What matters most in southwest Alabama?

Published 4:18 pm Tuesday, October 14, 2014

By U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne

There are some big issues facing our country: the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), illegal immigration, Ebola, Obamacare, the scandal at the Department of Veterans Affairs and the list goes on and on. As your member of Congress, I have stayed engaged on these and other issues of global and national importance.

That said, it seems far too often elected officials take office and forget the people that put them there. Well, I haven’t forgotten, and despite the many major issues facing our country, I haven’t lost focus on the issues that matter most to families in southwest Alabama.

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I have continually pushed for a new I-10 bridge over the Mobile River. From Monroeville to Dauphin Island, I have heard various business owners and individuals voice their support for a new bridge. As it currently stands, the Wallace Tunnel represents one of the top chokepoints on all of Interstate 10 from California to Florida. Finding a solution to the congestion is about more than just quality of life; it is a matter of public safety and economic development. I will continue to push the Federal Highway Administration to move the project forward and help our local economy flourish.

I’ve also been proud to stand up to senseless federal regulations, which hurt our coastal communities. Our area is blessed with beautiful sandy beaches and immense natural resources, and tourism is very important to our local economy. While we must always be cognizant of environmental concerns, I believe we must prioritize the input of our local communities over faceless federal bureaucrats in Washington when making decisions that will have a major effect on our coastal economy. From efforts to improve fisheries management to providing continued oversight of the implementation of the RESTORE Act, I remain committed to ensuring the federal government does not hinder the progress of our coastal economy.

Knowing how important forestry is to southwest Alabama, I have spoken out on behalf of our foresters. The forestry industry in Alabama generates over $21 billion in timber production and processing revenue, and there are more than 3 million acres of forestland in the 1st District alone.

I’m a proud member of the Congressional Paper Caucus, and I have written multiple letters to government officials on issues such as longleaf pine restoration, the taxation of timber, and responsible timber production. Earlier this year, I voted in support of a new Farm Bill, which included a number of positive provisions for our local foresters. I will continue to advocate on behalf of our area’s foresters.

I’ve also been a supporter for local jobs, and I’ve pushed back against policies that could hamper job creation in Alabama. I fought for a spot on the House Armed Services Committee so I could be a strong sponsor for the Littoral Combat Ship, which is built by Austal USA in Mobile. I have traveled with local officials to the Farnborough Air Show in London to recruit suppliers associated with Airbus to our area. Whether it is senseless EPA regulations driving up energy costs or continued taxes and paperwork associated with Obamacare, I am constantly on the lookout for federal regulations and red tape, which stunt economic growth in our region.

I will never lose focus on the issues and problems that directly impact people in Alabama’s 1st Congressional District, and I depend on you to hold me accountable. If there is a federal issue my office can help you with, I encourage you to reach out via my website, the telephone, or through the mail.

I know our work is just getting started and new challenges will arise, but I am proud of what we have been able to do in such a short time. I firmly believe that with your continued input we can sustain our efforts to make southwest Alabama a better place to live, work and raise a family.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is the representative for the 1st Congressional District of Alabama, which includes Escambia County.