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Meadows to join U.S. House today

The Sylva Herald & Ruralite of Sylva, North Carolina

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New U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows, R-Glenville, believes one answer to mass shootings such as the one that took place recently in Newtown, Conn., is increased spending on mental health.

"We need to look at doing a better job on the federal and state levels of meeting those needs," Meadows said.

Placing restrictions on gun ownership, however, is not the answer, he said.

"I am a strong Second Amendment rights guy," said Meadows, who is a gun owner himself. "I don't see banning that (assault weapons) as making our schools any safer."

Meadows was set to be sworn into Congress today (Thursday) and will be the first Jackson County resident to serve in U.S. House since David Hall, a Democrat who died in 1960 before completing his first term.

During the election, Meadows handily defeated Democrat Hayden Rogers, who was former Congressman Heath Shuler's chief of staff, with more than 57 percent of the vote. Shuler, after six years in office, retired from politics and recently accepted a job with Duke Energy as senior vice president of federal affairs.

Meadows said that to truly make schools safe from potential shooters every weapon in the U.S. would need to be banned.

"And that's not going to happen," he said.

Twenty children and six adults were killed Dec. 14 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history. The massacre has sparked a heated national debate about gun control.

Proponents of gun control are urging that federal lawmakers bring back an assault weapons ban. This 10-year ban was passed by Congress on Sept. 13, 1994; it expired on Sept. 13, 2004. Opponents such as Meadows, however, assert a ban wouldn't make schools any safer. The National Rifle Association instead recently called for putting armed guards and police in schools nationwide.

Meadows said that he has scheduled his own visits to elementary and secondary schools to find out firsthand how these schools can be made safer.

Meadows has been appointed to serve on three congressional committees: the Oversight and Government Reform Committee; the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Foreign Affairs Committee.

While on the Oversight Committee, Meadows said that he hopes to help make the Affordable Care Act "less problematic for implementation by businesses. We need to make sure that we don't spend so much money on regulatory compliance that we make health care more expensive."

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obam-acare, is intended to decrease the number of uninsured Americans and, ostensibly, reduce the overall cost of the nation's health care.

The freshman representative said that he's excited that the Transportation Committee will be working on bringing broadband access to rural areas.

When it comes to the nation's budget challenges,

Meadows believes the problem cannot be reduced to merely whether taxes will be raised on the wealthy.

Rather, he said avoiding the so-called "fiscal cliff," those automatic deep spending cuts and sharp tax increases scheduled to take place in the new year, involves what he described as political agreement on meaningful tax reform.

While final Congressional action Tuesday averted income tax hikes on all but the wealthiest Americans, the new Congress will still have to deal with spending cuts, the national debt limit and other economic issues.

That includes simplifying the tax code, he said. And Meadows believes it includes keeping Medicare eligibility for those who already qualify but raising the eligibility age for others by a couple of years.

Meadows plans on keeping a high profile in his district. He said that he would like to have an office in all 17 counties; office space has been found so far in 14 of those counties. The office in Jackson County will be at the Southwest Development Commission in Sylva, where Boyce Deitz formerly worked as Shuler's representative in this congressional district.

Meadows has rented an apartment in Washington D.C., and plans to spend time both there as well as in his district.

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Original Publication Date: January 3, 2013

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