Congressman David Jolly speaks at the Seminole Chamber of Commerce’s Aug. 21 Business Power Luncheon at the library conference center at St. Petersburg College’s Seminole campus. He fielded questions from the audience and discussed a number of national and statewide issues.
SEMINOLE – Congressman David Jolly, who represents Pinellas County’s District 13, was the guest speaker at the Seminole Chamber of Commerce’s Aug. 21 Business Power Luncheon at the St. Petersburg College – Seminole library conference center.
Jolly answered questions from attendees and touched upon a number of topics, including events that recently made national and global headlines – the beheading of U.S. journalist James Foley by ISIS, and the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager by police in Ferguson, Missouri.
“Regardless of our thoughts, somebody lost their life and another person is dealing with the fact that that life was lost at their own hands,” Jolly said when asked about the Ferguson shooting.
“That’s a tragedy. I think we all need to be very patient and let the system run its course, and ensure that due process and justice is served both for the young man and the officer.”
He also discussed issues that touched closer to Pinellas County including veterans’ access to healthcare. Earlier this summer, he co-sponsored the Veteran Access to Care Act, which he called “an emergency measure” and promised he would continue to focus on concerns surrounding healthcare for veterans.
“It’s a historic crisis and I think it needs historic reforms,” he said.
Jolly also acknowledged the need for improved infrastructure and transportation alternatives when Pinellas County Commissioner Janet Long asked him what should be done about the state’s aging infrastructure.
But there is no easy solution, he said, and first there needs to be “a budget conversation.” Congress failed to come up with a long-term solution in recent months, he added, “and the reason is: how do we pay for it? Does it require an increase in the federal fuel tax? … We need to have an adult conversation on long-term budget reforms.”
Several audience members commended Jolly on his support for Pinellas County beach renourishment, an issue he’s pushed for federal support of since taking office in March. He was able to include the ongoing beach renourishment project in Treasure Island in this spring’s revised Water Resources Reform and Development Act. But he’ll need to continue to make “a solid and vocal case” for beach renourishment, he said. He hopes eventually it will be a regular budget item and not something that will be debated every few years.
“Beach renourishment is an issue that does not have support of the majority of Congress,” he said. “Even within my own caucus that’s where the hardest fights happen. It’s the same with flood insurance. So that’s where I have a responsibility.”
Seminole City Manager Frank Edmunds will be the guest speaker at the Chamber’s next Business Power Luncheon planned for Thursday, Sept. 25, 11:30 a.m., at the SPC library conference center. Cost is $15 per person. Call 392-3245 to RSVP.