BULLHEAD CITY — Business leaders and government representatives had the opportunity Friday morning for a round-table discussion with Arizona congressman Paul Gosar.
Gosar’s visit was hosted by the Business and Government Affairs Committee of the Bullhead Area Chamber of Commerce. It was open to all chamber members.
Before answering questions from chamber members, Gosar spoke on several issues including the Republican tax reform plan, the federal budget and agency accountability and leadership in Congress.
“There’s a lot of things going on in D.C. right now, some good, some bad,” said Gosar, who represents most of Mohave County and the state’s Fourth Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. “For the chamber’s purpose though, what’s most important is what’s going on with taxes.”
Gosar said he believed the final Republican tax bill, the text of which was released Friday evening, would pass.
“Tax reform is a big part of what’s going on nationally and affects all businesses and individuals,” said Joe Keunen, BGA Committee chairman. “We’re looking at it from a business perspective, how it affects us, where we lose money, where we’re going get the government out of our way and where they’re getting in our way. It’s why I wanted to speak to our representatives to voice our concerns back to Congress.”
Welfare reform is also an important issue for Congress in 2018, Gosar said.
“I can tell you right now, the first thing that they’re going to look at is single individuals with no dependents,” Gosar said. “(They’ve) got to get a job. Welfare is a hand up not a hand out.”
An issue of concern for the chamber members is the attempt by Central Arizona Project to purchase and transfer Colorado River water out of the district for use in Phoenix and Tucson areas.
“The water issues are a big problem locally, obviously,” Keunen said. “We all need the water, without it there is no economic development. Our region is growing and we want to make sure that we have enough water to continue to grow.”
CAP has to answer to people in rural areas, Gosar said.
“My contention has always been that I’m for water rights retention,” Gosar said. “I want to make sure that primacy on those water rights are retained, but keep the flexibility for those waters, especially in emergency situations.”
Chamber Executive Director John Pynakker delivered to the congressman a packet of letters written by residents in opposition to the proposed water transfer.
When asked about a national infrastructure bill, Gosar spoke of two pilot programs, Interstate 11 and a water infrastructure program on the Lower Santa Cruz to collect episodic water and his work on a bill to reform the Davis-Bacon Act, a federal law passed in 1931 that requires public works projects pay the local prevailing wages for laborers and mechanics.
“We almost got that through in the defense bill this year — almost,” Gosar said. “Next year we’ll get it.”