In last week's Rokita Report I vowed to protect Hoosiers from President Obama's latest attack in the "War on Coal". In this Rokita Readings, I wanted to share two columns with you that expand further upon the energy debate. Both articles were shared with me by a good friend and I thought they tied in well with the current dialogue on coal regulations.

Jeevan Vasager, in a January article from the Financial Times titled "Germany cautions on impact of green energy," reported on the strain that Germany's conversion to "green energy" has had on Europe's economy. In short, the subsidies are costing business and consumers, while the increased energy costs are squeezing German taxpayers.

In a second column, an editorial from the Financial Times titled "High energy prices hold Europe back," explores the economic opportunity for America in light of Europe's green energy transition. While prices in Europe continue to soar after acquiescing to a politically-driven climate lobby, America has the opportunity to expand the production of cheap energy, which will lower costs, or continue down the path Europe is desperate to reverse, resulting in higher costs for businesses and families.

In my talks with Hoosiers like you at my recent Town Hall in Mooresville, I know that you want lower energy costs. Those desires run contrary to the actions of Obama's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

As noted in the Rokita Readings above, I held a Town Hall event in Mooresville on Monday. I am encouraged by the great turnout of over 150 Hoosiers determined to be engaged citizens intent on Keeping the Republic, as Benjamin Franklin commanded.

As with all of my Town Hall events, we started with a public reading of one of our founding documents. At this event, volunteers read selections from Article I, Section 8, known as the enumerated powers, defining the role of Congress in our federal government. We continued with Article V, which outlined the state convention process for proposing amendments to the Constitution, an effort I support and that is underway, led by State Sen. David Long. We closed the reading with our First, Second, Fourth, and Tenth Amendments, as they are the answers to many of the public debates we are having today.

I wanted to report to you some of the issues discussed. Hoosiers are concerned first and foremost, as am I, about our economy, which is struggling to reach its potential because of the President's policies.

Hoosiers still stand in strong opposition to ObamaCare, which has increased insurance and health care costs for many Hoosiers, and contributed to the uncertainty facing our business community.

In addition to the great turnout, I was also encouraged that several of the questions were focused on the Constitution. These are the kinds of discussions we must have that will elevate our public discourse and help guide our Republic back to its founding principles of individual freedom and limited federal government.

For the questions we weren't able to get to, please stay tuned to my website and social media. I'll be posting answers in the days to come.

I'd like to issue a special thank you to Boy Scout troops 203 and 250 - Caleb from Camby, and Zach, Austin, and Sam from Mooresville - for their help in presenting colors and leading us all in the Pledge of Allegiance.

A big thank you to these young men!


Building Relationships to Fight Poverty

Last week, as part of the Republican Study Committee's Day of Service, I visited the Kokomo Rescue Mission. The Kokomo Rescue Mission was started as a men's homeless shelter in 1953. Since then it has expanded its ministry to include a woman and family shelter, as well a store, food pantry, and supper ministry in Clinton County.

Over the last year, the House Budget Committee has held a series of hearings to evaluate and propose new solutions to the "War on Poverty" started by President Lyndon Johnson in 1964. Today, there are an estimated 46.5 million Americans living in poverty, the "War" has not been successful. Once again, heavy-handed federal programs have failed the people they were intended to help.

So, what is the answer? Organizations like the Kokomo Rescue Mission are a start, and are succeeding where the federal government is failing. They are doing the work God commanded us to do - helping our neighbors.

The men's shelter has provided over 15,593 nights of shelter and served 473 men in the last year. The Open Arms women and family shelter has provided over 10,979 nights of shelter. 36 percent of those night of shelter were provided to children. Combined, they have served 118,076 meals.

Local organizations, like the Mission, build relationships with the people they are helping, where a federal government program cannot. Relationships are the keys to success. A friend or mentor can follow the person they are helping as they begin the climb out of poverty. A bureaucrat simply can't form a bond to this degree, and rarely has it yielded long-term success.

I am encouraged by the work that the Mission, and other organizations throughout our great state, are doing. They recognize that "War on Poverty" must be fought in our own neighborhoods, cities, and towns by the people who live there. While Washington surely can play a supporting role, it cannot lead the fight if we are to succeed.

Our discussion reinforced many of the same points I have heard at other aviation events, like at the Aircraft Owner and Operators Association (AOPA) Fly-In in Indianapolis last month.

General aviation is an industry that is ripe for growth, but it is experiencing difficulty doing so. Due to excessive, burdensome, and costly regulations that are discouraging new aviators and seeing many older aviators leave the community, general aviation fails to reach its full capacity.

That is the reason I introduced the General Aviation Pilot Protection Act (GAPPA), to expand an already successful exemption of a costly medical test in another flight class to general aviation. I was pleased to hear support from the roundtable for the bill, and the efforts I have led in gaining support from my colleagues in the House. Right now, we have 117 cosponsors, up five from last week, and continue to gain key support from members of the Aviation Subcommittee.

In addition to GAPPA, we also discussed funding for the Airport Improvement Program, which provides grants for the planning and development of public-use airports, as well as several of the regulatory burdens associated with these grants. Many of these regulations are in need of updates as they are having a negative impact on the growth of smaller airports.

Participants also expressed concern regarding a 600 percent increase in flight training hours for airline first officers that was passed as part of the 2010 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization. It was a drastic change in hours and is contributing to the pilot shortage that is threatening our airlines. Participants asked that Congress consider reforming this rule in the next FAA Reauthorization legislation.

Several pilots and aviation equipment manufacturers reported troubles they have experienced as a result of the implementation of the Small Airplane Revitalization Act, a bill I coauthored that as signed into law last year. The FAA is requiring certification of simple modifications which has made access to planes for new pilots a challenge at times.

I appreciated the feedback from everyone and will continue to hold events like this as Congress considers the FAA Reauthorization in the months ahead.

Todd Rokita, a graduate of Wabash College, is the U.S. representative from Indiana's 4th District.