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By Chris Gregory, Managing Editor

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn was in Hartsville last Friday, meeting voters and talking about her campaign.

Blackburn sat down with The Vidette to discuss the campaign and the issues that will decide the November election.

Blackburn, who has represented Tennessee’s 7th District in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2003, is consistently rated as one of the most conservative members of Congress.

She said one of the top issues she hears on the campaign trail is the need for conservative federal judges to be confirmed by the Senate.

“They want to make sure we have a conservative U.S. senator, they want someone who is going to vote to confirm conservative, constitutional federal judges, not only at the District Court and Circuit Court… but the Court of Appeals and of course the Supreme Court,” Blackburn told The Vidette.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn, left, poses with State Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver during a visit to Hartsville.

“People are tired of activist judges that try to legislate from the bench. They want to make certain that you’ve got those conservative judges.”

Blackburn also cited increased tax cuts, immigration and regulatory relief as other important issues to her campaign.

“Tax cuts are working in Tennessee,” she said. “Wages are going up, unemployment has decreased, and more people are working.”

Blackburn cited the Environmental Protection Agency and a vote to repeal part of the Dodd-Frank Act, which brought greater oversight to banks after the Great Recession of 2007-08. President Trump signed a bill rolling back part of those regulations into law last week.

“Dodd-Frank has been so tough on our local and state-chartered banks,” she said. “The Waters of the U.S., that was an Obama-era rule and had the potential of such a negative impact on our farms.”

Blackburn said she remains committed to the full repeal of the Affordable Care Act, which had the individual mandate repealed last year.

The national debt and rising federal deficits were also issues Blackburn said she would like to see addressed.

“They need to pass my legislation calling for 1, 2 or 5 percent across-the-board spending cuts,” she said. “You’re doing it for future generations.”

Blackburn said economic growth and reduced spending could bring America’s budget back into balance.

She cited the elimination of 4,000 federal jobs in the first quarter of 2018, calling it a “good start.”

 

Immigration/guns

Blackburn said in addition to supporting the building of a wall along the southern border of the U.S., she would like to see the Border Patrol receive the tools it needs to secure the border.

“That ends drug trafficking, human trafficking, sex trafficking and gangs,” she said. “Law enforcement finds itself having to deal with those issues.”

Blackburn also praised the Tennessee General Assembly for its recent passage of a law banning so-called “sanctuary cities” in the state.

She also cited a need for visa reform, such as keeping those with an H-1B visa (foreign workers) from bringing extended family with them to the United States.

With regards to increased gun violence in America, Blackburn said she supported the expansion of background checks and a ban on bump stocks. Both measures, along with a school safety bill, have passed the House and are awaiting action in the Senate, Blackburn said.
“In conjunction with those background checks, there needs to be a way of flagging for mental illness on those checks so law enforcement is aware,” she said.

She also cited a need for juvenile records to be accessible to law enforcement after an offender reaches adulthood.

“This became so apparent after the Parkland shooting, because law enforcement was not aware that this young man, as a juvenile, has an extensive record,” she said.

Blackburn said she approaches these issues as a wife, mother and grandmother and also said violent video games ought to be addressed.

School safety was also an area Blackburn cited, saying expanded school resource officers and limiting points of entry were good ideas.

 

Opioid crisis

Blackburn also spoke on the need to address the opioid crisis in America. The congressman previously co-sponsored legislation that tightened the standard for the Drug Enforcement Agency to seize drug shipments. The tighter law passed the House and Senate with bipartisan support but has since been criticized by the Justice Department and by DEA officials as making it harder to take enforcement action in some cases.

“The opioid issue is one we’ve worked on since 2012, and I’ve worked on addiction issues when I was in the state Senate (1999-2003), supporting moms who were going through recovery,” she said.

Blackburn called for federal, state and local agencies to work together to combat the opioid crisis. She said a bill with 34 changes to federal law would be on the House floor in June. These changes, which were not discussed in detail, were said to incorporate ideas from law enforcement, pharmacists, physicians and more have called for previously.

She also noted her work with Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) on an updated version of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, which would provide federal funding for law enforcement and first responders, while also setting a three-day limit on opioid prescriptions.

“We have been very aggressive on this. It is a travesty and is heartbreaking to me,” Blackburn said of the opioid crisis. “We are losing Tennesseans every day and we’ve got to stop it.”

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.