In a recent editorial, the Herald-Leader implied that Kentucky was not a focus for me. I'm still struggling to figure out how anyone could possibly reach this conclusion.
First, to imply that staggering debt, unbalanced budgets, bankrupt entitlements, broken immigration and a costly foreign policy aren't Kentucky problems is simply wrong. Every Kentuckian is affected by these issues. When I fight on big national issues I am fighting for Kentucky.
But I've also been very focused on issues specific to Kentucky.
Kentucky recently passed industrial hemp legislation that I helped promote. I have pledged to seek a waiver so that Kentucky may take advantage of this new law and start growing hemp. Beyond that effort, I have introduced a bill in the U.S. Senate that would remove the blanket federal restrictions on hemp.
I forced a vote on the repeal of No Child Left Behind, a federal takeover of our education system that many Kentucky teachers, administrators and parents oppose. Kentucky was granted a waiver from NCLB, which I supported and applauded.
I took the initiative to fix our state's failing bridges and even met with President Barack Obama to present a plan that addresses the nation's crumbling infrastructure, the Emergency Transportation Safety Fund Act. This would help fund much needed projects, like the Brent Spence Bridge in Northern Kentucky, by using the money that otherwise would've gone to beautification projects like turtle tunnels, squirrel sanctuaries and flower beds.
I introduced an amendment that would give $8 billion to bridge restoration as part of the Senate budget that passed recently, using funds that otherwise would have gone to foreign aid. These efforts have failed, but I will keep pushing to restore Kentucky's crumbling infrastructure.
Sen. Mitch McConnell and I have introduced the Freedom to Fish Act, which prevents the Army Corps of Engineers from installing physical barriers along parts of the Cumberland River. The Corps plan would block fishing access to the tailwaters of the Barkley and Wolf Creek dams. Blocking this access hurts the local economy, burdens business and is unfair to fishermen.
I helped avert the closing of the Hickman-Fulton County River Port by adamantly pushing for measures that would benefit smaller harbors facing shutdowns, including the Harbor Equity Act. The Corps eventually announced funding for the port in Hickman.
I introduced the Defense of Environment and Property Act to rein in the Environmental Protection Agency's war on private property. Thousands of property owners across America, including in Kentucky, face aggressive action from the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers, with no legal means to fight back. My bill would restore common sense to federal jurisdiction over navigable waters and place reasonable limitations on an agency that has become dangerously out of control.
Along with U.S. Reps. Ed Whitfield and Brett Guthrie, I introduced legislation that would provide a more accurate count of our deployed service members in the national census conducted every 10 years. The Services Members and Communities Act would allow deployed service members to be counted in the communities in which their permanent duty station or home is located on the date of the census. This legislation would have an effect on defense communities like Fort Knox and Fort Campbell.
I joined Whitfield and McConnell to save 1,200 jobs at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant and have been engaged in plans for the future of the plant.
I offered an amendment in the Senate that would help to restore the balance between small businesses and the Federal Prison Industries, a wholly owned government enterprise that has tried to take critical business away from Kentucky manufacturers.
Last year, the Senate passed the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act, which included my language that forces the FDA to accept data from clinical investigations conducted outside the United States, including the European Union, to speed the process of getting life-saving drugs on the market by the FDA. This affects all Americans, including Kentuckians.
I introduced the Access to Physicians in Medicare Act, which aims to reform the current physician reimbursement formula for Medicare patients and replace it with a formula that is similar to the one used to calculate cost-of-living increases for Social Security benefits. This, too, affects all Americans, including Kentuckians.
I helped craft language to the Pipeline Transportation Safety Improvement Act that will help ensure a safer environment. This also affects all Americans, including Kentuckians.
Virtually everything I do in Washington affects Americans as a whole, which includes Kentuckians, or is dedicated to promoting the interests, health and prosperity of Kentucky.
I make no apology for offering solutions to problems national in scope. The national media do cover these efforts that are more national in scale, but I would think Kentucky media, like the Herald-Leader, would know more about my overall efforts than simply the big headlines reported by national papers.