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View From the Capitol - Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler's Newsletter for the Week of February 3-7, 2014

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This week, several of my colleagues joined me as I hosted a Special Order to express our concerns over Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) overregulation that is raising the cost of electricity for families, infringing on property rights of landowners, and hurting job creation.

As I led this special order, I shared that I support common sense regulations designed to protect us and the environment, but pointed out that many of the EPA regulations have gone too far. County officials, farmers, city administrators and moms and dads across Missouri who work hard to pay heating bills are constantly coming to me with stories of the burdens EPA regulations have placed on their families, businesses, and communities. It's time for the EPA to begin working with us, with local officials, and with state governments to bring common sense, consensus-driven changes to their regulations instead of the typical, heavy-handed Washington bureaucracy. Many of these regulations are leading to slow economic recovery, stagnant job growth, and fewer opportunities for the next generation of Americans.

These stifling regulations include unrealistic greenhouse gas emission standards for new and existing power plants, proposed regulations for wood burning stoves that could lead to a de facto ban on many currently produced stoves, and an altered definition of 'navigable waters of the U.S.' which would allow the EPA to expand its authority over rivers, ponds, streams, and puddles.

This message is important in light of the fact the Obama Administration continues to use executive orders, bypassing the elected representatives of the people in Congress, to put into place these increasingly burdensome regulations. From the new regulations on coal-fired power plants to regulations for diesel tanks on farms, everyday Americans are going to be forced to cope with higher energy costs, erosion of their personal property rights, and additional financial burdens from these unnecessary regulations. It is time to stop this EPA overreach that is harming our country.

Additionally, the House passed The Sportsmen's Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act, H.R. 3590, a bill I'm proud to cosponsor. The SHARE Act preserves our hunting and fishing heritage by removing bureaucratic hurdles to hunting and fishing on public lands. This bill reaffirms the right to bear arms on certain public lands and limits the interference of the Environmental Protection Agency regarding citizens and their right to take part in these outdoor activities. Supporters of this bill include dozens of hunting, shooting, fishing, and habitat conservation groups that promote responsibility, sportsmanship, and respect for nature. I encourage the Senate to take up this good legislation, pass it, and send it to the President for his signature.

America learned some very important news this week regarding the high cost of President Obama's health care law to American citizens. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) issued a report claiming the health care law will cost the nation the equivalent of 2.5 million full-time jobs and contribute to a $1 trillion increase in projected deficits.

The CBO also estimated the law will reduce labor force compensation by 1 percent from 2017 to 2024 -- twice the reduction it previously projected.

America's workers are hurting in this economy and the CBO confirms Obamacare is only making things worse. We must replace Obamacare with a new law providing Americans with access to affordable, quality health care that does not eliminate jobs from our fragile economy. This report is more proof that Obamacare is harmful to Americans and the American economy -- and has to go.

Finally, several of my Congressional colleagues from Missouri have joined me in an effort to address the current propane shortage. We have written to the Federal Highway Administration, requesting that it grant a temporary, short-term waiver for current weight restrictions as they apply to commercial motor vehicle travel on interstate highways. Waiving the current restrictions is a common sense way of relieving the pain being felt by Missourians and other Americans who are coping with a shortage of propane gas to heat their homes and who are experiencing skyrocketing prices due to the shortage.

Our letter states that this winter's bitter cold weather and other factors have contributed to increased propane use and a subsequent shortage in Missouri's Fourth District and in many other parts of the country. The shortage has forced propane marketers to travel greater distances to secure fuel. A temporary weight restriction waiver would allow carriers to transport more fuel to areas of the country where problems are being experienced and help provide at least a partial solution to this problem.

The letter states: "These challenging circumstances pose a significant threat to life and property, and we believe that a temporary waiver for weight restrictions is necessary to meet critical demand for heating fuel."

There are some positive developments to share. The Department of Transportation (DOT) has waived hours-of-service regulations for many drivers who are assisting relief efforts. In addition, the Department of Energy (DOE) has beefed-up its emergency operations center and is working with suppliers to have additional supplies in place in the event of future cold weather. Also, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has released additional Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds to assist low-income families in meeting their heating needs. But we must do more.

I, along with families all across Missouri, hope the Administration will act quickly on this vital issue and waive weight restrictions and better serve citizens of Missouri and the rest of the country.


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