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Year-End Wrap UpPosted Friday, December 21, 2012, at 1:58 PM
This past week has been met with much reflection. I extend my most heart-felt thoughts and prayers to the families of those who lost loved ones in the Sandy Hook Elementary school shootings in Connecticut. I have three young children, and it is hard for me to imagine something this horrific happening in our town. I hope you will join me in continuing to pray for the families who have lost loved ones.
With 2012 wrapping up, it's always good to take a quick snap shot at this year's accomplishments.
JOBS Act: Getting Government on the Side of Job Creators
Getting government out of the way to foster a job creating environment was my number one priority before Congress. In April, my bill, the JOBS Act, was passed and signed into law by the President. The JOBS Act was designed to jumpstart our economy and restore opportunities for America's primary job creators: our small businesses, startups, and entrepreneurs. I am very proud of this piece of legislation as it is already helping small companies go public faster, which increases their working capital to create more jobs.
Farmers: Regulatory Relief so Farmers can Focus on Farming
Standing strong, I pushed back on overzealous EPA regulations. Specifically, I sent a letter to EPA Administrator, Lisa Jackson, urging the EPA to revise and delay the fuel containment regulations for farmers. I then cosponsored H.R. 3158, the FUELS Act, which would also postpone the EPA's fuel containment regulations. As a result, the EPA took a step back and has proposed to amend the date by which farms must comply with the fuel storage regulations and implement their fuel storage plans to May 10, 2013.
Transportation: Strengthening an Economic Hub
The ability to move products and goods is essential to fostering a job creating economy. That's why it's so important to expand the capabilities of the Memphis airport. In February, I inserted language into the highway bill to create the Memphis Aerotropolis -- a multi-modal transportation hub. This is a huge project that will be a key driver to job growth, helping expand businesses in Memphis and all of West Tennessee.
Cates Landing: Expanding an Economic Hub
We all understand the potential Cates Landing has to expanding the local job market. Right now, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is holding up releasing water from the Upper Missouri River reservoirs. The low water level on the Mississippi River is preventing barge traffic and slowing commerce during the winter months. I have directly asked the Corps to release the much needed water and expedite their efforts to remove rock pinnacles from the Mississippi River's northern shores in Thebes, IL and Grand Tower, IL. Allowing barge traffic to run up and down the Mississippi River is critical to commerce and jobs in West Tennessee, as well as getting the new port up and running. I will continue to keep you updated on the progress at Cates Landing.
Job Fairs: Opportunity Knocks
Continuing my focus on jobs, my office organized job fairs in Jackson, Covington, and Dyersburg. In total, 880 people seeking jobs and 61 businesses participated in our job fairs. I continue to hear from folks who were hired from these job fairs, and I look forward to having many more next year.
Roundtables: Listening and Learning from You
Throughout 2012, I held numerous Roundtable discussions across the district to listen to your concerns about what needs to change in Washington. In Jackson, Tipton, and Dyersburg, I learned from small business owners and area business leaders that government red tape and new Obamacare provisions kicking in January 1, 2013 will affect their bottom lines. At an Education Roundtable in Dyersburg, I learned the needs of area teachers. In Jackson, we had a Crime Roundtable with area police officers, sheriffs, and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation about the increasing number of prescription drug cases in West Tennessee. These and many other Roundtables are important in bringing your views to Washington.
Honoring M.D Anderson: A Community Leader Deserving Recognition
In celebration and recognition of M.D. Anderson, my bill was signed into law designating a square in Jackson, TN as the M.D. Anderson Plaza. M.D. Anderson was passionate about finding a cure for cancer. In addition to privately funding one of the most prominent cancer treatment and research centers in the world, the M.D. Anderson Foundation has built libraries, auditoriums, college buildings, and a planetarium on the campus of Lambuth College in Jackson, Tennessee. We honor M.D. Anderson because of his generosity and interest in bettering the lives of others.
Next Year: Wishing you a Blessed Year
In the coming year, I look forward to receiving your phone calls and emails about issues important to you and your family. I pray the next year brings happiness and success for West Tennessee, and also an understanding of one another that bind us together. I pray the Lord blesses you and your family this holiday season, and may your New Year be a prosperous one.
Stephen Fincher is the U.S. Representative for Tennessee's 8th congressional district.