Rep. Diane Black visited the Manchester Area Chamber of Commerce Tuesday for a small business roundtable during a district tour that made stops in Coffee and Cannon counties.
Speaking at the roundtable to heads of local business and industry, county industrial board leadership,
officials at Arnold Air Force Base and chamber officials, Black called for an increased partnership between business and education and offered the community an opportunity to voice concerns about pressing issues.
“What I really want to do is make sure I’m staying in touch with the communities, and let the community share with me what their challenges are so I can be a good representative to them back in Congress,” Black said following the meeting.
She identified what she called a threat of concerns from meetings across the districts.
“[Environmental Protection Agency] always comes up. The health care bill – the Patient Affordable Health Care bill – commonly called Obamacare, consistently comes up. The whole education issue, the fact that education is not meeting the needs of our businessmen and women, is an issue that we hear continuously.”
Arnold Air Force Base Commander Col. Raymond Toth began by discussing governmental regulations that have spurred the Arnold policy change that no longer permits officers to enforce state laws and could also lead to replacing the officers with an expanded military law enforcement staff.
Toth explained to Black that due to numerous laws AEDC is no longer able to contract “for what are considered inherently governmental services. Law enforcement is a government service.”
Toth said that he hopes to bypass the change through a grandfather clause.
“Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as just using the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 or four other executive orders,” he said.
He said that switching law enforcement from contracted personnel to Air Force personnel could cost the base an additional $7.3 million.
Responding to Black’s call for issues with the EPA, Bill Comer, chairman of the Industrial Board of Coffee County offered that the agency often hinders board projects in the county.
“EPA is one of the big things that inhibit us from time to time,” he said.
He called for sensibility in environmental protection.
Comer, a self-described tree hugger, said, “environmental laws are being over administered. There is too much bureaucracy associated with it, and too many delays [prevent] us from meeting timelines.” ….
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