Mark Pocan makes visit to Colonial Club
Congressman Mark Pocan of Wisconsin’s second district – covering the counties of Dane, Iowa, Sauk, Lafayette, Green, Rock and Richland – has this week off, away from the legislative body, and is taking time to tour six local communities to hold listening sessions.
After making stops earlier in the day to Mineral Point and Baraboo, Pocan stopped by the Colonial Club Monday evening for the last of the days’ listening sessions to hear about the concerns of some of his constituents in the Sun Prairie area.
Afterward, Pocan described the purpose of the listening sessions that he is taking the time do in six counties over a two-day period from Monday to Tuesday.
“Really it’s getting around the district to hear not just what are some of the biggest issues that people are concerned about, but sometimes specific issues in a certain region. Here we hear a little more about labor issues in Dane County. Up in Sauk County we hear a lot about the Badger Ammo Plant,” Pocan said.
“It’s really to make sure we’re getting every corner of the district and getting information about what’s most important to people, so that I can best serve in Washington,” the congressman added. “We’ll go to certain events on a regular basis and we’ll hear from people we run into, but this is set up to really let people come out and talk to us about those things that are most specific. It’s nice to be able to come into every single county in a couple days in the district and hear from people. We got a lot of legislation to do the next couple of months and it’s great to get this feedback.”
Of the issues that Pocan heard throughout the day Monday and especially at the event at the Colonial Club, healthcare was certainly an important one. With the Obamacare on the verge of being implemented, Medicare and Medicaid were on the minds of several of the members in attendance. Pocan talked about these concerns, but also about the bigger issue with the entire topic of conversation as brought up with one question, which was the rising cost of healthcare.
In answering the questions and concerns, Pocan referenced the Affordable Care Act and how it is playing a large role in lowering the costs of healthcare, and how it could continue to do so in the future. Although Pocan thought there were things that could be done with Medicare, such as negotiating with drug companies, the conversation he thought needed the most attention was the rising cost of healthcare.
The questions and comments Pocan heard were not just related to healthcare, as he talked about after the session ended.
“Healthcare in general, whether it be the Affordable Care Act and some people are very excited about the prospects of it, or individual concerns about healthcare. Healthcare is always a large issue that comes up,” Pocan said. “The environment has come up a lot. People talk about climate change – that has been something we’ve heard a lot about. Not so much here, but in others, the need for campaign finance reform. All over the map really; it’s been a pretty wide spectrum.”
Nearer to the beginning of the session, Pocan gave a brief overview about himself, including what he has been involved with in Washington since he began his term in January. One of the two committees in which he is involved is the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the other committee being the Budget Committee. When asked after the session what the committee was about, Pocan described the basic premise of it.
“It pretty much has oversight over any program. We can do a review to make sure it’s happening properly. We have some specific areas of jurisdiction like the District of Columbia, the post office and some federal employee issues. But we’ve been doing everything from Department of Defense issues to Postal Service to all these departments talking about waste, fraud and abuse – a lot of different jurisdictions.”
Keeping in mind what he was a part of on both committees, Pocan received many relevant comments to them. Included in these relevant concerns were comments about the treatment of public workers in the wake of recent tragedies, six-day delivery with the Postal Service and the future of the National Labor Relations Board.
There were other, more specific concerns that also surfaced during the course of the session. One of these was about the Marketplace Fairness Act and the sales tax that it will require online businesses to pay if it is seen through. Another one involved concern with the Keystone Pipeline. While answering the concern, Pocan also brought up the issue of Chain CPI with it, which was another issue that was referenced several times throughout the course of the session.
Pocan heard over 15 different concerns and questions over the course of the listening session, trying to get a better idea of what issues were concerned about most and obtaining specific evidence to take back to Washington when the next legislative session begins.
“Actually, a lot of it are similar issues that I’m hearing that are just really important,” Pocan said when asked if there were any issues that stood out at the Colonial Club session.
“It just kind of adds on to today, hearing it in three different counties. It’s good because I can go back to Washington and say, ‘Hey, I was talking to people in Sun Prairie and what they told me in Sun Prairie…’ and whatever the issue is, I can talk about it. That’s really important because I like to tell stories like that on the floor. I think it’s a real great way to illustrate an issue.”