Every once in a while, we are privileged to know a true patriot and leader who exemplifies service to his or her country and community. Ken Jernstedt, who passed away this month at age 95, was one of those men—a brave fighter pilot during World War II, a leader in the community as a state Senator and mayor of Hood River, a friend and counselor to many, and a great father. Now Ken Jernstedt is flying again, with the angels. I wrote a remembrance of him in the Hood River News this week, which you can read by clicking here. Our thoughts go out to his family during this difficult time of loss.
More town halls slated
Beginning on Wednesday, I’ll host my 41st and 42nd town halls in just over a year, in Baker and Malheur counties. For all the details, please click here. Next month, I’ll be holding town hall meetings in Lake and Harney counties, so stay tuned for details. When those are completed, I will have already held town halls in all 20 counties of our district this calendar year. They’re valuable forums for me to hear from the people at home and for me to share what I’m working on back in Congress. For pictures of my recent town hall meetings—and the beautiful drives between them—check out my Facebook page by clicking here.
Communications and technology update: satellite TV and internet freedom
Last week, my subcommittee on Communications and Technology held a hearing, “Satellite Video 101,” to take a look at the law that authorizes satellite video providers to distribute broadcast television signals. Satellite television is how many in southern, central, and eastern Oregon get local news, weather reports, and entertainment, so this issue is important to me.
My subcommittee is beginning a discussion on how to modernize this satellite law with the goal of providing consumers more of what they want while ensuring companies have the investment resources to get it to them. The issue comes up at town hall meetings throughout the Second District, and just last week I heard from two residents of Lake County about their thoughts on how to improve satellite service for their community. These opinions are helpful to me as my subcommittee begins its work. Have your own thoughts on satellite service? Send me an email by clicking here.
I’ve also told you about my subcommittee’s efforts to protect internet freedom at home and abroad. Recently, we held a hearing with two subcommittees of the Foreign Affairs Committee regarding the ongoing threat to Internet freedom, and the legislation I’m writing to make it make it the official policy of the United States to promote a global Internet free from government control. Click here to watch a video recap of the hearing.
Oregonians in the military visit DC office
After that hearing, I met with Army National Guard Command Sergeant Major Brunk Conley, an Oregon native. He recently assumed his position, the highest in the Army National Guard, and has served our country in Iraq and Afghanistan. We discussed many issues important to the Oregon National Guard, including the new Readiness Center in The Dalles and our work to fix a glitch that prevented members of the Guard from getting paid. It’s always an honor to have one of our nation’s heroes in my office, and it’s great to have an Oregonian in such an important role.
I also got the chance to catch up with Mark Boone from Medford in my office and hear his thoughts on caring for our men and women in uniform both overseas and here at home. Mark is a sergeant with the Medford Police Department and a Lieutenant Colonel with the United States Marine Corps reserves. He’s served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, and was awarded the Bronze Star for his service and bravery. Thank you for your service, LtCol Boone!
I’ve told you before about the fine young men and women I’ve had the privilege of nominating for acceptance to U.S. Military Academies this year. Before our Medford town hall this month, I had breakfast with some of our nominees from southern Oregon (pictured below).
Being nominated to one of our nation’s service academies represents years of hard work and discipline. It takes a special commitment to pursue the rigors of an academy education, and these young Americans are following in the footsteps of a long line of patriotic Oregonians. Like many others applying for higher education, they are waiting to hear if they’ve been accepted for admission to the academies. It’s a highlight of my year to talk with these bright, capable and patriotic young people from our district. It gives one confidence that America’s future is in good hands.
A common sense plan to allow small hospitals to provide better care for their patients
A week ago Friday, in my home town of Hood River, I visited Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital CEO Ed Freysinger to discuss legislation I’m writing to allow rural hospitals to provide better care for their patients. The Critical Access Hospital Flexibility Act would give rural hospitals greater flexibility in complying with federal regulations so they can better meet the needs of patients in rural areas.
Currently, federal regulations limit the number of patients per day in so-called Critical Access Hospitals (CAH). One requirement to be designated as a CAH is that a rural hospital cannot admit more than 25 patients per day. It’s rare, but when a CAH reaches this cap, it is simply forced to turn away patients, transfer them to another location at greater expense, remove individuals from occupied beds, or exercise another option that limits its ability to focus on what it should be doing—providing patient care.
As someone who served five years on the board of Hood River Memorial Hospital, I know the challenges community hospitals face with federal government red tape that interferes with patient care. No one should ever be turned away from their local hospital because of a bureaucratic barrier, and no hospital should have to be faced with such a decision.
That’s why I am again working with Senator Ron Wyden to write legislation to provide flexibility for small, rural health care so patients can get the care they need in the community where they live. We will formally introduce it in Congress soon, so it’s helpful to have the input of health care providers like Hood River Memorial.
If passed the plan will benefit patients at Hood River Memorial and 11 other hospitals in the Second District, including ones in Heppner, Hermiston, Pendleton, La Grande, Enterprise, Baker City, John Day, Madras, Prineville, Burns, and Lakeview. I’ll keep you posted as this legislation moves through the process.
Passing a bipartisan hydropower bill—part of an “all of the above” energy strategy
Last week, the House passed a bipartisan energy bill that I cosponsored to boost development of hydropower—the nation’s largest renewable energy source. Even though 75 percent of electricity in the Pacific Northwest already comes from hydropower and several new projects have come online in central Oregon in recent years, we can do more.
The plan we passed will help facilitate the development of new hydropower by reducing red tape and streamlining the permitting process for new projects. New hydropower development has the potential to produce thousands of megawatts of affordable power and create thousands of American jobs in the process. I’ll continue to work across the aisle to increase the supply of affordable energy and create good, stable American jobs.
The Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act was introduced by our neighbor across the Columbia, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, and passed the House unanimously last week. I was an original cosponsor of this bill, and helped usher it through the Energy and Commerce Committee. It now heads to the Senate, which I hope will quickly pass it.
That’s all for this week… on to Baker City and Ontario!
Oregon’s Second District
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