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Culpeper Times • February 9-15, 2017

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VIEWS LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Always accessible I want to reach out and share with you a little about the new political environment we are now facing since the election of President Trump. Within a week of the November election, rich liberals who spent tens of millions of dollars trying to elect Hillary Clinton came together to develop a roadmap to resist Trump and take back power for the institutional left. We are now seeing the results of their efforts leading swiftly down to the state and local levels with great intensity. Here in the 7th District, I have been blitzed with a charge that I am not available for constituents to meet and talk with me in open townhalls. The press has picked up on this narrative without doing any research and rushing pieces to press without giving us a fair chance to respond. And so, I'm asking you to help me correct the record. Here are the facts. In the past two years, I have held over 30 town hall meetings in the 7th district that have been open to the public. These meetings are usually held in county administration buildings or school auditoriums. In addition, I have attended hundreds of other meetings across every venue imaginable from businesses to Chambers of Commerce, to churches, to sports groups to civic groups to rotary meetings. These visits have been well-documented on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Governor, look within Virginia for economic opportunity

An eco-friendly economic opportunity is staring our legislators in the face. There is an opportunity to revitalize manufacturing districts and bring prosperity to our farmers and artisans. This opportunity can also clean up the environment and add fertility to the soil. We are talking about hemp. All parts of the hemp plant can be used in production. Which means that farmers can get paid for multiple raw products from one crop; seed, flower, hurd (inner core), bast fiber and stalk. Hemp has tens of thousands of uses; healthy food source, biodegradable plastic, fuel and so much more. Virginia could be participating in a multi-billion dollar global hemp industry. The US is the largest importer of hemp, yet we are restricted to growing hemp only for limited research. All that money being spent on European and Canadian hemp, could be going to our Virginia farmers, instead. We could reinvigorate our manufacturing sector and be creating jobs!

As you know, after my first election I promised to visit with constituents on a monthly basis, and to be accessible by holding regular meetings. As even the Richmond Times Dispatch noted after one of my many townhalls in Henrico, I have kept that promise. That is why it is now incredible for me to read in the paper that some are saying I am inaccessible. My campaign last year focused on the promises I have kept since I went to Washington to be your voice in Congress. If there had been an issue with regard to townhalls prior to November you would have expected more than a few questions or a backlash at that time. There was no backlash because even the press knows that I am one of the most accessible members of Congress. That of course begs several questions about the timing of this newfound intensity surrounding townhalls, especially given that many of the people making charges have not availed themselves of the opportunity to attend one of my many well-advertised and open townhalls in the past. As your representative, I'm very proud of the fact that to date our meetings here in the 7th have been full of insightful dialogue, friendly and informative, where people have been given ample opportunity to share their suggestions and concerns. I always look forward to the input I get from everyone, and hearing their best solutions to get this economy moving again, providing the best education possible for our

children, and keeping our citizens safe. And at every turn, since today's young people will be the ones who will shoulder the burden of our government’s bad decisions, I also make it a point in particular to encourage students at all levels to take their civic responsibility seriously. Their future -- the opportunity to get a job, raise a family and succeed in our country -- is why I am working for change in Washington. But my work in Washington is only part of my job and I take my responsibility to the people back home seriously. Congress is moving at a blistering pace so far this year, but I am doing my best to use time around our packed work schedule to get around to the many requests I have in the district. For example, at the end of the congressional work week last week, in just two days I attended over 10 events in eight counties -- and the most common expression I hear from those that follow me on Facebook is "Dave how do you do all of this?" And so you can be reassured that I will continue to do the same thing in the future. I will hold open town hall meetings as well as digital dialogues and Facebook exchanges like we had recently. I look forward to it.

We have willing farmers, willing businesses and industry leaders from other states willing to purchase and expand to Virginia. What’s stopping our legislators and governor from jumping aboard this (re) emerging industry? The only thing that seems to be standing in the way is an estimated $208,000 for up to three employment positions. These positions would be responsible for expanding and implementing the hemp licensing as authorized by the 2014 US Farm Bill. Legislation was quickly moving through General Assembly in both houses, until a fiscal impact report stalled it in the Appropriation committee. HB2398 and HB2028 House hemp bills were tabled due to financial impact. SB1306 Industrial hemp; license to grow outside of research program, submitted by Sen. Jill Vogel, passed the Senate (40-0) - unanimously- and is headed to the House Agriculture Subcommittee. This committee has already voted in favor of hemp. When this Senate bill crosses over to be voted on by the entire House of Delegates we want to see enthusiastic support. Without a willingness to fund this opportunity, however, SB1306 will meet

the same fate as the House hemp bills did in Appropriations. Proponents of hemp (and many other legislative issues) are repeatedly being told that Virginia is in a budget crunch. New programs that have a significant fiscal impact are unlikely to make it through the General Assembly this year. However, the budget for Forestry and Agriculture for FY 2017 is $105,743,564 million. There are 836 employed positions just in that department for the year. The clock is ticking. General Assembly’s 2017 legislative session ends in less than three weeks. Please contact your delegates and Governor Terry McAuliffe today and tell them the hemp industry should be a top priority for Virginia’s economic and environmental future. Phone: 804-786-2211 https://governor. virginia.gov/constituent-services/ Communicating-with-the-governorsoffice.

Dave Brat 7th District Representative dave.brat@mail.house.gov 804-747-4073 Glen Allen 202-225-2815 Washington DC

Elizabeth Melson Founder, Farm-to-Table Solutions Regional Director, Virginia Industrial Hemp Coalition Co-Chair, Piedmont Green Party

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Culpeper Times - Feb. 9th, 2017  

Culpeper Times - Feb. 9th, 2017