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Posted: 03/12/14

MICHIGAN MATTERS. Above, Rep. Candice Miller speaks to local elected officials, business owners and others about the issues she is addressing in Washington, D.C., such as tax reform, alternative energy and stopping an Asian carp invasion in Michigan.

(Observer photo by Chris Gray)

Rep. Miller speaks on
bills that protect MI

Observer Staff Writer
      One of Michigan's representatives at Capitol Hill is confident Michigan will provide national defenses and resources for alternative energy.
       U.S. Congresswoman Candice Miller spoke with members of the Greater Romeo-Washington Chamber of Commerce at its annual State of the Community Luncheon on March 10.
       Miller touched on major issues affecting Michigan and the nation itself, among them being proposed cuts to A-10 Thunderbolt II jet squads around the county. Miller said the Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Harrison Township survived efforts to eliminate five squads, and believes it will continue to do so.
       "Air National Guard flies about 35 percent of the entire flying missions for the Air Force for 6 percent of the cost," she said. "We feel pretty good about where we are with this."
       She added that the first responsiblity of federal government before any other issue should be to provide for common defense.
       In the same vein of protection, Miller said she is an advocate for the Great Lakes, so she is pushing legislation that would separate the Mississippi River from the lakes to prevent an Asian carp invasion. She said she has received both support and backlash for the idea, but wants to safeguard the nautal resource from an invasive species.
       "We're the Great Lakes State, that is our identity, it's in our DNA," she said.
       On the transportation side for the lakes, she said efforts are being made to have the Great Lakes considered a single navigable system of transportation by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. She said this would improve shipping and dredging.
       She stressed the state can help build a better energy portfolio, saying it would lead to national security. This includes the Keystone oil pipeline from Canada or more nuclear, natural gas or wind power, saying Michigan is a good source for the latter two.
       "We actually have some of the best wind in the entire world there because of the long stretch of Lake Huron," she said.
       Regarding the new Farm Bill, Miller said the five-year bill provides a deficit reduction of $24 billion and includes crop insurance for farmers.
       "The farmers really bucked up . . . there are no subsidies or direct payments in the Farm Bill," she said.
       Miller is part of the Homeland Security Committee looking to improve immigration on the country's southern and northern borders. When asked why Congress would stall immigration reform in favor of securing borders to help out farmers, she said the politics of it are tough because the Senate's immigration reform only "throws a bunch of money at the border."
       "If we can get the border security part of it passed, then I think you will have the follow-on," she said.
       Turning to national issues, Miller said a lot of federal conversations deal with the country's budget. She said spending cuts should be made, but noted reductions alone will not solve the issue.
       "If there is one single thing that I think could really turbo-charge our economy and really get us going here is comprehensive tax reform," she said.
       She said simplifying the tax bill should be a goal as well as bringing down rates, such as the 35 percent corporate tax. She said since it's an election year it might be difficult to make such reforms, but hopes her fellow congressmen wouldn't shy away from tough votes.
       Miller said as a country there also needs to be more resources for mental health issues, especially in light of tragedies like the Sandy Hook shootings. She said a federal overhaul of mental health policies is gaining ground.
       "We still don't talk about mental heath enough, there is still a stigma," she said.

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