Dr. Boozman's Check-up

I started the day at the Fox 16 studios talking about the Veterans History Project and the work done by my office to capture and preserve the memories of our veterans. This is a project through the Library of Congress to collect and retain the oral histories of our nation’s veterans so that future generations can hear directly from them to better understand the realities of war. Find out more about the Veterans History Project here.

I am proud of the work my staff has done to help Arkansans who are having problems with federal agencies.

We’ve been able to make a real difference in the lives of Arkansans, helping thousands of people with a wide range of matters involving federal agencies.

From the IRS, Social Security, Medicare, VA, international adoption, visas and many other issues, we can help navigate the roadblocks with government agencies.

My goal is to provide access to the help Arkansans need. Mobile office events are a critical component to delivering that service.

This morning, I joined members of my staff at the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce for our 100th mobile office. to continue his commitment to Arkansans by helping those who are having problems involving the federal government and to hear their thoughts about legislative issues.

Since I began serving Arkansas in the U.S. Senate, my office has received more than 15,000 requests for assistance.

Here are some examples of issues my office has been able to resolve:

  • A widow whose husband had been approved for Social Security benefits but never received his back-pay.
  • A couple went to Florida to get on a cruise and realized they had lost their passports on the drive down.
  • A Korean War veteran who sought VA compensation for radiation exposure during his service in the Navy.
  • An Arkansan teaching in China had a stroke in the Beijing airport.  His family needed help to get him safely back to Arkansas

If you need assistance with a federal agency, here is more information on how we can help.

In case you missed our interview with Jonesboro’s KASU radio, you can listen to the interview here. I talked about the need to get federal spending under control, that’s why I voted against the Budget Act that was approved by the Senate. This week the Senate passed a resolution to block the EPA’s overreaching WOTUS rule. This rule extends beyond the authority of EPA and threatens farmers, ranchers and private landowners' ability to use their property. In addition, I highlighted a great way to honor our veterans on Veterans Day by preserving their memories as part of the Veterans History Project.

I visited the 5News studio and talked with anchor Daren Bobb about the Hunger Free Summer for Kids Act, legislation I introduced that would increase access to summer meals for children in Arkansas. We also talked about STEM education and the President's veto of the National Defense Authorization Act. Watch the interview that aired on Sunday, October 25, 2015.

If you missed my interview with KASU this morning, you can listen to it in it's entirety on their website. We talked about the President's threat to veto the Defense Authorization Act, the Benghazi hearings, agriculture issues and more.

It was great to be back in Arkansas last week during the Columbus Day in-state work period where I focused on two issues of importance to the agriculture community—regulatory reform and food security.

In case you missed it, here are the highlights…

On regulatory reform:

“Boozman said he worried that the cost [of the EPA’s mandate] paid by electricity consumers would outweigh any potential gain from the regulations. ‘What does that do to moms? What does that do to people with fixed incomes?’ he said. ‘What does that do to our manufacturers that are trying to compete with people overseas?’” (“EPA rules cast cloud on firms, exec says” (Arkansas Democrat Gazette, Oct. 15, 2015) 

“Another speaker at the event, U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), echoed Fryar’s concerns, telling AMP ‘overregulation’ had impeded consumers from buying and businesses from hiring. ‘It’s putting a wet blanket on the economy,’” Boozman said. (“Arkansas Farmers Speak Out on ‘Regulation Creep,’” Arkansas Money and Politics, October 15, 2015)

On food security:

“U.S. Senator John Boozman, who is a member of the Senate Agricultural Committee, joined the students. He's been in Fayetteville as part of a discussion on food security at the University of Arkansas. Nutritionists hope if local kids eat locally grown food, it will make for a healthier future.” (“Fayetteville Schools Celebrate Local Harvest,” KNWA, October 13, 2015)

“[U.S. food aid, Boozman said,] ‘is good for the countries involved; it's good for Americans, and good for American farmers and the shippers involved.’” (“Food aid can boost U.S. national security, Farm Journal official says,” Agri-Pulse, Oct. 16, 2015)

The scandal surrounding the systematic, widespread problems in the health care system of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) came to light well over a year ago, thanks in part to an investigation by VA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG).

Yet that very same office has been without its top leadership for almost two years now.

Without a permanent watchdog in place, it is difficult to make sure the necessary reforms are carried out. The lack of accountability makes it easier to sweep misconduct under the rug, which puts veterans at risk.

Late last week, President Obama nominated attorney Michael Missal to take over as VA’s Inspector General (IG). The White House said he was nominated for the post in part because of his “proven record of expertly leading prominent, sensitive, and extensive investigations.”

While I am pleased that the President has finally moved on this vacancy, the Senate must ensure he is the right person for the job. I will give Mr. Missal’s nomination a full review and should he pass the test, I fully intend to push my colleagues to move his nomination forward quickly.

It should not have, however, taken this long for the President to send a nomination for this position over to the Senate. 

IG’s are taxpayers’ first line of defense against waste, fraud and abuse in Washington. Along with VA, several departments and agencies have gone years without a permanent watchdog. This is inexcusable.

We need to restore the public’s faith in Washington. This begins with accountability. As a defender of taxpayer dollars, IG’s play an instrumental role. It is my hope that this nomination is the start of a trend to fill these vacancies.

Arkansas Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton wrote this piece published here in Arkansas Business September 28, 2015

As many Arkansans know, the franchise model has been one of the greatest examples of economic success in history. The benefits of franchises are widespread and shared by investors, business owners, employees and nearly every American.

There are more than 770,000 franchises nationwide employing about 8.5 million people—almost three times the population of Arkansas. Our state has nearly 10,000 franchises that provide jobs to approximately 100,000 Arkansans. Franchises span almost every industry, including fast food, barbershops, automobile dealerships and even healthcare firms. 

This business model works because it offers entrepreneurs the chance to use an established, well-known brand while keeping control of operational decisions. Franchise owners – not corporate headquarters – know their local area best, and they hire employees and set wages, hours and working conditions. Franchisees are responsible for the success or failure of the business. They file their own taxes and are accountable for following all local, state and federal laws. 

For decades this model has relied on a joint-employer standard that is fair and reflects reality. This standard, set by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), deems businesses as joint-employers only when they share direct and immediate control over essential terms and conditions of employment. For instance, if a McDonald’s employee at a Little Rock branch had an issue with pay or working conditions, that employee could address the issue with his or her manager – not the corporate headquarters in Illinois more than 600 miles away that has no control over any employment decision at the Arkansas location. 

But a recent decision by the NLRB puts this entire model at risk. In its 3-2 Browning-Ferris ruling, the NLRB decided that the joint-employer definition includes liability for businesses that don’t exercise any control over the terms and conditions of employment. ? 

In the example above, if a Little Rock employee had an issue with their working conditions, that employee could now bring a lawsuit against the McDonald’s headquarters – even if the headquarters had nothing to do with the challenge facing the employee. Fayetteville-based Shake's Frozen Custard would potentially be liable if the owner of one of its franchise stores in Florida was found guilty of violating labor laws. 

This will lead to one of two outcomes, both disastrous for Arkansas businesses. 

First, corporate headquarters may start taking control over personnel decisions made at local franchises. This means the McDonald’s headquarters in Illinois will tell Arkansas managers who they can hire or fire. ? 

Alternately corporate headquarters may decide to end their entire franchising model entirely. No business wants to be liable for decisions that are out of its control. 

Unfortunately, this decision is just another example of harmful changes to longstanding labor policies instituted by the Obama administration. Over the last six years, the NLRB has restricted the ability of employers to give workers adequate time and information about union elections, while the Department of Labor has attempted to limit the ability of financial advisors to assist families with investment and retirement decisions. And now, the NLRB threatens to undermine one of the most important small business models in the country. 

That’s why we’re working to stop this ruling and protect Arkansas franchisors. 

The Senate Committee on Appropriations included a provision to restrict NLRB regulatory overreach by prohibiting any funding for enforcement of this rule. 

Additionally, we are proud sponsors of the Protecting Local Business Opportunity Act, legislation that would overturn this ruling. We will work closely with our colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass this legislation and will continue to seek ways to prevent the Obama administration from destroying Arkansas businesses. 

Rest assured, we’re committed to stopping the worst excesses of the Obama administration. Returning to the original standard of joint-employment, which has maintained decades of precedence, is essential for business owners, employees, and any Arkansan who enjoys the convenience of local franchises.

The Senate is debating the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. I'm a sponsor of the legislation and I will support this bill on the Senate floor because I believe in the sanctity of life and protecting the unborn who can't protect themselves.
I'm hosting a telephone town hall on Monday, September 21 at 7 p.m. to connect with Arkansans and discuss topics under debate in Washington.

Accessibility is an important part of my commitment to Arkansans. Telephone-town halls allow me to connect with thousands of people across the state while working in Washington and casting votes on their behalf. This is a great opportunity to be part of the political process with the convenience of being at home.

This statewide event allows Arkansans the ability to ask me questions over the phone or listen to the conversation about the issues impacting them. If you're interested in participating in the phone conversation, call toll free 888-400-1986 at 7 p.m. on Monday to connect to the discussion and ask questions.

Sen. Boozman Telephone Town Hall
Monday, September 21 at 7 p.m.
Call 888-400-1986
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Senator Boozman Outlines Objections to Iran Deal on Senate Floor

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