(STAFF REPORTS/Chewelah Independent)
McMorris Rodgers meets with dozens of constituents in Colville…
U.S. Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers addressed dozens at a town hall meeting held at the Stevens County Ambulance Training Center in Colville on Thursday with topics ranging from jobs, guns, climate change and the economy along with topics like veterans benefits.
McMorris Rodgers started the meeting talking about the current job situation where mills like Boise Cascade are struggling to find enough workers and while more jobs are always good to hear she would like to see more of these jobs filled in the area.
She also pointed out the A-to-Z project in the Colville National Forest, which is becoming a pilot program nationally for private and public partnership to manage our public lands.
“There are 200 million acres of forest and 40 percent are diseased and bug infested,” McMorris Rodgers said. “We need to start taking action and better managing our forests.”
She mentioned the broadband workshop and talked about how federal maps dont accurately map broadband access, and that broadband is basic infrastructure.
She mentioned several solutions that had been presented at the meeting as well.
McMorris Rodgers also said she supported getting more doctors residencies in NE Washington as doctors are more likely to live in areas where they did their residency. This would help, she said, the gap in healthcare access in the world. She also said she is working on making healthcare more affordable and said there needs to be more options to choose from and more competition for insurance companies, including across state lines.
An audience member interrupted, saying McMorric Rodgers didn’t vote to support the Affordable Care Act, but McMorris responded saying the ACA didn’t help prices, a point some people in the audience agreed with audibly.
The conversation also went into how Medicare and Medicaid is funded, and McMorris Rodgers said she supported both programs.
One person asked what the most funded thing in the federal government was and McMorris Rodgers answered defense. One person again interrupted and said we didn’t need more wars. McMorris Rodgers said that defense was important for the country and its residents.
Another person asked about why there weren’t more specialized doctors up at Mt. Carmel, a question McMorris Rodgers re-directed towards Providence Stevens County CEO Ron Rehn who said that there was not enough population in the area to keep specialized people at the hospital at all times.
One audience member talked about recent mass shootings and said it was hard to reconcile with the rhetoric coming out of the White House. They said nobody should be targeted.
McMorris Rodgers said it is very important for people of all backgrounds to be respected in the county.
“In this country you can pursue your dream,” she said, adding that the broken immigration system needs to be fixed. She supports strong borders and walls but also wants more DACA certainty.
“I have spoken out about DACA several times,” McMorris Rodgers said.
McMorris Rodgers said she has also worked on fixing the national database after too many people have fallen through the gaps and been able to purchase weapons when they shouldn’t have. She also added she supported the Stop School Violence Act which helped schools do mapping for security and hire resource officers.
One audience member incorrectly stated that you can purchase an automatic AK-47 in the country today.
She explained that she supported the second amendment and people’s rights to bear arms. She also pointed to bigger issues than just mass shootings as suicides in the country are the highest rate of suicides in the world.
“We need to be more united,” one audience member said. “Media is partly to blame; these shooters think they can get fame.”
Later in the town hall, audience members again voiced their concern over the divide currently in politics saying it’s vitriol from both sides.
McMorris Rodgers agreed, saying it starts with individuals respecting each other. She mentioned a Gallup poll that said 83 percent of Americans are stressed or anxious.
She mentioned the Peaceful Roundtable sessions she held with the Spokane NAACP, and Unity dinners where Republicans and Democrats would invite each other over as ways to build relationships even across the political divide.
Other questions included climate change, where audience members said that emissions in the country were rising since President Trump was elected.
McMorris Rodgers said that the US is an innovator in clean energy, has the lowest per capita emissions since 1950 and emissions are at 1992 levels. The Independent fact-checked these claims and they proved true. Greenhouse gas emissions have dropped .7 percent in 2017 from the previous year’s level.
Audience members still said gas emissions were rising in the country and cited the U.S. leaving the Paris agreement. Greenhouse emissions, according to EPA statistics, however, show them dropping in the country.
McMorris Rodgers also pointed to India and China producing a large amount of the globe’s greenhouse gasses as well and said European Union countries weren’t meeting their Paris Accord goals either. She said the way forward is continued energy innovation and said Washington is in the lead with hydroelectric power and other methods. The Independent researched this and Washington is indeed the top state for producing power from renewable measures, by a considerable amount from the next state.
Another question was asked concerning agriculture and how farmers are being affected by tariffs in a trade war with China.
McMorris Rodgers said that Trump had given $15 billion to help farmers, and that this trade war is needed as China is stealing other countries’ tech and selling it back to them.
Other topics at the town hall included some veteran benefit issues, small ag support and people asking about money going to illegal immigrants.