Adrian Smith

Rep. Adrian Smith spoke about climate change, trade and health care during a stop in Chadron Monday.

Trade, climate change and health care dominated a discussion with Rep. Adrian Smith Monday in Chadron.

Roughly 30 people turned out to visit with Smith, who represents the Third District, with many of them urging him to get involved in the discussion on climate change.

“We need to do something together based on science,” said Steve Welch, a member of the Chadron chapter of Citizens Climate Lobby. “This shouldn’t be a partisan issue.”

Welch asked Smith to help usher HR 763 through the House of Representatives, noting that the bill rewards good climate behavior and exempts agriculture from strict regulations.

“We need you to be involved in these discussions,” Welch said. “Otherwise the coasts are going to decide for us.”

Smith said he is anxious to hear new ideas for addressing climate change, but is against creating any new tax or additional bureaucracy. Good intentions, he said, often create unexpected outcomes.

Government bureaucracy is a weak argument for not taking action on climate change, another member of the audience said.

“I pay a fee to have my trash disposed of. Why shouldn’t companies pay a fee to dispose of their trash?” she asked. Incentivizing strategies that have a positive impact on climate change will result in market forces that pressure companies to find ways to decrease their carbon footprint, she added.

Tax credits for consumers, such as those issued for solar power, should also be continued, said Kurt Kinbacher.

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City Councilwoman Cheryl Welch drew a loud round of applause when she too implored Smith to support HR 763, saying that elected officials should not negate the concerns of their constituency.

“It’s a thoughtful approach,” Smith said, expressing appreciation for the audience’s input without committing to support the bill.

On the topic of trade, Smith said progress has been made with the USMCA agreement to replace NAFTA; that agreement is pending Congressional approval, which he hopes to see before fall. Talks are also ongoing with Japan and trade issues with the European Union and China must be resolved soon, he said.

“We need to get this tariff situation with China resolved so we don’t see retaliatory tariffs,” he said. Trade has become a global topic of conversation, leading to greater understanding of how technology and energy changes impact trade agreements.

“I think there is a new appreciation for international trade,” Smith said. “Trade is a singular issue that the world is watching.”

In the realm of healthcare, Smith said he was just part of a bi-partisan committee effort to reduce regulations for rural hospitals. Should that effort move forward, it could, for example, eliminate the requirement that there be a physician on the same floor at all times when a lab technician is drawing blood.

“That’s very cumbersome for small hospitals,” Smith said.

Members of the audience suggested Smith also consider allowing drugs or medical practices that have been proven effective and safe in other developed countries to be used in the U.S. without going through additional trials. Changes to how insurance companies list preferred drugs and closing loop holes in Medicare Part D were also suggested.

Smith also received a round of applause from the audience for his vote to take away funding that would have helped transfer the Pine Ridge Job Corps from the U.S. Forest Service to a private contractor. The fire crew training and general youth training offered by the Job Corps run by the Forest Service are unique and important, Smith said.

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