Garrett Gazette - July 9, 2007
Last week, I sent a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) asking that it extend the public comment period for the proposed airspace redesign. I invited my colleagues from New Jersey to sign the letter with me and Congressmen Mike Ferguson and Rod Frelinghuysen did join me in requesting this extension.
As you'll recall, on June 28th, the FAA held a public meeting at my request in Woodcliff Lake to give local residents the opportunity to share their thoughts on this plan. More than 1,000 people showed up to voice their opinions and learn more about the FAA's proposals. And, there are likely many more who would like to share their thoughts. Here's the text of my letter to the FAA:
July 6, 2007
Ms. Marion Blakey
Federal Aviation Administration
800 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20591
Dear Ms. Blakey:
Thank you for accommodating our request for an additional public hearings in New Jersey for the FAA's airspace redesign project. As you may be aware, over 1,000 residents attended the meeting last week in Woodcliff Lake to receive information, make public comments, and ask questions.
All these people came out despite adverse weather conditions that included some closed roads due to flash flooding and despite the approaching holiday weekend which unavoidably interfered with attendance by some as well. While we appreciate that you extended the public comment period for those attending the meeting last night, we would request that you extend it further for those who were unable to make last night's meeting or the previous one in Cherry Hill.
The issue of airspace redesign is of great interest to this community and they are very concerned that the plan could adversely affect the value of their homes and the quality of life in their communities. We believe the FAA should be as thorough as possible in soliciting the opinions of those living in the areas that will be affected by the redesign.
Again, thank you for scheduling another meeting and once again we ask you to closely consider the impact of your proposals on those on the ground as the FAA goes about making a decision on rerouting planes over New Jersey.
Rep. Scott Garrett
Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen
Rep. Mike Ferguson
The airspace redesign proposal has the potential for increasing noise and air pollution over the quiet communities of North Bergen County and elsewhere in North Jersey. I am hopeful that the FAA will re-open the public comment period and provide even greater public comment opportunities for the people who may be impacted by this proposal.
Member of Congress
ISSUE OF THE WEEK: MAKE THE FOURTH OF JULY LAST BY SUPPORTING MILITARY FAMILIES
We too often forget that the men and women in uniform have lives and families that they leave behind when they are deployed. Those families bear a tremendous emotional burden, worrying about their loved ones' safety. But, they also often bear a real financial burden as well. I have introduced legislation to help ease the financial burden by extending combat soldiers' tax breaks. In case you missed it, this op-ed that I penned to explain these bills ran in last Sunday's Bergen Record.
Honoring Our Men and Women Fighting Abroad
The Record by Scott Garrett
THIS WEDNESDAY will be unlike most others. Most Americans won't be doing their daily commute to work or getting their kids ready for day camp. Instead, they'll be busily preparing potato salad, cleaning the grill, and pulling out the pool towels.
It's the Fourth of July, a day for family and friends and fun.
More importantly, it is a day to celebrate what matters most to Americans and to the ideal that more than any other symbolizes America: freedom.
And, while we're watching the fireworks or having the picnics, we should all take a moment to remember the people who aren't able to celebrate with their families and friends because they are overseas fighting for our continued freedom. These men and women of the military sacrifice their lives, comfort and safety to fight for the continued security of our democracy. While Americans back home in the United States will be celebrating our freedom on July 4, it is the servicemen and women who will be ensuring it still exists.
More than 9,000 fellow New Jerseyans are currently in the Army and Air National Guard. Many of them are currently deployed in Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan, and other overseas locations far from their homes.
In fact, New Jersey Air National Guardsmen have flown more than 17,000 hours in the Middle East in support of the global war on terror.
Major Gen. Glenn Rieth, adjutant general for the state of New Jersey, cited the increased use of our Guard units for the war on terror, in "Guardslife": "This historic mobilization, the largest since World War II, confirmed there is no turning back to the days when the National Guard was considered a strategic reserve. We are now an operational force that the nation depends on today and tomorrow."
In that same statement, Rieth noted the historic recruitment levels for the Guard in 2006 - the second highest in history. These men and women serve out of a sense of duty, and it is incumbent upon us to thank them with both our words and our actions.
We too often forget that when National Guardsmen or reservists are called overseas to fight in combat, many leave behind a good-paying job, family and children. Their departure places significant financial burdens on the families they leave behind. This means that the spouses of individuals serving overseas are not only worried about the safety of their loved one, but also how the bills will be paid and the children will get fed.
Coupling the financial burdens with the emotional burdens of deployment can be crippling for many of these families, and they deserve what help and support we can provide.
Service members in combat zones are afforded a special tax break for their combat pay. It seems that is the least that we can do for the extraordinary sacrifices they make on our behalf every day.
This tax break is good public policy, but it can be better. I recently authored two bills that try to improve upon this financial assistance and ease some of the burdens military families face.
The Strengthening America's Military Families Act of 2007 would allow the spouses of these service members to claim that same federal income tax exemption for money they earn while their loved one is in the combat zone. The Armed Forces Tax Relief Act of 2007 would not only make the service member's combat pay exempt from income tax, but also from payroll taxes for Medicare and Social Security, which can add up to a significant amount.
These brave men and women would literally earn their pay tax free.
These bills would put a little extra money into the pockets of the individuals who are risking their lives for America's freedom and would ease the burdens that their families face every day because of the risks they take.
These small tax exemptions do not compare to the sacrifices our service men and women make for our freedom.
So this Fourth of July, make every effort to thank these brave men and women for the service they provide.
CONGRESSMAN SCOTT GARRETT'S OFFICE COMING TO A TOWN NEAR YOU:
Congressman Garrett's staff will be holding Mobile Constituent Service Hours in a number of Fifth District towns this week. The Congressman's Constituent Service Officers are trained to act as your liaisons with Federal agencies. But, it's not always easy to make it out to one of the Congressman's district offices - in Paramus and Newton - to meet with one of them, especially when you are dealing with government red tape. These Mobile Constituent Service Hours sessions bring the Congressman's office to you. So, if you are having trouble with a Federal program, such as Medicare, veterans benefits, Social Security, or more, please feel free to come by. And, please bring copies of any relevant paperwork with you to facilitate their work.