Kathy Castor Archives - Page 2 of 32 - SaintPetersBlog

In Tampa, public officials blast education bill, urge Rick Scott veto

A host of political and education issues came together Tuesday in West Tampa to trash the massive $419 million public education bill that GOP lawmakers unveiled and passed in the final days of the Legislative Session.

“This is the mother of all education bills, ” said Rep. Sean Shaw. The Tampa Democrat was referring to House Bill 7069, a 278-page conforming bill agreed to in secret and barely surviving a vote in the Senate before the Legislature adjourned earlier this month.

HB 7069, a massive 278-page education conforming bill that was agreed to in secret, barely survived a full vote in the Senate. Public school officials throughout the state have blasted the bill for its enormous incentives for privately run charter schools.

As a freshman who just completed his first session in the Florida House, Shaw said that the way he thought things were supposed to work in Tallahassee is that a bill is introduced in a committee and goes through other committees. Then, if it survives that process, the bill is ultimately voted on in the House and/or Senate.

Not this time.

“Not only is it filled with bad policy, the procedure with which it was done was way out of wack,” Shaw lamented.

Three members of the Hillsborough County School Board — Susan Valdes, Sally Harris and Cindy Stuart — all appeared at the news conference held at West Tampa Elementary.

On Monday, the Florida School Boards Association became the latest organization calling on Gov. Rick Scott to veto HB 7069. In addition to criticizing the lack of transparency in the crafting of the bill, the FSBA have an issue on how Title 1 dollars would be spent if the bill passed.

“The way that the state has now taken a federal law and reregulated it basically at the state level is going to siphon millions and millions of dollars away from our schools that have the highest concentration of poverty,” said a concerned Jeff Eakins, the superintendent of the Hillsborough County School District.

Another controversial provision allocates $140 million for the House’s “schools of hope” proposal, aimed mostly at encouraging charter schools with a track record of helping academically struggling students. The measure would help open branches of charter schools near traditional schools that continually do poorly on state report cards.

“So if we’re going to incentive the charter school that works down the street from a ‘failing school,’ what happens to the failing school that we’ve given no funds to get better?” asked a frustrated Shaw. “What happens in the next five years? The next 10 years?

“This harmful education bill continues to divert our tax dollars from our public schools, many going to for-profit corporations that act as charter schools,” said Tampa-area Democratic Congresswoman Kathy Castor.

Mindy Taylor, an advocate for the Alliance for Public Schools, says her organization is most concerned about parental engagement, increasing funding for public schools, and maintaining local control of schools.

“The provision in HB 7069 violate each of these priorities,” Taylor said.

Eakins stated that Hillsborough receives about $8 million annually for a recruitment retention program to lure nationally certified teachers to teach in some of the county’s poorest area. “That’s $8 million we will not be able to use in that particular program,” he said. “The impact is going to be real.”

Other provisions in the bill include additional funding for social services at a limited number of traditional public schools that are failing, an expanded bonus program for teachers and principals, restrictions on teacher tenure-like policies, a recess mandate for elementary schools, and the elimination of a required high school math exam.

A report from POLITICO on Monday indicated that Scott may, in fact, veto HB 7069.

“We’ve got to make sure we properly fund education, whether we have a great state college system, we have a great K-12 system,” the governor said. “We’ve got to continue to do that.”

Charlie Crist, Kathy Castor, Gwen Graham endorse ‘rockstar’ Darden Rice for re-election

St. Petersburg City Council Chair Darden Rice’s re-election effort received a boost Monday with major endorsements from three Florida Democratic leaders.

On Monday, Rice received thumbs-up from former Governor and hometown Congressman Charlie Crist, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, and Congresswoman Gwen Graham, currently a Democratic candidate for governor.

“Darden is a rockstar, and I’m proud to call her a friend. We’ve worked together for years to make St. Petersburg a better place to live, work and play,” said Crist who represents St. Petersburg as part of Florida’s 13th Congressional District. “She has an impressive track record creating innovative solutions to the issues facing our community. We need her leadership on council, and she has my steadfast support.”

“Council Chairwoman Rice is committed to improving the quality of life for residents of St. Petersburg and Tampa Bay,” Castor said. ” I have great respect for her leadership on transportation and a clean and healthy environment – both of which are key to our economic success. That’s why we need her to continue her leadership on the St. Petersburg City Council for the next four years.”

“I’m proud to support Darden. She’s exactly the kind of leader we need in St. Petersburg,” Graham said. “She sets a strong example of thoughtful and courageous leadership that local government leaders around the state can look to and emulate.”

“I’m honored to have the endorsement of these special and dedicated Florida leaders who look out for our working families. ” Darden said. “We’re very fortunate to have such dedicated leaders fighting for us in Washington. I’m excited to continue our work together.”

On PBS NewsHour, Kathy Castor says in last 24 hours GOP health care bill has ‘gotten even worse’

House Republicans plan on a second go around Thursday with the American Health Care Act. it’s anyone’s guess whether it will pass.

Whether it will pass is anyone’s guess.

On Wednesday’s PBS NewsHour, anchor Judy Woodruff interviewed Tampa Democrat Kathy Castor on her thoughts about the GOP proposal.

Castor told Woodruff that over the past 24 hours “the bill has gotten even worse,” specifically when it added provisions that can allow states to make it prohibitive for patients with pre-existing conditions to get health care coverage.

Watch below (Castor’s interview comes at the 5:40 mark).

Sandy Murman confirms she will switch seats to run for a four-year term in countywide seat

Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman confirmed to SPB on Monday that she will leave her District 1 seat in 2018 to run for another four-year term in District 7, the countywide seat that will be open with the previously announced retirement of Al Higginbotham.

News of Murman’s switch was first reported by the Tampa Bay Times William March.

In switching seats, Murman becomes the second current member of the BOCC to announce that they hope to extend their political career by running for a different seat. District 5 Commissioner Ken Hagan is term-limited out next year, but announced last month that he will run for the District 2 seat in 2018.

Murman disputes the notion that she is pushing the boundaries of term limits by running for the District 7 seat, since she will, in fact, be leaving her District 1 seat less than two years after being re-elected to it last fall.

“With so many major projects and issues that we have tackled on the County Commission, I want to see them through to the end,” she said on Monday, emphasizing transportation and economic development as being two such issues. “I just want to make sure that there’s continuity as we go forward.”

A third BOCC board member, District 2 Commissioner Victor Crist, may also run for a different four-year term next year. He is term-limited from running again and is eyeing a run at the District 5 seat that Hagan will be term-limited out of.

The opening in District 1 could pave the way for a Democrat to join the board, which is currently 5-2 Republicans to Democrats.

The district is considered a moderate seat that was held by Kathy Castor from 2002-2006, followed by Rose Ferlita from 2006-2010. It encompasses South Tampa (where the last three members have lived), West Tampa, Town ‘N’ Country, Egypt Lake and other parts of Northeast Hillsborough, as well as parts of South Hillsborough County. Among those strongly considered to be looking at running for the seat is Janet Cruz, the Democratic House Minority Leader in Tallahassee who is term limited out of her HD 62 seat next year.

Murman, a former state legislator, defeated Democrat John Dingfelder for the open District 1 seat in 2010. She then had to run again in 2012, where she won easily without an opponent. She won again last fall, defeating Democrat Jeff Zampitella.

Stop using divisive term ‘sanctuary city’ Kathy Castor tells immigration advocates

In only the past few weeks, U.S. immigration officers arrested 367 undocumented immigrants.

But Newsweek reports they weren’t just the“bad hombres” President Donald Trump said were the priority for removing from the country. In some cases, individuals were arrested for offenses such as driving under the influence or possessing marijuana.

“It appears that some of the mean-spirited rhetoric out of the Trump administration has emboldened certain immigration agents to act outside of their typical powers, and we really need to hear that if you of these cases locally,” Tampa Congresswoman Kathy Castor told several dozen activists and citizens who jammed into the Blind Tiger Cafe on Ybor City’s 7th Avenue Wednesday morning.

When an audience member talked about a local detention that lacked specifics, Castor said she would need more information before acting.

“That’s the only way that I’m empowered to ask Secretary Kelly and say,’ they’ve overstepped their bounds,'” she said, referring to John Kelly, who heads the Department of Homeland Security. 

Castor added that while she’s heard about DHS taking a harder line against undocumented immigrants, she was not aware of any such actions taking place in her District, which encompasses Hillsborough County.

“That’s why it’s really important to let me know if you hear those kinds of things happening,” she said.

Regarding the issue of sanctuary cities and/or counties, Castor told the crowd they should stop using that phrase, as it was intentionally divisive. The loosely defined term is best described as local government limiting cooperation with the federal government to help undocumented immigrants avoid deportation.

“There’s a lot of confusion and emotion around the term,” Castor said. “I think it’s a trap. I think it was a term that was created to divide people and to demonize diverse areas.”

The Tampa Democrat said the real question to ask is what are the responsibilities of the local law enforcement compared to federal officers.

“Their responsibility is not to enforce federal immigration law, and we wouldn’t want our tax dollars to be spent on that. We want our local law enforcement officials focused on local crime,” she said of both Tampa Police and Hillsborough County Sheriff Deputies.

Castor said she strongly disagreed with the Trump administration’s potential plan to withhold federal grants to cities saying they will not detain undocumented immigrants using requests called detainers.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri agrees. He recently told WTSP-10 News that courts have said that his department can’t legally keep an inmate beyond their court-ordered incarceration.

“That’s not something I get to decide, is that, yes, people who are in this country illegally do have constitutional rights. Like it or not. That’s a fact. And that’s the law,” Gualtieri said. “If somebody walks in front of me right now and tells me that they are here in this country is illegally, there’s nothing I can do about it. We have no authority, we have no laws, we have no jurisdiction, and there’s nothing we can do.”

“There is a dichotomy between the responsibilities of local law enforcement and the responsibilities of our federal authorities,” Castor said.

Regarding the issue of skilled “merit-based” immigration, Castor decried the fact that our universities recruit talented students from overseas, and yet the law doesn’t allow them to get on a path to citizenship after graduating. Our current legal immigration system favors family-based migration. Concurrently, the visa lottery system allows 55,000 immigrants into the country annually.

Krishna Kalyan Thatavarthy, an engagement lead at Citi Bank, asked Castor to support a bill sponsored by Utah Republican Jason Chaffetz to eliminate the per-country numerical limitation for employment-based immigrants. Thatavarthy is from India and says he’s been waiting for 17 years to get a green card.

“The average wait time for a skilled immigrant from India is 20 to 70 years,” Thatavarthy said, stunning the audience. “When you are hired based off your skill, why do you differentiate based off your country of birth?” he asked, adding that a high-skilled immigrant from the Philippines with the same skill set as himself could get a green card in a year-and-a-half.

“Does this make any sense?” Castor asked rhetorically after hearing from Thatavarthy. One reason that particular piece of legislation may be stalled, she added, is the fear that if it’s removed from a greater comprehensive immigration package, there would be even less incentive from some lawmakers to support a more encompassing bill.

Meanwhile, a memo issued Tuesday by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions calls for federal attorneys to consider prosecution of anyone harboring undocumented immigrants, with priority given to violent cases and those that involve transporting or shielding three or more undocumented immigrants. Sessions also instructed the Justice Department to pursue felony charges when applicable for immigrants trying to enter the U.S. illegally on multiple occasions.

And about the much-hyped border wall along the Mexican border, which the president said on the campaign trail would be paid for by the Mexican government?

The Trump administration said they will request immediate funding to build the wall in the upcoming appropriations bill, which needs approval by April 28.

Castor predicted a “very good chance” that Democrats will block that funding, but expects it to be requested again in another appropriations bill later this summer.

Only 7 members of Florida’s congressional delegation hosting town halls during Easter break

(Updated) Gainesville Republican U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho held a raucous town hall meeting Monday night, as he was jeered by members of the audience before he finished his opening statement.

“I really, really expected them to be a little more civil,” Yoho to the Gainesville Sun after the event.“This was the rowdiest crowd.”

Similar statements have been made by congressional Republicans around the country in 2017, as angry Democrats have crowded town halls in some of the most conservative parts of the country, expressing their unhappiness about GOP plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, issues with the Trump administration, or other events since the election.

Yoho is scheduled to go back out on the road Tuesday night, where he’ll host another town hall meeting in Palatka.

However, most members of Florida’s congressional delegation don’t have any town halls scheduled over their two week break which began on Monday. According to the website townhallproject.com, only seven of Florida’s 27 Representatives have such events planned in April.

However, that doesn’t mean their staying idle during their Easter recess.

“The Congressman is in the district throughout the break,” said Gus Bilirakis spokesperson Elena Hernandez. “He’s spending a majority of the next couple of weeks meeting with constituents, holding open office hours, visiting local businesses, hosting a student government roundtable. Also he’s meeting with Pasco County officials, local doctors, touring a substance abuse center, and hosting a Veterans Resource Fair next week.”

Polk County Republican Dennis Ross was scheduled to return on Tuesday from an official congressional delegation trip to Kuwait and Iraq, where he met with members of the Florida National Guard stationed in Kuwait, as well as with the U.S. Ambassadors to Kuwait and Iraq and other government officials.

Ross spokesperson Joni Schockley adds that Ross has “multiple meetings scheduled throughout the district during the next two weeks.

Tampa Representative Kathy Castor  appeared at the USF College of Medicine on Monday, where she met with scientists to denounce President Trump’s proposed 18 percent cut to the National Institutes of Health. She also held a town hall at the University Area Community Center last Friday, according to her district director, Marcia Mejia.

Charlie Crist will be holding a veterans roundtable, walking in the march for science, and speaking at the rededication of the Jordan Park complex in St. Petersburg, according to spokesperson Erin Moffet.

Florida District 11 Republican Dan Webster is one of the seven Florida congressional members who is holding a town hall this week.  He held two on Monday.

The other members holding town halls this week include Ron DeSantis, Matt Gaetz, Darren Soto, Brian Mast, Al Lawson and Yoho.

Representatives for Vern Buchanan did not respond to our requests for comment.

Kathy Castor agrees with Hillary Clinton; misogyny played a role in her loss

In her first interview since she lost the race for president in November, Hillary Clinton said last week that “Certainly, misogyny played a role.”

“I mean, that just has to be admitted,” she told New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristoff last Thursday night. “And why and what the underlying reasons were is what I’m trying to parse out myself.”

Congresswoman Kathy Castor agrees.

“What struck me is some interviews on TV during the campaign folks out in Pennsylvania where young people would say, ‘I don’t believe in having a female president.’ I was taken aback,” the Tampa Democrat said Monday “I don’t hear a lot of young women saying that ever.”

Castor believes “there is something that permeates this opposition to female as executives. You see it especially in corporate boardrooms.”

Castor has served in Congress for 10 years. Before that, she served on the Hillsborough County of Commission for one four-year term. When asked if she herself has had to deal with sexism in Washington or Tampa, she says, “a little bit.”

Castor serves on the Energy and Power Subcommittee in Congress, the only female on the thirty-three member large board. When she was recently called upon to ask a question, she says was addressed as “Mr. Castor.”

Meanwhile, as with most congressional Democrats, Castor came out last Friday in support of the President’s cruise missile attacks on Syria, two days after President Bashar al-Assad unleashed chemical weapons on his own people. In a statement, Castor added that she wants the president to confer with Congress on any other possible military action.

When asked what she would like to happen on dealing with Assad, Castor said a plan of action with our allies would be a good start.

“The Obama administration did a pretty good job of building that coalition to squeeze ISIS and now the pressure has to be brought to bear against Russia and Iran, who are supporting this brutal dictator in Assad,” she said. “It’s not our place to promote regime change on our own, but working with our allies in the Middle East and all across the world, really bringing pressure to bear on Assad and Iran and Russia.”

Charlie Crist, Kathy Castor want Congress consulted on military force in Syria

The two Tampa Bay-area Democratic members of Congress — Kathy Castor and Charlie Crist — say they support President Donald Trump‘s military action in Syria Thursday night. both say that the House of Representatives should immediately reconvene so that members can debate the use of military force there.

But both say the House of Representatives should reconvene immediately so members can debate the use of military force there.

That seems doubtful, perhaps, as the House is breaking Thursday for a two-week Easter recess.

“The Tomahawk missile strike on the Syrian air base was an important and targeted response to Bashar Assad’s use of chemical weapons,” Castor said. “Russia and Iran should be held accountable as well for their support of Assad and his war on the Syrian people.”

“The continued atrocities committed by Bashar al-Assad against innocent men, women, and most horrifyingly, children and infants, are an assault on humanity and must be stopped,” said Crist. “Last night’s targeted airstrikes were a proportional and appropriate response, making clear that these war crimes will not go unanswered.”

Both Democratic lawmakers say that the Constitution puts the responsibility to declare war with the Congress, and that the President should make his case before them if he is prepared to engage further in Syria.

‎”Congressional leaders, the Trump Administration and Obama Administration have been derelict in following the requirements of the Constitution and law for a formal Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF),” said Castor. “The military strike on Syria and ongoing war on ISIS should prod policymakers to return to Washington and adopt a new AUMF.”

“Congress must also do its part and return immediately from recess to debate an Authorization for Use of Military Force to determine a comprehensive strategy for the United States and our allies,” said Crist. “We need clear objectives to end this crisis to protect our troops and the Syrian people.”

Castor has previously criticized Barack Obama for not getting an Authorization for Use of Military Force in engaging in battle with the Islamic State, criticism that some other Democrats made as well, none more loudly than Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine.

Congressional Democrats as a whole seem to be parroting a consistent line Friday, praising Trump for the cruise missile attacks on a Syrian military base, but insisting he go before the Congress to get authorization before any further action.

Citing rising poll numbers, Florida congressional Dems urge Rick Scott to expand Medicaid

When Congressional Republicans last month attempted to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, they heard from several GOP governors, who warned them not to go ahead with a plan to cut more than $800 billion from Medicaid, saying it would have a deleterious effect on voters.

Now, with new polling indicating that Medicaid has never been more popular, Florida Congressional Democrats are finding the inspiration to ask Gov. Rick Scott to again consider expanding Medicaid.

“A number of states that had not previously expanded Medicaid are now considering expansion and we strongly urge you and the Florida Legislature to do so too,” begins the letter penned by Sen. Bill Nelson, and Congress members Charlie Crist, Kathy Castor, Ted Deutch, Alcee Hastings, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Lois Frankel, Fredericka Wilson, Al Lawson, Stephanie Murphy and Darren Soto.

The letter comes on the same that a new poll conducted by the University of Miami shows that two-thirds of Floridians, or 67 percent, say they favor Medicaid expansion.

Infamously, Scott said in 2013 that he initially supported expanding Medicaid in Florida, but then quickly reversed course and every year since has steadfastly maintained his opposition, despite the business community rallying behind such a move.

In 2015, the Florida Senate approved a hybrid version of Medicaid expansion; the House overwhelmingly rejected the proposal.

State officials said that plan would have covered as many as 650,000 residents.

Here’s the text of the letter sent to Scott:

Dear Governor Scott:

A number of states that had not previously expanded Medicaid are now considering expansion and we strongly urge you and the Florida Legislature to do so too. Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia already have expanded Medicaid to provide affordable health care to working families and students. Floridians should not be placed at a disadvantage compared to other states. Indeed, a survey published today by the University of Maryland’s Program for Public Consultation found that 67 percent of Floridians support moving forward with expansion to bring $66 billion in federal funding between the years of 2013-2022 to our state. Medicaid expansion will boost jobs and enable Florida to move to a more efficient health care delivery model. In fact, it is estimated that the state would have seen $8.9 billion in increased economic activity and more than 71,000 new jobs in 2016 alone. It not too late to chart a better course for the State of Florida.

Now that Speaker Ryan has declared, “[the Affordable Care Act] is the law of the land,” we should all be doing our part to expand coverage to the uninsured, improve the quality of health plans, and lower costs for everyone. Expanding eligibility to all Floridians with annual income below 138 percent of the federal poverty level–less than $30,000 per year for a family of three–is the fiscally-responsible thing to do not only for a huge number of Floridians, but also for consumers who use Healthcare.gov, for businesses who provide coverage to their employees, and for hospitals who are charged with providing care without regard to a patient’s coverage status. Insurance premiums for Americans who have private insurance are generally lower in states that have expanded Medicaid. Private insurance costs are higher in states that did not expand Medicaid because of costs of sick and uninsured are transferred to the private insurance pool according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Coverage is key, rather than costly and inefficient emergency room care and delayed treatment.

With years of Medicaid expansion already underway in other parts of the country, we have seen that other hard working Americans have benefited from improvements in health care quality and affordability through expansion. Medicaid expansion in Florida would provide over 800,000 of our fellow Floridians with access to primary care. Preventive services like screening for HIV, cancer, and heart disease will save lives, help keep our state’s residents healthier, and improve management of their chronic conditions. Providing access to Medicaid will also improve risk pools in the private market, a shift that has saved consumers in expansion states seven percent on their monthly premiums. Floridians deserve these benefits just like any other American.

Medicaid expansion also will reduce the unpaid medical bills owed to hospitals that put pressure on the state budget and our safety net hospitals funded with taxpayer dollars. Refusing to cover working Floridians through Medicaid expansion does not reduce our state’s health care costs, it just passes them on through rising premiums and tax hikes. With a third of our state’s resources already devoted to health care, the influx of $50 billion in federal funding would safeguard services from the draconian cuts currently under consideration by the state legislature. Medicaid expansion would help the state avoid the rising costs brought by Zika, the opioid crisis and mental health needs.

Throughout your time as the chief executive of our state, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has shown a willingness to work with you to find a path forward that will expand coverage to hard-working, able-bodied adults in our state. States with conservative governors around the nation have arrived at solutions that expanded Medicaid while upholding their conservative principles. If you miss this opportunity, you will chart a fiscally-irresponsible path that will cost our state billions, cost our state jobs and sacrifice the health and well-being of all Floridians.

Thankfully, Republicans in Congress abandoned their recent proposal to rip coverage away from millions of Americans including children, the disabled, and our neighbors with Alzheimer’s in skilled nursing. Like most Floridians, we realized that this was not an honest attempt at improving health care in America. Rather than continuing political games over the Affordable Care Act, we ask that you move to develop a plan for Medicaid expansion in our state to benefit the health, financial security, and well-being of all Floridians.



Hillsborough moves forward on ferry project that may use BP settlement funds

While the Cross-Bay Ferry reportedly carries nearly 8,000 passengers in March as the six-month pilot project ends later this month, Hillsborough County Commissioners approved a proposal Wednesday to move ahead on a public-private partnership plan to take passengers from South County to MacDill Air Force Base, then to St. Petersburg.

The plan would include using the $22 million settlement money the county received from the BP oil spill while building a marina that could be used to service the ferry in southeastern Hillsborough County.

Commissioner Ken Hagan said he’s wanted to present the plan since the country received the $22.8 million in BP funds in the summer of 2015.

“I want to stress that this agenda item does not lock us into a marina or a ferry agreement,” he told his colleagues. “It is simply considering a different model or approach in an attempt to achieve a long-term operating and capital agreement.”

The plan would also include hiring a consultant who works on ferry projects to study where the public marina should be located.

It’s been nearly four years since attorney and public transportation advocate Ed Turanchik held a news conference with officials from Seattle-based HMS Ferries and South Swell Development Group to discuss a public-private partnership that would initiate Tampa Bay’s first commuter, recreational and tourist passenger ferry service.

The original idea came from county studies showing that thousands of commuters who live in South Hillsborough County and drive to MacDill Air Force Base on a daily basis would take a ferry service if it were an option.

Initial costs for the project were estimated between $11.5-$16 million, with more recent projections doubling that amount. In 2014, Tampa U.S. Representative Kathy Castor procured a $4.8 million Federal Transit Administration grant, bringing momentum to the plan.

But the project bogged down when Turanchik’s originally proposed site for the terminal in Southeastern Hillsborough County – the Fred and Idah Schultz Preserve just north of Apollo Beach – drew opposition from some environmental groups.

County Administrator Mike Merrill said that the original interim agreement with HMS & South Swell “was created with a different approach,” but said that it was time now to look at a different model “for a lot of reasons.”

The proposals (the board separated the vote into three separate motions) were all approved unanimously, 6-0 (Commissioner Al Higginbotham was absent).

“We’re getting to a point where we can make hard and fast decisions,” said Commissioner Sandy Murman, who has been a strong advocate for the ferry going back to 2013.  She also extolled the success of the Cross-Bay Ferry, which sold a record 7,990 tickets in March, a 31-percent over February, which was the previous high water mark since the six-month pilot project running from Tampa to St. Petersburg began in November.

Commissioner Victor Crist said he and his constituents in Northern Hillsborough County like the idea of a municipal marina. “It could be a very lucrative venture where we could very easily double of triple our investment,” he said.

The board also approved an amendment from Commission Chair Stacy White to direct staff to incorporate federal funds in the funding mechanism.

Commissioners had already said they were willing to drop the $4.8 million FTA grant because of the excessive bureaucracy required to accept those funds, causing a delay in the project.

Murman said it was worth the request because she believes the Trump administration is going to introduce a federal infrastructure plan “without strings.”

“If he does that and this does qualify, we may want to go that route,” she said, admitting that she didn’t know for certain.

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