Representative speaks - State Rep. Aaron Miller (right) answers a question during the Three Rivers Area Chamber of Commerce legislative update Friday. Looking on are other participants: (from left) Griffin Working representing U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, State Sen. John Proos, Lynn Turner representing U.S. Rep. Fred Upton. Commercial-News/Elena Meadows

Legislative update given during Chamber breakfast

Successes include helping veterans, funding cures

THREE RIVERS — Four local legislators or their designees provided an update on what’s been happening in Washington and Lansing, during a Three Rivers Area Chamber of Commerce breakfast Friday, Jan. 27 at the Three Rivers Community Center.
Griffin Working from U.S. Sen. Gary Peters’ office said that Peters had introduced the Fairness for Veterans Amendment, to help veterans who may have been erroneously given a less than honorable discharge from the military due to negative behavior resulting from mental traumas such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). This was signed into law.
He also helped introduce the Peters-Gardner American Innovation and Competitiveness Act, a massive update to research and technology policy, which was also signed into law.
With the new president comes a new Congress, and “there is a lot of contention between the president and Congress,” Working said. However, Peters takes his job seriously and wants to work across the aisle. While he disagrees with some of President Donald Trump’s decisions, he agrees with some of them as well, such as the decision to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
One of Trump’s big campaign issues was rebuilding infrastructure, and the Democrats are proposing an infrastructure spending bill that would invest into communities themselves rather than toll roads or for-profit companies, Working said, estimating it would create 15 million new jobs and would not be very burdensome on taxpayers, as it would close tax loopholes used by corporations.
Nothing is set in stone yet regarding the proposal.
Lynn Turner, representing U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, said that Upton had been working for three years on the 21st Century Cures Act, which would get drugs from the idea stage into consumers’ hands faster, better, cheaper and safer.
He worked with Democratic Rep. Diana DeGette on the effort.
“Fred is Mr. Bipartisan,” Turner said.
His chairmanship of the Committee on Energy and Commerce has ended, but now he is Chairman of the Subcommittee on Energy, a pivotal panel that has jurisdiction over national energy policy. He is already “off to the races,” Turner said, noting that they have helped to get four new energy policy bills passed.
He was pleased to hear that Trump wanted to re-start the Keystone Pipeline project, saying that would help make the country more energy efficient.
Regarding the Affordable Care Act repeal and replace, “we’ve gotten lots of phone calls,” Turner said. “People are scared.”
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