News from Representative Rouzer

   

Dear Friends,

Happy New Year!  As 2018 is here, I wanted to highlight some of our legislative accomplishments during the first half of the 115th Congress – including efforts to strengthen care for our nation’s veterans, improve our infrastructure needs, and the work being done to ensure we have a safe and abundant food supply.

2017 by the numbers

First and foremost, constituent service has been and will continue to be a priority of my office.  This past year our office has responded to 61,520 letters, assisted 1,520 individuals with casework, flown 108 flags over the U.S. Capitol and facilitated 372 tours of the Capitol.  I personally have had 247 meetings with constituents (this does not include speaking engagements or large events) both in Washington and in the District, hosted 8 advisory committees (which I do on an annual basis), participated in 47 press interviews, and hosted two Youth Leadership and Entrepreneurship Conferences for high school juniors and seniors in our district.

Hosting our third Youth Leadership and Entrepreneurship Conference in Clinton to provide NC-07 students with the opportunity to meet with entrepreneurial leaders and discuss ways to achieve success

Meeting with 7th district representatives of Christians United for Israel to
discuss our efforts to support Israel, our greatest ally in the Middle East

On a broader level, the U.S. House of Representatives passed 477 bills this past year – 53 more than during President Obama’s first term and 86 more than the historical average.  115 bills passed both the House and the Senate.  Of this total, 92 were signed into law.

Taking care of our veterans

The great state of North Carolina has a long, rich tradition of military service and we are blessed to have a large community of veterans in the 7th Congressional District.  As your representative, it is my honor to serve as a voice for North Carolina veterans in Congress.  Our nation’s veterans deserve the very best for their service and sacrifice to our great country.  The House passed 69 bills directly related to veterans in 2017.  Of those, 28 of them also passed the Senate and were signed into law by the President.

Attending the Memorial Day Service in Johnston County to honor our veterans

Notable pieces of legislation either pending or signed into law increasing veteran access to care:

H.R. 2419:  The Veterans Choice Improvement Act, introduced by Rep. Rouzer

  • To improve the process by which the Secretary of Veterans Affairs pays non-VA health care providers to better enable timely payment for services
  • Bill status: Introduced by Rep. Rouzer and referred to the Committee on Veterans Affairs

H.R. 3819: The Department of Veterans Affairs Expiring Authorities Act of 2017

  • To extend a number of expiring authorities impacting veterans’ benefits, healthcare and homeless programs – including nursing home care, support services for caregivers, transportation, child care assistance, housing and home loan services
  • Bill status: Signed into law by the President

Legislation to improve accountability and efficiency at the VA:

S. 1094: The Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017

  • To make it easier for the VA to hold employees accountable in order to enhance the quality of care given to veterans nationwide
  • Bill status: Signed into law by the President

Legislation to provide veterans with the certainty they deserve and the benefits they’ve earned:

H.R. 5015: The Combat-Injured Veterans Tax Fairness Act, authored by Rep. Rouzer

  • To direct the Department of Defense to identify combat-injured veterans wrongfully deprived of their full severance and allow veterans who have been improperly taxed to recover the withheld amounts
  • Bill status: Signed into law by the President

H.R. 2288: The Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017

  • To modernize the appeals process at the VA
  • Bill status: Signed into law by the President

Legislation to improve veteran access to education:

H.R. 3218: the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act

  • To modify the GI program to ensure that service members will be able to use their education benefits throughout their lifetime
  • Bill status: Signed into law by the President

Improving our coastal infrastructure

The coastal communities of North Carolina are critical to our state’s economy, revenue and tourism industry.  As a member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, we are working to address the needs of our beaches, waterways, inlets, and overall transportation infrastructure as well as water and sewer and high-speed broadband deployment needs.  

Discussing the importance of long-term, stable infrastructure funding for our nation’s infrastructure projects during a Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing

All of these areas of infrastructure take significant resources and time to improve.  It is a real help to have a president committed to improving infrastructure, bringing attention and focus to a very critical issue set that often gets overlooked.  

To date we have been able to include language in the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) allowing Carolina Beach to continue its re-nourishment project with the Army Corps of Engineers, which was set to expire.  We also included language in the WRDA bill requiring the Army Corps to make all beach projects that are federally authorized in New Hanover County a top priority, including addressing Wrightsville Beach’s federal funding cap issue.  Working closely with local officials in Southport and the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office, we were able to include language in WRDA to pave the way for a “no wake zone” to be established during 2018 at the Southport Marina along the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway.  These are just a few highlights among many other projects we have been working on throughout the congressional district.   

Visiting the Southport Marina to give an update on the legislative initiatives I spearheaded as a
member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee

Meeting with members of the Carolina Inlet Association to discuss keeping the inlet
navigable as well as future infrastructure projects

From very early, President Trump has made it clear that strengthening our nation’s infrastructure is a top priority.  The Administration will unveil an infrastructure framework and proposal in the next few weeks.  Much work has already been done behind the scenes, but the Administration’s public release of its proposal will officially kick off the legislative process.

As we gear up to begin work on this major infrastructure package, our focus will be on the dredging of our waterways, inlets and the nourishment and re-nourishment of our beaches.  Another major focus will also be high-speed broadband deployment throughout the district as well as the water and sewer needs we have throughout – particularly for our small rural towns.

Meeting with the County Commissioners and Mayors of Duplin County to
discuss the water and sewer infrastructure needs of our rural counties

One of the major impediments we face in the District (and all throughout the country) is the regulatory and permitting processes that take upwards of 10 to 20 years to navigate and clear.  Time is money.  Reducing the regulatory and permitting process for infrastructure projects to two years, which is one of the key components of the Administration’s forthcoming proposal, would save trillions nationwide.  Everything from building and/or repairing highways and bridges to replacing water and sewer systems, the regulatory and permitting process in this country is simply out of control.  It is costing every hardworking taxpayer in a big way – both in actual costs and lost opportunities for economic advancement.  

We are also working to incentivize creative new funding streams to help pay for existing and new projects.  As discretionary funding is stretched thinner each year due to the explosion in growth of mandatory spending programs that now consume 70% of the federal budget (also known as entitlement programs), communities are being required to raise more and more revenue for essential infrastructure projects.  Incentivizing funding alternatives through public-private partnerships, state revolving funds and asset recycling are a few of the options under consideration.

Providing for our farm families

The great state of North Carolina is blessed to be one of the most agriculturally diverse states in the country – making agriculture our number one economic driver.  Unfortunately, North Carolina farm families have been facing many challenges over the past few years.  In fact, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, farm income has fallen 50% during the past six years.  For all of these reasons, I take my role on the House Agriculture Committee very seriously.  Every one of us should care about production agriculture.  After all, I know of no one who does not need to eat to survive.  Without a proper safety net, farm families go out of business.   

Discussing the upcoming Farm Bill during my agriculture advisory council meeting

This past year, the House Agriculture Committee held 30 hearings to discuss policy solutions to deliver relief and address the challenges faced by our farm families.  Through our tax reform package, we were able to achieve tax cuts across the board, significantly reduce the estate tax by doubling the exemption, provide full expensing of farm equipment and any other investments to grow and improve their operations, and lower the tax rate for those classified as pass-through businesses and c-corps. 

The new tax law helps farmers and any other business classified as a pass-through by implementing a 20% deduction of one’s net income on the first $315,000 of income earned by any business organized as an S corporation, partnership, LLC, or sole proprietorship. 

Updating members of the North Carolina Farm Bureau on how farm families will be positively impacted by our tax reform efforts during the North Carolina Farm Bureau annual meeting

We’re also working with the Administration to repeal cumbersome regulations, such as Waters of the USA, to ensure that regulations promote – rather than frustrate – efforts to not only feed and clothe the citizens of this country, but the world.

During the past three years, the Agriculture Committee has held 111 hearings – including 6 Farm Bill listening sessions – in order to hear first-hand from our farmers as we work towards a rewrite of the Farm Bill.  Our proposed Farm Bill will seek to strengthen the farm safety net, expand markets, lift families out of poverty by making significant reforms to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) (also previously known as the Food Stamp program), reform the regulatory climate, continue to invest in rural businesses, and much more.  

Attending an Agricultural tour and listening session hosted by Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway

While the 2014 Farm Bill has provided some help for many, the provisions for cotton have been especially inadequate – leaving many cotton growers with practically no safety net.  We are working to ensure that safety net for all farm families is greatly improved to alleviate the uncertainty faced by so many across our country.

Another high priority is to establish stronger disease surveillance and prevention programs, including a U.S. Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) vaccine bank.  An outbreak of FMD in this country would be absolutely devastating to the national economy.  It would affect literally everyone in a significant way.  Protecting our livestock from any possible outbreak is absolutely critical to America.

America’s first line of defense has always been the ability to feed and clothe our citizens.  In my view, there are three areas that are critical to maintaining superiority in the world: a robust military to enhance diplomacy and win any war at any time; sound agriculture policy so that we can clothe and feed ourselves as well as the rest of the world; and, become energy dominant so that we are the world’s primary supplier of all energy.  Of all of these, agriculture is the most fragile and we must have an “America First” policy that has the back of our producers in a global environment where China and others subsidize their producers by significant amounts in order to manipulate the world markets for their own gain. 

Addressing the opioid crisis

Our state of North Carolina has seen an 884% increase in opioid abuse over the span of five years.  It is no secret that the opioid crisis is a scourge on our communities – hitting Southeastern North Carolina especially hard.  As your representative, I’m working with local, state and federal officials to gather the best and brightest minds in the region to come up with solutions on how we can best address the epidemic as a community, reduce the stigma associated with addiction, and increase awareness of the problem.  

Meeting with the staff of Coastal Horizons Center in Wilmington to discuss the broader epidemic in our region and learn about the opioid-related treatment programs and outreach efforts they provide to our community

As with every other complex problem, there is no silver bullet; however, I remain committed to passing legislation that combats the ever-growing threat of opioid use and provides resources to those who need it most.

Discussing how the 7th District has been impacted by the opioids epidemic in front of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce as part of their bipartisan "Member Day"

In 2016, with my support, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery (CARA) Act was signed into law to strengthen drug laws already on the books and provide law enforcement with the resources they so badly need.  With my support, the President also signed the 21st Century Cures Act into law which included $970 million for opioid prevention and treatment programs which were directed to be distributed across our 50 states over a two-year period.

We also passed the following opioid-related bills in 2017:

    • The INTERDICT Act (H.R. 2142) which provides the U.S. Customs Border Protection agency with increased resources and screening devices to interdict Fentanyl and other dangerous drugs to prevent them from further spreading into our communities
    • The VA Prescription Data Accountability Act (H.R. 1545), which directs the VA to disclose information about an individual who is dispensed medication prescribed by a VA employee or by a non-VA provider authorized to prescribe such medication by the VA to a state controlled substance monitoring program to prevent misuse and diversion of prescription medicines
    • The Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (which was signed into law) included a provision that requires the Department of Defense to conduct a study on its opioid programs, as well as develop ways to improve the opioid prescribing practices used by the Department

The relevant committees in Congress are continuing to conduct hearings and produce more legislation to help address this issue.  This past year, I have met with parents who lost their sons and daughters to overdose, have pulled together healthcare, treatment and law enforcement experts from across the 7th District together in one room so that we could discuss the needs, identify opportunities and better address the epidemic.  All of these efforts will continue.

Sponsored legislation

Below are the pieces of legislation I have introduced this past year:

H.R. 2420 – Young Savers Accounts Act

    • This bill allows for the establishment of Roth IRA-style accounts for young individuals under the age of 26 which can be contributed to by family members, friends or charitable individuals

     H.R. 2419 – Veterans Choice Improvement Act

    • This bill improves the process by which the Secretary of Veterans Affairs pays non-VA health care providers to better enable timely payment for services

    H.R. 2179 – Drug Testing for Welfare Recipients Act

    • This bill holds individuals receiving taxpayer-funded assistance to the same standard as many American workers by requiring individuals to pass a drug screening process in order to be eligible for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Public Housing and Section 8 Rental Assistance Programs

    H.R. 1721 – to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to designate at least one city in the United States each year as an “American World War II City”, and for other purposes

    • Under this bill, the city of Wilmington would be designated as the first “American World War II City” due to their mighty contributions to the war efforts and their amazing accomplishments in preserving the history of World War II

    H.R. 1510 – States’ Education Reclamation Act of 2017

    • This abolishes the Department of Education in order to provide maximum flexibility to our local and state education leaders so that they can better meet the needs of our school systems, parents, teachers and students

    H.R. 694 – Stop EPA Overregulation of Rural Americans Act

    • This bill nullifies an EPA rule establishing costly new standards for the manufacture of wood heaters to protect consumers and small businesses from increased costs as a result of the rule

      H.Res.232 – Recognizing linemen, the profession of linemen, the contributions of these brave men and women who protect public safety, and expressing support for the designation of April 18, 2017, as National Lineman Appreciation Day

    • This bill recognizes the highly skilled profressionals who work everyday to ensure that our energy grid is doing its job to provide power for our families and communities in the event of snow storms, hurricanes and other disasters

    Here to help

    It is my honor to serve you and the great people of the 7th District.  If at any time there is anything we can assist you with, please let us know by contacting one of our offices.  You can reach our Brunswick County office in Bolivia at 910-253-6111, our Johnston County office in Four Oaks at 919-938-3040, our New Hanover County office in Wilmington at 910-395-0202, or our Washington, D.C. office at 202-225-2731. 



    Sincerely,

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