This week thousands of law enforcement officers from around the country came to Washington, DC to honor those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. As part of the memorial ceremonies, 252 names will be added to the National Law Enforcement Memorial Wall and among them three officers from Missouri killed in the line of duty last year.
Tragic events are something that stick with many of us, they mark our lives, and recall memories that we struggle with. Yet, often our law enforcement officers and first responders are individuals who put themselves in those positions to protect us and keep us safe. One of the most profound memories I have was from December of 2002, when Chief Deputy Joann Barnes of the Dent County Sheriff’s Department was fatally shot as she approached the scene of a double murder investigation. Joann’s murder rocked my hometown community. A lot of people knew Joann, we also knew she wasn’t someone that needed the job, but she was proud of her community and committed to service and her absence was going to be profound.
More recently, our community was witness to another heart-wrenching event, that also highlighted the heroism of our men and women in blue. Police Lieutenant Brad Smith and Corporal Cary Dunavan were called to the scene of a car accident in Cape Girardeau where a couple, including a pregnant woman, were ejected from their vehicle. Without hesitation, both officers raced to the scene of the accident to try and save the victim’s lives. Tragically, the pregnant mother did not survive the crash, but thanks to the actions of these officers who performed CPR until the paramedics arrived doctors were later able to save the life of the unborn child. Time and again, in the eyes of danger and disaster our law enforcement officials wade right in to harm’s way to keep us safe and bring stability to crisis. They do this with their own families often waiting anxiously at home.
We also know that for a police officer “off-duty” does not really exist because their training and commitment is always ready to be called to service. That is one of the reasons we passed legislation last week to make it easier for off-duty officers to carry their firearms. It is of utmost importance that those who protect our communities are also protected so that they can do their jobs, even if we never need or call upon them.
This week is not only a tribute to those in law enforcement who go to work every day to protect our communities, but also a time to remember those who never returned home. It is a time to remember the people like Joann Barnes or be grateful for the service of Lieutenant Smith and Corporal Dunavan. We never know when tragedy or crisis may hit, but we are fortunate that we have people who are ready to answer our call in a moment’s notice. Please take the time this week to thank a law enforcement officer in your community for putting their lives on the line, reminding us to do the right thing, or protecting and keeping us safe even when we aren’t expecting it.
Congressman Jason Smith Capitol Report
Prescription Pain: Killers
May 13, 2016
America is facing an epidemic of opioid addiction that is sadly killing 78 people every day. Statistically, the chances are greater that you know someone who has been affected by opioid abuse than not. In fact, 1 in 5 Americans have a family member who’s suffered from addiction to prescription painkillers.
The harsh reality is that the epidemic has reached every single state and region of our country. The faces of opioid abusers are familiar to us all, they are the high school quarterback, the straight A college student or the mother of 3 next-door. As a result, this week the U.S. House of Representatives passed bipartisan legislation to combat America’s prescription painkiller crisis by targeting programs to improve addiction recovery and substance abuse programs for at risk high schoolers and college students, improve treatment for families, veterans, women, and even pregnant mothers who can pass addiction on to newborns.
When most people think of drug addiction they think of those who abuse drugs found on the street such as crack cocaine or heroin, but the problem today is much greater and much more complex than the class of drugs we have all heard of before. Opioids include prescription pain relievers like hydrocodone, morphine and oxycodone. The reality is that it is this class of drugs; the kind which can be found at home in your medicine cabinet, that is most commonly abused and killing thousands of people. Of the 21.5 million Americans age 12 or older that had a substance abuse disorder in 2014, 1.9 million had a disorder involving prescription opiate-based painkillers. Deaths from drug overdoses even outpace deaths from motor vehicle accidents; in 2013, 10,000 more people died as a result of drug overdose than a motor vehicle accident. The epidemic is real, and it is here.
Missouri has been impacted drastically by the growing opioid abuse crisis. Sadly, Missouri has the highest rate of opioid use in the Midwest. It is estimated 235,000 Missourians misuse prescription drugs annually. What’s even more alarming is that between 2007 and 2012, Missouri had a 124 percent increase in treatment admissions related to prescription drugs and without action, this number will only increase. Opioid abuse does not discriminate in Missouri and does not discriminate in the towns and close knit communities it impacts across the nation. The epidemic is killing Missourians of all backgrounds, ages and colors.
This week, I along with my colleagues in the House, put politics aside and focused on addressing the country’s opioid abuse epidemic to save lives across the country. This set of proposed laws includes measures instructing the Attorney General to dedicate more resources to states trying to combat opioid addiction and improving early intervention and treatment for children born with opioids in their system. In addition, we passed bills dedicating further resources for development of drugs to counteract a prescription drug overdose, establishing addiction mitigation programs specifically for veterans, women and teens and supporting law enforcement’s efforts to combat drug trafficking.
These efforts mark an important step in the direction of combatting the opioid epidemic that is claiming thousands of lives across this country. It is time that we help victims of this epidemic reclaim and rebuild their lives to ensure that they get a chance to have a bright future and find their own American dream.Read More
Washington, DC – Congressman Jason Smith (MO-8) issued the following statement today after a U.S. District Court Judge Rosemary M. Collyer ruled in House v. Burwell that the Obama Administration unlawfully funded parts of Obamacare without an appropriation from Congress.
“Today’s decision was a victory for the American people. It is a legal recognition of the excessive attempts this administration has made to manipulate and circumvent the balance of power between Congress and the Executive Branch. Over twenty times the U.S. Supreme Court has made unanimous 9 - 0 rulings against this President and his administration's unlawful actions, so it is fitting that one of the final acts this President will be remembered for is a court decision finding he violated the U.S. Constitution while trying to implement his failed government takeover of healthcare.”Read More
U.S. Rep. Jason Smith’s Reducing Poverty through Employment Act advanced by the Ways and Means Committee
H.R. 2966 empowers states to help families escape poverty
Washington, DC- Today, the Ways and Means Committee advanced Congressman Jason Smith’s bill, H.R. 2966, the Reducing Poverty through Employment Act, during a committee markup. Smith’s bill creates a new core purpose under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program to explicitly recognize that the best way out of poverty is employment.
Prior to the Ways and Means Committee markup, Smith stated, “This legislation is simple, straight forward, and sound policy. It’s a subtle change to the program that will empower states to help families escape poverty and provide a better future for their children. I urge Members of the Committee to support it with the recognition that it is a solid step toward more comprehensive reforms in the future.”
Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) said, "Congressman Jason Smith’s bill will reaffirm what we have all known about this program - that it should be focused on reducing child poverty and the best way to do that is by increasing job opportunities for their parents.”
Under current law, TANF does not currently have an explicit focus on reducing poverty through employment despite evidence suggesting that the number one indicator of poverty is lack of a job. Smith’s bill will create a new core purpose of TANF for states to act on: to reduce child poverty by increasing employment entry, retention and advancement of low-income parents- promoting a greater focus on finding work to help families move up the economic ladder.
After the Ways and Means Committee advanced Smith’s bill, Smith commented, “I am honored my colleagues on the Committee chose to advance the legislation and the movement of my bill is a step in the right direction as we continue work to increase poverty reform to help families around the country escape poverty. The simple fact is that work is the way out of poverty. I want to provide those trapped in poverty a hand-up, not a hand-out.”
Congressman Smith’s district is the 14th most economically distressed community in the country and of the 30 counties he represents, 26 have poverty rates above Missouri’s state average. Rep. Smith has taken an active role in welfare reform, making it a top priority of his to combat poverty by helping Americans get back to work.
Congressman Smith Announces Annual Art Competition Winner
Macie Werner’s artwork to be displayed in U.S. Capitol for one year
Cape Girardeau, MO – The halls of the U.S. Capitol could be looking a little brighter in the near future and all thanks to a local high school student. Macie Werner from Jackson High School was selected as the winner of the 30th Annual Eighth Congressional District Art Competition and will represent Missouri’s Eighth Congressional District in the U.S. Capitol.
Submissions were taken at four of the Eighth Congressional District offices in Cape Girardeau, Farmington, Rolla and West Plains. Werner’s piece was submitted along with more than 100 other submissions across Missouri’s Eighth Congressional District and one of eight finalists chosen by the Regional Art Council.
“The number of submissions we received and the overall quality of the submissions was truly outstanding and these students are incredibly talented,” said Smith. “I also had the chance to talk to a number of these students and in addition to their ability, I have to say these are really great young people and our whole community should be proud of them.”
At a reception ceremony held Friday evening the finalists, their families, friends, and members of the Regional Art Council were invited to view the artwork where Congressman Jason Smith announced the overall winner. As the Best of Show winner Werner will receive an award, and two ticket vouchers from Southwest Airlines to attend the reception for the National Congressional Art Competition in Washington, DC. Werner’s piece will then be showcased in the U.S. Capitol for one year along with the other winners from around the country.
“I think this is an incredibly opportunity for aspiring young artists and we are really honored to be able to showcase their talent and hopefully encourage all of these artists to make a career out of their skills,” said Smith. Adding, “I can’t speak enough to the caliber of these young students, they are amazing and I know beyond their artistic ability they will be ones to watch in the future.”
The finalists from the Eighth Congressional District will be on display in the Cape Girardeau office until May 28th where they can be viewed by the public. The Congressional High School Art Competition was created by the Congressional Institute in 1982 as a way to recognize and encourage artistic ability in each congressional district throughout the country.Read More
Congressman Jason Smith Capitol Report
Small Business, Big Impact
May 6th, 2016
We all like an underdog. The written off school team that still plays with heart, the whistle-blower that stands up to do the right thing, or the small business owner that takes a risk and bets on themselves. We don’t always recognize these “underdogs” in our community, but it is their resilience, perseverance, and ultimate success that forms the backbone of so many of our communities in Southeast and south central Missouri. We celebrate small business entrepreneurs this week by giving them their formal recognition during National Small Business Week.
Nationally, small businesses make up 98% of all businesses in the United States and 75 million Americans are employed by those small businesses. With 7 out of every 10 new jobs in this economy created by small businesses, it is important that Americans support them to help grow and strengthen the American economy. It is equally as important that local, state and federal government stay out of the way of those businesses, that they reduce the tax and regulatory burdens holding back investment and let those owners do what they do best, grow their business.
Closer to home, Missouri has over 500,000 small businesses who in turn employ almost half of the state’s private sector work force. Many of these small businesses often serve as the training ground for the next generation of engineers, accountants, CEOs and teachers. This starts with the high school kid who mows lawns, buses tables or chips-in on the family farm, all the while learning the valuable life tools of hard work, starting from the bottom, commitment and discipline.
As I traveled through our great district this week and visited with the owners of small coffee shops and restaurants, I was reminded why small businesses are so important beyond anchoring local economies – they also instill what many of us would describe as “American values”. They rise early, work late, and just want to provide for their family and community, free from fearing the next IRS audit or newest regulatory hurdle to climb. Small business owners know the dedication and sweat it takes to be able to sign not just the back of the check, but the front of one as well. They simply hope to leave their loved ones and friends better off than the generations before them.
However, I often learn the reach of many of these small business owners grows well beyond the walls of their business. Beyond creating jobs at home, many small business owners are community leaders, chamber presidents, rotary officers and often use their success to generously support nonprofit organizations, volunteer time to serve as mentors to other business owners or valuable role models to budding entrepreneurs. All of this is amazing for people who were once considered “underdogs” simply by betting on themselves.
So please join me in celebrating and saying thanks to these men and women this week, National Small Business Week. They all faced underdog odds, and were often counted out, but who are now the champions of our communities and the driving force of the American economy. Take time this week to visit the small businesses in your town, show them you care, what you will often find is someone on the other side who cares equally as much about you.
Congressman Smith Introduces Bill to Repeal Latest Assault on Rural America
Legislation would repeal another Obama Administration rule targeting livestock feed and water medications
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Jason Smith (MO-08) introduced H.R. 5140, the VFD Repeal Act. The legislation would repeal the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) regulation set to go into effect January, 1st of 2017. The regulation was created without Congressional oversight and would dramatically change the process of receiving and administering antibiotics to livestock as well as the relationship between veterinarians, feed suppliers, and farmers.
“The Veterinary Feed Directive is another example of how extremely out-of-touch the Obama Administration is with Rural America,” said Smith. “The VFD is something I have heard and spoken with a number of livestock owners in my district about and was a big topic during my recent 30 county district travel period. As a cattle farmer myself I understand how devastating these regulations could be to family farmers, which is why it must be repealed.” Smith added, “This is another unfortunate example of Washington, DC bureaucrats creating a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist, but in this case the burden they are creating could propagate a real crisis in our food supply and add an estimated 130,000 hours of paperwork to farmers.”
The new regulation would require prescriptions for many current over-the-counter antibiotic medications administered to livestock both through feed and water. The additional time required to contact a veterinarian and obtain the antibiotics could be critical, especially in situations where bacteria can travel from animal to animal and hours matter. Additionally, a veterinarian attempting to act quickly on behalf of a farmer could find themselves in violation if they don’t have an established relationship already in place between the farmer and feed supplier.
"Healthy food starts with healthy cattle. We judiciously use antibiotics to treat illness on the rare occasion that it occurs. The Veterinary Feed Directive is not at all rooted in sound science and it does absolutely nothing to advance animal or human health,” said Butch Meier, a cattle producer from Jackson, MO and President-Elect of the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association. “It is nothing more than government bureaucracy being shoved down the throats of this country's food producers. We appreciate Congressmen Smith for consistently and relentlessly raining down on the administration's regulatory parade."
H.R. 5140 is one piece in a series of legislation that Congressman Smith has proposed along with the SCRUB Act and IRS OWES Act aimed specifically at rolling back Obama Administration rules and holding government agencies more accountable. Both the SCRUB Act and IRS OWES Act have passed the US House.
The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
Congressman Jason Smith Capitol Report
A Harvest of Regulations
April 29th, 2016
Growing up in rural Missouri you learn that farming is not a job, but a way of life and that American farmers are the back bone of our nation. Farmers work hard to provide the necessities and staples in our lives like food and clothing and without them our economy would come to a grinding halt. Here in Missouri, agriculture is still the number one industry and southeast and south central Missouri are the engines that power this industry.
While I was home again earlier this month I travelled across all 30 counties in our district to visit and hear the latest concerns of folks in the 8th district of Missouri. I found that there were recurring themes among the countless conversations I had in every county. Simply put, people are frustrated and angry. They are fed up with the increases to government spending, growing taxes and most of all frustrated about the mountain of White House driven regulations holding back farmers and small businesses. As a cattle farmer, small business owner, and citizen legislator, I couldn’t agree more!
The latest assault is known as the Veterinary Feed Directive Rule (VFD), a federal regulation from the US Food and Drug Administration, which is set to go into effect January 1st, 2017. This regulation will drastically impact a farmer’s ability to care for their animals by making the process of administering medicated feed and water antibiotics more complicated for producers, veterinarians and feed suppliers.
Even worse, those impacted the most by this VFD rule will not be the large integrated food producers, but the small family farms like the one I own and grew up on. A large corporate operation with veterinarians on hand may be able to handle this new burden, but the effect on small farms in accessing medicated feeds and water antibiotics could be devastating. Ultimately, the VFD regulation alone is estimated to produce over 130,000 paperwork hours on the backs of vets and farmers.
As a cattle farmer, I understand directly the impact of this burden, and it is especially concerning to me that livestock farmers and ranchers will experience the biggest effect on their day-to-day operations. This is why I filed HR 5140 which would be an outright repeal of the VFD rule, there is simply no need for it because it is just a regulation acting like a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.
During my recent district travel, I spoke to a producer that told me this regulation would mean that if a dairy cow calves in the middle of the night, or during harsh weather, he would need to go and get a prescription just for milk replacer. Additionally, the new VFD rule also places a burden on veterinarians by putting them at risk of even writing a prescription if there isn’t an existing vet-client-patient-relationship making emergency situations even more prone to crisis if you can’t reach your current veterinarian.
Stories like these make it clear that regulations should not be made by people who have never stepped foot on a farm. Washington bureaucrats clearly do not know how farmers and livestock producers actually operate and that they don’t seem to care. It is important that the government does not pretend to understand farmers, rather they need to get out of the way and stop hindering our potential growth.
A strong agricultural economy is especially important to small towns and rural areas like we have in southeast and south central Missouri. American farmers already face enough obstacles, so the last thing they need is more burdensome government policy to weed through. Hopefully very soon farmers will be allowed to get back to what they do best, and our families and dinner tables will all be better off.
Congressman Jason Smith Capitol Report
Liberty From IRS Slush
April 22nd, 2016
As the owner of a small business and our family farm, tax season has always been a stressful time for me. Unfortunately, the frustration over taxes doesn’t stop with just paying them, but continues when learning how those taxpayer dollars are then spent.
Earlier this week I had an opportunity to question IRS Commissioner John Koskinen face to face to get to the bottom of how exactly the IRS was spending the funds they have collected in user fees from American taxpayers...you know, those fees the IRS charges when you ask a detailed question, want your return submitted a certain way or have to pay for filing late. His answers to me were incredibly troubling. After tip-toeing around a direct answer for several minutes, Commissioner Koskinen finally admitted that it was the IRS’ own decision to cut $130 million for taxpayer assistance out of their budget and instead funnel that money towards implementing Obamacare mandates. The precise mandates which Congress had allocated ZERO taxpayer dollars for and said loud and clear "DO NOT implement". In other words, the IRS was treating these taxpayer collected user fees as their own personal slush fund.
I want it to be very clear that the IRS chose to take user fee money away from improving services for taxpayers. This wasn't a decision made by Congress, nor one agreed to by the American taxpayer. As a matter of fact, to the contrary, since 2013 Congress had actually increased the budget for taxpayer assistance services which go towards reducing wait times, improving responsiveness and providing access to taxpayers to get help at the IRS.
Unfortunately, we have all seen and felt the Commissioners decision. In 2015, 62% of calls to the IRS went unanswered and the average wait time when calling was 30.5 minutes. These numbers are unacceptable and it is no wonder why folks in south central and southeast Missouri and across America get so frustrated at tax season and angry at government.
From illegal political and religious targeting to over aggressive and unjust audits, the IRS has proven time and time again that they cannot be trusted to do what’s best for American taxpayers. That is why I introduced H.R. 4885, the IRS Oversight While Eliminating Spending (OWES) Act and this week I am proud that this legislation passed the U.S. House of Representatives. The IRS OWES Act will rein in the out-of-control IRS and give Congress and the American people control over the IRS’s collected user fees, not unelected Washington bureaucrats. If signed into law the IRS will no longer be able to use secretive taxpayer funds to implement Obamacare by cutting customer service dollars by upwards of 75% from one year to the next.
To me it is common sense: The IRS cannot be trusted to spend taxpayer funds appropriately because they have proven time and time again that they do not have the best interests of Americans as a priority.
As “tax week” comes to a close, we are all reminded of just how broken our tax code is and how dysfunctional a system can be where the IRS can collect fees directly from taxpayers and then spend that money how they see fit without approval from Congress or the American taxpayer. Thomas Jefferson once said, "When the people fear the government, there is tyranny, when the government fears the people, there is liberty". It is time the folks of Missouri and all across the U.S. are liberated from an untrustworthy IRS. Serious reforms like this will once again make the IRS fear the American taxpayer and not the other way around.
Washington, DC- Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed Congressman Jason Smith’s bill, H. R. 4885, the IRS Oversight While Eliminating Spending (OWES) Act by a bipartisan vote of 245-179. Smith’s bill provides Congress and the American public with greater oversight and transparency with regards to how the IRS is spending valuable taxpayer resources.
During debate on the House Floor, Smith commented, “This bill is about liberating the folks of Missouri along with all Americans from the IRS. It is about making the IRS beholden to them and not the other way around. And it is about exerting our Article 1 authority of the power of the purse of Congress -making sure that unelected bureaucrats are not spending taxpayer money improperly and unwisely.”
The IRS is currently collecting upwards of $500 million in User Fees annually, and has been spending that money without Congressional approval. In 2014 the IRS appropriated $183 million of its User Fees for taxpayer assistance services such as reducing wait times and providing call center assistance, but in 2015 they cut that amount to $49 million as they transitioned to spending funds on implementing Obamacare mandates. That translates to a 73% cut in funding that the IRS chose to put towards funding Obamacare instead of increasing services provided directly to taxpayers and improving the agency’s overall responsiveness.
After passage, Smith remarked, “The passage of my bill today is a win for hard-working taxpayers across America. The IRS has proven time and time again that they are an out of control agency that cannot be trusted to spend taxpayer funds appropriately. The pattern here is alarming, when the IRS has discretion; the agency uses that discretion in ways that harm Americans. It is the duty of the IRS to work for the taxpayers, not against them.”
Passage of Congressman Smith’s IRS OWES Act represents the most recent in a string of bills the Congressman has ushered through the House of Representatives in 2016. Republican leadership has continued to rely on Smith to advance policies which put a stop to an overaggressive White House and its fight against rural America. Smith has successfully passed through the House more major pieces of legislation than any other non-committee chairman in 2016.
1118 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Jason Smith is a seventh-generation Missourian, a citizen-legislator, and a champion for the rights and values of rural Missourians.
Jason was raised in Salem, Missouri, where he still owns the same family farm that was started by his great grandfather. He attended Salem High School, where he was an active member of FFA. At the University of Missouri-Columbia, Jason earned degrees in Agricultural Economics and Business Administration. After receiving degrees from both programs in three years, he attended law school at Oklahoma City University before returning home to serve his community. Back home in Missouri Jason began running the family farm and practicing law. It was during this time that he recognized the harm that the overbearing government was inflicting on Missourians and our economy. This inspired Jason to run for office himself so he could begin to undo the damage.
Jason was elected to the Missouri General Assembly in a special election in 2005.
In the General Assembly, Jason fought to shrink the size of state government, eliminate burdensome rules and regulations, increase government transparency, protect property rights, require drug testing for welfare recipients, and defend Missouri agriculture. Thanks to his efforts, Jason’s colleagues selected him to serve in leadership: first as the Majority Whip and then as Speaker Pro Tem—one of the youngest in state history.
During a special election in June of 2013, Jason was elected to represent Missouri’s Eighth Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives. He was re-elected in November 2014.
As a member of the 114th Congress, Jason serves on the Ways and Means Committee. In Washington Jason has made a name for himself as a strong defender of rural Missouri and all of rural America. Jason is committed to fighting intrusive government regulations, increasing markets for farmers and ranchers, and protecting his constituents’ rural way of life.
Jason has earned 100% ratings from the American Conservative Union and the Chamber of Commerce; he is a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association, pro-life and supports traditional values.
Jason attends Grace Community Church in Salem.
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New event. Severe Thunderstorm Warning from 5/24/2016 4:00 PM to 4:45 PM CDT for Oregon County. More
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Koskinen is another example of an out-of-control Obama bureaucrat. His no show today is not surprising: https://t.co/UjH7vRROop
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