The Best Part of My Job
February 3, 2013
It was a great week doing my favorite part of the job as your Congressman – visiting with Kansans at town halls across the Big First District.
We kicked off with a lunchtime meeting in Wamego on Monday. This was our first town hall in Pottawatomie County since it joined the First Congressional District in January. We also hosted town halls in Barton, Cheyenne, Rawlins, Decatur, Norton and Graham Counties throughout the past week. Across Kansas, it is evident that folks know Washington is broke. Not a single town hall went by in which we did not discuss the enormity of the fiscal challenges facing our nation. Kansans recognize that the nation’s $16.4 trillion worth of debt is not only inhibiting us now, but it is leaving a sour legacy for our children and grandchildren. Kansans demand big, bold solutions now rather than more deals and political pettiness that just kick the can down the road.
Beyond the budget challenges, I would say that one common theme that ran through many of the town halls was the concern about federal government overreach. For example, in Great Bend we talked about ObamaCare and its negative impact on small businesses. In St. Francis the attempted reintroduction of the black-footed ferret came up – and how federal efforts like these limit private property rights and survival of our small towns. Meanwhile, Kansans in Atwood demanded that Washington respect the 10th Amendment and stay out of state and local government matters. In Wamego, Oberlin and Norton (not to mention nearly every other town), folks are very concerned about protecting our Second Amendment rights. Finally, in Hill City, we discussed overreach by the EPA and the federal Education Department and other issues surrounding expanded bureaucratic control and overreach.
St. Francis Town Hall. View more pictures here.
Japan’s Easing of Import Restrictions is Welcome News
This week Japan announced it would relax its restrictions on the importation of U.S. beef. Specifically, Japan will accept cattle up to 30 months of age; the previous limit was 20 months. For nearly ten years, Japan had imposed severe limitations on U.S. beef imports. According to the most recent USDA data, Kansas' First Congressional District ranks #1 in the nation in terms of cattle production, so this is a tremendous victory for Kansas ranchers, for our state’s entire economy, and for sound science.
Across the globe, people are rising out of poverty and into the middle class – due in large part to trade – and it is a tremendous opportunity for rural America to sell our agriculture products. In 2011, I was honored to host the Ambassador of Vietnam to the United States for a visit in Washington County, Kansas. We toured a pig farm and a processing facility, and he was quite impressed by the cleanliness and safety of the operations. I know that Kansas has a lot to offer the world, and it is imperative that we continue to seek out as many new markets as possible.
Overregulation Got You Down?
In an effort to make the voices of Main Street heard in the rulemaking process, the House Small Business Committee has launched "Small Biz Reg Watch," an interactive website that allows visitors to view and then comment on proposed regulations that impact small businesses. As a member of the Committee, I encourage Kansans to visit the website and submit their feedback. There are several regulations currently listed that would be of interest to our constituents, including rules relating to ObamaCare, animal feeding operations, and critical habitat designations.
From ObamaCare rules to Dodd-Frank red tape, and from the EPA to the USDA, the Obama Administration has launched an unprecedented torrent of regulatory activity that leaves no stone unturned. For the last two years I have heard so much frustration from Kansans whose businesses are plagued with too many rules and too much red tape from Washington. To make matters worse, some in Congress and President Obama just raised taxes on many small business owners, and the full implementation of ObamaCare is right around the corner. It's time to turn off the regulatory red tape spigot that is drowning Main Street.
Please make your voices heard by visiting: http://smallbusiness.house.gov/regwatch.
On a related note, this week I was pleased to announce the introduction of the Regulations from the Executive In Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act. I joined 121 of my colleagues to offer this legislation to require Congress to hold an "up or down" vote on any rule or regulation with an economic impact of $100 million or more. It is estimated that the cost of compliance with regulations amounts to $1.75 trillion annually. What many Americans – and even some lawmakers – forget is that when legislation becomes law it is just a first step. Ultimately, the nitty-gritty details are left to the Executive Branch – without any approval by Congress. It is high time that Congress used its authority to REIN in aggressive bureaucrats and put their expensive regulations to a vote.
Manhattan Office Hours
Staff will be available to assist constituents in our Manhattan office (727 Poyntz Ave, Ste. 10 in the Commerce Bank Building) on the following days and at the following times:
- Tuesday, February 5, 2013: 11:00AM-1:00 PM
- Wednesday, February 6, 2013: 9:00AM-11:00AM
- Tuesday, February 12, 2013: 1:00PM-3:00PM
- Wednesday, February 13, 2013: 11:00AM-1:00PM
Member of Congress