District Connection - 8/12/13


I've had a great week visiting with friends and neighbors here at home, and I'd like to share a few of the highlights with you. As always, my office is only a phone call away. If I can be of any help to you or your family, please let me know.


Part of my work when I am here at home is to check on those organizations that receive federal support. These visits are to make sure that tax dollars are being used as intended and to learn how we can write the rules and regulations govering the use of those dollars better. One of my visits this past week was to a seniors housing facility, Gwinnett Christian Terrace, and I want to thank the staff and residents for making my visit so worthwhile. I especially want to thank Sharon McNair, Executive Administrator for the facility, for the time she invested in making me aware of their successes as well as their challenges. Gwinnett Christian Terrace is a non-profit facility in Lilburn that houses 125 one-bedroom apartments for low income seniors. The apartments are fantastic and the first class staff enables the residents to maintain a great deal of independence through their golden years.


The Snellville Commerce Club is the official business marketing organization of Snellville Tourism and Trade and is responsible for creating and promoting programs that enhance the business community's relationship to the city. Since 1984, the group has met monthly, and this month, I was honored to be their presenter. We talked about the Federal budget, Federal regulatory reform, Obamacare, and more.

Like many other civic organizations around the Seventh District, the Snellville Commerce Club supports local philanthropies and promotes civic education in Snellville to ensure a stronger community. Organizations like this make our community stronger, and I'm grateful for the folks who contribute to their community through this organization. Much more important than the decisions that are made in Washington is how those decisions impact small business owners and entrepreneurs like the ones here in Snellville.


I spent the morning hours last Thursday with the Gwinnett Women's Council of Realtors. This was really a treat for me as the Realtors bring together professionals from a variety of industries who not only bring great questions, but fantastic ideas and insights with regard to the housing industry, finance, and how the Federal government is helping or hurting their collective efforts to bring the housing market back. I'm grateful they shared their big brains with me last week, and I look forward to joining them again.

I know that you are as proud of our community as I am, and civic leaders like those with the Council are part of the reason why. The morning that I was with them, they were planning a big event and fundraiser with Habitat for Humanity. The families in our communities do so much to help one another and are so successful doing it, it can't help but color my votes in Washington. You can be certain that I tell the stories of our district's efforts and successes regularly!


Last Thursday I visited the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce 2013 Business Expo. It was a great event -- bringing the business community together to share their products and services with each other and the public. There were more than 60 exhibitors at the expo showing off the great work that Georgia's businesses and entrepreneurs are doing right here in Forsyth County. It is always exciting and uplifting to see folks who are so proud of building our local economy. If you haven't been to an Expo before, keep an eye on the Gwinnett Chamber and Forsyth Chamber websites. These events are a great way to connect with businesses -- both young and old -- in our area.


Last Friday was a very special day for me. I had the honor and privilege of speaking at a naturalization ceremony at the U.S. District Court in Atlanta. 151 people representing 60 different countries came from all over Georgia to take part in this fantastic ceremony where they all took a solemn oath renouncing their allegiance to their previous countries and pledging to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic. Having passed all the background checks and handled all of the paperwork earlier, upon taking the oath these 151 people became United States citizens.

Since the very first naturalization ceremony in 1790, millions of people have taken this oath. Over the past 220 years, brave men and women have left their homelands, some coming far across the sea, some coming from just over our borders, to add to the fabric of America. The people I met last week are full of hope for this country, and they are proud to be part of our American melting pot.

Though our country has its problems, I can tell you that these new Americans fill me with faith that our nation's best days are still ahead.


So often what happens in Washington seems very disconnected from what is happening at home. With gas prices always on everyone's mind, I wanted to connect some of the dots about what is happening in DC and how that impacts us here at home. As you may know, Congress decided in 2007 that America's gasoline must be blended with a certain amount of renewable fuel each year, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is charged with deciding how much renewable fuel will be required. This is called the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Unfortunately, thanks to more fuel efficient cars which causes us to buy less gas, we are quickly coming up against a "blend wall" -- that point where the industry can't support adding any more ethanol to our gasoline. What happens then is that we're stuck with higher gas prices and less money in our wallets as a result.

The most frustrating part of this situation is that the EPA actually has broad authority to set, waive, and alter these requirements, but have time and again refused to yield to reality. That's why I joined my colleagues to send a letter to the EPA Administrator requesting that she exercise her waiver authority under the law to ensure that blending requirements actually reflect market realities. On Wednesday, I was excited to hear the EPA announce that it was taking our advice and lowering its mandate for 2014. This means more certainty in the marketplace and could lead to lower gas prices at the pump for us.


Many of you regularly receive my District Pulse surveys, and I thank you for taking the time to take part in them. What I've been hearing a lot from folks is that they want to see the results of the surveys, and now you can! I've posted the results of our most recent polls on my website, and I will update them once the surveys are complete.

Rob Woodall