The summer work period has allowed me to spend extended time at home, and I've had a wonderful time traveling across the state to hear your thoughts. I pay close attention to how decisions in Washington are affecting Nebraskans, and hearing from you directly is helpful in identifying problems within our government, as well as finding solutions.
Also while traveling, I often hear from folks having difficulty working their way through the bureaucracy of a federal agency. Too frequently, those seeking help from the federal government experience roadblocks in the form of long delays, confusing paperwork and burdensome layers of red tape. From veterans having difficulty processing VA claims to individuals seeking tax answers from the IRS, my staff and I are here to help. My state offices have expert staff on-hand to assist anyone who needs help navigating a federal agency.
We were able to assist a small business owner this spring who needed help with a visa so that he could continue running his manufacturing company. The holdup jeopardized the jobs of the hard-working employees trying to support their families. Fortunately, my office was able to connect him with the right people to make sure his problem was rectified, and business operations continued without a glitch.
Just last month, my office became aware that the Western Nebraska Regional Airport in Scottsbluff had been experiencing delays in receiving funding from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for a project long ago approved. A construction contract had been awarded, but it had a rapidly-approaching expiration date, threatening the project. I contacted the FAA about this and other delays, looking for answers. To their credit, almost immediately, the agency approved the funding for the Scottsbluff airport, and construction is moving forward after being stalled nearly four months.
Getting assistance from my office is really as easy as picking up the phone or writing a quick note, and that's exactly what landowners along the Niobrara and Missouri Rivers did earlier this year. My office began receiving calls from people concerned about a Department of Interior (DoI) proposal that could result in the acquisition or government management of 1.4 million acres of land, the majority of which is in Nebraska.
DoI opened a comment period for the proposed Niobrara Confluence and Ponca Bluffs Conservation area, but landowners were rightly concerned that a decision of this magnitude was being rushed. I, along with my colleague Sen. Deb Fischer, sent DoI a letter asking the agency to extend the comment period, and it was subsequently extended several months, to September 30, 2013.
Whether you're struggling to find answers from a federal agency or have concerns with action being taken by the government, I am available to lend a helping hand. The votes I cast on the Senate floor are of utmost importance, but ensuring you receive the best service possible from the federal government is another top priority of mine. For more information on how my office can assist, visit my website at johanns.senate.gov or call my Lincoln office at (402) 476-1400.