congressional District and has served as House Majority Leader (2007-11) and House Majority Whip (2003-2007). The last time he was in Central Florida was October in Sanford to stump for Democrat Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid.

Crist, the freshman lawmaker representing Pinellas County’s 13th Congressional District, sits on the House Financial Services and Science, Space and Technology committees.

RSVPs are available online; for more information, contact Evan Lawlor at Evan@CharlieCrist.com or (202) 741-7215.

House committee passes military Occupational Opportunity Act

A House subcommittee unanimously passed a bill to help service members and spouses find and keep jobs when they relocate to Florida.

HB 615, known as Occupational Opportunity Act, sailed through the Florida Careers & Competition Subcommittee Tuesday with a bipartisan vote. Next stop for the bill is the full Commerce Committee.

Palm Beach Republican Paul Renner filed HB 615, with Jeff Brandes of St. Petersburg introducing the Senate version.

The Occupational Opportunity Act seeks to expand opportunities for the military community in Florida by lengthening the time an occupational license stays valid after a service member retires or a spouse moves into the state.

If passed, HB 615 would waive licensing fees for new in-state applicants among those in the military community.

Concerned Veterans for America Coalitions Director Diego Echeverri calls the bill a “huge step in ensuring Florida veterans and service members have a fair transition back into their civilian life after returning home from protecting American freedoms abroad.”

Echeverri says HB 615 paves the way “for greater economic opportunity” for millions in the state’s military community.

 

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