Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Democratic Candidate David Poythress on Farmers, transportation.

I’ve been reaching out to our state’s lifeblood, our agriculture community. Several farmers have shared their concerns with me regarding the new Secretary of Labor’s proposed suspension of the H2A regulations. As you may know, our growers have many regulatory hoops to jump each season. They put together their budgets and plans for the year in anticipation of the rules which went into effect on January 17th. In mid-March, the Secretary of Labor created much uncertainty by moving to suspend the new rules. I have written a formal request urging the US Department of Labor to reconsider this action that will have a serious and adverse effect on our farming community and our state’s economy. It’s not fair to our growers or their workers to change the rules in the middle of the season. Click here to read my full statement.

After weeks of deliberation, debate and political skirmishes, I think the politicians at the Capitol owe us some leadership on transportation in the final week of the Legislative Session. But with the final days upon us, it’s tough not to feel like we are stuck between Governor Sonny Perdue’s power grab and the Legislature’s inability to act. This is unacceptable, and both sides shoulder the blame.

Governor Perdue’s Transportation Plan will gut the Department of Transportation and make every transportation project a political pawn of the Legislature. This is an open invitation to political favoritism and corruption. The Legislature has floated a compromise plan that does not sufficiently address our critical transportation needs and relies on a sales tax that will be available only after a statewide referendum in November of next year. Their best case scenario keeps us waiting until 2011 for results.

If I were Governor, this is what I would do on transportation:

1. Direct the Board of Transportation to dust off every transportation study on the shelf and call for a “Transportation Summit” to prioritize these projects using planning guidelines, not political influence.

2. Sign an Executive Order that authorizes and encourages tele-working and “flex time” commuting for all state workers that will alleviate the number of cars on the road during the busiest drive times.

3. Develop a long range plan to relocate state agencies that no longer need to be in downtown Atlanta.

4. Direct the Board of Transportation to create new routes for 18-wheeler trucks that will direct that traffic away from our metro areas to ease traffic congestion.

5. Direct the Board of Transportation to identify the top 100 traffic congested intersections and surface streets so we can begin re-engineering them to reduce congestion in those areas.

6. Do everything necessary to expand the Port of Savannah in a way that will attract more shipments and create jobs.

7. Sign an Executive Order protecting the 13 member Board of Transportation that represents different regions of the state.

I'm going to tell you right now, Mr. Poythress is starting to grow on me. I really like this guy.

1 comment:

TheDublinLad said...

Here's the request General Poythress sent to the US Department of Labor...

Mr. Thomas Dowd
Administrator, Office of Policy Development and Research
Employment and Training Administration
US Department of Labor
200 Constitution Avenue NW, Room N-5641
Washington DC 20210

RE: RIN 1205-AB55 Suspension of H2A Regulations

March 27, 2009

Dear Mr. Dowd:

As the only Democratic candidate for Governor of Georgia, I have heard from farmers from across the state bringing to my attention the Secretary’s ill-timed, proposed suspension of the H2A regulations. I respectfully urge the US Department of Labor to reconsider this action that will have a serious and adverse effect on our farming community and our state’s economy.

The present regulations (which went into effect on January 17, 2009) were the result of lengthy consultation between the Department and the stakeholders who create agricultural jobs in this nation. A suspension of these regulations and reinstatement of old regulations during the peak planning and planting season will cause significant operational disruption, particularly for family farmers. Consider that most growers have already planned for 2009 crop activities; using the 1/17/09 regulations, they have budgeted their operating costs, secured loans, planned personnel needs, finalized contracts and scheduled product deliveries. Interference with contracts and season arrangements will have severe, negative economic consequences to the farming community.

The March 17, 2009 suspension of regulations has created uncertainty for growers and workers alike. Furthermore, the 10 day time frame for citizens’ response is an inappropriately short time for proper notice. Agriculture production is a difficult enough profession with the day-to-day pressures of weather, crop pests, market prices and multiple-agency regulatory rules. In addition to the confusion of potentially two different sets of rules applying to workers doing the same job this season, consumer costs will likely increase. The strain added by this rule suspension is counterproductive to all concerned.

Our current economic times are uncertain, to say the least. Please reconsider this action which will impose a significant financial burden on our Georgia farmers who are doing their best to comply with the law and support their families. The best course of action would be for the Administration to reinstate the 1/17/09 rules and follow the usual regulatory process of bringing stakeholders together to formulate new rules. However, if the Department is determined to rescind the 1/17/09 rules, please allow for a more reasonable comment period (at least 60 days).

Finally, I respectfully urge the Department to create a review committee which includes H2A users, along with other stakeholders, to advise the Secretary on issues affecting the H2A and other agriculture programs. Thank you for your consideration of my comments.


Lt. Gen. (Ret.) David B. Poythress

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