Rep. Gurtler on decision to seek U.S. Congressional seat

Election, News
FYNTV - Matt Gurtler

ELLIJAY, Ga. – State House Representative Matt Gurtler spoke with FYN CEO Brian Pritchard in a live FYNTV interview, Feb.13, on the state budget cuts, related HB 4, and his announcement to run for the 9th Congressional District seat vacated by U.S. Senate-seeking Representative Doug Collins.

Gurtler, who is running on a platform of limited government, free markets, and individual liberty, said that the decision to run for U.S. Congress did not come lightly, and reached through deliberation and prayer. “We looked at the State Senate seat, we looked at the Congressional seat and had an opportunity to go up to Washington D.C. to meet with the conservative leaders in the House and also the Senate, and theses individuals and individuals reaching out to me across the District really encouraged me to run,” Gurtler said. “They’ve been watching me, and that I’ve been standing up to the powers that be, and the insiders in Atlanta and the special interests and the bloated budgets, and so it was sort of flattering that they noticed me there. And so we came back, and me and my family prayed, and we made the decision for Congress. We feel that we have a lot of support around the District. We’re going to work our tail off. We’re going to put tens of thousands of miles on the car again and wear the soles out on our feet and just bring the message of limited government to a wider audience, and a national audience if we are elected, so that we can really educate people.”

Gurtler said that members of the House and Senate voiced a need for “revolutionaries” to educate people on a national level, specifically against socialism. The State House Representative, who was in Washington D.C. during the telephone interview, divulged that he met with the Young Americans for Liberty, Freedom Caucus, and Club for Growth – an organization that is spending millions to fight Congressman Doug Collins in the U.S. Senate race.

Gurtler added that he received an endorsement from Kentucky Senator Rand Paul.

The 8th District representative later shared his support for the Second Amendment in a social media post. “Our founders understood the right of self-defense is a natural and God-given right,” Gurtler wrote. “Red Flag laws and gun confiscation legislation like we see in Virginia, are dangerous to the principles of a free society and go against our constitutional rights. I will stand up for our 2nd Amendment rights in Washington DC just as I have done from day one at the State Capitol these past 4 years.”

Continue to follow FYN for local, state, and national campaign coverage as the May 19 primary election approaches.

 

 

 

Gurtler indecisive on which seat to seek

Election, News
Matt Gurtler

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Matt Gurtler, the 8th District State House Representative, issued a statement to FYN on Feb. 2, remaining seemingly indecisive on his next political move.

“I am considering a run and weighing my options for the 9th Congressional or the 50th State Senate seat,” Gurtler told FYN. “It is very rare for both seats to open up like this at the same time and is something we did not expect. My family and I are praying about this very important decision. Thank you to everyone for their support and encouragement these past several days. Whatever we decide to do and whatever seat I run for, I will continue to fight the establishment and defend our Constitution.”

With qualifying drawing near, Gurtler has a mere month to decide whether to attempt the retention of his 8th District seat or seek candidacy elsewhere. Qualification takes place during the first week of March, with the primary election set for Tuesday, May 19.

The 9th Congressional seat opened as a result of United States Representative Doug Collins’ aim toward the Georgia Senate. The 50th State Senate office opened following Senator John Wilkinson’s decision to seek the seat vacated by Collins.

Click to read: Who is eyeing Collins’ Congressional seat

Gurtler, the 8th District incumbent, has been challenged in the State House race by Stan Gunter. Gurtler was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 2016, serving Towns, Rabun, Union, and portions of White counties. As of Wednesday, Gunter stated that he expects Gurtler to remain in the race, “anticipating (Gurtler) to qualify for (District 8) and be in the race in March.”

Gurtler declined an FYNTV.com interview prior to reaching a decision.

The 9th Congressional District consists of Banks, Dawson, Elbert, Fannin, Franklin, Gilmer, Habersham, Hall, Hart, Jackson, Lumpkin, Madison, Rabun, Stephens, Towns, Union, White and portions of Clarke, Forsyth, and Pickens counties. The 50th Senatorial District includes Habersham, Rabun, Stephens, Towns, Banks, Franklin, White, and parts of Hall and Jackson counties.

Continue to follow FYN for political coverage as 2020 election developments occur.

 

2020 candidates attend opening of Republican headquarters

News, Politics
Towns County Republican Party
Stan Gunter

District 8 State House challenger Stan Gunter

YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. – Towns County Republican Party celebrated the opening of its local GOP headquarters Saturday, Nov. 16, during an open house invite for candidates and constituents. Several contenders for Towns County elected seats attended the event, including District 8 State House challenger Stan Gunter, Towns County sheriff challenger Daren “Bear” Osborn, and Towns County Clerk of Court Cecil Dye.

FYN spoke with Dye, the incumbent elected to office in 1984, regarding his decision toward a re-election bid. “I enjoy the job,” Dye said. “I enjoy helping people, and if you like it, you just keep doing it.”

Towns County Clerk of Court

Towns County Clerk of Court incumbent Cecil Dye

Towns County Coroner Harold Copeland, who has not officially announced intent to seek re-election, was in attendance. Family members representing District 8 State House incumbent Matt Gurtler, and U.S. Congressman Doug Collins’ field representative were on site.

Towns County sheriff election

Towns County sheriff’s challenger Daren “Bear” Osborn

The Towns County Republican Party encouraged candidates to leave information, business cards, and campaign signs at the headquarters for area voters.

The Towns County GOP office will be open weekdays beginning Dec. 19, GOP Chair Betsy Young said, from 10 am – 3 pm. After Jan. 1, the hours will increase from 10 am – 5 pm, Monday through Friday.

“During the 72-hour push, the office will be open from 8:30 am until 9 pm,” Young explained. “And we are looking for volunteers who are willing to help man the office throughout the season.”

Six Towns County offices are open for election in 2020:

  • County commissioner
  • Tax commissioner
  • Sheriff
  • Coroner
  • Clerk of Court
  • Probate Judge
Towns County Republican Party headquarters is located at 3921 Highway 76, Unit 8, east of Young Harris.
For additional information, contact GOP Chair Betsy Young at 904-382-1912 or TCGOPChair@gmail.com

 

 

Towns County GOP warns “far left” targeting 9th District

News, Politics
9th District

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County Republican Chairwoman Betsy Young warned Sunday, Oct. 20, of Democratic plans to flip the 9th Congressional District from red to blue in the 2020 election.

“Rural, mountain counties be aware of the ‘play book’ of the far left,” Young cautioned. “They know they have the city votes so they will concentrate on the outer areas, trying to change the minds of the more conservative voters or moderate leaning voters. These communities, like ours, Union, Rabun are targets. The 9th Congressional District is a target so we must prepare.”

Young offered the following tips to conservative voters:

  • Register every Republican to vote.
  • Check to see if you are registered, especially if it was done through the Department of Motor Vehicles.
  • If registered years ago, make sure your signature has not changed or it can be challenged.
  • Bring friends to the polls who can’t get there on their own.
  • Be an “informed” voter. Know facts, not innuendo.

“I am sure there are other important things and we will remind you as we go forward to 2020,” Young said.

 

9th District Representative Doug Collins

9th District Representative Doug Collins.

Georgia’s 9th Congressional District is located in the northeastern portion of the state and includes Banks, Dawson, Elbert, Fannin, Franklin, Gilmer, Habersham, Hall, Hart, Jackson, Lumpkin, Madison, Rabun, Stephens, Towns, Union, and White counties. Parts of Clarke, Forsyth, and Pickens counties lie within the district.

Georgia’s 9th Congressional District is represented by Republican Doug Collins..

Antwon Stephens

Antwon Stephens, a Democratic candidate in the 9th District Congressional race.

Antwon Stephens, a bisexual Democrat, plans to challenge Collins in 2020. “Stephens, 23, said his deep roots in rural Georgia make him want to run against U.S. House Rep. Doug Collins. He would become — at 25 — the youngest member of the U.S. House ever if he were to win. He would also be Georgia’s first-ever LGBTQ member of the U.S. House,” Project Q Atlanta,  “queer Atlanta’s most-visited destinations for LGBTQ, gay and lesbian news,” reported earlier this year.

“Stephens needs your help to oust radical religious extremist Doug Collins from office and turn Georgia’s 9th Congressional District Blue. Flipping one of America’s reddest districts won’t be easy,” the Democratic challenger’s fundraising website states.

The primary election is scheduled for May 19, 2020. The general election will be held on November 3, 2020. The filing deadline for candidates is March 6, 2020.

In 2016, nearly 80 percent of Towns County’s registered voters cast ballots in the general election.

Towns County Republican Party archives

 

Collins Praises Isakson Legacy

Announcements, Politics

GAINESVILLE, Ga.—Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) released the following statement after Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) announced he will resign from the U.S. Senate at the end of 2019 after 40 years of public service.

“Johnny Isakson has been a standard of public service and statesmanship for decades in Georgia. He’s always drawn on his extensive roots in our state to deepen his advocacy for all Georgians. Johnny faithfully remembers the forgotten, including America’s veterans. I’ve looked up to him as a mentor and still work to emulate him.”

###

   

www.dougcollins.house.gov

FYN Interviews Rebbeca Yardley on Georgia’s 2018 Sine Die – Last Day of Legislative Session

Politics, State & National

It’s Sine Die day, that means it’s the last day of the 2018 Legislative Session! Interviews First Vice Chairman of Georgia Congress 9th District GOP Rebecca Yardley on the experience and what to expect from the Georgia Capitol today!

 

Congressman Doug Collins and Blue Ridge Business Owners Talk Pro-Growth Policies

Politics, State & National

Collins and Blue Ridge Business Owners Talk Pro-Growth Policies

BLUE RIDGE, Ga.—Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) joined the Blue Ridge Business Association recently to hear from business leaders about the local economy and related policy issues.

Collins asked the Fannin County group to share the economic outlook for their operations and invited questions on policy issues affecting the local economic landscape.

“This roundtable brought together a lot of business experience and deep commitment to the economic success of the Fannin community. As I remain committed to supporting pro-growth policies, it’s invaluable to receive feedback from the Blue Ridge Business Association and other job creators on a number of policy issues that my colleagues and I are working on in Congress,” said Collins.

One of the strongest themes at the roundtable was the increasing need for workers to fill job openings being fueled by the expanding economy. Collins explained how the House of Representatives is turning its attention toward workforce development aimed at bringing unemployed Americans into the labor market. Participants seemed to agree that elevating vocational training in community schools would also help equip workers for local job opportunities.

The group also asked Collins about the president’s infrastructure plan and its potential impact on Fannin County and considered how communities should approach potential infrastructure investments.

The White House’s recently released approach to infrastructure emphasizes the needs of rural America, including affordable broadband access. Collins has championed this issue in his work with the Trump Administration and through his introduction of the Gigabit Opportunity (GO) Act, which would incentivize greater investment in broadband infrastructure.

The Music Modernization Act Will Provide a Needed Update to Copyright Laws

State & National

ICYMI: The Music Modernization Act Will Provide a Needed Update to Copyright Laws

WASHINGTON—This op ed by Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) first appeared in The Hill on January 11, 2018.

I spent my northeast Georgia youth replaying tracks from “Bat Out of Hell” and “Hotel California.” And, of course, staples from Steely Dan. I welcomed the evolution from the 8-track to cassette to CD, but the LP and 45 vinyl predate even me. So, I was stunned to learn, as a member of the House Judiciary Committee—which has jurisdiction over intellectual property rights—that some of the copyright law governing music licensing was actually designed to regulate the player piano and has endured more than a century without meaningful update.

An overview of the music licensing landscape reveals that the status quo isn’t serving industry stakeholders, so the question becomes one of sustainability. Can music lovers count on a robust pipeline of tunes to carry them into the future? Absent substantive changes to the system that has disenfranchised creators, songwriters, publishers and even digital providers have their doubts. But efforts to unify these creators, digital streaming services and other key players around a path forward have faltered until recently. Very recently.

This December, countless hours of collaboration and cooperation came to fruition in a compromise that would be the most substantial update to copyright law since 1998. Today, our jeans pockets are more likely to be lined with iPhones than lint balls, yet the laws that currently regulate how tech giants like Spotify pay songwriters were cemented before the concept of digital streaming was born. The Music Modernization Act (MMA) would literally usher copyright laws into the 21st century.

The bill tackles four dimensions of music licensing. First, the bill addresses the fact that digital music companies regularly fail to pay songwriters and copyright owners properly for interactive streaming services. The trouble often arises from inefficiencies and information gaps.

Tech companies like Amazon Music, Spotify, and Google Play frequently file bulk Notice of Intentions (NOIs) with the Copyright Office that allow them to obtain a license for music for which they can’t locate ownership information. Since this process became available in 2016, some estimated 45 million NOIs have been filed with the Copyright Office.

This “bulk NOI” shortcut has taken millions of dollars in income out of the pockets of songwriters who rely on streaming services to find the proper owners of music and issue those owners prompt and appropriate payment. It’s also left tech companies legally exposed when they use music without knowing or paying its owners.

The MMA renovates the NOI process so that music creators get paid and digital companies reduce their liability and increase operational efficiencies. The legislation would establish a Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC) that would accurately compensate songwriters for the mechanical royalties they earn through interactive streaming. In exchange, the collective would afford digital providers—which would fund the collective—with blanket usage licenses for songs.

The MLC would accomplish this by providing the digital services with efficient access to the information they need in order to know which songwriters to pay for which songs. Though songwriters have never had a seat at the music licensing table, both publishers and songwriters would sit on the board of the MLC to ensure it operates transparently.

The MMA also provides songwriters a chance to get fair-market mechanical royalty rates (the rate paid for the reproduction and distribution of a song) in the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) proceedings that set those rates every five years. As it stands, songwriters can’t set prices for their own work. Instead, CRB judges determine royalty rates based on an outdated test that has depressed rates for decades. The MMA changes the standard the board uses to a “willing buyer/willing seller” consideration. In other words, the CRB would set the rates to reflect the market value of the corresponding use of a song.

Finally, the bill improves the process through which performance royalty rates (the rate paid to song writers when their music is played for an audience) are set for BMI and ASCAP, the two largest performance rights organizations. Currently, ASCAP and BMI cases are each assigned to a respective judge. The MMA would implement a rotation of the judges who decide ASCAP and BMI cases and would enable the rate court judges to consider relevant market-based evidence when determining performance rates for songwriters. Again, this change moves the industry toward a fairer, freer market for music licensing, and that benefits music creators, music providers and music lovers alike.

The MMA is unprecedented not only for what it sets out to do, but for who has signed on. The Digital Media Association (DiMA)—representing Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Pandora, Rhapsody, Spotify and YouTube—and the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA)—representing U.S. music publishers and songwriters—both support the bill.

Songwriters groups including ASCAP, BMI, the Nashville Songwriters Association International, Songwriters of North America and others have also welcomed this legislation as a compromise that benefits a cross-spectrum of stakeholders.

So, too, have labels and artists, as reflected in the support of the Recording Industry Association of America, American Association of Independent Music, American Federation of Musicians, Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, SoundExchange and the Grammys.

Knowing that today’s music ecosystem suffers under heavy-handed government intervention and defunct copyright policy, I’m grateful that my colleagues Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) and Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) look past partisanship toward solutions that will take music licensing from the dark ages into the digital age.

The agreement that creators and digital providers have struck also testifies to the leadership of Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), who made copyright reform a priority for the House Judiciary Committee. As we look forward to a markup of the Music Modernization Act in the coming weeks, the question is not whether we have a viable resolution to an industry stalemate but whether we have the resolve to see that agreement through. I believe we do.

Rep. Doug Collins has represented Georgia’s 9th District since 2013. He is the Vice Chair of the House Republican Conference and a member of the Judiciary and Rules Committees.

Collins Encourages Corps of Engineers to Expedite Review of Hart State Park Proposal

State & National

Collins Urges Corps of Engineers to Expedite Review of Hart State Park Proposal

WASHINGTON—Today Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) sent a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers urging it to expedite its review of the proposal regarding Hart State Park. The complete letter is available below:

Correction: Collins Votes to Extend Chip and Protect DSH Resources

State & National

Collins Votes to Extend Chip and Protect DSH Resources

WASHINGTON—Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) joined the House of Representatives in voting today to extend the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) through 2022 and protect funding for rural hospitals.

The Championing Healthy Kids Act, H.R. 3922, uses offsets to fund CHIP and programs like community health centers while eliminating $5 billion in scheduled cuts to Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospitals (DSH). The bill includes a two-year extension of funding for Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), which focus on delivering health care to underserved populations through community-based and patient-centered models.

“The House’s bill would extend the Children’s Health Insurance Program for five years while strengthening the program to help the children most in need of health care assistance. At the same time, it protects resources for northeast Georgia’s rural hospitals. I’m pleased that the legislation put forward by House Republicans charts a more cost effective—and therefore sustainable—path forward for serving some of Georgia’s most vulnerable populations,” said Collins.

At least seven hospitals in northeast Georgia serve residents with the help of DSH funding, including Elbert Memorial Hospital, Fannin Regional Hospital, Habersham County Medical Center, Northeast Georgia Medical Center, St. Mary’s Sacred Heart Hospital, Stephens County Hospital and Union General Hospital.

*The original release mistakenly included Hart County Hospital, which merged into St. Mary’s Sacred Heart Hospital, and North Georgia Medical Center, which should be Northeast Georgia Medical Center. 

Collins Advocates for Cyber Defense Program at UNG

Politics, State & National

Collins Advocates for Cyber Defense Program at University of North Georgia

“I believe that the University of North Georgia and other outstanding military colleges are well-positioned to help defend our nation from cyber threats, and that’s why I’ve asked my colleagues to further develop America’s defense skills by investing in these institutions.”

WASHINGTON—Reps. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) and Austin Scott (R-Ga.) led a bipartisan group of lawmakers in asking Congressional leaders to establish ROTC Cyber Institutes at the University of North Georgia and other Senior Military Colleges (SMC).

The National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security have named the University of North Georgia and four other SMCs National Centers of Academic Excellence for Cyber Defense (CAE-CD). These schools focus on training leaders who specialize in protecting Americans within the increasingly complex cyber domain.

“Keeping America safe is my first priority as a representative of northeast Georgia. I believe that the University of North Georgia and other outstanding military colleges are well-positioned to help defend our nation from cyber threats, and that’s why I’ve asked my colleagues to further develop America’s defense skills by investing in these institutions,” said Collins.

Collins and his colleagues are requesting that the Senate and House Committees on Armed Services include language in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act to establish ROTC Cyber Institutes to expand the expertise America’s military and civilian leaders have in critical cyber operations.

All 14 of Georgia’s U.S. Representatives support this request.

The full text of the letter is available below:

WATCH LIVE Congressman Doug Collins serving the 9th District of Georgia Town Hall Meeting

Featured, Politics

Watch LIVE on FYNTV.com   Click link below:

Click here to watch town hall meeting LIVE

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to represent the values and priorities of our community, and that starts with listening to its residents.”GAINESVILLE, Ga.—Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) is holding a town hall meeting in Gainesville this Wednesday.

“Washington needs to hear the voice of northeast Georgia, and I’m looking forward to continuing conversations with neighbors this week.

“Whether I’m working for rural broadband access, fighting for criminal justice reform or advocating for local residents in the face of federal bureaucracy, I’m grateful for the opportunity to represent the values and priorities of our community, and that starts with listening to its residents,” said Collins.

Collins will also update residents on the progress being made by the unified government led by President Trump. Since January, the American economy has added more than one million new jobs. Congress and the White House have eliminated billions of dollars in regulatory burdens and are working together on comprehensive tax reform.

All Ninth District residents are welcome, and details are below.

What: Town hall meeting

When: 5:30 p.m.August 9, 2017

Where: Gainesville Public Safety Building

City Courtroom

701 Queen City Parkway

Gainesville, GA 30501

Who: Rep. Doug Collins and Constituents of Georgia’s Ninth District

Security: For the security of all in attendance, please be advised that no bags or signs will be permitted.

Background: Collins has held public meetings over the August district work period every year that he has served as the U.S. Representative for the Ninth District of Georgia.

In addition to holding public meetings over this period, Collins welcomes residents to join him for interactive telephone town hall conversations regularly while Congress is in session. Thousands of residents from across the twenty counties of northeast Georgia participate in these interactive events, and Collins has held six telephone town halls this year.

To learn more about these live conversations or sign up to participate in a future event, residents may visit his site.

Washington, D.C. Office:
1504 Longworth H.O.B.
Washington, D.C. 20515
Phone: (202) 225-9893
District Office:
210 Washington St. NW, Suite 202
Gainesville, GA 30501
Phone: (770) 297-3388

Collins Answers Questions at Tax Reform Final Passage

State & National

Collins Answers Questions at Tax Reform Final Passage

WASHINGTON—Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) joined Fox News today to address questions as the House voted in favor of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act’s final passage.

Collins also said of today’s vote, “The House just took the final, confident step to send pro-family, pro-growth, pro-hope tax reform to President Trump’s desk. This process started in the House, and I’m excited to have voted to keep our promise to the American people—again.”

 

On who will see the benefit of tax reform:

“The majority of Americans are going to see money in their pockets. . . . That’s the kind of growth we’re looking for, that’s the kind of thing that, come Februarywhen they see their paychecksthey’re going to know that what we’re talking about here actually matters to the American public.”

On Democrats’ claims that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is a bad bill:

“The problem here is not the tax code. The problem here is that [Democrats] want to politicize the tax code because they believe that the government is a much better way to spend people’s money. . . . Come February, let them look some of their constituents in the eyes and say, ‘You know, I really didn’t want you to get that money back in your paycheck. We could spend it better.’ That will be an interesting argument.”

Media Update: House Passes Collins Bill to Honor Fallen Clermont Marine

State & National

House Passes Collins Bill to Honor Fallen Clermont Marine

WASHINGTON—The House of Representatives today voted unanimously to pass H.R. 3821, to rename Georgia’s Clermont Post Office in honor of Zack T. Addington. Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) introduced the bill this September, and it will now proceed to the Senate for consideration.

“I’m pleased to see my colleagues in the House recognize the legacy of Lance Corporal Addington, who remains an example of selfless courage to our community in northeast Georgia,” said Collins.

Collins also honored Addington when he spoke about the bill on the House floor.

 

Background:

Known to his neighbors as Zack, Addington joined the United States Marine Corps in 1967. A native of Clermont, he became a rifleman in the 3rd Marine Division of the Fleet Marine Force and deployed to Vietnam that year. Addington was promoted to Lance Corporal and served his country honorably until he was killed in action in May 1968.

That June, Addington received the Purple Heart, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal and Republic of Vietnam Campaign Ribbon in recognition of his service there.

ICYMI: Liberals Shun Science, Defy Obama in Poultry Production

Politics, State & National

Liberals shun science, defy Obama in poultry production

WASHINGTON—This op ed by Congressman Doug Collins (R-Ga.) first appeared in The Hill on September 27, 2017.

Not much has changed since 1906, when Upton Sinclair dropped his magnum opus on a world in the throes of industrialization.

At least, that’s the picture that liberals like Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) are propagating: Big business is forcing poultry workers to brave conditions straight out of “The Jungle,” and “any attempt to increase lines speeds” at poultry plants would erode food and worker safety.

If these claims were rooted in reality, allowing producers to increase the speeds of certain processing lines might be inappropriate, especially since my northeast Georgia home is the poultry capital of the world. My neighbors have made their careers in this industry. We see each other at church and at the grocery store, and I want only their safety and success.

If we’re being honest, though, we admit that a lot has changed since 1906, and scientific advances have transformed the industrial landscape and equipped us to evaluate accusations leveled by my friends across the aisle.

Unfortunately, opponents of increasing line speeds have scuttled a broad range of scientific disciplines in order to advance their anti-poultry position. They walk a road so extreme and so hostile to empirical evidence that it requires them to break with President Obama himself, whose administration introduced a rule that would have allowed processors to increase their line speeds safely (and, in so doing, to benefit American workers and consumers).

The first casualty of their argument is geography. These critics say that faster line speeds would force workers on those lines to dismember chickens at dangerous rates. The geography of the production process, however, makes their claim disingenuous.

Poultry plants exist in two distinct sections—one for first processing and one for second processing. Every petition to raise line speeds that I’m familiar with applies strictly to the first-processing zone, where birds enter the plant and undergo cleaning to make the food safer before ending this journey in chillers. The primary duty of workers on these lines is inspection. They wield cotton swabs, not paring knives.

Workers who debone the birds operate only in second-processing areas, physically separate from the largely-automated first-processing lines. The chillers represent a full stop in the process and physical division between these sections of a plant, so raising line speeds in the first area doesn’t require work speeds in the second area to increase. The geography lesson here is simple: The layout of these plants means that increases in line speeds in the first-processing zones would, by design, not jeopardize worker safety.

Line-speed skeptics also ignore biology. Since 2007, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has overseen a pilot program for plants operating at speeds of up to 175 birds per minute (bpm). These plants had implemented new safety models that shifted focus from low-value activities—like checking birds for bruises or remaining feathers—to high-value food safety tasks like microbial testing.

A landmark study demonstrated that plants with higher line speeds met or exceeded FSIS food safety standards. Among other successes, FSIS (that is, the government inspectors) saw the percentages of unacceptable samples for E. coli fall from 3.9 percent to 0.7 percent while the plants were able to operate at increased speeds. The rates of Salmonella and Campylobacter bacteria further show that these have food safety outcomes as good as or better than traditionally-run plants, whose line speeds are capped at an arbitrary 140 bpm.

Why would anyone shun innovation that improves both efficiencies and product quality while guarding employee welfare?

I can’t answer that, but we do know this: Such objectors dismiss ergonomic data—even when it comes from federal regulators. They fly the banner of worker safety and efficiency in theory but seem to disregard insight from the Department of Labor, which reports that the poultry industry’s 2015 illness and injury rate was 4.3 cases per 100 full-time workers compared to a rate of 4.7 cases for the food manufacturing sector at large. According to these records, the men and women engaged in poultry processing have found a safer career than those working in the average tortilla manufacturer or bottled water operation.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics also reports that injury and illness rates among poultry employees have fallen 81 percent since 1994. So, as poultry plants have become more efficient, they have also become safer for the individuals operating them. Innovation is not a zero-sum game.

Yet, in the face of scientific data, industry detractors demonize even economics and its positive externalities. They bemoan the news that poultry “profits are soaring” and decry a company that reported its earnings for “bragging.”

Yet successful companies often find themselves in the best position to supply the market with more affordable goods, and that dynamic serves American consumers—especially the middle class, who spend a greater portion of their income on staples like food than higher-earners do.

The economic cost of locking our producers into slower line speeds became clear in 2010, when Brazil outpaced the U.S. as the world’s leading poultry broiler meat exporter. Like operations in Canada, Europe and Asia, Brazilian plants can run at line speeds of over 200 bpm. Handcuffing American consumers and producers to arbitrarily low line-speeds hurts our economy and may even undermine food and worker safety, both of which have improved as line speeds have increased and oversight techniques have advanced.

Liberals appropriate the stories of individual poultry employees without disclosing that they don’t actually work on the lines in question here. They jettison a host of scientific data because it is inconvenient to their narrative of doom, gloom and righteous indignation.

We serve our neighbors best when we allow evidence to mobilize our empathy. Scientific analysis demonstrates that innovation has simultaneously improved worker safety, product quality and operational efficiencies across the poultry industry, which means that they’re protecting and stewarding America’s most valuable resource—our workers.

Rep. Doug Collins has represented Georgia’s 9th District since 2013. He is the Vice Chair of the House Republican Conference and a member of the Judiciary and Rules Committees.

Congressman Collins Talks Health Care, Tax Reform and Still Supporting President Trump

Politics

Georgia’s 9th District Congressman Doug Collins talks with BKP today about the health care bill. Collins also states that he believes and hopes they will be able to start working on the tax reform this year. BKP also asks the Congressman if he is still a supporter of President Donald Trump. Lastly Collins discusses issues that he and his team are working on that are more specifically focused in the 9th District: Dodd Frank Act, the VA – veteran’s health care, police week, and human trafficing week.

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