JEFFERSON, Ga.—Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) joined the Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce for breakfast this Wednesday to discuss national policy issues impacting the local economy. After scrambled eggs, hash browns and a word of prayer, Collins began the conversation with the roughly 75 people in attendance.
“I love coming back to Jackson County, I love coming back home because I hear your stories and I go back and tell those stories because we’re seeing good things happen,” said Collins as he recounted the way federal tax reform and deregulation have fueled growth in Northeast Georgia businesses.
Under President Trump, Congress has passed 16 Congressional Review Act resolutions, which Collins explained “do away with regulations that were promulgated by the [Obama] Administration over past years.”
“We did away with 16 of those, and we have seen growth in the economy,” he said.
Collins also highlighted the significance of increasing troop pay and defense investment in a time when the military is losing more people to training accidents than in combat.
Workforce development continues to be a priority for job creators like those in Jackson’s Chamber of Commerce, and Collins’ prison reform bill, the FIRST STEP Act, would conserve federal resources and increase public safety by preparing incarcerated men and women with skills to contribute to the work force after they’ve completed their sentences.
“Ninety percent of all inmates currently incarcerated will come home at some point, so the question for us is, do we simply have places to hold them . . . until they get out and have no skills and no opportunity—nothing—and then basically within five years, 76 percent of them go back into jail?” asked Collins, arguing that rehabilitating men and women and training them to fill jobs in an expanding economy serves communities well.
“I believe work is dignity,” he added, before updating the group on his efforts to improve rural broadband and taking questions from around the room.
Several attendees raised questions about immigration, which Collins addressed head on, explaining that he’d voted repeatedly to fund the border wall and end the separation of families at the border, but both bills failed to pass in the House. Collins also outlined the need to improve the legal immigration process, establish a stronger border, put an e-verify system in place and ensure that agricultural and other operations can access the workforce they need.
Chamber members closed the meeting with questions about infrastructure development. From Collins’ perspective, reducing regulations, building up broadband capabilities and supporting the completion of the Savannah port are keys to continuing growth across the state.
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