OPINION: Delivering results for southwest Michigan

Published 10:40 am Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Just over seven months ago, I was sworn in to represent the recently redrawn 5th Congressional District, a border district spanning from Lake Michigan to Lake Erie. For the first time in over three decades, Southwest Michigan had a new federal representative. Immediately, I prioritized accessibility and delivering results.

I began working to set up an office in the southwest portion of the 5th District and soon opened the first congressional office ever located in Niles. When President Biden delivered the State of the Union, I invited Cassopolis President David Johnson to highlight the need for towns across America to invest in economic development. Within the first month, I met with hundreds of constituents in the area and toured local businesses like Modineer, Pratt Intermodal, Michigan Motorsports, Hildebrand Fruit, and others.  

To celebrate the historic opening of the Niles office, I hosted an open house to feature my casework team and inform constituents of the services we offer to cut through red tape with the federal government. Shortly thereafter, we hosted a military service academy fair in Dowagiac for students and parents to learn about educational opportunities at the service academies. I’ve also held meetings across the area in Cassopolis, Dowagiac, Edwardsburg, La Grange Township, Ontwa Township, Pokagon Township, Silver Creek Township, Wayne Township, and most recently, a senior resource fair in Buchanan.

Spending time in the community is important to understand the priorities, but I’ve worked hard to translate these conversations and effectively deliver results as the voice of Michiana in Congress. In just over half a year, 13 of my bills have been advanced by committee, and numerous have been signed into law.

My PROTECT Kids Act, which passed the House, ensures parents are properly notified and consent before a school can change gender or pronouns. I will always fight for parental rights.

The CARS Act blocks the Biden administration’s rule to mandate two-thirds of new cars to be EVs within nine years. Innovation and consumers should guide the future of the auto industry, not bureaucrats who have never set foot in a factory.

The Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration (FAIR) Act comprehensively reforms civil asset forfeiture, restoring due process and constitutional rights. This bipartisan bill has been the only unanimous vote in the Judiciary Committee all year.

My PLAN for Broadband Act examined a GAO study that concluded that the biggest barrier to bridging the digital divide was a comprehensive strategy to cut down waste and duplicative efforts. We have enough money to fix it, we just need a national strategy.  I led the bipartisan effort, which has also been advanced through the committee process.

Other bills I have authored would lower health care costs, defend existing energy infrastructure, improve nuclear energy processes, expand telehealth access, strengthen cybersecurity, and more. All these efforts have already begun the process of being considered – these are not bills destined to languish.

Working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle, I have also prioritized our lake shore through programs like the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). The GLRI has provided over $3.2 billion in funding for over 6,527 restoration projects throughout the Great Lakes region since 2010. We must continue to fight invasive species like Asian Carp and be good stewards so future generations can enjoy the lakeshore the same way we do.

Through conversations with local officials, I have also prioritized their needs at the federal level. Instead of having a Washington bureaucrat dictate where federal dollars are spent within the district, I have advocated for the local projects requested by the Village of Michiana, County of Berrien, United Way of Southwest Michigan, Village of Marcellus, Lincoln Charter Township, and the City of New Buffalo.

Please know I fully intend to continue to be present in the Southwest Michigan community and deliver results for our communities in Congress. 

Tim Walberg, R-MI, is a member of the Michigan House of Representatives.