Buchanan Legislation to Fight Red Tide Passed by Congress
5th New Buchanan Law This Session
WASHINGTON — Congressman Vern Buchanan’s bipartisan legislation adding $8 million to combat toxic algae blooms has been passed by Congress as part of a sweeping government funding bill.
Red tide has hit the Suncoast hard in recent weeks. Beachgoers on five local beaches have reported respiratory irritation and four beaches reported fish kills. Red tide has also contributed to 166 manatee deaths so far this year.
“Red tide poses a serious threat to our environment, marine life and economy,” Buchanan said, adding that his legislation will allow for greater research with the goal of reducing the problem. “We need to understand more about the toxins in red tide so we can stop the damaging effects.”
Harmful algae blooms cause $82 million in economic losses to the seafood, restaurant and tourism industries each year in the United States, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Buchanan's measure increases funding for NOAA by $8 million to research harmful algal blooms like red tide. His legislation was included in an appropriations bill that funds the federal government through September 2018. The funding bill is on its way to the President’s desk to be signed.
Dr. Michael P. Crosby, president and CEO of Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, has praised Buchanan’s legislation saying the increased funding will “significantly bolster the scientific community’s research to detect, respond to and develop innovative technologies to lessen the impacts from some of the country’s most challenging harmful algal blooms - red tide - on our environment, marine life and human health. We appreciate Congressman Buchanan's relentless attention to this important issue for our region.”
Human consumption of shellfish contaminated from red tide areas can cause severe illness and even lead to death in certain circumstances. Additionally, people who swim in red tide or inhale the toxins while near the water can suffer from severe respiratory issues, skin irritation and rashes. The state’s health department even advises that people with severe or chronic respiratory conditions like asthma are especially vulnerable and should steer clear of red tide waters.
Buchanan, the co-chair of Florida's congressional delegation, has long placed a priority on combating red tide and has successfully fought for expanding red tide research.
Other Buchanan initiatives signed into law during this session of Congress include:
- H.R. 253, the Family First Prevention Services Act, which helps children stay with their families instead of being placed in foster care or group homes.
- H.R. 112, the Emergency Citrus Disease Response Act, which provides immediate aid to help farmers replace trees damaged by citrus greening and Hurricane Irma. The bill was included in Section 13207 of the new tax cut law signed in December.
- H.R. 2126, the What Works To Move Welfare Recipients into Jobs Act, which creates a national database to help people find jobs, was included in H.R. 244, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017 – a government funding bill signed into law by the President in May.
- H.R. 116, the bipartisan Main Street Fairness Act, which ensures that America’s small businesses are not left behind if corporate taxes are lowered. Although the exact language of Buchanan’s bill was not adopted, the principle of tax cuts for small businesses became part of the tax reform “blueprint” and was incorporated into the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act signed by the President last month. The president of the National Federation of Independent Business said Buchanan’s Main Street Fairness Act was “one of the pillars of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.”