Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Claire McCaskill: Getting ideas from Missourians

(In her latest newsletter, Sen. Claire McCaskill reviews her visits to Missouri cities last week. One of her stops was in Joplin.)

It's no secret I get my best ideas from Missouri, and last week was no exception. In my time crisscrossing the state and logging more than 1,000 miles, I had the opportunity to hear directly from Missourians about ways to expand job opportunities and keep the economy moving in the right direction.

I kicked off my ‘McCaskill on Main Street' tour with a stop in Hannibal, where I hosted a public town hall meeting. No questions were off limits - because even though there were times the crowd both agreed and disagreed, I know it's my job to be held accountable to you. 

In Columbia, folks were interested in topics including marijuana decriminalization, and some weren't happy with my support for building the Keystone XL Pipeline. Meanwhile in Kansas City, folks wanted to talk about the new healthcare law, and the Springfield crowd were interested in issues facing national security and our veterans. While the topics differed, every town hall included a lively and civil discussion, which I appreciated and thanked everyone for. Civil engagement makes a difference in our country.

It wasn't just town halls where I had a chance to connect one-on-one with Missourians. At an event in Washington, Mo. with Mayor Sandy Lucy, I called for upgrading the regions roads, bridges and infrastructure. We've had a good start in turning our economy in the right direction, but Mayor Lucy and I agree that we need to get more bang for our buck with infrastructure investments.

It was that same message I took to Joplin, where I sat down with the city's Chamber of Commerce and local business leaders for a roundtable with "comeback businesses" to discuss city revitalization efforts following the devastating tornado in 2011. While federal resources played a vital role in helping the community rebound from this tragedy, I reiterated it's important we work to strike a balance and find ways to support brick and mortar businesses, and keep growing the economy.

And in St. Louis, Mayor Francis Slay and I rallied support with local veterans for the renewal of the Workforce Investment Act - expired legislation with a proven track-record of boosting job opportunities. This bill can forge a successful partnership between the federal government and the local business community to provide pathways to jobs - and Congress should act to renew it as soon as possible.

Last week was more than just an opportunity to hear about issues in your communities, it was a reminder of what makes our democracy great - meeting and hearing directly from hundreds of Missourians across the state - and I plan to get to work bringing your commonsense ideas to the Senate. 

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