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Coffee Talk
Business Observer Thursday, Nov. 12, 2009 12 years ago

Sen. Nelson covers controversies

High-speed rail. Offshore drilling. Health care.

High-speed rail. Offshore drilling. Health care.

Democrat Sen. Bill Nelson covered each of these controversial issues at an event hosted by the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce at the Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City Monday.

On the issue of building a high-tech railway system connecting Tampa to Orlando, Nelson said Florida's prospects for receiving federal support on such a project hinge on the legislature's willingness to invest in existing commuter rail infrastructure — i.e., the Tri-Rail system in Southeastern Florida, connecting Miami to Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach.

Regarding Congress' approach to health care reform, Nelson focused on identifying the extent of the existing problem. Coffee Talk's hopes for a discussion on the differences between the House and Senate versions of the reform bill were dashed.

Nelson closed with a discussion on offshore drilling, in which he stated his refusal to allow oil companies to build infrastructure in federal waters that had been designated as military testing grounds. He also acknowledged that the future of state waters for drilling was less certain.

Perhaps the senator's most understated comments came in a passing remark on the nation's lingering economic issues. Said Nelson, the state is “likely to see high unemployment plague us well into next year.”

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