Inweekly has reported that protestors plan to attend Congressman Matt Gaetz’s event at Grover T’s BBQ in Milton at noon on Thursday, Feb. 23.
This morning, Indivisible NWFL announced it would be in attendance at the town hall scheduled for 7 p.m. on Feb. 23, at Oops Bowling Alley in Pace.
“We are an organization dedicated to opposing the Trump/Pence/Ryan/McConnell agenda,” said the announcement. “We refuse to stand idly by while the social progress we’ve achieved is rolled back to an era of greater social, economic, and political inequality. As such, we plan to focus our attention on the elected officials who serve our state and our district.”
From the press release:
Representative Matt Gaetz, newly elected to the United States House of Representatives, has crafted a single piece of legislation since his swearing in on Jan. 3, 2017. That bill, H. R. 861, reads as follows, “The Environmental Protection Agency shall terminate on December 31, 2018.” Residents of District 1 are concerned about this legislation given the specific history of the region and the reliance on the EPA necessitated by that history. This year, in fact, the Escambia Wood Superfund site is due for another 5-year review of progress made in the cleanup of the contaminated groundwater and toxic soil of the 26-acre former lumber processing facility. Currently, there are 4 active Superfund sites on the National Priorities List and 26 non-NPL sites in Escambia County alone, while Santa Rosa and Okaloosa have a combined additional 7 non-NPL and 1 active NPL sites. According to Pensacola City Councilwoman Sheri Myers, “Rep. Gaetz’s priority is not protection of the environment, the community or conservation. It’s the protection of the rich, the powerful and the well-connected, but even they have to breathe air and drink water.” (http://www.pnj.com/story/news/politics/2017/02/16/environmentalists-condemn-gaetz-over-epa-bill/97948208/) It is unconscionable that, in one sentence, the EPA could cease to exist, leaving the nation without a national protector of our natural resources.
While land is a physical monument to poorly addressed environmental protections, the top industries in the state are also affected by those same forces. Tourism and agriculture are both industries heavily dependent on the health of the environment. When the state fails to adequately protect the environment, the negative effects cascade. This domino effect was demonstrated in the July, 2016 algae blooms that fouled coastal waters up and down the west coast of the Florida after the release of excessively phosphorous-rich Lake Okeechobee water resulted in massive fish and sea creature die-off as well as vacations cut short due to the inhospitable coastal waters. Rep. Gaetz wants to shift all EPA duties to the states to manage on their own. The ecological challenges of the Lake Okeechobee should serve as a deterrent to that impulse and we ask him to vote “no” on his own ill-conceived bill.
Rep. Gaetz’s impulsive, attention-getting EPA abolition is probably the least concerning legislative move he’s made or publicly states that he plans to make. Congressional leadership has indicated that they plan to begin the process of repealing the Affordable Care Act after the President’s Day recess. In Florida, more than 1.7 million people gained insurance through the ACA in 2017 (https://aspe.hhs.gov/compilation-state-data-affordable-care-act) without the addition of those who could have gained coverage through Medicaid expansion. We ask Rep. Gaetz to vote “no” to the repeal of the ACA until a replacement has been put in place which ensures no loss of coverage for the newly insured, no loss of coverage for young people on their parents’ insurance, no higher out-of-pocket costs, and no price discrimination for people with pre-existing conditions.
Withdrawing from the United Nations, banning travelers and refugees from seven predominantly Muslim countries, building a $21.6 billion wall paid for by US citizens (when Republican members of Congress refused to fund even the $6 billion risk corridor fund for the ACA), rolling back consumer protections, terminating the Department of Education, defunding Planned Parenthood; these and many other issues are points of divergence between Rep. Gaetz and the interests of our membership. Rep. Matt Gaetz has indicated through interviews, tweets, Facebook posts, and self-recorded videos that he intends to actively pursue the Trump/Pence/Ryan/McConnell agenda with full-throated endorsement and legislative rubber stamps. We will be at his event to share our stories and ensure that he fully comprehends that not all residents of FL-1 believe that to be the best course for the country.