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Pigman touts raises for cops, first responders


Published:   |   Updated: March 12, 2013 at 05:36 PM
SEBRING -

State Rep. Cary Pigman, R-Avon Park, hopes to offer raises to more than just teachers.

"If the budget would allow, I would like to see modest income increases for our law enforcement professionals, first responders, and other state and local government employees in addition to teachers," said Pigman.

"We've all had several years of belt tightening due to the tough economic times. I hope there is some improvement. However, we must always be careful stewards of the people of Florida's money," Pigman said.

On Tuesday, House Speaker Will Weatherford declared firm opposition to Obamacare.

"The question of expanding Medicaid eligibility for non-disabled adults without children with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty limit is one of three broad questions that the Florida Senate and House will need to answer," Pigman said. "The other two questions involve health insurance exchanges and the myriad of issues involved in conforming state health insurance laws, regulations and practices with the federally mandated Affordable Care Act."

Pigman is a member of the House Select Committee on the Affordable Care Act, which on Monday rejected Gov. Rick Scott's proposal to accept the expansion for three years before revisiting the plan.

Weatherford empathized with those who cannot afford health insurance, recalling his parent's struggles when his brother Peter fought and lost a battle with cancer. However, he said the federal approach "crosses the line of the proper role of government" and is destined to fail.

"The Florida Legislatures are still taking testimony on these issues," Pigman said.

The House passed an elections overhaul bill Tuesday, a mea culpa for lawmakers going too far in 2011 with a bill that reduced early voting days and is now blamed for some of the 2012 election snafus.

"I think the Legislature has some responsibility for some of the challenges we had in 2012," Weatherford said. "I readily admit that, and that's why we passed it on the first day."

House members voted 118-1 – the only dissenting vote came from Rep. John Tobia, R-Melbourne Beach – to approve HB 7013, which includes some of the least controversial changes to the state's elections law. It would allow supervisors of elections to hold up to 14 days of early voting – virtually all of them currently offer no more than eight days – and would increase the number of sites eligible to serve as early-voting locations.

The bill also would limit the first version of ballot summaries on constitutional amendments proposed by the Legislature to 75 words, the same as citizen initiatives.

Weatherford supported legislation to prohibit public colleges and universities in Florida from denying in-state tuition to state residents based solely on their parents' U.S. citizenship status.

Among Pigman's bills is HB 81, which would screen newborns for critical congenital heart disease.

HB 1129 provides that infants born alive during or immediately after attempted abortion are entitled to same rights, powers and privileges as any other child born alive.

Sen. Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring has filed 11 bills and has co-sponsored four more.

One calls for background screenings of non-instructional contractors on school grounds. The Department of Education would be required to create a uniform, statewide ID badge to be worn by contract workers on campus.

Another Grimsley bill, SB 758, gives grandparents visitation rights with grandchildren.

A third bill allows a city or town council to hold meetings with the county commissioners at the county seat. Current law requires municipal councils to meet within their jurisdictions.

Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, is sponsoring a bill that gives residents who allege negligence or a violation of residents' rights the right to sue nursing homes.

SB 874, by Galvano, would prohibit open parties if a minor is in possession of or consuming alcohol or drugs.

SB 52, restricting texting while driving, is before the Senate Communications, Energy and Public Utilities Committee. At its last stop, Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, introduced an amendment to allow texting while stopped.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this story.


gpinnell@highlandstoday.com (863) 386-5828

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