Dr. Boozman's Check-up
Making the Case for Water Infrastructure Reform
Apr 20 2018
I had an opportunity to speak about water issues—specifically the water infrastructure reform bill I introduced with Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ)—with over 300 members of the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) during their visit to Capitol Hill this week.
My message was simple: water infrastructure is not a rural issue, or a big city issue. It is not a red state problem or a blue state problem. This is a national emergency, and one where we can find bipartisan support.
Evidence of that can be found in the wide-range of support our bill has garnered in the Senate. The cosponsors of the bill—the Securing Required Funding for Water Infrastructure Now or SRF WIN Act—are split evenly between Republicans and Democrats and include senators from large and small states.
My colleagues who have lent their support to the SRF WIN Act see the need for common-sense reform to the way we invest in water infrastructure. Our bill accomplishes that by combining the best aspects of state revolving funds (SRFs) with the leveraging power of the Water Infrastructure and Innovation Act (WIFIA) to make the process easier and more affordable for states to meet their underserved or unmet water infrastructure needs. This approach dramatically increases the availability of funds to communities across the nation while substantially reducing the time, and related costs, for completing projects.
Senator Booker and I believe this innovative approach can help communities of all sizes, across the country, secure loans so they can improve their crumbling infrastructure. With the help of professionals in organizations like NACWA, we can continue to build support for the legislation here in the Senate, as well as for the companion bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressmen John Katko (R-NY) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR).
We can, and must, work together to provide all Americans safe, and reliable drinking water and effective wastewater and storm water treatment.
New Trafficking Protections Signed Into Law
Apr 13 2018
This week, the President signed legislation aimed at curbing online sex trafficking into law.
The new law includes the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA), which reforms a misused provision in a 1996 telecommunications act that allows companies to evade prosecution for online business practices that facilitate human trafficking.
Fast Facts on Sex Trafficking:
- The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that there are 4.5 million victims of sex trafficking worldwide.
- A 2014 report by the ILO found that two thirds of the estimated $150 billion profit from the underground industry of human trafficking in the U.S.—an estimated $99 billion—came from commercial sexual exploitation.
- Since 2007, the National Human Trafficking Hotline has received reports of 22,191 sex trafficking cases inside the U.S.
How SESTA Will Help:
- Makes narrowly-crafted changes to the law to ensure websites that knowingly facilitate criminal sex trafficking online are held accountable.
- Gives law enforcement and prosecutors additional tools to crack down on crimes involving exploitation of the vulnerable.
- Allows state attorneys general to prosecute the owners of websites that violate federal sex trafficking laws.
Learn more by watching the remarks I gave in support of SESTA during its consideration on the Senate floor:
Working with the VA to Deliver for Arkansans
Apr 09 2018
In 2017, my office received more than 3,400 requests from Arkansans for help with federal agencies. More than 60 percent of those calls for assistance were related to military and veterans’ issues. These topics consistently rank as the top requests for help from folks in our state. To help get answers to these questions we routinely reach out to the Little Rock Regional Office of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
There is a dedicated staff of 13 people who work to answer questions for individual veterans on claims and appeals as well as requests originating from Congressional offices, like mine. They are also actively working throughout the state conducting outreach to highlight the services and benefits available to veterans. My staff and I regularly attend veterans’ events across Arkansas where it is routine to see VA personnel promoting services and benefits day in and day out. In the last quarter of 2017, VA staff members participated in 68 outreach events in the Natural State, reaching more than 5,100 veterans.
This is a team devoted to providing information and assistance to veterans throughout the region.
As the VA improves its electronic data systems, it is getting easier and faster for its Little Rock Regional Office staff to input veterans’ personal information and identify benefits veterans qualify for.
The outreach is having a positive impact for those who have served our country but may not realize they are eligible for VA benefits and services.
Collaborating to educate veterans about the resources and tools available to them is essential to continuing our commitment to the men and women who served our nation in uniform. It is important that we promote the assistance the department offers and provide our veterans answers to questions they have surrounding their claims and benefits. I also appreciate Arkansans sharing their concerns with my staff and me so that we can identify what changes may be needed for implementation at the national level.
As a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, my team and I work diligently to propose and advocate for legislation and policies that consider the needs of veterans. Issues that Arkansans have shared with me continue to shape my work in Washington.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is Working in Arkansas
Feb 05 2018
Arkansas Korean War Veteran Honored
Jan 29 2018
I was proud to present Korean War veteran E.L. Heffley with the “Medal of Gratitude” on behalf of the Korean government. Heffley was also recognized by our office for his service and sacrifice in our series “Salute to Veterans.” Heffley shared his memories of his military experience in an interview that will be submitted to the Library of Congress Veterans History Project.
New data released by the U.S.-Cuba Trade Economic Council shows that Arkansas’s agricultural producers continue to lose out under Washington’s current restrictive trade policy with the island-nation.
The top two commodities Cuba purchased from American producers in 2017 are among the top commodities produced in Arkansas—chicken leg quarters and soybeans.
A deeper dive into the data shows that chicken and soybean products make up over 80 percent of the total food product/agricultural product exports from the U.S. to Cuba last year.
According to the Arkansas Farm Bureau, the Natural State has about 2,500 farms that produce chicken. Arkansas is the tenth largest soybean producing state and exports almost half of the state’s crop.
In theory, the Cuban market is ripe for Arkansas’s poultry and soybean producers. Add rice to that list, which is a staple of the Cuban diet, and you have the potential for a significant economic boost for our state.
In reality, however, this is not the case.
U.S. producers are still unable to fully tap into the market because federal law does not allow private financing for agricultural trade with Cuba. This misguided policy creates a major roadblock to trade with the cash-strapped island nation.
There is bipartisan solution to this problem. Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and I introduced the Agriculture Export Expansion Act to lift the ban on private banks and companies offering credit for agricultural exports to Cuba. This would help level the playing field for exporters across the country and support American jobs.
This commonsense solution does not put the American people on the hook for business deals with Cuba. It simply removes the regulatory barrier banks and companies run into when trying to offer private financing to Cubans for the sale of U.S. agricultural commodities.
It’s a small step would help level the playing field for Arkansas’s farmers and exporters while simultaneously exposing Cubans to American ideals, values and products. A true win-win for American farmers and the Cuban people.
Commissioning of USS Little Rock
Dec 18 2017
Despite the cold weather in Buffalo, New York, there was a warm welcome for the USS Little Rock, its crew and Arkansans who traveled to celebrate the commissioning of the Freedom-class littoral combat ship on Saturday. It’s been more than four decades since the Navy had a ship named after the City of Little Rock, and it is an honor to have one its more versatile warships named after our state’s capital city. Watch the historic commissioning.
Honoring Arkansas Veterans
Nov 06 2017
I was honored to recognize the service and sacrifice of Arkansas veterans at a medal presentation in Fort Smith.
Harold Laird of Pea Ridge served in the U.S. Army from 1969 to 1973 and was deployed to Vietnam. He received the Bronze Star Medal with “V” Device, Purple Heart Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal and Vietnam Service Medal with four Bronze Service Stars.
Robert Layes of Van Buren served in the U.S. Navy from 1950 to 1953 and was deployed to Korea. He received the Combat Action Ribbon, Navy Good Conduct Medal, China Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal and Korean Service Medal with two Bronze Service Stars.
Minuen May, Jr. of Nashville served in the U.S. Army from 1967 to 1970, including a deployment to Vietnam. He received the Purple Heart Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal and Vietnam Service Medal with three Bronze Service Stars.
KNWA was there for the presentation and featured Mr. Laird in this story.
Talking Agriculture with All Ag News
Jun 29 2017
I recently had the opportunity to visit with Tony St. James from All Ag News. We had an excellent conversation about cotton, the next farm bill, the President’s budget, international trade and how Congress can help rural America.
You can listen to the entire the interview here.