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| 3 min read | by Doug Marrin, dmarrin@thesuntimesnews.com |

U.S. Congressman Tim Walberg held a town hall in Freedom Township this past Monday, February 10, 2020. In the hour-long session at the Township Hall, the congressman covered a wide range of topics to a mostly receptive audience.

Assistant to Congressman Walberg, Dan Kotman, stated: “We do these all over the district so we can run an update on what he’s working on in Washington and hear what people back in the district are thinking on the issues that matter to them.”

Among other things in his opening remarks, Congressman Walberg touched on the budget and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. “The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative will be in the budget this year,” he told the audience. “This is the first time Congress hasn’t had to go back and ask a sitting president to include it in the budget. The Great Lakes are 20% of the world’s fresh water and we have to make sure we protect it. We talked to the President about it, and he’s firmly committed and has actually increased the funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.”

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The Congressman also commented on the impeachment process which, although officially over, expects to be continued in different ways going forward. Walberg also noted how the process detracts and stalls so many other more pertinent issues for people.

Highlights from the questions that were asked include:

Euthanasia is a growing concern especially with an increasing number in Michigan recently. Will you support bills like Simon’s Law to provide patient protection?

When asked to elaborate on the law, it was explained that Simon’s Law was the result of Simon Crozier born with a life-threatening condition but whose parents repeatedly expressed to medical staff that they wanted everything possible done to save their child. Instead, the hospital doctors and staff disregarded the parents’ wishes and Simon died. Simon’s Law would ensure that a person, or if unable to speak for themselves that person’s legal representative will have their wishes followed by health care providers.

“It sounds like I would be supportive of that,” replied Walberg. “I believe that life is a gift of God from conception to natural death. We ought to do everything possible to save a life unless of course, that person has a living will that says I only want certain things done for me. This ought to be a country that tries in every way to extend life.”

Unemployment is at a modern low and the stock market is at a record high yet many constituents are struggling to make a living wage. What would Congressman Walberg propose to all Americans participating in this economy?

“There are seven million jobs looking for someone to fill those jobs right now,” answered Walberg. “I’d say that if a friend of yours or a family member isn’t making a living wage right now, there are other jobs available that have a living wage and beyond living wage. We have put in place training programs for retraining as well as vocational programs and certification programs. We will be giving now for the first time Pell Grants for short-term training programs and educational programs so that you don’t have to go to a community college or a four-year institution. The efforts of this administration have been to make sure that people are training for the real world jobs that can give them the opportunity for success.”

Why are your town halls announced at the last minute?

Walberg replied, “This has come up before and you might have heard me explain that due to security issues we will not put out information long ahead of time except for in the community where we’ll be.”

The congressman’s assistants then explained that letters are mailed out one week prior and then followed up with emails and robocalls.

What is being done to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus?

“There is a plan in place and that’s why I think you’ve seen thus far very few confirmed cases of the coronavirus. I think it’s now up to 13 or 14 confirmed cases nationwide. I expected to see more around Ann Arbor because of the University of Michigan and the many students from China that are there.

“We had a briefing last week and the week before from all of the officials and agencies that are involved with our public health, as well as the Centers for Disease Control. They told us that the plans are working. They have already confirmed some drugs that have proven to have some positive effect, but it will take upwards of a year to get an antivirus.

“China didn’t let us know initially this was happening or to the extent, it was happening. They didn’t inform the airlines that this was happening so we’ve had a lag that’s allowed some of this potential to spread.

“I would guess that either this week or next we will have another briefing to keep us up to date. But so far we’ve been told that we’re fairly confident that we’re on top of it.”

As one might expect, questions posed to the congressman covered a range of interests:

  • What is being done about the federal deficit and spending?
  • Will there be legislation to better protect our law enforcement on the job?
  • What about turning a Manchester rail line into a paved pathway?
  • What about the state of agribusiness in Michigan?
  • What is being done for the farmers in Nebraska?
  • Why aren’t power lines all put underground?
  • Where does the broadband money from Washington go?

One person submitted a question that simply read “Y”. When asked to explain, he related it to Jesus and the gospels with no clear question emerging for the congressman.

According to Kotman, in addition to the dozens of town halls Walberg conducts each year across the seven counties he represents in Washington, he also speaks on many other occasions in his district such as local chambers, Rotary Clubs, schools, hospitals, and businesses of all sizes saying, “I think that’s why he has enjoyed such strong support because he does stay in touch and is constantly active in the District.”

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