Bringing Bluegrass Values back to Washington
The House of Representatives is back in session following a productive district work period. Throughout the month of August, I traveled across the 1st District to 15 different counties in Central, Southern, and Western Kentucky. During my travels I met with local government officials, business leaders, farmers and other community members. These visits allow me to hear from constituents and share what they can expect from Washington as we head into Fall.
One of the best ways for me to hear directly from constituents is through town hall meetings. Town hall forums are a great way for me to hear the concerns of my constituents, and I’ve made it a priority of mine to remain accessible through these forums and meet face to face with those I represent. The town halls I held in Allen, Metcalfe and Adair Counties led to many conversations on important national and local issues, namely healthcare, prescription drug pricing, education, job growth and workforce development.
One exciting stop I made was at the Hempwood ribbon-cutting ceremony in Murray. This cutting-edge company – boasting a $5.8 million investment – is turning hemp into durable hardwood flooring. Working with local hemp producers in 1st District counties, Hempwood is the first of its kind and will be a major player in the expanding hemp industry. It’s exciting to see how much this emerging industry continues to grow. I’m eager to learn more about the innovative ways Kentuckians are utilizing this crop.
Another important visit I made at the beginning of the district work period was to the New Pathways for Children facility in Melber. I toured the facility with Executive Director, Dr. Ricky Burse, learned more about their summer meal site collaboration with Mayfield Independent Schools and spent lunchtime with the children. New Pathways for Children’s mission is to care for children suffering from neglect, abandonment and abuse. Today they’ve expanded their mission in life-changing ways, from serving children who experience poverty and homelessness, to caring for those who have an incarcerated parent or parents who have entered drug or alcohol rehab. It was eye-opening to see the meaningful work being carried out by this facility and the touching effect of their aid to children in crisis.
With agriculture being the top industry in the 1st District, it is crucial for me to stay in communication with our farmers. Kentucky Farm Bureau joined me for a meeting hosted by Sharon Furches at Furches Farms. We discussed the implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill and the importance of passing the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). I talked with farmers from Casey to Fulton Counties who know firsthand how important passing USMCA is for farmers and producers across America. The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture estimates that Kentucky alone will have $213 million in agricultural exports to Canada and $49 million in exports to Mexico. It’s crucial that USMCA be brought to the House floor for a vote so we do not continue to lose out on valuable opportunities for our farmers and producers.
Last, but certainly not least, one of the highlights of my district travel was hosting Congresswoman Virginia Foxx in Taylor County. Dr. Foxx of North Carolina’s 5th Congressional District – the Republican Leader of the House Committee on Education and Labor – joined me on several visits in the area to learn more about issues related to workforce development, higher education and K-12 in Kentucky. We visited Taylor County High School, headed up a workforce development roundtable at Campbellsville University and toured educational sites like the CKPrep Center and the Campbellsville University School of Barbering. It was an honor to have such an influential Member of Congress visit Taylor County, experience our academic institutions and share her insight and expertise on how we can better serve Americans in higher education and workforce development. I look forward to working with Dr. Foxx on Higher Education Act Reauthorization and ensuring students have the tools necessary to succeed in the 21st-century workforce.
When I return to the district, I’m reminded of the issues most important to every-day, hard-working Americans: access to good-paying jobs, quality and affordable education, and managing healthcare expenses and costs of prescription drugs. Oftentimes, our 24-hour national news cycle is not reflective of the issues that matter most to Americans. Folks want to know that their voices are heard, their tax dollars are being spent wisely, and that their elected officials are being held to the highest standards of ethics and remain accountable to the American people, whom they serve. As we head back into session, I have a renewed sense of what matters most to my constituents and look forward to standing up for those ideals and principles in Washington.
Rep. James Comer is a United States Congressman for the 1st Congressional District, which spans from south central Kentucky to the river counties of far western Kentucky. Contact him with any questions or concerns in his Washington D.C. office at (202) 225-3115, in the Tompkinsville Office at (270) 487-9509, in the Paducah Office at (270) 408-1865, or schedule an appointment in the Madisonville Office by calling (270) 487-9509.