HCA/ASCE joint meeting featuring guest speaker, U.S. Representative Ted Poe
Monday, September 15, 2014
by Jeffrey Nielsen
HCA was proud to welcome U.S. Congressman Ted Poe as the speaker for this year's joint HCA/ASCE meeting. Congressman Ted Poe serves on the House Judiciary Committee, and the Foreign Affairs Committee as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade. Congressman Poe is an outspoken advocate on border security, he travels regularly to the southern border to meet directly with local law enforcement and residents. He also often visits our troops in Afghanistan and around the world. Congressman Ted Poe established the bipartisan Victims’ Rights Caucus (VRC) to advocate on behalf of victims in our nation’s capital. A strong constitutionalist, Congressman Poe stands firmly in the belief of “we the people” not “we the subjects.”
In his opening remarks, the Congressman stated that he was happy to be out of Washington D.C. and back in Texas with normal people that work for a living. He stated that congress is down to a 7% approval rating and that people are concerned about their government. To quote Ronald Reagan, government is the problem stated Poe. More specifically the problem is with the regulatory agencies that make rules that have the effect of law. Poe stated that he hears more about regulatory agencies and their burden upon people than anything else from his constituents. As an example he told a story about a couple of West Texas cattlemen that came to his office with a complaint about the EPA. The cattlemen stated that they owned large ranches in the Odessa region on which they kept some cattle. This is an arid region with little grass so the ranchers must move their cattle from one pasture to another, herding them down dirt roads to get between the pastures. The EPA told the ranchers that their cattle were stirring up particulate matter (dust) into the air when they used the dirt roads and that they needed to stop that because it was harming the environment. The EPA gave them two options; either water down the road prior to moving the cattle or asphalt the road. It is things like that this that drive you nuts stated Poe. The EPA and other regulatory agencies, make these rules that affect people in places where they have never been and know nothing about, because they want to regulate every aspect of people’s lives.
Congressman Poe next stated that he is the co-chair of the Port’s Caucus in Washington. It is a bipartisan group started by Congressman Poe and Janice Hahn (D) California, it is a new caucus started to promote the ports throughout the United States. Half of the income for the City of Houston comes directly from the Port of Houston. The City of Houston has a booming economy and by the year 2020 will be the third largest city in the United States. Because of all that growth, there are a lot of infrastructure needs, including at the Port. With that in mind, they have introduced legislation in the caucus to have a national freight trust started. This trust will take money already going to the federal government and put it in a fund that deals only with freight that goes in and out of our ports. The one mile radius around a port is a major congestion area and the one place that we need to streamline the flow of transportation. The national freight trust would work much like the harbor maintenance fund in this respect.
Looking at the issue of transportation, the Congressman stated that the City of Houston has transportation needs because of its booming economy. Poe stated that he feels that Texas needs a regional mobility plan. Having local communities in the state develop a plan for future growth, especially along the coast.
On the issue of business, Congressman Poe stated that some businesses are moving out of the United States or are considering moving, because of the corporate income tax. Poe stated that the government should reduce the income tax for the business community for two reasons; one to keep people in the U.S. and two it will generate more revenue and certainly more jobs. Congress is working on doing this, but nothing will pass this year. This is something that we should do said Poe.
On energy, Congressman Poe said that we need to approve the Keystone pipeline and start processing that Canadian oil now. He stated that the holdup is in the Senate where they are currently sitting on about 376 bills that have been passed by the House, but have not been voted on by the Senate. Looking at Texas he stated that because of recent innovations in the drilling industry, we are now actually exporting energy from Texas. Congressman Poe stated that, in the case of natural gas, we have so much gas that we are now flaring off enough to fuel one million homes. He also stated that in a recent trip to the Ukraine, all the Ukrainian’s wanted to talk about was the purchase of natural gas from Texas. Russia is currently the primary provider of natural gas to all of Eastern Europe. Poe stated that we should be selling gas to them, but the federal regulatory agencies are stonewalling the approval of the sale of natural gas to foreign countries.
When asked if we would see any changes on immigration this term, Congressman Poe stated that he believes the president will try to issue an executive order on the topic. Poe stated that he thinks that is a violation of the constitution since there is no mention of executive orders in the constitution. Neither the House nor the Senate has any desire to take up the immigration issue before the election. The House did pass an immigration and border security bill recently, said Poe. It did not make the news, but the bill was to address the influx of people coming into the U.S. Part of that bill was to reimburse the state of Texas for their expenditures in enforcing border security. Congressman Poe stated that it has cost Texas approximately $500 million or $1.2 million a week. The bill also provided for more judges to hear the immigration cases that are the choke point for returning people back to their own country.
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