Rep. hears issues: Benishek hosts town hall at Bay

ESCANABA – Congressman Dan Benishek was in Escanaba Tuesday discussing a variety of issues during a town hall with residents at Bay College.

“There (has) to be rules and regulations but there (shouldn’t) be unreasonable rules and regulations from Washington. They don’t have any idea what life is like up here,” said Benishek.

To illustrate his point, Benishek referenced County Road 595 in Marquette County, which was a proposed road that would have provided a 22-mile route for commercial trucks carrying materials from the Eagle Mine in Michigamme Township to a processing facility in Humbolt Township. The road project was blocked by the Environmental Protection Agency because of the effect it would have on wetlands.

“The county road commission, the MDOT had all worked to put this road together but it was stopped by the EPA. Alright, so we can no longer build a county road in northern Michigan without getting approval from the EPA,” said Benishek. “You know, there was wetlands involved, but you can’t build a road without involving wetlands in northern Michigan.”

The congressman noted the halting of the road construction project not only forced truckers to take a 66-mile route to deliver their materials, but prevented the creation of jobs to construct the road. He also referenced a cleaner burning coal power plant project in the northern Lower Peninsula that was halted due to regulations on coal power.

“This is the type of regulation that come from beaurocrats in Washington that affect jobs right here in Michigan,” he said.

Benishek also touched on the affects of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

“The health care law puts Washington between you and your doctors. Decisions about health care need to be made between the patient, the family, and the doctors,” he said. “Sometimes decisions about health care are serious decisions, and we don’t need beaurocrats in Washington telling us how to make those decisions.”

While Benishek noted that the House did not have a health care plan of it’s own, he expressed support for the creation of health care savings accounts allowing citizens to save money tax-free for medical reasons and opening up the insurance market to more competition by reducing regulation.

“We’ve been criticized in the House for not having our own plan. We don’t really need a comprehensive plan to deal with health care,” Benishek told the town hall audience. “We need to be sure that we open up the health care market to common sense competition and reform.”

Audience members raised concern over the handling of investigations into recent scandals, such as Internal Revenue Service targeting of political groups and National Security Administration surveillance techniques.

“Thank God we have a majority in the House that are actually willing to investigate these things,” said Benishek. “Otherwise we wouldn’t be hearing about any of this stuff. The only place that this stuff has been coming to light is the House investigations.”

When asked by an audience member why Republicans and Democrats cannot work together without disagreeing, the congressman expressed that some issues can be handled in a bipartisan manner without disagreement and some can not.

“I don’t disagree with people on their party. I disagree with people on their policy,” he said.