Students across Nebraska returned to classes in recent weeks. However because of new, overbearing government regulations fewer students are participating in school lunch. A new national survey by the School Nutrition Association found a five percent decline in daily participation, even as the number of students receiving free and reduced meals increased.
The challenges facing school lunch programs are at least in part due to implementation of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act. While I voted against this legislation, the law in theory intended to improve the quality and nutrition of meals served in American schools. In practice, this meant one-size-fits-all federal regulations with unintended consequences. In addition to reduced participation, costs have risen, local control and flexibility has decreased, and meals may not meet the nutritional needs of all students.
Travelling Nebraska’s Third District, I often meet with students, teachers, and staff. Since the new school lunch requirements were implemented many students tell me meals are not adequate, and they are left hungry. Administrators tell me the new requirements are straining already stretched school budgets. And parents are faced with difficult choices.
This feedback is consistent with a report issued by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), an independent, nonpartisan federal agency in March. The GAO report confirmed a decrease in student participation, an increase in the amount of food thrown away by students, and the challenges by school districts to plan menus and obtain food which meet the new requirements.
Most alarmingly, the GAO reported more than half of school districts surveyed believed students were going hungry because of the new calorie restrictions required by the new rules. It is worth remembering for many students school meals are their primary source of nutrition. Reductions in the size of meals could affect the health and wellness of these and other students.
Decisions of how to spend limited resources are best left to local officials and school boards. They are better equipped and more accountable to meet the needs of their students and communities. I have urged Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to revisit the new school lunch rules to give more flexibility in implementing the guidelines and to review their costs and benefits.
We can all agree children need adequate and nutritious meals. As is too often the case, these worthy goals cannot be achieved by federal mandates. For all of the challenges and high costs of the new regulations it is now becoming clear too many children are not being well served by the new school lunches. As the new school year continues, hungry students and challenged school staff would welcome a change to the menu.Read More
Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) will meet with members of the Gothenburg Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, August 27, 2014 to discuss local and national issues affecting small business, the economy, and jobs.
The event is open to the public. Details are as follows:
Who: Congressman Adrian Smith, the Gothenburg Chamber of Commerce, and members of the public
What: Meeting to discuss economic growth, jobs, and development
When: Wednesday, August 27, 2014 at 3:30 p.m. CDT
Where: Gothenburg City Hall – City Council Chambers; 409 9th Street, Gothenburg, NE.Read More
During the August work period I have been travelling the Third District meeting with and listening to Nebraskans. This year, more than ever, I am taking time to hear from veterans, current members of the military, and their families. Our nation has made a commitment to those who have served in uniform, and it is important policy makers listen to them to ensure we are meeting this commitment.
I recently held open houses to meet with veterans in Scottsbluff, Chadron, and Grand Island to listen to their experiences and opinions regarding the VA. Veterans told me in each of these meetings access to quality health care is among their top concerns.
Their concerns are well justified. Recent reports of mismanagement and abuse at Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals are unacceptable and raise serious questions. In pursuit of bonuses, some VA employees appear to have created secret waitlists to give the impression the system was meeting goals for wait times for appointments. In some areas this left thousands of veterans waiting months and even years for appointments. Dozens of veterans may have died while waiting for care.
Before departing for the August work period the House of Representatives and the Senate agreed to a bipartisan first step toward reforming the VA and ensuring veterans are able to receive the health care they were promised and deserve. The Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act will at least temporarily allow veterans who live further than 40 miles from the nearest VA facility, or are unable to schedule an appointment within 30 days to seek care outside of the VA system.
The bill also makes important reforms to allow the VA to fire employees when they abuse the system. The recently revealed mismanagement should not be tolerated and the VA will now have greater flexibility to hold these employees accountable for their actions. The bill also provides for new hiring and upgrades to some VA facilities.
I have also been working to prevent the closure of the VA hospital in Hot Springs, South Dakota. Reducing services at Hot Springs and requiring many rural veterans from Nebraska to drive upwards of six hours roundtrip for care will cause many to not seek or delay seeking the services they need. At a time when we are working to improve access, increase transparency and accountability within the VA, and improve the quality of care – this proposal simply does not make sense.
Last week, I participated in a House Committee on Veterans Affairs field hearing along with the committee chairman, other regional members of Congress, representatives of the Save the VA Committee, and officials from the VA to discuss their plan to reduce services at Hot Springs. I had requested Chairman Jeff Miller (R-FL) visit the facility, and I appreciate him going the extra mile to hold a hearing.
At the hearing, I was disappointed the VA did not provide additional information about the costs of closing or refurbishing the Hot Springs facility, or the impact on local veterans. This hearing was a great opportunity to allow lawmakers on the House Veterans Affairs Committee to see the importance of keeping this facility open and to expose the flaws in the VA’s plans.
Access to quality health care can be a challenge in rural America, but particularly for veterans who have fewer options for care. As your Representative and Co-Chair of the Rural Veterans Caucus I will continue to oppose all efforts to restrict choice and availability of heath care services for our veterans. Those who have served our nation deserve nothing less.Read More
As I’ve traveled the Third District during the August work period, I have heard from many Nebraskans about the regulatory burdens affecting their lives and livelihoods. In order to identify and address these government-imposed burdens, I launched my Regulation Rewind initiative earlier this year.
For example, I heard from many farmers and ranchers concerned about a proposal from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) attempting to regulate small farms, despite Congress explicitly prohibiting this by law. Such regulation would have a significant impact on these farms and ranches with less than 10 employees.
After hearing these concerns from Nebraskans, I helped organize a coalition of 83 Members of Congress from both parties to write the Department of Labor opposing the regulation of small farms and challenging the department’s authority. I am happy to report OSHA has since rescinded this proposal.
I’ve also been working to ease regulatory burdens on landowners in the Northport Irrigation District. These landowners have been restricted by a Bureau of Reclamation contract signed more than 60 years ago which requires burdensome reporting requirements and acreage limitations.
I introduced legislation which would allow these landowners to repay their loans individually, which would provide relief to landowners and generate otherwise uncollected revenue for the federal government. This legislation has now passed the House and is awaiting action in the U.S. Senate.
Nebraskans are rightfully concerned about two unnecessary Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposals which would affect our state. I have joined in sending bipartisan letters to the Administration opposing both proposals.
The first is yet another attempt to regulate carbon emissions from power plants, even though Congress has never approved legislation authorizing the EPA to do so. The costs of retrofitting power plants and the increased costs of producing electricity will be disastrous for manufacturing, agriculture, and especially for low- and middle-income Americans who can least afford huge increases in their electric bills.
The EPA is also once again attempting to strike the word “navigable” from the Clean Water Act. Congress included the word “navigable” in the Act more than 80 times to preserve state and local water rights. Ag groups, resource districts, water managers, and Nebraskans from many different backgrounds have reached out in opposition to this rule.
There is still time to let the EPA know your thoughts before they make a final decision on both of these proposed regulations which would have major impacts on Nebraska’s economy. To leave your comments on these rules, please visit: http://www.regulations.gov.
I also hope you will continue to let me know about the regulations which affect you, or how my office can help you cut through government red tape. Please visit my website at: http://AdrianSmith.house.gov/regulationrewind to learn more about my Regulation Rewind program and how I am acting on the concerns of Nebraskans to address the government imposed burdens affecting our lives and our economy.Read More
For rural America, access to commercial air service is more than a convenience; it helps connect us to the rest of the nation and encourages economic growth. I have worked to maintain access to commercial air service for the Third District because of its importance to rural communities and because maintaining transportation infrastructure is one of the primary responsibilities of the federal government.
However, this year many small airports around the country are facing a barrage of flight cancellations. At one Third District airport, 59 percent of the scheduled flights have been cancelled this year – while more than one in three flights have been cancelled at others. I have heard from many Third District residents upset about the unreliable flight schedule and its impact on travel plans and businesses.
Cancelled flights and unreliable air service cause disruptions in our local economy. Businesses and entrepreneurs are more likely to invest and expand in communities with dependable transportation services including aviation.
There are many causes for the flight cancellations, but certainly new federal regulations which require co-pilots to have at least 1,500 hours of flight time are contributing to the problem. It is difficult for the small regional airlines which serve rural communities, to hire and retain pilots which meet this certification. Airlines are then forced to cancel scheduled flights if they are not able to comply with this arbitrary rule.
Cancelled flights also threaten funding for small airports through the Airport Improvement Program which helps pay for projects to improve infrastructure, including runways, taxiways, noise control, navigational aids, safety, and security. To qualify for program funds, airports must reach 10,000 enplanements per year. Many small rural airports which previously qualified for the program are unlikely to reach this target because of cancelled flights.
Last week, I introduced legislation which would ensure these small airports are not penalized twice by the unintended consequences of these new rules. The Small Airport Regulatory Relief Act would require the Federal Aviation Authority to use enplanement numbers from 2012 – before the regulations took effect - when calculating appropriate annual funds for airports through the Airport Improvement Program for the next two years.
While more must be done to address the underlying causes of the flight cancellations, including the new pilot regulations, this legislation is a good first step to spare small airports from more unnecessary harm. I will continue fighting to prevent further flight cancellations to benefit travelers, communities, and to encourage rural economic growth.Read More
Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) will hold an open house at his Grand Island office on Tuesday, August 12, 2014 to meet with veterans, current members of the military, and their families.
“Veterans, our men and women in uniform, and their families have made sacrifices to defend our freedom,” said Smith. “As chairman of the Rural Veterans Caucus, I am very concerned about recent reports of long VA waiting times and secret waitlists. I look forward to hearing from local veterans to discuss these and other issues important to them.”
The event is open to the public. Details are as follows:
Who: Congressman Adrian Smith, veterans, members of the military, and their families.
What: Open House for Veterans with Congressman Adrian Smith
When: Tuesday, August 12, 2014 from 9:00-10:00 a.m. CDT
Where: Congressman Smith’s Grand Island Office
1811 West 2nd Street, Suite 275
Grand Island, NERead More
Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) today voted in favor of legislation which would begin to address the crisis of thousands of unaccompanied minors crossing the southern border into the United States.
“This legislation, while not perfect, would be an important first step to provide resources to address this crisis without writing the President a blank check as he requested,” said Smith. “The House of Representatives has acted. It is now time for the Senate to either pass the House bill or to find an alternative solution. The well-being of the children and the security of our national borders are too important to ignore.”
Congressman Smith has also introduced H.R. 5129, legislation which would require the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to give states advanced notice when unaccompanied minors are to be placed in a state.
HHS recently announced more than 200 unaccompanied immigrant minors have been moved to Nebraska this year. However, the State of Nebraska was not given this information by HHS, and the department has not provided details about the children and where they are living in the state.Read More
The Constitution of the United States has served our nation well since its adoption in 1789. This document defines the roles and limits of three separate but equal branches of government, and includes checks and balances to prevent any branch from gaining too much power. The legislative branch, made up of Congress, has the responsibility to make laws; the executive branch is responsible to implement and enforce the law; and the judicial branch is responsible for interpreting the law.
Unfortunately, the growing power of the executive branch is eroding the division of powers and threatening our system of representative democracy. The House of Representatives is now taking action to defend the Constitution and restore the balance of power envisioned by our founders.
Our founders envisioned a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. After all, they fought and won independence from a repressive monarchy. They knew all too well the consequences of giving total power to one individual. They designed a representative government to protect the rights of all Americans by making it difficult to pass new laws. A deliberate legislative process would ensure new rules had broad support and were well thought through.
While the pattern of executive overreach is nothing new, the Obama Administration has taken this practice to a new level. Rather than pursuing his agenda through the legislative process, the President has repeatedly chosen to go around Congress. The President has proposed new regulations through the Environmental Protection Agency to advance a cap and trade scheme which failed in Congress, has refused to enforce certain immigration laws for political purposes, and has made numerous changes to the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.
Most notably, the President has unilaterally delayed Obamacare’s economically painful employer mandate until after the midterm elections, when the law clearly states it must be enforced beginning in 2014. The President does not have the authority under the Constitution to decide which laws he will enforce, nor to make changes to existing laws without going through the legislative branch.
I and many others oppose the employer mandate, as well as the individual mandate, included in Obamacare. However, these changes must be made through Congress. Allowing the President to remove the legislative branch from the legislative process would undermine the rule of law and the constitutional balance of power.
In order to defend the Constitution, this week the House of Representatives passed a resolution authorizing litigation against the President for acting outside of his authority to delay the Obamacare employer mandate. Our case will be narrowly tailored to this instance, rather than a list of grievances, in order to give the best chance of success in court.
The Obama Administration has clearly overreached its authority. I am hopeful a successful case will begin the process to restoring constitutional principles to our government now and in the future.Read More
Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) today introduced the Small Airport Regulation Relief Act of 2014. This bill would assist small, rural airports which are being threatened by a pilot shortage caused in part by new federal regulations. New federal regulations require co-pilots to have at least 1,500 hours of flight time.
Smith’s legislation would require the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) to use enplanement numbers from calendar year 2012 when calculating appropriate annual funds for airports through the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) for Fiscal Years 2015 and 2016. It would ensure those airports which reached 10,000 enplanements in 2012 – before the new regulations – could use the enplanement numbers from that year.
“These small, rural airports successfully qualified for the Airport Improvement Program before the pilot shortage reduced enplanements,” said Smith. “This legislation would ensure these small airports are not penalized twice by the unintended consequences of these new rules.”
The Airport Improvement Program provides funds for projects to improve infrastructure, including runways, taxiways, aprons, noise control, land purchases, navigational aids, safety and security.Read More
Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) today announced Gloria Becker of Minden will be honored with the 2014 Angels in Adoption Award for the Nebraska’s Third District.
“I am proud to recognize Gloria Becker as this year’s recipient of the Angels in Adoption award,” said Smith. “As a Parent2Parent Advocate for Right Turn, Gloria has supported dozens of families with her experience, knowledge, and warm and caring approach. Gloria often goes above and beyond to offer families unwavering support and understanding as they work through the challenges of adopting foster children. As an adoptive mother herself, Gloria embodies the love and generosity adoptive and foster parents across Nebraska share everyday.”
The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute’s Angels in Adoption initiative provides Members of Congress the opportunity to honor an individual or entity from their district which has made an extraordinary contribution on behalf of children in need of homes.
The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to raising awareness about the millions of children around the world in need of permanent, safe, and loving homes.Read More
2241 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Congressman Adrian Smith has earned praise for his leadership, hard work and dedication to Nebraska commonsense. Smith has tackled issues ranging from biofuels and other forms of domestic energy to transportation research and development to fashioning legislation promoting rural America.
Smith has consistently voted against tax increases, massive government bailouts, and was unwavering in his opposition of the misguided health care bill now creating massive uncertainty for our nation’s job creators.
Smith, a co-sponsor of the Balanced Budget Amendment and a supporter of a Congressional earmark moratorium, has earned a reputation as a solid conservative through his votes to protect the rights of gun owners, efforts to limit the scope of government, and his strong pro-life voting record.
Smith, who serves on the House Committee on Ways and Means, actively promotes access for Nebraska agriculture products in Asia, South America, and throughout the world. Nebraska’s $4 billion in worldwide agricultural exports creates $6.7 billion in additional economic activity. Smith supports trade agreements which will continue to create new opportunities for our agriculture producers and their products to keep Nebraska’s economy strong.
Smith’s assignment on the Ways and Means Committee also puts the Nebraskan on the front lines in the debate on how to create jobs, promote economic growth, and directly impact tax policy – such as the Death Tax which threatens family farms and ranches.
Smith’s also has introduced the bipartisan Small-Scale Hydropower Enhancement Act which would help stimulate the economy of rural America, empower local irrigation districts to generate revenue, and decrease reliance on fossil fuels by encouraging the use of small-scale hydropower projects.
The Gering native, whose family has called Nebraska home for six generations, was first introduced to politics by his grandfather. Prior to his election to Congress, Smith served his hometown as a member of the City Council. He then represented District 48 for eight years in the Unicameral.
He continues to reside in Gering.
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Hungry students and challenged school staff would welcome a change to school lunch regulations http://t.co/hQsmrlh0ZJ
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