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Plenty of questions, issues on Barrow’s rural tour

POSTED: January 14, 2013 9:11 p.m.

Surrounded by about 30 people Thursday, U.S. Rep. John Barrow conducted the 16th stop in his “Rural Listening Tour,” which is designed to connect with constituents in his district.


Barrow spent about 90 minutes at the Bulloch Center for Agriculture, pulling up a chair and sitting among local farmers, veterans, students and other residents as he discussed government issues and topics of their concern.


Taxes, health care, gun control and the proposed farm bill dominated the discussion. Barrow encouraged visitors to sign up for future one-on-one assistance if they had personal issues with which they needed help, but urged them to enter a discussion on general issues during his visit.


In answering questions about the proposed farm bill, which he said has passed in the Senate and is being considered by the House, Barrow said partisanship is creating problems in not only this bill, but with several issues within the government.


“The problem with many issues is lack of bipartisan support,” he said.


The proposed farm bill is “real good for farmers in the Midwest but not for farmers in the Southeast,” he said.


One man in the crowd asked about gun control, stating he noticed an increase in violence since prayer was removed from public schools.


Barrow responded by explaining court cases prompted removal of religion from public education, but said other steps should be taken to reduce violence such as the shootings in Newtown, Conn.


Some current laws “make no sense in the world to me,” he said. “I think there’s a lot more room for common sense in this area.”


Better handling of mental illness is needed for dealing with “folks who are different,” he said. In the past, mental illness was dealt with by institutionalization; now it is “neutralized by drugs and depending too much on patients to treat themselves.” A better solution is needed, he said.


When asked about concerns over a possible repeal of the Second Amendment, Barrow assured the group of citizens that “no executive order could possibly” mandate such a move, because “the court can strike unconstitutional laws down.”


He also addressed the 22nd Amendment and a motion to repeal it, which would remove term limits.


“That ain’t gonna happen,” he said, explaining the motion would have to pass two-thirds of both the House and Senate.


What is needed, he said, is better economic responsibility.


“I think we need to pass an amendment that requires a balanced budget,” Barrow said.


He also spoke of gerrymandered districts, which is when districts are redrawn to favor one party or the other.


Barrow disagreed with one resident’s support of a flat tax, saying it is a “regressive” tax when a progressive tax reform is needed.


“I think we need to overhaul the tax code,” he said.


The government, he added, is spending more by not addressing the cause of expenses.


Barrow said the Rural Listening Tour is geared toward meeting and interacting with the public to address rural issues. The Bulloch County meeting was his 16th stop in four days, and he continues his regional visits Tuesday.


He told the Statesboro Herald the majority of topics discussed during the town hall type meetings have been “overregulation, cutting deficit spending, taxes.”

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