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@MyKitchenTable - October 31, 2020

Dear Friend:

An appropriate quote for today..."Look before or you’ll find yourself behind."

Sounds like Spring forward, fall behind, right?... Ben Franklin, the mastermind that initiated Daylight Savings Time wrote that and, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”  A good lesson for all of us, everyday.

Yes this is the weekend that we lose DST. As much as we may all prefer not to change our clocks twice a year (and we didn’t in 1976 thanks to Jimmy Carter and the energy crisis), this couple week extension of DST beginning in November and reverting back come March was a successful bipartisan amendment that I passed as part of an energy bill years ago.   

We actually consulted the Naval Observatory for their wisdom on time relating to sunshine.  The Department of Energy did a formal study showing that we as a nation do save energy (unless you sleep with the lights on) and the insurance industry shared with us data that we actually save lives and there are fewer auto accidents (most accidents occur at dusk, so by extending dusk another hour allows folks to get home from work in the light and thereby reduces accidents).

And, yes, even crime stats are better as again, assaults, etc. are more likely to occur at night.   

By starting DST in March, the outdoor recreation industry (golf is a big one) and home garden folks have that extra hour of daylight to work outside in their yards, BBQ, or play golf.  Thus, you can add an economic argument to the equation as well.  And, when Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) and I wrote the successful amendment, we allowed for states to opt out/in if they chose.  I heard from Indiana’s Governor Mitch Daniels desperately wanting that option as they did not have DST, and I must say it was so confusing for those of us living in border counties with Indiana wondering if we were on “Chicago” time or Eastern time.  I even remember my Northwest flight in South Bend being delayed as the pilots were confused and did not set their clocks correct for that 6 AM departure. 

The Naval Observatory actually recommended the 3rd week in October for the switch relating to sunlight, but because of Halloween with kids in every neighborhood darting on the streets with an hour less of sunlight really does prevent injuries and deaths.  That’s why it changes the first Sunday in November.  Looking back, I wonder if we should have done it the first Saturday to allow our bodies to adjust better by Monday. So this weekend, we all get an extra hour of sleep but lose an hour of daylight at the end of the day.  Funny story, and it is true. I have a letter to the editor from a person complaining that our amendment for extra DST allows more insects to attack their garden and trees.  Last time I looked, insects do not wear watches or know how to change them. They were from Arkansas (apologies to my friends there).

I cosponsored HR14 introduced today that spends $47B for COVID relief.  The bill is titled the Commitment to Defeat the Virus and Keep America Healthy Act. $31B would go to vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, surge capacity, and telehealth. The remaining $16B would go to additional testing and tracing. The legislation includes more than 50 bipartisan bills strengthening the Strategic National Stockpile, ensuring access to mental health/telehealth services, domestic supply chains, and doubles down on our efforts to fight the opioid epidemic and substances abuse disorder crises.  You can see the section by section analysis HERE.  News is still happening on positive prospects of a COVID package once Congress returns Nov. 16.

Members on my Energy and Commerce Committee urged the Trump Administration to go after the hackers who are using ransom ware to attack the health care sector.

Van Buren and Cass Counties in our district now have a 7-day positivity rate of more than 10% on COVID diagnostic tests.  Michigan has reported 18,358 cases in the past 7 days compared to 11,771 the week before, a 36% increase and the positivity rate on COVID tests is now 6.5%, up from 4.9% a week ago. 

You can see those stats and the regional risk and county by county levels from MLIVE HERE.  I continue to check in with our local hospitals and they confirm that the number of hospitalizations rose almost everywhere.

Back in the Spring in my Kitchen Table reports, I quoted the president’s chief economic advisor, Larry Kudlow, predicting that the GDP in the 3rd quarter would be positive.  Larry’s office was across the hall from my office when I worked in the Reagan White House, and therefore has been a friend for a long, long time.  We chatted at length yesterday with news that I know he didn’t expect last spring to be so large - a 33% increase in GDP. Largest ever and of course the good news that unemployment is now under 8%. We discussed the need for a stimulus package as the pandemic was not over by Easter and will last beyond Christmas. I relayed to him the real prospects of a FDA-approved vaccine now being manufactured at the Kalamazoo Pfizer facility and the hope that it may be available in the next couple weeks.  He responded that the Administration is well on its way directing the military to distribute the vaccine and for those without insurance....for free.  

ImageToday’s picture was from yesterday when I joined a number of local officials with the Corps of Engineers looking at high lake levels and the impact on our Lake Michigan community including their water intake facility.   Yes, we had 5 foot swells beyond the New Buffalo pier but were in good hands on the Coast Guard vessel.  Nobody “lost” it.

This week, I urged the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) to approve the forthcoming grant application from Midwest Energy and Communication Cooperative (MEC) to develop the Southwest Michigan Advanced Research and Technology (SMART) Park in Cassopolis. Remember, if this project is approved, it will create more than 1,000 jobs and bolster the local economy here in southwest Michigan. You can see that letter HERE.

Lastly, today we announced that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services was awarding the Kalamazoo Regional Educational Service Agency (KRESA) with a $3.1 million federal Office of Head Start grant. KRESA has received this grant since 2013. This announcement will continue to help countless families, parents, and children across the Kalamazoo area. This program helps give children a head start and a leg up in their educational careers, setting them up for future success in school and post-graduate opportunities. I’m proud to continue to support our local schools and our educators.

Have a good weekend,

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