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Tuesday, May 21, 2013
On flooding, DOD and gay marriage, reigning in regulationPosted Monday, December 5, 2011, at 4:58 PM
It's been a while since the waters of the Missouri River receded, but the threat of future flooding is first and foremost in the minds of many 4th District residents living along the river. With possible 2012 flooding on the horizon, the House Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee met this week to assess the 2011 Missouri River flooding and to consider operational plans for the future.
I testified before the committee, calling on the Army Corps of Engineers to take steps to prevent future flooding similar to what damaged property this spring and summer. I drove home the point that the levees, which performed remarkably well in protecting 4th District farmland, are weakened and in need of repair NOW, adding that red tape needs to be cut and contracts for repair need to be awarded now.
I further testified that many residents of the 4th District feel that these floods could have been reduced, if not completely avoided, by earlier action and better prioritization of uses by the Army Corps of Engineers. My message is that we must increase reservoir capacity for flood control and act sooner in the event of snowfall or rainfall. About 180 miles of the Missouri River flow through our district, with more than 30 levees lining that stretch of the river. It's time the Army Corps of Engineers prioritizes people and property in its management of the river and makes 'flood control' its Number One priority.
Joining me was seventh generation farmer Tom Waters of Orrick, Missouri, who produces corn, soybeans, wheat and alfalfa in the Missouri River floodplain. Waters, who serves as Chairman of the Missouri Levee & Drainage District Association, is a recognized national leader in Missouri River management issues. He told the subcommittee it is critical for Missouri River levees to be repaired as soon as possible, adding flood control projects both create jobs and save lives.
In another hearing, this week, I joined the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel for a briefing examining the legal and policy rationale leading the Department of Defense to issue guidance, earlier this year, allowing same sex marriage ceremonies on military bases. The guidance issued by the DOD directly violates the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage for all federal purposes to be only between a man and a woman.
While the Defense Department has rescinded that original order, replacing it with a carefully worded memo stating chaplains can conduct "religious ceremonies" but stipulating they must be "gender neutral," they still seem intent on disrespecting the intent of DOMA.
The directives issued by military commanders appear to restrict the ability of military chaplains to speak out freely about the tenets of their faith. I repeatedly questioned the General Counsel to the Department of Defense about DOD's intent and received some assurance that the military will respect the rights of chaplains. I will continue to monitor the situation and work to protect our chaplains who diligently serve our men and women in uniform and work to ensure that the DOD respects the law of the land.
In other news, the House passed two important bills designed to rein in job-destroying federal regulations. The Regulatory Accountability Act (H.R. 3010) would require agencies to assess the costs and benefits of regulatory alternatives and, in most cases, to adopt the least-costly alternative to achieve the regulatory objectives. The Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act (H.R. 527) would require federal agencies to identify and reduce the costs new regulations would impose on small businesses.
One of the major problems standing in the way of maintaining current jobs and creating new ones is what some Americans are calling "Regulation Nation" -- the practice of destroying jobs one rule at a time. Simply put -- there are too many rules!
Employers are concerned about the costs of these new regulations, so they stop hiring, stop spending, and start saving for another bill from the federal government. We need to lift the burden to free small businesses to invest more and to create jobs for American workers. Conservatives in the House realize this and have passed these bills and others to put the halt to out-of-control federal regulations. The simple truth is that job creation is the key to economic recovery and small businesses are the engine that creates jobs. We cannot allow over-regulation to continue to destroy jobs. It is job creators -- not government regulators -- who will ultimately make America's economy grow again.
It is always a pleasure to hear from you and to listen to your views and concerns. If you plan to visit the Washington area, please stop by our office at 1023 Longworth House Office Building. In the 4th Congressional District, you are welcome to come by our offices in Jefferson City, Harrisonville, Lebanon, and Sedalia. You can also keep up with us by going to our website at www.hartzler.house.gov where you can link to our pages on Facebook and Twitter. It is an honor to serve you.
Have a good week.
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Vicky Hartzler is the U.S. representative for Missouri's 4th Congressional District. She was raised on a farm in Archie, and lives with her husband, Lowell and daughter, Tiffany, on a working farm in Cass County. She is a graduate of both the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1983 and Central Missouri State University (now University of Central Missouri) in 1992, graduating summa cum laude with a B.S. in Education from MU and a M.S. in Education from Central Missouri. For more information, visit http://hartzler.house.gov.
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