By Debbie Hall
As he toured several areas in Martinsville and Henry County on Tuesday, 5th District U.S. Rep. Robert Hurt said he will focus on affecting change that will lead to job creation -- including ending unnecessary regulations -- when he returns to Washington next week.
Unnecessary regulations send jobs overseas, said Hurt, R-Chatham, citing the area's textile and furniture industries, which went offshore where production is cheaper.
"There is a regulatory and tax structure to prevent people from doing these as cheaply as they can do" outside the United States, he said.
Hurt said he will concentrate on regulations in three main areas: boiler emissions, cement plant emissions and utilities.
He also has co-sponsored a bill titled "the Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act," which he said he hopes will make it to the House floor.
The bipartisan proposal would prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from burdening farmers and small business owners with additional dust regulations and would help create a better environment for job creation and economic growth in the 5th District and nationwide, according to a release.
In addition, Hurt said he will work to repeal regulations that are not needed.
Regardless of whether it is at the federal, state or local level, "what we all care about is jobs," Hurt said. But from fruit growers to sawmills to virtually everything in between, federal regulations are "crushing small businesses and small farms," he said.
To be effective, Hurt said regulations must be able to "withstand a legitimate cost-benefit analysis and are in keeping with our priorities as nation."
Americans suffer "real consequences" when jobs move offshore or businesses close, he said.
Regulations that require companies to make large capital investments in new equipment or buildings result in a higher cost of doing business that is passed on to consumers, Hurt said.
Meanwhile, the House is passing "bill after bill after bill on jobs, regulations, energy" that then are sent to the Senate for consideration, Hurt said.
Often, the proposals are not even brought up in the Senate, he said.
"If you (senators) don't like it, at least bring it up and kill it, or if you have a better idea, send it back and let's have a conversation," Hurt said.
The debt ceiling and the national debt remain concerns, as does a federal budget that is supposed to be passed by Sept. 30.
"The Senate has not passed budget in 800 days," or nearly three years, Hurt said. "We put our plan on paper."
If the Senate returned to Washington "this evening to work on the (House-proposed) budget" and adopted it, the measure would cut $6 trillion and result in a primary budget balance by 2015, Hurt said.
"The bottom line is, the American people don't care who is at fault," they only want the situation fixed, he said.
"Elections have consequences. Our wonderful system" of government ensures accountability, Hurt said.
Voters have a right to "expect and demand progress," he said, and encouraged constituents to contact him and their senators if they are dissatisfied.
Hurt made several stops in the area Tuesday, starting at the Tuesday Morning Jamboree at Hardee's restaurant in Stanleytown. He then met with officials, including Dr. Barry Dorsey, executive director of the New College Institute, at the NCI campus uptown.
Hurt, who was a member of the NCI board before he became a member of Congress in January, learned that 244 graduates have earned either bachelor's or master's degrees since classes began at NCI in 2006.
The most sought-after degree is in business administration, Dorsey said.
Looking forward, Dorsey said, goals include "continuing the progress, continuing the momentum," and, with continued support from the community, continuing to meet the needs of business and industry.
Hurt also toured the Community Dental Clinic on Fayette Street, where he met with Dr. Mark Crabtree, president of the Piedmont Virginia Dental Health Foundation, which operates the clinic, and Dr. Edward "Chopper" Snyder, also of the foundation.
While meeting with Crabtree, Hurt recalled attending the clinic's ribbon cutting in 2006.
"I remember the ribbon cutting like it was yesterday," Hurt said. He said the line of patients waiting for treatment "stretched all the way down Fayette Street."