Dr. Boozman's Check-up

I called into KASU's morning show to visit with Mark Smith to discuss the challenges of battling ISIS, the highway bill, the COOL mandate and the last-minute legislative items the Senate is trying to work through before the holidays. If you missed it, you can listen to the entire interview 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.

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.

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.

While we address the very important challenges we face as a nation, we cannot neglect what is perhaps our most important responsibility as public servants, helping our constituents.

I learned quickly during my tenure in the House of Representatives that if used properly, the power of the office truly can change lives for the better. When I was first elected to Congress as a member of the House in 2001, former Congressman John Paul Hammerschmidt, who represented the Third District of Arkansas for 26 years, gave me some excellent advice.  He said: “John, always remember, now that the election is over, there are no more Republicans, no more Democrats, only the people of Arkansas and you need to take care of them.”

That is just as true now as it was then.

No matter what major legislative crisis we are facing, our goal is to make each constituent who is having trouble with a federal agency a priority. In some cases, we are the last resort to overcoming a major obstacle and we work to give each and every case that comes before us our attention. While Arkansans are familiar with the role U.S. Senators play in creating laws in Washington and making sure the voice of our state is represented in the nation’s capital, the less recognizable work of constituent service is equally important.

My staff works diligently in seven field offices around the state to meet the needs of Arkansans, acting as a liaison to help navigate the often confusing federal agencies. We also make it more convenient for Arkansans to reach our office by taking it on the road and hosting Mobile Office events across the state.

I am proud of the work my staff and I are able to do to help Arkansans who have run into roadblocks with government agencies. I have a great team with years of experience navigating the complex bureaucracy and getting answers that Arkansans are waiting for. We’ve been able to help thousands of people facing a wide range of problems involving federal government agencies including the Veterans Administration, Social Security, Medicare, international adoption, visas and taxes.

While constituent service work often gets little attention, it makes a real difference in the lives of people across the state. Our door is always open and we’re ready to offer our assistance. I encourage you to reach out to our office if you face problems with the federal government.

Watch the video below to see how my staff and I have been able to help Arkansans. In highlighting these stories, I hope that if you have similar problems you’ll turn to my office for assistance. My staff and I are ready to help you.

If you need assistance with a federal agency, learn more about 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.

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.