Bill helps small businesses thrive
From the charming downtown of Tarpon Springs to the award-winning beaches of St. Pete Beach, it's no surprise that Pinellas County is one of the top tourist destinations along the Gulf Coast. With more than 15 million visitors each year that create more than $10 billion in economic impact, the tourism industry is the backbone of the region's economy.
However, a 2015 decision by the National Labor Relations Board that expanded what it means to be a "joint employer" has these businesses in a state of confusion.
Part of what makes our tourism industry so successful is the ability of business owners to contract with companies outside their areas of expertise. For instance, if a restaurant's dishwasher breaks, the owner will bring in a mechanic to ensure a speedy fix. Or a resort owner might hire a laundry service to wash all of its napkins, tablecloths, towels and sheets.
Previously, businesses were only joint employers if they exercised "direct" or "immediate" control over another company's employees. But with the NLRB's new standard, even "potential" or "indirect" control of an employee could entangle an owner in a labor-related complaint. Now, these mutually beneficial relationships could put a business owner at risk of a hefty lawsuit.
Luckily, Democrats and Republicans in Congress have banded together to provide clarity to our small businesses by introducing the Save Local Business Act (HR 3441). Rep. Charlie Crist, D-St. Petersburg, has always been a friend to the travel and tourism community in Pinellas County and throughout the state of Florida. Hopefully, he will add his name to this commonsense legislation and help our community continue to thrive.
Keith Overton, president, TradeWinds Island Resorts, St. Pete Beach
With Hurricane Irma approaching, Florida Power & Light Co. has activated its emergency response plan, and we urge our customers to finalize their plans. Despite the fact that last year FPL customers in Central and North Florida were significantly impacted by Hurricanes Hermine and Matthew, we estimate that approximately half of the nearly 10 million people we serve have yet to experience a Florida hurricane.
Here's what we're doing to prepare:
• As of Wednesday, we have several thousand workers dedicated to planning and preparing to respond to Irma, and this number will continue to grow.
• We are working actively with other utilities across the country to secure and preposition additional resources for Irma's projected landfall in our service area.
• We have activated backup suppliers and equipment vendors, as well as more than 20 staging sites where restoration crews, trucks and equipment are stationed.
Since 2006, we have invested more than $3 billion to build a stronger, smarter electric grid, and we continue to leverage new technology to enhance our storm response. The investments we've made in recent years have placed FPL in the best possible position to restore power to our customers faster following a storm.
Even so, hurricanes are devastating forces of nature, and the winds, torrential rain and storm surge that Irma is forecast to bring are likely to cause widespread and prolonged outages. Additionally, should Irma's worst fears be realized, our crews will likely have to completely rebuild parts of our electric system. Restoring power through repairs is measured in days; rebuilding the electric system could be measured in weeks.
With Irma close to our doorstep, I want to emphasize keeping safety top-of-mind before, during and after the storm. We can help with safety and preparation tips at FPL.com/storm. Stay safe, heed the warnings of local, state and federal elected officials, and know that all of us at FPL won't stop working until everyone's power is up and running again.
Eric Silagy, president and CEO, Florida Power & Light Co., Juno Beach
DACA's end confirmed | Sept. 6
Congress makes the laws
In this country, the legislative branch makes the laws and it is the duty of the executive branch to enforce them. Even though President Barack Obama said several times that "I'm not a king," his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals executive order did change current law after he failed to get immigration reform passed in Congress.
President Donald Trump has simply rescinded this unconstitutional act and has given Congress six months to create legislation that properly defines the status of "Dreamers." At least this will finally give voters clarity on where D.C. politicians stand before the midterm elections.
Lou Christodoulou, Lutz
Silencer bill undermines safety | Sept. 5, letter
Rules would still apply
Several misrepresentations were made in this letter. First, they are not "silencers" but sound suppressors, which only reduce the noise of the shot below the pain level to help prevent deafness. Second, all suppressor sales would still be conducted through federally licensed firearms dealers and treated the same as a gun purchase — requiring filling out Form 4473 and submitting to a background check. No felons, domestic abusers or those committed for mental treatment would be allowed to purchase them.
Gerald Keller, Dunedin
University overreacts | Sept. 2, editorial
Until Pat Robertson weighs in on the real causes of the damage of Hurricane Harvey in Texas, no one can be sure that Kenneth Storey's "instant karma" explanation is incorrect.
Larry R. Bush, Tampa