Lake Ray Heads to Washington to Fight for Free-Trade Agreements
Around the State
State Rep. Lake Ray, R-Jacksonville, one of the leading advocates for Florida’s 14 seaports, hit the road this week, heading to Washington, D.C., to push Congress to pass three pending free-trade agreements that could lead to tens of thousands of jobs in Florida.
Ray, who has been honored by the Associated Industries of Florida for his work in promoting Florida’s ports, was hoping to push pending agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama. Other Republicans from the Sunshine State -- including U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, U.S. Rep. Connie Mack and U.S. Rep David Rivera -- have also been going to bat for the agreements.
“These agreements are important to the economy of Florida and I’m here to push for their passage,” said Ray on Thursday.
Ray, who represents parts of Duval County, joined his fellow Republicans in pointing blame for the lack of progress on the agreements, which have been stalled for months, on President Barack Obama. While the House Ways and Means Committee -- on which Buchanan sits -- is ready to vote on the measures later in the month, the Obama administration was holding them up until Congress extends the Trade Adjustment Assistance program (TAA). The TAA provides benefits for American workers who have lost their jobs due to international trade agreements.
“It’s time for the president to stop stalling and get the job done,” said Ray. “These agreements mean real jobs for real Floridians today and tomorrow, not in some distant future.”
Ray sponsored a memorial in the Florida House, which passed unanimously, for Congress to pass the three free-trade agreements.
“Conservative estimates indicate we can create thousands of good-paying export jobs by passing these agreements,” said Ray. “That’s a big win for Florida.”
Besides traveling to Washington, Ray has been on the road this week to promote Florida’s ports, which are expected to see an increase in business -- and jobs -- with the expansion of the Panama Canal. The expansion, expected to be completed in 2014, will allow larger vessels from Asian ports through the canal. Earlier in the week, the Jacksonville legislator headed to the Panhandle for meetings on the Port of Pensacola’s future. On Friday, before heading back to the First Coast, Ray plans to attend a meeting of the Florida Seaport Transportation and Economic Development Council in Fort Lauderdale.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (850) 727-0859.