The job of a Representative is to inform and educate, learn and listen, analyze the facts, and decide when and how to act. I read about several topics in the news today, and these are the top 10 issues that should be on the mind of Congresspeople in Washington.
The following list is a few days worth of media topics Congress should prioritize. Can you send a gift — a financial contribution — to get me to Washington so Northern Michigan and the UP can have real representation?
1 - The US is one of only seven countries in the world that doesn't have some sort of universal paid family or medical leave.
Paid leave not only reduces family financial stress; it's good for business because it increases retention and attracts a healthy, happy, loyal workforce. We need a paradigm shift in how we value American workers. People are not commodities
2 - Typical American teenagers spend about half their waking hours on smartphones. We have an epidemic of teen depression and anxiety. Congress needs to consult with experts to determine the root causes of our Nation's mental health crisis and how addictive technology and social media play a role.
3 - Over the past six months through January, apartment rents fell in every major metropolitan area in the US for the first time in five years. Is this a good thing in urban America, and what implications does the fall have for rural districts like MI01? We need to increase the supply of affordable housing.
3 - The median price for an existing home in the US was $359,000 in January, more than $90,000 higher than three years earlier. Homeowners may see this as advantageous for home values, but housing costs and corporate profits are the most significant drivers of inflation, causing increased economic disparities.
4 - A New York Times exposé revealed that companies exploit migrant children in dangerous jobs nationwide. We addressed this problem over 100 years ago, but there are still rampant problems, even here in Michigan. I'm grateful to Rep. Hillary Scholten for implementing an inter-agency task force to crack down on child labor and holding companies accountable for illegal child labor.
5 - Health/Safety Risk Assessments
When a government agency develops national safety and health standards, it uses a '1 in 1,000,000' mortality risk to gauge threats like air pollution.
Yet, the voluntary risk of alcohol consumption for someone drinking 3-6 standard drinks per week is associated with 1 in 100 premature deaths.
Are we doing enough to inform and educate Americans on the risks of substance abuse and alcoholism?
6 - US support for Ukraine should be on the mind of every Congressperson. After more than $100 billion of aid support worldwide for Ukraine over the last year, we must continually discuss what thresholds and milestones Americans agree on, so we can evaluate strategy and define success. Defending democracy and supporting our ally in the region is critical, but we must do so responsibly.
7 - Stock buybacks by companies in the S&P 500 are projected to top $1 trillion in 2023. Experts say it can keep the market afloat, but we need answers to gauge if this is good for all Americans and minor stockholders or only for the ultrawealthy.
8 - One in 12 American households relies on the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) to put food on the table each month. These 40 million Americans will soon experience a change to SNAP benefit amounts as emergency allotments end. In the United States of America, any child going hungry is a national disgrace, and we need permanent solutions to food insecurity.
9 - The Energy Department now joins the FBI, stating COVID may have spread via a mishap at a Chinese laboratory. At the same time, four other agencies and a national intelligence panel believe it is natural transmission, and two are undecided. Both theories have low to moderate confidence in their findings. The unknown answer is essential to address and prevent future pandemics.
10 - Half of rural community hospitals can't deliver babies. Sixteen counties in our state are considered 'maternal care deserts'; all are in Northern Michigan and the UP. In fact, most of the counties in our district do not have a local obstetrician. All expecting mothers in rural America deserve access to maternal healthcare.
There's lots of work to do. Let's get to it. I will work hard to be informed and look at all sides of an issue to find the best way forward.