Sun Sentinel Endorses Bill Hager

Sun Sentinel Endorses Bill Hager

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Incumbent Rep. Bill Hager is a mix of doctrinaire Republican, independent-minded reformer and detail-oriented legislator. While we wish he were less doctrinaire, Hager’s other qualities earn him the Sun Sentinel’s endorsement in House District 89, which includes most of coastal Palm Beach County.

Hager’s work on sober houses has been particularly good. Local communities have been alarmed at the growth in these often informal rehab facilities. The federal Americans with Disabilities Act has blocked attempts to regulate them. Hager crafted legislation that threads the constitutional needle by withholding state funding from treatment facilities that do not submit to oversight.

Hager’s bill passed the Florida House but, so far, not the state Senate. In the meantime, Rep. Hager has met with members of the U.S. House, including Democrats Ted Deutch and Lois Frankel, to urge federal action.

With sometimes less than enthusiastic support from fellow Republicans, Hager also has worked to keep tobacco products and e-cigarettes away from kids. He supports same-sex marriage, legalization of medical marijuana and has sought to prohibit gender discrimination.

He waffles a bit on climate change — hinting that natural cycles might be at least as much to blame as human activity — but still says all that can be done should be done. That includes designating money for beach renourishment, which he has done for his district.

He is a vehement supporter of Gov. Rick Scott’s agenda, although like most GOP House members, he fought Scott’s proposal to expand Medicaid.

His Democratic opponent is David Silvers. Silvers says his main issues are improving schools, reforming property insurance and protecting the environment. But, in his interview with the Sun Sentinel Editorial Board, he did not offer profound solutions to any of them. He had a poor understanding of the steps the state takes to help F-rated schools, for example. He had trouble articulating his objections to charter schools. Although he accused Hager of missing votes, he did not name a specific vote Hager missed or challenge Hager’s contention that he participated in more than 99 percent of votes.

If Silver were elected, he probably could get up to speed quickly. But even then his overall influence would be limited. Hager has seniority, a willingness to sometimes challenge his party and a commitment to solving the serious local issue of sober houses. Under the circumstances, Hager is the candidate to send to Tallahassee.

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Bill Hager for State Representative