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Walorski heads back to D.C. after state work period

BACK TO D.C.: Last week, Indiana Republican Second District Congresswoman Jackie Walorski headed back to Washington, D.C. after a state work period that lasted from Labor Day to Sept. 6.

by Rob Burgess - rburgess@wabashplaindealer.com

Last week, Indiana Republican Second District Congresswoman Jackie Walorski headed back to Washington, D.C. after a state work period that lasted from Labor Day to Sept. 6.

But, before she did, she took the time to sit down for a phone interview with the Plain Dealer which covered topics including her re-election campaign, gun control, the opioid crisis, cannabis policy and the trade war.

No re-election campaign yet

On Tuesday, Ellen Marks became the second Democrat to announce her candidacy for Walorski’s seat. Marks is a partner and a member of the Corporate and Finance Departments of Latham & Watkins.

In July, Notre Dame adjunct law professor Pat Hackett announced her candidacy for the nomination. Hackett graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a B.A. in government and theology and a J.D. from the law school where she now serves as an adjunct professor.

If Hackett or Marks were to win the primary election, she would face incumbent Walorski in the 2020 general election.

Walorski said her packed schedule the fact that it’s on off-year, meant she hadn’t begun her re-election campaign in earnest.

“This is not something that I necessarily categorically say, ‘Oh we have to talk about this right now.’ I have been trying to make use of the time when we have the month of August in the district,” she said.

Gun control legislation

A series of mass shootings have pushed Congress to take action this year on gun control legislation.

Walorski has an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association (NRA) and has been an outspoken proponent of Second Amendment rights.

She said she would keep an open mind to proposals for some forms of regulation, however. She called previous proposals “partisan.”

“There’s no real red line. The issue is what is important to the people of the Second District that I represent. And I listen to all sides on all issues,” she said.

She said other contributing factors to what she called “domestic terrorism” should also be explored.

“We definitely have to continue to look at mental illness as a leading indicator why we’ve experienced some of the horrible tragedies that we have in this country,” she said. “I’ve been listening to the news while I’ve been in the district, and the things that happened are horrible and I think that we’ve got to keep in mind as we go down the road looking at these situations is balancing the rights of law-abiding citizens versus some of the horrific tragedies that we have.”

Opioid crisis

The House passed bipartisan legislation introduced by Walorski to combat the opioid epidemic by improving access to non-opioid pain treatments, according to a June 9, 2018 press release.

The bipartisan bill was named in honor of Dr. Todd Graham, the South Bend doctor who was shot to death last summer after refusing to write a prescription for opioid painkillers.

“We’re looking for the real solution which is, let’s just not start this. Let’s look for a way to provide alternative treatment now,” she said.

Walorski also announced Aug. 15 a $1 million grant from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to support efforts by Porter-Starke Services and the Starke Taskforce for Overdose Prevention (STOP) to combat the opioid epidemic in Starke County, according to a press release.

“And I think on the other end it’s like, ‘We’ve already got an issue, where do we go for help?’ Well, the community services that align themselves in Starke County and Porter County to make this grant available are like second to none for our district.

“I think we’re involved on every front we can be involved we can be right now,” she said.

Cannabis policy

In opposition to her highest score from the NRA, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) gave Walorski a “D” rating.

Walorski said if someone from her district brought her concerns on cannabis policy, especially as it relate medical benefits, she would be open to listening.

However, she said she had reservations.

“I have been traditionally very apprehensive about opening up gateway drugs ... given where our district and our state has been,” she said. “We have a huge drug problem, drug culture in this state and it’s one of the greatest scourges we have on this state.”

Trade war

Walorski sent Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross a letter outlining her latest concerns that U.S. manufacturers and small businesses seeking relief from steel and aluminum tariffs are being treated unfairly, according to a March 11 press release.

“I knew the minute the word ‘tariff’ came out that we were going to be ground zero and we were, but working as hard as we were able to to get those repealed has brought a lot of relief back into this district,” she said.

Walorski said she was concerned with bringing the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA) to the House floor.

“That’s where the American people get hurt and we would be better well served if the leadership in the House would actually do what the American people are clamoring for, especially the farmers, which is bring the USMCA down and pass it. Move on and get back to the table on this Chinese agreement,” she said.