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Bone up on issues and share your thoughts

By Times editorial
Published March 6, 2007


Today is the first day of the 2007 session of the Florida Legislature. With a new governor in the Capitol, lingering dissatisfaction with homeowners insurance premiums and proposals to alter the way Floridians pay taxes, this session promises to be one of change and consequence.

Pasco County residents have never been shy about telling elected officials what is on their minds. Holding lawmakers accountable for the votes they cast and the laws they introduce is a testament to residents' willingness to involve themselves in the government they pay for and rely on to protect, serve and promote prosperity.

But residents who don't follow the issues and monitor the decisions made by their legislators put themselves at a definite disadvantage. After all, it is difficult to convey your opinions if you have not taken the time to familiarize yourself with the proposals. And it is a given that lawmakers are compelled to deal more forthrightly with constituents who have done their homework, because it makes it more difficult for them to sidestep or double-talk their way around the issues.

Much of the information residents need to stay abreast of the people who write or otherwise influence the outcome of legislation can be gleaned from newspapers and other media outlets. But if you wish to track legislation or legislators on your own, and not rely on the interpretations or analyses of others, you can do so online. The legislative Web sites are for the Florida Senate and for the Florida House of Representatives.

There you can check the progress of Rep. Will Weatherford's push for mandatory physical activity time for elementary school students or his push to raise the cap on the number of students taking advantage of virtual schooling. Rep. Tom Anderson wants to strengthen the laws on elder abuse. Rep. John Legg is seeking capital construction money for charter schools, advocates a bill to create year-end testing on academic subjects as a replacement for the high school FCAT, and wants to put a greater emphasis on gifted education.

Contact information for Pasco's legislative delegation appears below. Participation is key. Remember: If you don't tell lawmakers what you think, they will try to think for you.

[Last modified March 5, 2007, 23:50:28]

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