October 26, 2017

Pride for Michigan

By Matt Kuhn

These past two weeks, I finally had the opportunity to meet with my senators, Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters. Senators certainly have their hands full with their constituents, taking on their entire state rather than the smaller portions that the house members represent. This can make finding time to meet with them considerably, and understandably, more difficult. Fortunately, each of my senators have a ‘Morning with the Senator’ event each week that the senate is in session. I’ve noticed that many other members of the senate from across the country hold this event or one of a similar nature as a means to set aside specific time to meet with their constituents.

It really is a rarity, on either side of The Hill to be able to personally meet a representative or senator and have time to talk about the issues that concern you most. Most conversations pertaining to political matters occur through a member’s staff member, or ‘staffer,’ on behalf of the congressman or congresswoman. I’ve become well acquainted with these meetings during my externship and in past visits to The Hill, so being able to actually meet the person with their name on the door really means a lot. Now I can imagine that much of the year their mornings are much busier than late October, well past DC’s peak tourism season, so my experience may have been a little more laid back than most.

Stabenow PicturesI’m very lucky to have one of my senators as the ranking member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee. Senator Debbie Stabenow has not only been a powerful member of the senate for many years, but a strong supporter of veterinary medicine and agriculture. In fact, she is a sponsor of the Veterinary Medical Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act (VMLRPEA) that I spend most of my time advocating for. Our meeting was a nice change of pace as her office’s views parallel those of the AVMA for the most part, giving me time to thank her for all she has done.

This is not to say that Senator Peters has been anything but helpful as well; he simply has a different committee assignment and thus different priorities. That’s why it’s my job as a constituent to bring to light important topics such as the VMLRPEA and student loans related legislation. I was extremely appreciative of his and his aids’ attentiveness throughout the morning and active engagement over my concerns. I look forward to continuing to work with Peters Photohim and his staff in the future to continue to garner his support for Michigan’s agriculture and veterinary communities.

Prior to my meetings, I have been very proud of both of my senators. They are both fellow alumni of Michigan State University, both very passionate about protecting Michigan and the Great Lakes, and are both willing to stand up for their constituents and work side by side for the sake of our state. After these meetings, and their willingness to take to heart my message and worries, my pride has only grown.

At a time when congress needs to hear the wants and needs of their constituents the most (not to mention entering an election year), taking advantage of opportunities to meet with our national representatives is very important to keeping Washington grounded. I strongly encourage anyone visiting the DC area to always check ahead of time and see when these events are being held. Even if you don’t have a specific bill to talk about, find something that you are passionate about. Their job is to represent you and the only way they can do so is to understand what fires you up, what gets you out of bed in the morning, and what concerns you have.