Farm Bill Update
Since my last update, the House and Senate have continued negotiations aimed at determining a total amount of spending for the Farm Bill. Until this important first step is accomplished, it will be difficult to work out the rest of the differences between the two bills.
I will be attending a meeting with members of the House Agriculture Committee tonight to discuss the status of these negotiations and our next steps. It is my hope that we can come together, put the interests of our farm and ranch constituents first and finish this important legislation.
Big Spring Refinery Update
Last Thursday, I met with David Wiessman, Executive Chairman of Alon-Israel Oil Co. Ltd., and ALON USA President Jeff Morris, a close friend and fellow Texas Tech alumnus, to discuss the recent explosion at the Big Spring refinery.
We had a very positive discussion about the situation - assessing the needs and timeline to get the refinery back to business as usual. Additionally, I am proud to report that the refinery's truck rack that supplies gasoline to delivery trucks re-opened Friday and is already distributing fuel to customers.
I was proud to see fellow West Texans who came from the surrounding communities and cities to help put out the fire and ensure the refinery was stable, as well as offer medical assistance. I also commend ALON for the training and safety procedures they had in place, which clearly were effective as not one single casualty resulted. This refinery is a major resource, not just for Big Spring or this region, but for the entire country, so I am proud to offer any assistance I can to make sure the refinery gets back on track.
Second Amendment Rights
I firmly believe it is the right of all Americans to bear firearms and protect themselves and their families. In 1976, the Washington, D.C. City Council banned handguns and required rifles and shotguns to be registered, stored unloaded, and either locked or disassembled. The Supreme Court will soon hear a case that will determine whether or not this law is constitutional.
Chipping away at the Second Amendment starts with cities like the Washington, D.C., and New York City, and then it begins to creep into our own backyards. As your elected representative, I took an oath to uphold the Constitution, and that is why I am working with my colleagues in a bipartisan manner to ensure the Second Amendment is upheld.
Recently, I joined over 250 of my colleagues in filing an amicus brief with the Supreme Court. This is the greatest number of signers on a brief to the Supreme Court in recent history. A majority of both houses of Congress have signed this brief in support of a citizen who simply wishes to exercise his constitutional right to protect himself. In a situation like this, it is important for members of the legislative branch to give our opinion on the legislative history and its relevance.
Additionally, I am a proud cosponsor of H.R. 1399, the District of Columbia Personal Protection Act of 2007. This legislation would restore the rights specified in the Second Amendment to the residents of Washington D.C. I have also written the President asking that he direct the Department of Justice to withdraw its recent amicus brief citing the Court's authority to uphold virtually all firearm bans as constitutional, so long as a court determines that these prohibitions are "reasonable" restrictions of constitutional rights.
Now is the time to stop trampling on American citizens' rights, and to stop the judicial branch from usurping powers the Constitution grants to the legislative branch.
Help with the IRS and Tax Rebates
Since the stimulus package was recently passed and signed into law by President Bush, many questions have arisen as to who qualifies and what someone must do to receive their rebate.
The vast majority of Americans who qualify for the payment will not have to do anything other than file their 2007 individual income tax return to receive their payment this year. The IRS will use information on your tax return to determine eligibility and calculate the amount of the stimulus payment. If you are not normally required to file an income tax return because income is low or you only receive Social Security or veterans' benefit income, you must file a 2007 tax return to be eligible for a stimulus payment. Please visit www.irs.gov to find detailed assistance dealing with your specific financial circumstances. You can also contact local IRS offices in Lubbock (806-472-7582) and Abilene (325-676-5709) for assistance.