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Jackson Cit Pat: Productive 2015 in the books, optimistic about 2016

January 4, 2016
Opinion Editorial
With January right around the corner, people across Michigan will take time to reflect on the previous 12 months and look with hope towards the New Year.

As the representative for Michigan's 7th District, 2015 has been a busy and productive year working on your behalf.

This year we hosted 35 coffee hours and town hall meetings to listen to your priorities. Here in Jackson County, we held these public forums in places like the Jackson Area Career Center, Spring Arbor Cafe, Marino's Pizza in Blackman Township, the Grass Lake Whistlestop Park Depot, and more locations.

In addition to coffee hours, my travels across the district this year brought me to a host of small businesses, career training centers, community health centers, family farms and schools.

Providing top-notch constituent services is also a top priority for me and my office. In 2015, we resolved more than 500 individual casework issues, ranging from IRS identity theft to social security to veterans benefits.

Another important aspect of our constituent services is connecting you with resources available in the community, including organizing a job fair, three separate veterans fairs, and two senior resource fairs.

On the legislative front, the House of Representatives made real progress getting things done for Michigan families and small businesses.

For the first time in a decade, the House passed a long-term highway bill to help rebuild Michigan's roads and bridges and give more flexibility to state and local governments. President Obama signed it into law earlier this month.

The president also signed into law a bipartisan education reform bill that replaces No Child Left Behind, puts an end to Common Core, and returns education decision-making back to parents and teachers at the local level.

After years of short-term extensions, we enacted permanent tax relief which will add more certainty to the tax code, allow working families to keep more of their hard-earned dollars, and help create more good-paying jobs.

We worked together to keep the faith with our veterans, including boosting job opportunities and increasing access to mental health care, like the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act, which became law earlier this year.

In an increasingly unsafe world, we took common sense steps to prioritize the safety of the American people and increase our defenses against the threat of terrorism, including strengthening the Visa Waiver Program to help keep foreign terrorists from reaching our homeland.

These are just a few examples of the House's accomplishments this year to promote more opportunity, grow jobs and a healthy economy, and keep the American people safe.

As your Congressman, I will continue next year traveling around the district listening to your priorities, standing up for our Michigan values, and working for solutions for a brighter future. Our work is far from finished.

-- U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, represents the 7th Congressional District, which includes Jackson County. This op-ed originally appeared in the December 28, 2015 edition of the Jackson Citizen Patriot.