Oberstar launches hometown values legislative agenda based on local meetings
Congressman Jim Oberstar is looking for bipartisan and public support for a package of legislation developed from a series of public meetings. In recent months, Oberstar held public forums on hometown values throughout the congressional district....
Congressman Jim Oberstar is looking for bipartisan and public support for a package of legislation developed from a series of public meetings.
In recent months, Oberstar held public forums on hometown values throughout the congressional district. Based on responses from those events, he put together a three-piece initiative.
Oberstar said the forums were to bring people together in the aftermath of Sept. 11, the war in Iraq and trying national economic conditions.
"I wanted to refocus on what people in the Northland consider to be their real values," he said Friday, June 13. "From the forums ... we fashioned an outline of legislation that will be introduced in the House next week."
The package includes the Pedestrian and Cyclist Equity Act of 2003 (PACE), the Living Well with Fatal Chronic Illness Act and the Rebuild America Act of 2003.
PACE is a continuation of some of Oberstar's earlier transportation legislation. It's main purpose is to help children lead healthier lives by providing safe walking and biking opportunities and fighting obesity. He said the measure will provide funding for the establishment of a national safe routes to school program and a three-city pilot program for nonmotorized transportation.
He spoke with passion about improving America's end-of-life care. He said, there is need for a better understanding of pain relief and controlling symptoms when prevention and cure are no longer options.
The legislation would make grants available to train health care professionals in the care of patients with fatal chronic illnesses and expand research in that area. The measure also carries a long-term care tax credit for those who are taking care of spouses, parents or dependents.
"We have an aging population in America and a prevalence of long, lingering illnesses," he said. "We need much more information about chronic illnesses, palliative care and pain medication."
But as great as the need, he acknowledged that the legislation -- a new direction -- will be the most challenging to pass.
The Rebuild America Act is a job creation bill largely tied to transportation projects. It will provide $50 billion from a variety of sources, including a small slice from recent tax cuts in the top income tax bracket.
He said there is $5 billion from highway trust funds that would be sent to states which have highway projects ready to go. And with deficits in mind, the government would give those states two years to pay their 20 percent match.
Another provision would funnel money to airports to get capacity projects back on schedule that had been put off to pay for security improvements.