District Connection - 5/15/17
Thousands of 7th District residents travel down I-85 past the Mitsubishi Electric campus every day, but how many of us really know how important that campus is to our community? I had the opportunity to tour the facility last week, and I can tell you, the work being done right here in Suwanee is incredible. HVAC units and component parts are brought from around the country and around the world to the Suwanee warehouse, and American engineers are constantly testing the efficiency of products so that Mitsubishi Electric Cooling and Heating can be a leader in the federal government’s EnergyStar program. In fact, Mitsubishi Electric is a leader in ductless zone heating and cooling systems – a real “system of the future” where families can set different rooms to different temperatures and control everything with a smart phone app. Efficient energy consumption and lowering consumer prices has long been a goal of your government, and I’m proud that our hometown company is partnering in that effort.
Rep. Rob Woodall visits with the leadership team at Mitsubishi Electric Cooling and Heating in Suwanee
The campus houses over 200 employees who work on almost every facet of the business, from concept design and engineering to the consumer solutions calling center and product repair. The Suwanee campus is part of a larger Mitsubishi Electric family that is responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity every year and thousands of American jobs. I’m proud to work with them in the future to develop better energy efficiency standards, grow the Suwanee facility, and support high-paying Americans jobs up and down the supply chain. Thank you to everyone at Mitsubishi Electric for inviting me into your business!
South Korea has become one of America’s most important allies in trade and in peace, and South Korea’s recently elected President Moon Jae-in represents an opportunity to bolster this critical partnership and advance our shared goals. Given the important relationship that South Korea has with America and the number of Americans of South Korean descent who live in our community, I am pleased to see that the new South Korean leader has already begun working with President Trump to bolster stability in the Asia-Pacific region and with the Chinese government to halt North Korea’s unacceptable nuclear ambitions. The denuclearization of North Korea is arguably the most important foreign policy goal of our time, and I look forward to working with President Trump and his fellow world leaders to achieve it. My colleagues and I in Congress have supported this effort by passing legislation that will result in serious economic consequences for the North Korean regime should they continue down this dangerous and unpredictable path.
We all know that six weeks ago, a significant portion of I-85 was destroyed by a fire. As a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and representative for many of the thousands of commuters who rely on this road on a daily basis, I viewed the situation as both an emergency and an opportunity. The emergency was obvious, but the opportunity was to demonstrate what the very best partnership between federal and state governments could look like when it comes to rebuilding America’s infrastructure. And if you don’t know already, our community made that partnership a model that will be followed around the nation for years to come.
I began talking with U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao even before the fire was extinguished. Less than a day later, the federal government transferred $10 million to the State of Georgia to begin work on repairs. My office and I stayed in close contact with state officials throughout the process to ensure they had all the resources they needed. And our community’s success is now recorded in history.
What did we learn? Well, when the mind-numbing amount of red tape that is normally associated with federal dollars is largely waived, we can do amazing things in short periods of time without sacrificing safety, the environment, worker protection, or any of the values that we all hold dear. The time it takes to rebuild aging infrastructure and tackling transformational new projects should be measured in months, not years, and our community has proven that is possible. As we begin to discuss President Trump’s major infrastructure proposal, you can be sure I will be reminding my colleagues in Congress that we should refuse to accept the conventional wisdom that we must patiently wade through decades-worth of federal bureaucracy in order to begin a transportation project. Our crumbling infrastructure, growing cities, and rising economy cannot afford to wait and the time is now to learn from these lessons and radically reform the way we do business.
- Atlanta Journal Constitution. I-85 bridge: Fast construction is safe, experts say
- Fox 5 Atlanta. First rush hour commute since reopening of I-85
We have so many nationally known companies hiring and growing right here at home. Georgia-based Flowers Foods makes many of the baked goods that you and I eat every day – TastyKake, Home Pride, Nature’s Own, Wonder bread, and Mrs. Freshley’s – to name a few, and is the second largest producer of packaged baked goods in the United States with nearly $3.8 billion in sales last year. One of its most productive facilities is here in Suwanee.
What impresses me in particular about the Flowers model is the number of employees who have risen through the ranks of the company, from starting at entry level positions to managing various parts of the business today. With over 10,000 employees nationwide, it’s remarkable how committed Flowers Foods is to helping their employees succeed. Every community may not be able to tell stories of corporate citizens like this, but we can, and we must. Opportunity lives here, and we must ensure that families who are trying to work their way up know exactly where to find it.
Rep. Rob Woodall and the fantastic team at Flowers Foods in Suwanee
In 2015, Flowers Foods acquired a bread company from Oregon, Dave’s Killer Bread, which makes organic, non-GMO bread. While this might not seem unusual, you should know a little about Dave’s story and how it resonated with the folks at Flowers Foods. Nearly one-third of the employees at Dave’s Killer Bread are folks who have a criminal record. The company believes in giving second chances and helping people rehabilitate their lives. By embracing a company that has such a strong commitment to community, Flowers Foods is showing its nearly 100 year commitment to making Georgia a better place to live and work. Having a strong, responsible corporate citizen in our backyard like Flowers Foods is a credit to our community, and I’m looking forward to working with the entire Flowers Foods family to make the 7th District even better tomorrow than it is today.
The best way to start my day is always by visiting a school, but as our school kids are preparing for final exams and the end of the year, I’ve found that the second best way to start the day is by visiting with local leaders who are committed to working for the betterment of our community. And that’s exactly what I found at the Community Foundation for Northeast Georgia on Thursday morning.
The Community Foundation has been active in our part of the world since 1985, and in the past 30 years, it’s given close to $60 million in charitable funds back to the community. I was privileged to be invited to speak about tax reform to this distinguished group of community leaders, and we spent a great deal of time discussing how important retaining the charitable giving deduction is to the non-profit sector. There’s always a lot of fear when we talk about fundamental tax reform – what deductions and credit might stay and which might go, who is going to be a “winner” and who is going to be a “loser,” and will we be able to reform the code in a revenue neutral manner – but I have to say, the people at the Community Foundation were focused on one topic – how to continue incentivizing Americans to give money to charity. I wish that every group I spoke to could be so singularly focused on how to use our powerful federal government to do the most good for the greatest number of Americans.
Rep. Rob Woodall speaks with members of the Community Foundation for Northeast Georgia in Duluth
While I don’t have all the answers about what will and won’t be included in Congress’ tax reform package, I know that maintaining the charitable giving deduction is one of the most important pieces of our House tax reform blueprint. Americans have always been a generous people. In 2015, Americans gave over $373 billion to charity. That’s more than the entire economic output of most nations on the planet. That's something for us all to be proud of, and we have great partners, like the Community Foundation for Northeast Georgia, that help to make it possible.
I had the great pleasure of spending time with Forsyth residents and business owners at the Lanier Forsyth Rotary last week. Like all 7th District constituents, they have been trying to sift through the media’s headlines and really understand how the legislation Congress is passing is going to affect their daily lives, their children’s futures, and the health and safety of their loved ones. As is always the case, I was lifted up by the optimism in our part of the world. Concerned about the failure of Obamacare, they wanted to know how the American Health Care Act is going to heal healthcare delivery, how it is going to affect Northside Hospital in Forsyth on which so many rely, and how it will affect their ability to obtain healthcare coverage for the families and provide affordable healthcare coverage for their employees.
This is a part of the world filled with problem solvers, such that every year they dawn yellow vests that read “Rotarians at Work” and they head out to Veterans Memorial Parkway to remove the litter. And just a few weeks ago, the Rotary’s annual Down and Derby event helped raise over $100,000 for local charities. Like all of us, they are aware of the problems America faces, and it is clear every time I visit that they are willing to roll up their sleeves and help fix it. That is an incredible motivator for me, and I thank them for their service.
Talking about taxes was a theme last week, and it was especially important on Wednesday when I visited with a number of students from Georgia State University’s Master of Taxation program. Whether students are young or old, right out of college or returning to school while working full time and raising families, the people that I met at GSU are second-to-none when it comes to intellect and passion for serving their communities. I told these students about why the FairTax was the very best tax plan in Washington, and I talked with them about how tax policy moves through committee and what I thought our opportunities were for once-in-a-generation reform.
Most of these students at GSU are working professionals, and many are entrepreneurs. They understand better than most why America needs the most efficient tax code on the planet and the real-world impact of making those taxes work for families and small businesses. They understand that tax policy can be the deciding factor for many small business owners on whether or not to hire an additional employee.
Rep. Rob Woodall meets with students at Georgia State University's Masters of Taxation program in Atlanta
I’m grateful for the expertise of the students and teachers in GSU’s Master of Taxation program, and I look forward to their continued counsel as Congress pushes tax reform across the finish line.
This coming Thursday, May 18th, I will be hosting another Telephone Town Hall Meeting. The issues we face in Washington are critically important, and I need your advice and counsel so that we can serve our community together.
Telephone Town Hall Meeting
Thursday, May 18th
7:00PM – 7:30PM
Call In Number: 877-229-8493
This week the House is going to address a very serious concern for the thousands of law enforcement personnel around the nation – how to properly assess the sentencing of an individual who kills a state or local law enforcement officer. H.R. 115, the “Thin Blue Line Act,” makes killing an officer an aggravating factor when a jury determines whether to recommend the death penalty for a federal crime. Currently, the law only provides an aggravating factor if the officer is a federal law enforcement official. This bill would harmonize the treatment of state and local law enforcement with their counterparts at the federal level. That said, I understand how deeply personal the issue of the death penalty is to many Americans, so I look forward to your counsel as this bill makes its way to the House floor.
The House will also debate H.R. 1039, the “Probation Officer Protection Act.” This bill would allow federal probation officers to arrest a third party that is obstructing or impeding the ability of the probation officer to complete his or her official duties. While this might seem like a small issue, it is critical that our federal probation officers are able to effectively supervise those on probation.
In addition, I hope that you will check docs.house.gov/floor throughout the week to see additional measures that may be considered by the House.
Member of Congress