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Bill Sargent on the Issues
The Coastal Spine | Small Business | Minimum Wage | Health Care | Ports | Appropriations/Continuing Resolutions
Red Snapper Fishing | The Second Amendment | Peace Through Strength | Securing the Border
Immigration Reform and Sanctuary Cities | The Right-to-Life
For additional information browse through some of the columns written for the Galveston County Daily News.

The Weather Channel Report on Hurricane IkeThe Coastal Spine or Ike Dike
Building a coastal barrier system is a national security and national economic issue. The Houston ship channel is home to at least a third of the United States' refining capacity. If these and other petrochemical facilities were taken off line for even a month, there would be major economic ramifications throughout our nation.  Current estimates are that when a major hurricane hits the Houston Ship Channel that the refineries and petrochemical facilities on that channel will be off line from a year-and-a-half to three years. For that reason alone it is imperative that the coastal spine be built.

Over three years ago (in August 2014) Sarge spelled out how to get the "Ike Dike" funded and built. As of October 2017, the Congress has failed to take these actions. On September 16, 2017, he discussed the possibility of including funding for the coastal spine in the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.  In late October the Governor's Commission to rebuild Texas asked for $61 billion for Harvey relief, including $12 billion to fund the "Ike Dike".  We have been waiting too long to see action from Congress.  How unfortunate that it may have taken another hurricane to spur congressional action.  It is time for us to have a determined leader and advocate in Congress who doesn't wait over three years and another hurricane to get this job done. 
[See the various columns Sarge has written on this subject.]

Small Businesses:Small Business is the engine that fuels the American Economy
Most of the job growth -- and associated employment -- in our nation comes  from small businesses. More and more, the regulatory requirements being placed upon small businesses are sapping the life out of them. 
[For example, if an auto repair facility paints in the open air they must not use more than 4 ounces worth of paint. They're required to inventory the amount of paint used, on what vehicles, and such.] Take a minute and think about how the resources of both the business community and our government could be better utilized. A balance needs to be found that protects the environment while reducing the impact of government regulation upon small businesses.

Minimum Wages:
The increase in wages paid to workers should be tied to increased productivity and responsibilities. Low-paying entry level positions afford new or young workers the opportunity to develop the knowledge, skills, and abilities to be more productive. Arbitrarily setting minimum wages that are not commensurate with the value of the services being rendered results in fewer jobs being available and forces businesses to look for less-expensive alternatives, such as automation. In some locales, arbitrary government controlled wages have forced small firms out of business, thereby further reducing the availability of employment.

ObamaCare GraphicHealth care/Obamacare:
Why did the GOP-controlled House pass, over 40 times, legislation to repeal Obamacare without thinking about what to do if it actually happened? In a perfect world, the federal government involvement with health care would be limited to what the constitution allows (i.e., selling health insurance across state lines and such). However we don't live in a perfect world and Obamacare is failing. So what needs to be done to back away from the precipice? The first thing would be to eliminate all its mandates.  If an employer wants to attract better workers, let that employer decide whether to offer the prospective employee health care benefits.  The second thing would be to set a date 3-4 years from now when all the federal subsidies associated with Obamacare will be cut off.  Doing this gives state legislatures, insurance companies, and those who are insured time to adjust to the new reality.  Health care should be a state -- not a federal -- issue because each state's situation is different and because under the U.S. Constitution powers not enumerated as being within federal jurisdiction belong to the individual states.  Health care is not a federal enumerated power.

Port Arthur channelPorts
There are five ports in the Texas fourteenth Congressional District.  One of these needs to have its channel widened in order to accommodate the larger ships transiting the Panama Canal.  Others need to be deepened.  For example, the Port of Beaumont is one of the busiest military ports, being the home port for several military transport ships.  The Congress has authorized the deepening of Beaumont's channel to 48 feet but the appropriation of the funds to get the work started still remains undone.  Sarge, who worked on Capitol Hill for over twenty years, has several ideas on how to get the funding accomplished.

Appropriations vs. Continuing Resolutions
On a related issue; for years Congress has failed to pass all twelve appropriation bills relying, instead, on passing last minute stopgap continuing resolutions.  This is an ineffective way to run our government and it directly impacts the ability of federal agencies like NASA, the Defense Department, and others to plan for long term projects.  It is time  that Congress gets to work on its constitutional responsibilities.

Red Snapper hooked -- one of the two fish bag limit!Red Snapper Fishing
There are four major issues related to recreational fishing for Red Snapper.  All of these need to be addressed before a long-term solution can be found.  These issues are:
(1) getting accurate data on how large the fishery actually is
[most fishermen think the size of the fishery is at least two times, and perhaps five times, larger than NOAA/NMFS is saying it is];
(2) management of the fishery [many believe that the five Gulf Coast states are better suited than NOAA/NMFS to manage the fishery];
(3) the bag or catch limits [in Texas state waters a recreational fisherman can catch four snappers per trip.  In federal waters it is only two]; and
(4) how long the fishing season is.
[This year NOAA initially only authorized a three-day fishing season in federal waters. Subsequently NOAA/NMFS expanded the number of days in exchange for an agreement by the Gulf Coast states to close state waters for four days per week through Labor Day and perhaps into the fall fishing season.]

There is a solution to this issue that will protect the fishery for future generations while also allowing recreational fishermen increased access to the Red Snapper natural resources;  but determined, honest, and dedicated congressional leadership will be needed to forge an honest and fair solution.

Licensed to carry The Second Amendment
"The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." The primary focus of the Bill of Rights was to protect individuals from a powerful government, not to protect people from each other. Our founding fathers knew well what an overbearing and powerful government could do. 

Today federal, state, and local governments have designated certain areas as “gun-free zones.”  What we’ve seen over the last thirty years is that most of the incidents of mass gun violence have occurred within these “gun free zones.” This is because the gunman is not likely to face any armed resistance.  Sarge supports the Bill of Rights, including the right of law-abiding U.S. citizens to have and bear arms.

U.S. Carrier and Cruiser underway at seaPeace through Strength
Although we have one of the most effective fighting forces in the world, our ships, aircraft, and land based equipment are aging.  Additionally. military personnel are stretched to the limit.  Nobody wants a war, but the best way to avoid a war is to be fully prepared to fight one.  President Reagan coined the slogan "Peace through Strength" and it worked well.

As a retired 20-year veteran Sarge believes we must rebuild our armed forces and supports increased funding for them.

U.S. Border Patrol on horseback

Securing the Border
Securing the U.S. border is an imperative.

Although it might serve as a deterrent in some border areas, Sarge is not sure building a physical wall across the entire southern border with Mexico will keep illegal immigrants out of our country. Electronic surveillance supplemented by a physical wall in some locations, plus having an adequate number of boots on the ground, might be a more effective plan.

Sarge would defer to the Border Patrol agents in the field.  What they are telling him is that having real-time intelligence would help them do their job more effectively.

Illegal immigrants in a line

Immigration Reform and Sanctuary Cities:
People choose to enter our country illegally for many reasons; such as a free education, health care, and other benefits.  Others come as part of drug running or human trafficking. Still others come with evil intent (terrorism).  Sarge has no problem with legal immigration.  It's the illegal immigration he has an issue with.

The first thing we should do is to deport those who have a criminal background while realizing there is no way we can deport the millions of people who are in our country illegally. 

Then we should also remove the "magnets" that draw illegals.  Companies who hire illegal aliens should be fined. We should also implement a guest worker program perhaps with a system that withholds part of their pay until they leave the country (as an incentive to leave when their visa expires).

Cities and states that set a policy of refusing to cooperate with federal immigration officials should not receive state or federal funding.

Unborn child in the wombThe Right to Life
While an unborn child can be called an it, a fetus, or whatever one likes that does not negate the fact that an unborn child is a person.  Does a mother have the right to decide what happens with her body?  Sarge say yes -- as long as that decision does not endanger the life of another. He doesn't think the Lord is pleased with the lives that we've allowed to be taken.
[If we took a minute of silence for every U.S. unborn child whose life has been taken we would have silence for over a hundred years. (Christy Ann Dickson, Pregnancy and Parenting Center of Texas City)]

The right-to-life issue is not just confined to unborn children. When a person is elderly, do we have the right to decide to remove life support without the person's consent?  Sarge would say no!  We are not God and we should not take on His authority.

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Phillip Trittel, Treasurer, Post Office Box 3473, Galveston, TX 77552