During my time growing a company in the private sector, one of my guiding principles was to meet and hear feedback from as many customers as possible. Since being elected to serve Hoosiers in the Senate, I’ve adopted a similar business model by visiting all 92 counties in Indiana this year – and will do the same in years to come.
My first event was in southern Indiana in Clark County, where I visited American Commercial Barge Line. There in Jeffersonville, I saw firsthand how this company is able to transport coal, oil, steel and other products on our rivers in a cost-effective and environmentally friendly way.
In Greensburg I visited Delta Faucet, where locals were putting the finishing touches on kitchen and bathroom fixtures that would make their way into homes across the country. Delta Faucet was recognized just last week by the EPA as a 2019 WaterSense Sustained Excellence Award Winner for their work in water conservation.
A few weeks later, I was in Gibson County to see the Toyota Motor manufacturing plant up close. This plant builds the Toyota Sequoia, Toyota Sienna, and Toyota Highlander. We discussed how Indiana’s business-friendly policies have created over 13,000 auto manufacturing jobs -- shortly after the visit, they announced an additional 400 new great-paying Hoosier jobs.
As a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee it has been important to me to intersect with Hoosier farmers as often as possible. Beyond meeting with my Agriculture Advisory council, I attended “Shop Talks” with the agriculture industry in Knox and Warren Counties and hosted an event with USDA Undersecretary and fellow Hoosier Ted McKinney in Johnson County at Crystal Springs Grain.
In Indianapolis during the annual August Recess I visited Shapiro’s Deli to talk to Hoosiers on their lunch break. The topic on many Hoosiers’ minds that afternoon was gun safety and protecting the Second Amendment. I’m a lifelong strong supporter of the Second Amendment, and I’ve owned and used firearms since I was 10 years old. I listened to anyone there who had had concerns about gun violence, and explained my position: I believe we need to ensure the laws we currently have are being enforced, and possibly explore replicating the red-flag law that Indiana has had on the books for 14 years on a federal level, but my primary goal is to ensure that we never infringe on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Hoosiers.
In Vigo County, I stopped at the Richard Lugar Center for Rural Health where we had a robust discussion about lowing the cost of healthcare. My solution for lowering the cost of healthcare includes adding transparency to our pricing negotiations, clearing the way for more prescription drug approvals by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and providing oversight and accountability for the pharmaceutical industry. All reforms I feel are necessary in order to keep our healthcare system in the private sector and not government run.
Some of my favorite stops were visiting with the general public and having a small bite to eat at local diners, cafes, and destinations. I thoroughly enjoyed the dessert and jar of locally harvested honey I took home from the Honeysuckle Hill Bee-Stro in Brazil, had one of the best burgers I’ve ever eaten at Big G’s Café in Columbia City, and was surprised at the amazing taste of Goat Milk Ice Cream at Goat Milk Stuff in Scottsburg. All of these locations are locally owned and operated by the kind of entrepreneurs that are the backbone of this country.
While not surprising, I’m most comforted that the vast majority of Hoosiers aren’t caught up in the partisan politics of Washington D.C. The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well from the Kankakee to the Ohio River and from Richmond to Terre Haute. After being dealt a tough hand this year, I’ve already seen the action of farmers and their harvesters in the fields this fall with optimism on the horizon and another planting season around the corner.
Mike Braun of Jasper is the junior United States Senator representing Indiana in Washington D.C. He was elected in 2018.