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Congressman Rob Woodall

Representing the 7th District of Georgia

District Connection - 8/7/17

August 7, 2017
E-Newsletter Archive


We all know how wonderful our Gwinnett and Forsyth schools are, and it’s great to see that our success is being recognized on a national level. Last week, Tommy Welch, the principal of Meadowcreek High School in Norcross was named as one of three finalists for the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) Principal of the Year award. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Meadowcreek High School a number of times, and I can tell you that Principal Welch is leading a great team of teachers, parents, and students, and everyone I spoke with had so many positive things to say about his leadership. Meadowcreek hasn’t always been the success that it is today, and much of that success is thanks to the team that Principal Welch has built around him. Six years ago, when Mr. Welch became principal, the school’s graduation rate was 47 percent. Now, it’s 73 percent. That success doesn’t happen overnight and it doesn’t happen because of just one person, but it would have been impossible without the strong leadership of Principal Welch and his commitment to hard-work and results for all his students. I know everyone in the 7th District joins me in wishing Principal Welch good luck. 

And moving from great leaders of today to great leaders of tomorrow, I had the honor of meeting with Abhiram “Abhi” Kapaganty last week, who was this year’s Georgia Association of Educators state spelling bee champion. At just 11 years old, Abhi’s win qualified him to compete in the most prestigious spelling bee in the world, the Scripps National Bee in Washington, D.C. Out of over 250 contestants, Abhi tied for 41st place. That’s simply amazing!  And he aspires to do even better next year.

Rep. Rob Woodall and Georgia Spelling Bee champion Abhiram Kapaganty

They say you can’t achieve success without hard work, and after spending time with Abhi and his parents, I know that’s true now more than ever. Abhi and his family should be commended for their dedication, determination, and discipline in achieving this dream. And the best part is when I asked Abhi what comes next, he told me he is already preparing for more competitions. It gives me great pride and joy to know that the 7th District is home to some of the best and the brightest in our country; young people who know that success comes through hard work and that the greatest victories come from showing up again and again until your dreams are realized. 


Being back home in the 7th District means a lot of great things, but one of those is having the opportunity to visit our local businesses and job creators to hear about their successes as well as the challenges they face. It’s through these meetings that solutions are often hatched for problems that may have flown under the radar to many, but greatly affect those in a given industry. For example, National Vision Inc. is the fastest growing optical chain in the country, and it calls the 7th District home. With not only the retail support center in Duluth, but also an optical lab and distribution center in Lawrenceville, their impact on our local economy is significant – employing nearly 600 people in these locations alone, and nearly 1,200 in Georgia.

Rep. Rob Woodall visits with the National Vision team in Duluth

We talked about health care, taxation -- particularly the complexities of a Border Adjustment Tax (BAT) (which Congress and the White House recently abandoned) -- human resource challenges, corporate philanthropy, and more.  Having a leading optical care company headquartered right here at home not only provides great jobs, but also provides me with immediate access to answers when questions that require expertise like that found at National Vision arise.


I’ve said it before, but the truth is there is an expert in the 7th District for just about every field you could imagine. The best part of my job is that really smart people take time from their busy schedules to visit with me and share what they know, and another example of national expertise located right here at home is Applied Information Inc. in Suwanee. Bryan Mulligan, President of the company, offered to show me first-hand the amazing ideas on the horizon in the field of intelligent transportation systems – in particular, the TravelSafely app that Applied Information is developing.  

With decades of experience in the industry, Bryan and his team are now focusing on ways in which they can put their expertise to use to make travel of all kinds safer, more reliable, and more efficient for everyone. In fact, the Gwinnett County schools are using this technology right now to help keep school children safe by remotely monitoring school zone traffic signals. In Marietta, the company's cloud and web-based technology enables communication between traffic signals and first-responder vehicles equipped with the systems, which has led to a dramatic reduction in emergency response travel times and accidents. You might not know it, but traffic-related accidents have historically been the second leading cause of death to firemen on the job, and Applied Information’s technology has the potential to save lives on every emergency call. 

Rep. Rob Woodall with Bryan Mulligan, President of Applied Information Inc.

While certainly important to us all, the benefit of the technology isn’t limited to just first-responders.  Once completed, anyone will be able to download their smartphone app for free and begin receiving alerts, for example, when traffic signals are about to change or when roadwork is ahead. The list of examples goes on and on, but it offers us a look at the possibilities that lie ahead if we leverage these resources for the public good.  Through my work on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I can assure you that safe, efficient travel – whether flying across the world or walking across a busy intersection – is a shared priority regardless of political party. We’ve seen significant bipartisan successes in recent years in moving crucial legislation, such as the FAST Act, which has invested significantly in intelligent transportation systems development, but the work continues, and partnering with our innovators to put technology to the best possible use is vital to long-term solutions for the challenges we face. I’m excited to see the role Applied Information will play as we move forward, and I’m grateful to the whole team for taking the time to share their vision, passion, and expertise with all of us.  

Being your voice in Washington means understanding these issues, listening to and questioning our local experts, and applying that knowledge and experience in Congress.  If you know of a local business or local expert that I should visit with to learn more and to better serve you, please reach out to me and let me know.


The U.S. Senate came together  last week to confirm Georgia-based attorney Christopher Wray as the new Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The 92-5 vote is an overwhelming endorsement of Mr. Wray’s abilities and a vote of confidence in his new role at the FBI. The FBI is an integral part of America’s justice system. It’s independence from the political process is a hallmark of its success and a tribute to the fairness of American justice. Justice is supposed to be blind to color, creed, background, and political ideology, and Mr. Wray’s stellar background in the law is going to serve America well. I look forward to his leadership, and I’m sure that all Georgians wish his well.


Last week, President Trump signed into law a major sanctions bill that will hold North Korea, Iran, and Russia accountable for their provocative actions in the international community. The bill was overwhelmingly approved by vast bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate – in fact, only five members in either chamber opposed the measure – and I’m so pleased that President Trump agreed with Congress and put his signature of the legislation. 

What’s more, over the weekend, the United National Security Council, a body that has not always been favorable to U.S. positions on sanctions, passed a strict new sanctions measure aimed directly at the rogue North Korean regime. The resolution was introduced by U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley, and I’m happy to say that all 15 Security Council nations voted for the measure, even Russia and China, the latter having long been an ally of North Korea. The resolution is a key indicator that that world will not accept the nuclear irresponsibility of a North Korean regime that is an increasingly destabilizing force in the Asia-Pacific region. And China’s accession to the resolution is hopefully a powerful statement to North Korea that there is no responsible nation on the planet that will allow it to continue testing missiles. It’s also a reminder that American leadership abroad is more important than ever, and I’m so pleased that Congress and the Trump Administration are working together to further our shared goal of a peaceful world. 


I had the pleasure of joining members of the Snellville Commerce Club at their monthly meeting last Tuesday. As you all may know, this group is the official business marketing organization of Snellville Tourism & Trade, and it consists of local business leaders and public servants who work together to make Snellville a great place to live, work, visit, and more. On the first Tuesday of each month, members and guests of the Club meet for lunch and discuss the goings on around the city. At this meeting, the group heard from folks like the Chief of Police, members of the City Council, local school officials, and representatives from several local businesses, among others, and the topics ranged from information about recently enacted city ordinances to updates regarding transportation projects that could impact traffic during commuting hours, to name a couple. 

I was invited speak with the group about the latest happenings in Washington, D.C., and to answer questions from folks who are impacted by the work we do on Capitol Hill. Several of the more pressing issues we are dealing with in D.C., including what’s next on health care reform and tax reform, were very popular topics covered both during my remarks and during the Q&A session that followed. While I always enjoy our discussions, I’m always equally impressed by the insightful questions asked in these meetings. For example, many folks were interested in hearing about the ongoing efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and reverse the damage its reforms continue to cause in individual insurance markets across the nation. One member even wanted to dig deeper into specific concerns about the complexities and burdens for individuals impacted by the ACA’s net investment tax. That’s not the most widely known portion of the ACA, but it’s a critically important section of the ACA for individuals who are being over-taxed by the federal government. I’m grateful to this wonderful group of local leaders for what they do in our community and for offering me an opportunity to speak, listen, and learn at their monthly meeting! 

If you are in the area and interested in learning more about the Snellville Commerce Club or attending one of the group’s monthly meetings, I encourage you to click here for more information.


Rob Woodall
Member of Congress