Congressman Rob Woodall

Representing the 7th District of Georgia

District Connection - 8/13/18

August 13, 2018
E-Newsletter Archive

GWINNETT’S HOME OF HOPE: WORKING TO BREAK THE CYCLE OF POVERTY 

I talk frequently about how proud I am to live in and represent communities where helping your neighbor is your most important job. That is just what the folks over at Gwinnett’s Home of Hope have made it their mission to do, and I had the distinct pleasure of visiting with them last week to see how they are helping those of us who have fallen on hard times. For those of you who don’t know, the Home of Hope at the Gwinnett Children Shelter provides services and shelter for homeless children and their mothers and works side-by-side with the residents to help put them back on their feet.  Gwinnett’s Home of Hope is one of a few organizations that serves mother and child as a unit, working with residents to ensure that they have not only a roof over their heads for the moment, but also the necessary tools for the future –a job, a home, a strong support system, financial counseling, and even a savings account cushion – to be independent and successful.


Rep. Rob Woodall with Home of Hope Executive Director Maureen Kornawa

What’s more, Gwinnett’s Home of Hope carries out its mission without any help from the federal government, not because it doesn’t need the additional funds, but because the restrictions that come with receiving even one federal dollar would force Home of Hope to change its operations.  As servants in a community, we all believe in second chances, extending a helping hand, and breaking the cycle of poverty.  I could feel this passion in all of those working at Home of Hope. Executive Director Maureen Kornawa, Home of Hope board members, and Home of Hope staff all shared their stories with me so that I can share those truths with Congress.  In this way, we can make the federal government a better partner to us locally, and by sharing with other jurisdictions those ideas that are working for us here at home, we can make a difference across the nation.  I am extremely grateful to the staff and residents for opening their doors and sharing their experiences with me.   

 

SPOTLIGHT ON LOCAL FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS: OUR COMMUNITY’S CREDIT UNIONS  

This summer, the House and Senate passed, and the President signed into law the most significant financial services reform since I’ve been in Congress. This law, the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, recognizes that the risks of Wall Street and the needs of Main Street are very different.  In the aftermath of the last financial crisis, regulators are rightly focused on Wall Street’s large financial institutions.  But the explosion of regulation targeting Wall Street has taken a toll on Main Street too.  Those regulations were not simply overwhelming local financial institutions, but they were also preventing local businesses, entrepreneurs, and even families from accessing the capital and credit that they needed.  In a bipartisan, bicameral way, Congress recognized the new stranglehold that was threatening community financial institutions and came together to change the law.

Eliminating unnecessary red tape and unintended burdens will allow credit unions and community banks to focus on investing in families and business here in our district rather than filling out mountains of unnecessary federal paperwork.  Was Congress able to solve everything for everybody?  No, but we did take a huge step forward for the benefit of our local community.  I am grateful for all of the feedback I received on these reforms, and I look forward to continuing to partner with all of the local business leaders who believe in our community to ensure that we have maximum flexibility to address local needs and concerns here at home.


Rep. Rob Woodall and the fantastic team at Delta Community Credit Union in Duluth

From Peach State Credit Union in Lawrenceville, to Delta Community Credit Union and Georgia United Credit Union in Duluth, and more, local financial leaders shared their stories—and their members’ stories—with me.  I have no doubt that many of you belong to the membership rolls of these credit unions and have accounts at our community banks.  The goal of regulatory reform is never really to help an institution; it is always meant to help the citizen and the customer.  Armed with feedback, both about how the new law is helping and with ideas about how to help even more, I can continue to make a difference for our community.  In Congress, when it comes to financial services reform, my focus has been on ensuring that consumers are protected and local financial services organizations have the flexibility to address your needs—whether that’s a small business loan, a mortgage, or a simple savings account.  Congress is united rather than divided by this goal, and I am pleased to see that these new reforms—now the law of the land—are making a difference.

 

FORSYTH COUNTY SCHOOLS RECOGNIZED FOR EXCELLENCE  

Education is the cornerstone of any community, and the continued tradition of excellence in our schools is a large part of what makes the Seventh District a great place to live. The efforts of our students, teachers, and administrators are pivotal to that success, and I’m proud that once again, their great work is being recognized as Forsyth County Public Schools was recently named the top county school district in the state. 

Every time I meet with students - whether in the classroom or in Washington, D.C. – I see clearly that these young people are passionate about using their ideas to build a better world around them. That passion does not appear overnight; it’s cultivated, and the educators and families here at home who dedicate themselves to lifting and empowering our students are a large part of our continued success. From boasting half of Georgia’s National Blue Ribbon Award winners to last week’s news of its students posting top marks on this year’s milestones, this is just another example out of how Forsyth County continues to go above and beyond. I know I speak for everyone when I say we are grateful for all those who have made our schools models of success, and I look forward to more great news like this that will surely follow this school year!

And, with Forsyth winning top county honors, if you are wondering which district won top “city school” honors, wonder no more: it was also a Seventh District school system—Buford City!  Education excellence is expected in our community, but it doesn’t come easy.  From property taxes to parents to the right school personnel, thousands in our community work together to ensure that our children are able to maximize their potential.  Thank you to all who demonstrate the extraordinary commitment that produces extraordinary results!  

 

RETIREMENT SAVINGS IN FOCUS:  LOCAL LEADERS SHARE IDEAS

Much like our local financial institutions, our local financial advisors are 100% invested in the success of our community.  As the American economy improves, Americans are saving more, but retirement continues to be a concern as the Baby Boomers begin their golden years.  NAIFA—the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors—has a local chapter here, and I visited with them last week to understand better the challenges that their clients—our neighbors—are facing.

With four months remaining in year, much more legislation will be heading to the President’s desk for his signature.  The Congress’ #BetterOffNow policies are supporting an amazing economic renewal across the state, and with that renewal comes opportunity.  NAIFA shared with me its top legislative priority on behalf of its clients—the Retirement Enhancement and Savings Act—and I asked of NAIFA that its members continue to share with me the challenges that their clients are bringing to them.  Together, we can make a difference.  The Retirement Enhancement and Savings Act would allow small employers to pool together to offer shared retirement plans to their employees, improve income portability over the course of an individual’s life, and take several other steps to increase retirement security and financial peace of mind for working families.  Saving for retirement is never easy, but there are real impediments today, and we do have real opportunities to do better for all citizens.

When I return to Washington, I will discuss these ideas with the bill’s bipartisan authors to see where I can help to make a difference.  In the meantime, if you are involved in this industry or have retirement concerns of your own, I encourage you to take a look at the bill and reach out to me with your feedback.   

 

CONSTITUENT SPOTLIGHT: AMERICAN MILITARY POWER IN SPACE 

Last Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence announced the Trump Administration’s proposal to create a sixth branch of our Armed Forces—the Space Force. This new branch would be responsible for protecting U.S. vital interests in space, as we see strategic competitors, like China and Russia, among others, purse space warfare capabilities which could threaten the U.S. during times of conflict and even during times of peace. Considering that the last time the U.S. created a new separate military service was the Air Force in 1947, many of you have shared your thoughts on what would be the most significant restructuring of our military in my lifetime.  

Shannon from Lawrenceville: 

SPACE FORCE, are you kidding me?!? This is beyond ridiculous. Do not waste the money on an idiotic space force when that money could go towards vets, or helping the homeless, or women's shelters, or any number of worthy causes that would actually help Americans. Do not let a juvenile man-child make you look like a fool. Stand up for your fellow Americans. Stand up for US. Say NO to SPACE FORCE.

Tom from Cumming: 

I certainly understand that we need to protect our satellites and whatever else may be in space, but do we really need to add more bureaucracy to the military? Should the Air Force continue to handle this? 

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While it may sound like something from a science fiction movie or television show to talk about a Space Force, and it may remind many of us of President Reagan’s STAR WARS, the reality is that space is integral to today’s American way of life and our national security. We rely on satellites for GPS (operated by the U.S. Air Force), weather forecasting, communications, and military efforts every day.  The U.S. has long held the advantage in space, but as technology has advanced and developed, we are now seeing rivals developing the capabilities to catastrophically hinder our country. In fact, our intelligence community has warned that Russia and China may be able to shoot down our satellites within a couple years.

Calls for a new Space Force are not new. Currently, the Air Force, with its Air Force Space Command leads our efforts in space, and many of the functions of the new Space Force would be a reorganization of that current entity, rather than a new creation. As Vice President Pence said in his announcement of the proposal, “the Space Force will not be built from scratch.” The idea for an independent branch of the military was floated last year during discussions on the FY18 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), but was ultimately not included. In this year’s NDAA, Congress directed the Department of Defense to establish a subordinate unified command for carrying out joint space warfighting operations. That said, according to a 2016 GAO report, our assets in space are “fragmented across approximately 60 stakeholder organizations within the Department of Defense (DOD), the Executive Office of the President, the Intelligence Community, and civilian agencies,” and it concluded that officials and experts do not know who is in charge of our space defense. Clearly, we can’t adequately address the challenges of protecting American infrastructure in space if we don’t know who is in charge.

Much like we have recently done by elevating U.S. Cyber Command to the level of an independent Unified Combatant Command in response to the rise of cyber threats, we must do more to remain dominate in space and protect our vulnerabilities in the modern age. There are many details of creating a new Space Force as a new military branch that have yet to be discussed, and for those of you who have concerns about the idea, please know that it can only be done by an act of Congress.  Certainly, any restructuring of this magnitude would be complicated, and Congress would want to hear input from all sides, knowing that ultimately, national security is an issue that unites America rather than divides it.  I am interested to see the details of the Administration’s ideas, and then I look forward to partnering with my colleagues if any legislation ultimately moves forward.  

 

FORSYTH COUNTY LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIALS RECOGNIZED AS BEST IN STATE

When words such as valor, heroism, professionalism, and dedication are used to describe the conduct of your local law enforcement officials, it bodes well for the safety and integrity of your community. Thankfully, that’s exactly the kind of standard we have come to expect here in the Seventh District. In case you missed it last week, two of Forsyth County’s own were honored for excellence in the line of duty at the Georgia Sheriff’s Association annual awards banquet. Lt. Scotty Spriggs was awarded the “Deputy Sheriff of the Year Award for Valor,” and Cpl. Page Cash received the award for “Deputy of the Year for Professionalism.” To think about the kind of fellow officers with which they serve, it makes their accomplishments even more impressive. Having had the opportunity to visit with, and get to know, so many of our officers across the region, I can tell you the bar is set very, very high. I have no doubt the entire field of officers eligible for these awards was more than deserving, but I sure am proud of Lt. Spriggs and Cpl. Cash for earning this distinction. What’s more, though, is the appreciation I feel towards the men and women who assume the daily risk of wearing the badge to serve and protect our community. Thank you to each and every one! 

 

NATIVE GWINNETTIAN, MAJOR-LEAGUER, PARTNERS WITH CHILDREN’S HEALTHCARE OF ATLANTA

What happens when you combine summertime, a baseball diamond, a local Major League Baseball star, and the tremendous work of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA)? Well, folks in Metro Atlanta got a glimpse of that recently when Parkview High graduate and former Atlanta Braves outfielder Jeff Francoeur got back on the field to participate in the inaugural Home Run Derby in support of CHOA and to benefit the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. Now we all remember Jeff hitting his fair share of home runs during his time in the Major League, but last week he was on the receiving end of that process as he pitched to young people like Luke England – who I’m happy to say is a cancer-survivor and former CHOA patient, and also just so happened to clear three over the fence! I’ve said over and over how proud I am of what those in and around our community do for others, and this is yet another example. No matter the issue, topic, or concern, we have so many talented, dedicated people in our midst willing to use their abilities to improve someone else’s life, and I’m grateful for it. 

 

THE WEEK AHEAD  

This week is going to be a celebration of the great work that our friends and neighbors in the Seventh District are doing every day. First, it’s National Health Center Week, and that means I’m going to spend some time with the great folks at Georgia Highlands Medical Services in Cumming learning about what new services they are bringing to our community. And as our children get back to school for the 2018-2019 school year, I’ll also be spending time with the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce and Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) Superintendent Mr. J. Alvin Wilbanks as he gives the community his annual “state of the schools” address. This is always a fantastic opportunity for us to hear about the amazing students, teachers, administrators, and families who make our GCPS system so special. And of course, I’m always available to meet with you in my District office or at your next community event. Just email me and we will get the ball rolling!  

Sincerely,

Rob Woodall
Member of Congress