By US Sen. Pat Roberts
Over the latest Congressional work period, I conducted a 20-county, 2,000 mile listening tour, traveling from eastern Kansas to counties on the Colorado and Nebraska borders and back again. I spoke to farmers and ranchers, took part in a technical broadband summit, toured hospitals, met with students, visited a major oil fracking site and conducted numerous town hall meetings.
One thing has been constant no matter where I am in the state: there is a disturbing and palpable fear that our country is on the wrong track, and that the country we honor and cherish so deeply will not be the same America for future generations. The single biggest topic that is causing the most frustration and anger among Kansas citizens is the continuing and ever-increasing government regulations.
As one manufacturer I met with said, “We are not being governed. We are being ruled.”
In Western Kansas, regulations soon to be enforced by the Fish and Wildlife Service regarding the Lesser Prairie Chicken now pose a threat to the Kansas oil and gas industry as well as farmers and ranchers already suffering from three years of devastating drought.
Time and again while touring businesses, factories, farms and ranches, I received complaints that federal inspectors or hired private contractors are agenda-driven, too quick to levy fines, and warn that if they are appealed, the fines will double. This is just plain blackmail.
I have always fought this tidal wave of regulations and will continue to battle against regulations that stifle our economy and punish our job creators. I have introduced a comprehensive regulatory reform bill in the Senate. It forces the federal government to provide a cost-benefit for all federal regulations. It provides full transparency and extends all comment periods for folks to weigh in to 180 days. Currently, my legislation has 35 Senators signed on as co-sponsors, but has been opposed and, in effect, smothered by Majority Leader Harry Reid and the rest of the majority leadership.
There is a remarkable trust deficit between the federal government and American citizens, especially those who are actively working to create jobs, feed our nation, and grow our economy. It is a very sad and serious situation.
I want to stress, however, that our country has faced very great challenges in our history and has not only survived, but succeeded.
We have won some battles in the war against regulations. I introduced a bill with 39 cosponsors to prevent the IRS from enacting rules targeting groups based on their political beliefs. The IRS recently was forced to announce they would rewrite the proposed rules in question.
Following the outcry of active students left hungry by new USDA school breakfast and lunch calorie restrictions, First District Congressman Tim Huelskamp and I successfully persuaded USDA to reconsider the rules.
And yes, we killed the EPA’s attempts to regulate dust.
With the leadership of U.S. Senator Jerry Moran, we fought and won the elimination of ridiculous labor rules for children who work on the family farm.
To protect the privacy and safety of pilots, we got rid of FAA regulations, which would have disclosed the tail numbers of general aviation aircraft on the internet in real time.
Every day I learn of new burdens and costs to Kansans associated with a regulation. I will keep fighting these barriers to job creation and economic growth so that our children and grandchildren can have the same America we love.