Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Building Momentum

April 15, 2007
Building Momentum for a Fresh Start
Thanks to the hard work and generous support of thousands of Louisianians like you, last week my campaign announced that we have now raised more than $5.1 million! The message is clear.
It is time for a different direction and real results from government. We do not want to simply recover - we want to thrive.
The thirst for change in our state is massive. I constantly hear from people who say they are tired of Louisiana being at the bottom of the list when it comes to education, economic development and health care. They want change. The overwhelming commitment of Louisianians to bring our state to the top of the good lists is driving the building momentum behind my agenda for a fresh start.
You can make a contribution to the campaign online at any time, and encourage your friends and neighbors to contribute, by visiting this page.
Thanking our First Responders
I had the pleasure of spending this weekend thanking fire chiefs from all across the state for the heroic job that they and all first responders do on a daily basis. During times of disaster, these first responders run towards danger in order to protect us from tragedy. These first responders are usually only publicly recognized after large tragedies, such as 9/11 and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, but I wanted to take a special opportunity to thank them for their service. I would encourage you to take a minute when you see first responders in your neighborhood to thank them for their sacrifices for our communities.
Franklin Parish Catfish Festival
After the storms moved through on Saturday, I enjoyed the cooler weather by attending the Franklin Parish Catfish Festival in Winnsboro, the largest single-day festival in the State of Louisiana. This festival, and those like it around Louisiana, add to the great culture of our state and provide a great economic impact to these communities. Based on the great crowds that I saw on Saturday, I know that families, friends and neighbors enjoyed getting together to enjoy some delicious pond-raised catfish.
In the coming months we will be attending additional festivals across the state. This is a great opportunity to meet other volunteers by helping pass out bumper stickers and other campaign materials. To volunteer at an upcoming festival, sign up here.
Protecting the Bayou Region
A very serious issue emerged last week when the White House signaled their potential opposition to the Morganza to the Gulf project which is vital to the protection of the bayou region. This project will help guard Terrebonne Parish and portions of Lafourche Parish which are currently left largely unprotected from the threat of natural disasters.
The Army Corps of Engineers has spent 15 years developing the Morganza to the Gulf plan to help secure the bayou region area which is important to our domestic energy and fishery industries. The opposition from the White House shows that the Administration not only neglects to understand the seriousness of protecting and restoring our coasts, but fails to realize the vital role this region plays in our national oil supply.
I am urgently requesting that the President correct the misguided opposition of his administration to the Morganza to the Gulf project, and instead join the Louisiana delegation in supporting this bipartisan plan. I am working to help ensure the House approves legislation authorizing this important project this week.
Working to Provide Affordable Insurance
I am pleased to report that both the Senate Banking and the Senate Commerce committees held hearings this week on my companion legislation addressing the insurance crisis facing the Gulf Coast region. These hearings are another sign that Congress is starting to pay attention to our insurance crisis. I am currently a lead co-sponsor on two bills concerning insurance - the Multiple Peril Insurance Act (H.R. 920) to allow homeowners the option of buying wind coverage when they buy flood coverage, and the Insurance Industry Competition Act (H.R. 1081) to protect consumers against the threat of artificially inflated prices.
We must find concrete solutions to providing Gulf Coast residents with affordable insurance. It is inexcusable that so many Louisiana families are faced with a choice between paying for their expensive insurance coverage and putting food on the table. Many others cannot find coverage at all. With the help of my colleagues in Congress, I am working to provide real solutions to the insurance crisis plaguing the Gulf Coast and will continue to keep you informed as these two important bills make their way through Congress.
Combating Violent Crime
This past week the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing in New Orleans focused on combating violent crime. I introduced a statement into the record at the hearing concerning my legislation - The Violent Crime Reduction Act (H.R. 638) - aimed at reducing violent crime throughout Louisiana and the rest of the nation. Violent crime must be confronted and eliminated in order for citizens to thrive in other areas vital to their success. Economic and educational advancement largely depend on the safety and security of our neighborhoods.
I am committed to keeping the safety of our communities at the forefront of the Congressional agenda. The problem of crime is not a new one, nor is it a problem limited to major urban areas. The first five minutes of local newscasts - whether in Shreveport, Monroe, Lake Charles or anywhere in between - recap the violent crimes, robberies and drug arrests that have occurred in the last 24 hours.
We must better coordinate federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to fight violent crimes, as well as gang and drug activity. The Violent Crime Reduction Act I introduced will work to do this, and more specifically to:
- Establish joint task forces of federal, state and local law enforcement and prosecutors so they can share resources and intelligence to help target the most serious gangs and drug activity in a community.
- Create guidelines to designate High Intensity Gang Areas in these communities and authorize Federal funding to help combat gang and drug activity, as well as help states hire prosecutors and purchase technology, equipment and training for gang enforcement.
- Authorize the U.S. Department of Justice to award grants to state and local programs for the specific purpose of designing and establishing a statewide database to track criminals, arrests, prosecutions, and convictions. This database will help law enforcement officers have vital information they need when confronting a possible criminal. For example, if a sex offender is released through the Orleans Parish criminal justice system and is later pulled over blocks from an elementary school in Bossier City, this database will give law enforcement officers detailed information on the past arrests and crimes of the offender that was previously unavailable.
Looking Ahead
I have been humbled and honored by the overwhelming support of Louisianians from across the state who have joined me in my commitment to bringing real change to our state. This week we continued meeting thousands of people excited about our agenda to bring a fresh start to Louisiana. Some of the places I visited this past week include Natchitoches, Coushatta, Shreveport, Arcadia, Homer, Haynesville, Iowa, Hammond, Opelousas, Krotz Springs, New Roads, Lake Charles, Gonzales, Monroe, Winnsboro and Lafayette. While independent polls show us ahead, we will continue to work as if we are behind. The election is still more than six months away and we have a lot of work to do. I cannot do it without you.
As always, please feel free to contact my office if we can be of any assistance to you.

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