Getting a grip on federal spending, securing America's borders and supporting gun rights are among the issues U.S. Sen. Mike Braun addressed Tuesday morning when he stopped in Terre Haute at the 181st Intelligence Wing in Terre Haute.
“I want to hear what's on Hoosiers' minds, and believe me they'll tell you,” Braun said during his “Solutions Tour.”
Braun, a Republican from Jasper elected to the U.S. Senate in 2018, referred to his background as a businessman leading him to support a limit on federal spending.
He frequently referred to the federal government's busting the $3 trillion spending mark and said additional spending is not the answer to solve prison overcrowding and staffing deficits.
“I think we need to find grassroots solutions and stop looking to the federal government,” Braun said when asked about filling correctional officer positions at the federal prison complex in Terre Haute.
Prison administration officials have said hiring freezes have prevented filling open staffing positions, which can lead to unsafe situations for staff and inmates.
On medical marijuana, Braun said he anticipates legislation allowing its use will cascade through states.
“For medical marijuana, there are too many good reasons why you need to start making that legal for that purpose,” Braun said. “I'm a big believer that state's should be the laboratory for those experiments.”
Recreational marijuana use, however, is an issue he predicted will move with less speed through states and could be an issue that lingers for future generations.
Indiana is a good example for the nation in areas such as workforce and economy, he said.
With a low unemployment rate, Indiana does have a deficit of workers.
“But that's a good problem to have,” he said.
Infrastructure projects area also booming around the state to fix crumbling roads and bridges
The state also has positive cash balances, which means spending is under control.
Indiana does have room for improvement in areas such as social services, he acknowledged.
In addressing the state's ranking as second in the nation in reported child abuse and neglect cases, Braun said Hoosiers should be thankful to be in a state that has the resources to address the issue.
He also commended Indiana's National Guard units as a vital presence and as an important part of national security.
“The National Guard, military in general, I believe, it's the most important things we do as a federal government,” Braun said about his support of the 181st Intelligence Wing.
Border security is also important in stemming the flow of illegal immigration, he said, and legal immigration is needed to fill jobs.
“For most Hoosiers, most Americans, they do not believe in open borders,” he said, adding that being welcoming is appropriate, but having a porous border is not feasible.
Firearms and violence
To address mass shootings, Braun said he feels its time to focus on guns used in the wrong way, and keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and people with mental illness.
Braun said he supports second amendment rights, and he feels “red flag” laws are a good thing to call attention to potentially violent people and dangerous situations.
“Focused background checks, even when you're a guy like me who never wants a citizen impacted in a negative way, it's tricky,” Braun said.
Looking at the underlying causes for gun violence is also important, the senator said. Some of the issues could be cultural, and allowing extremist groups such as homegrown militias to possess “are outside what we want.”
The opioid crisis in American seems to finally be starting to level out, he said. The emphasis has been turning to the drug distribution companies who were responsibilty for fueling the crisis in order to profit, he said.
“If the industry has any culpability, they are going to pay the price for it,” he said.
But he also pointed out it is important to look at the reasons why people felt the need to use opioids in the first place, and why physicians were not aware of the crisis that was blooming.
Braun's Solutions Tour continued Tuesday to Rockville, Cayuga, Attica and Fowler.
On Thursday, Braun returns to Terre Haute for a roundtable discussion on the opioid crisis and tour or faith-based recovery community.
Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at TribStarLisa.