Teen’s health struggle makes her a national voice

When Mark and Kelly Dees of Land O’ Lakes decided to name their unborn daughter Hope, it was a sign of their unwavering optimism despite devastating news. What was supposed to be an exciting reveal of their baby’s gender, soon became a moment of sadness after Hope was diagnosed with congenital heart defects. “We were told by the first doctor that she wouldn’t live to see her first … [Read more...]

Commissioners make connections at White House

Pasco County commissioners Kathryn Starkey and Jack Mariano attended a special White House conference to promote communications between the state’s county commissions and federal agencies. The Florida County Commissioners’ White House Conference met on July 27, and included about 120 county commissioners and staff from all over the state. It was the second in what is planned as a series of … [Read more...]

Student loan debt is affecting housing market

Student loan debt nationally is a staggering $1.3 trillion dollars, or about 10 percent of all outstanding debt. For seven out of 10 students, repaying student loans can be a nearly insurmountable obstacle that is altering career decisions and delaying the milestone of buying a home. Nationally, the average student loan debt is about $30,000. Across Florida, the average is about … [Read more...]

Congresswoman plans forum to discuss new Cuba relations

Of all the states directly affected by the change in diplomatic policy with Cuba, none are likely affected more than Florida. U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, is planning a community forum in early 2015 that she hopes will help community leaders and residents learn more about what those changes mean as President Obama begins to "normalize" relations with Cuba. "We will engage the entire … [Read more...]

Mixed local reaction to new defense spending bill

The U.S. House passed the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act during a lame-duck session, but not all lawmakers are in support. U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland, said the bill presented a "troubling dilemma for me and my colleagues." "After speaking with local veterans and military leaders in my community, I cannot vote for reduced benefits and a reduction in a pay raise for our service … [Read more...]

Local reaction split on president’s immigration plan

The debate on whether President Barack Obama has the authority to enact his own immigration reform without the help of Congress extends beyond Washington, D.C., and is drawing both criticism and praise from lawmakers here at home as well. But which side each congressman takes depends on what side of the aisle he or she is on. U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis waited until Obama's presidential address … [Read more...]

Castor wants to restore voting rights to felons

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor has sent a letter to outgoing U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, urging the Justice Department to conduct an inquiry related to civil rights restoration in Florida. The state sees most non-violent offenders never regaining their civil rights and voting rights, due to multi-year and bureaucratic requirements imposed by the Florida Clemency Board, Castor said. “I believe … [Read more...]

HCC picks up federal grant to help create technical jobs

Hillsborough Community College is picking up a $350,000 economic development grant that federal officials say will help create a new training initiative for jobs in both the transportation and diesel technologies sectors. The grant comes from the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration, and will specifically fund renovations for 7,800 square feet of existing space that … [Read more...]

Bilirakis joins push to get flood insurance bill moving

Just days after his Democratic counterparts sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner asking that he clear the way for flood insurance reform, U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, is doing the same with his own letter that has received a little bit of bipartisan support. “We have heard from thousands of Tampa Bay residents who are deeply concerned that these increases will create a … [Read more...]