Rokita Report 2-28-12

Feb 28, 2012


Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to update you on my work in the 112th Congress. I trust this finds you and your family well.

Last week (2/19 - 2/25/12) 

I spent last week back home in Indiana.  While in Indiana, I was able to meet with many 4th District Hoosiers, and attend Lincoln Day dinners in Newton, Lawrence, Putnam and Johnson counties.  I was also able to meet with leadership of several great Hoosier organizations.  Photos from several of these events can be viewed on my facebook page.  

Of note, I wanted to highlight two great non-profit organizations I visited recently, Achieve International and the Hoosier Veteran's Assistance Foundation.   

Achieve International focuses on helping troubled teens in Indianapolis through physical training and team building.  Their website has several inspiring success stories, but I specifically wanted to draw your attention to their latest blog post, which highlights the hard work the boys are putting in to prepare for Indiana State Golden Gloves.  Success here could lead to eventual Olympics tryouts.  James Curles has done a remarkable job leading these young men to pursue goals with hard work and determination.  I wish the club the best of luck as they pursue the Gloves.  

The Hoosier Veteran's Assistance Foundation (HVAF) is another great organization aimed at assisting homeless Veterans.  They are affiliated with the United Way and have been serving Indiana Veterans since 1993.  Their efforts focus on providing housing assistance and workforce training.  You can read their blog post about my visit last week. 

This week (2/26 - 3/3/12)

This week both the Budget and the Education and the Workforce Committees will be busy with hearings and legislative markup.  The full House will also vote to protect academic freedom in higher education.  If passed, this will be one more Red Tape Rollback victory.

Also this week, I am honored to receive the Joseph M. Magliochetti Industry Champion Award by the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA).  MEMA represents over 700 businesses in the automotive parts supply industry, which employ over 70,000 Hoosiers.  This award is in recognition of work I did on behalf of Indiana's auto industry, specifically action taken against the National Labor Relations Board, and for opening the door for the federal government to reduce costs by using remanufactured parts to repair the federal transportation fleet.  Remanufactured parts are refurbished right here in Indiana and all over America, including at the Meritor facility in Plainfield, and are responsible for contributing thousands of jobs to Indiana's economy.  The 4th District is home to several MEMA member companies including Meritor, Inc. (Plainfield), Alcoa, Wabash National, TRW Automotive, Inc. (all in Lafayette), and Federal Mogul (Frankfort).  

I am also proud to have stood up for and worked with these employers and their employees to grow Indiana's economy.

On the House Floor
The Protecting Academic Freedom in Higher Education, H.R. 2117
H.R. 2117, would eliminate several layers of Red Tape that limit higher education institutions from offering timely and vital online courses and training.  As many Hoosiers seek additional education, this bill will ease access to less costly and more convenient education options.

The Private Property Protection Act, H.R. 1433
H.R. 1433 is a bipartisan bill, that would provide additional protections against property owners from eminent domain seizures by state and local government.

San Joaquin Valley Water Reliability Act, H.R. 1837
H.R. 1837 will help restore adequate water allocation to the San Joaquin Valley.  This pro-growth bill, will not only solve an environmental crisis for the San Joaquin Valley - water shortge - but will also help create additional jobs in the area as local communities build additional water storage facilities.

The Excess Federal Building and Property Disposal Act, H.R. 665
H.R. 665 would launch a pilot program to determine and sell federal buildings that are no longer of use to the taxpayers.  I am a proud coauthor of this bill and look forward to its passage.

At the Committee
The Education and the Workforce Committee will conduct a business meeting to pass education reform legislation.  The Student Success Act, H.R. 3989, and the Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act, H.R. 3990, will enhance school accountability, improve flexibility, and support more effective teachers in the classroom.  You will be able to watch the markup hearing here.  .

Tuesday, the House Budget Committee will hear testimony on "Strengthening Health and Retirement Security," from the Chief Actuaries for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Social Security AdministrationRichard S. Foster and Stephen C. Goss, respectively.  You can watch the hearing here.

The House Budget Committee will also be hearing testimony from Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta on Wednesday, February 29, at 2:00 pm.  Secretary Panetta, a former Budget Committee Chairman,  Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and White House Chief of Staff, will, undoubtedly, provide a unique perspective to the budget process.  Secretary Panetta will be answering questions about the proposed Fiscal Year 2013 Defense budget proposal, which has been a frequent subject of debate.  I am interested to hear his testimony regarding green energy initiatives and defense cuts in the Administration's budget proposal.  You can watch the hearing live on Wednesday.

Rokita's Reading

Quite some time ago, I launched my Red Tape Rollback program with the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.  The program has seen quite a bit of success in repealing nonsensical regulations and the implementation of rules that did not work for Indiana.  Despite successes, there is still much work to do.  The Economist hit on this last week with two very informative articles.

The Economist's opinion editorial, "Over-regulated America," highlights many regulations that not only stifle our economic growth, but are also unneeded.  The column asserts that often times, our federal government is too quick to create reactionary rules that rarely ever get repealed, even if they are costly and unnecessary.  It makes the case, and I agree, for simpler regulation, which is a smarter and more growth-friendly approach. 

In another editorial, "Tangled up in green tape," The Economist takes the uncertainty of EPA regulation to task.  The continual announcement of regulation, while many times halting the implementation of these rules at the last minute, has created excess costs for businesses to unnecessarily implement the delayed rules.  Regulation reform, like revising the Clean Air Act, is needed to help stabilize this haphazard rulemaking.

You can review previous postings on my blog.  

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I appreciate your continued interest in Congress and for supporting my efforts in Washington. Take care.


Todd Rokita