New congressman vows to help constituents, fight unnecessary regulation.
By Chris Eversole
In November, Ted Yoho defeated Cliff Stearns in the Republican primary election and was elected to represent the thirteen-county Third Congressional District, which includes Alachua County, in the House of Representatives. Stearns had held the seat since 1988.
A veterinarian, Yoho sees himself as a champion of small business. He talked to the Business Report about his first few months in office.
How will you help area businesses and constituents?
My goal is to have the best constituent relationships that people have ever had.
It was something that we prided ourselves in with veterinary medicine. Our goal was to resolve problems, and that’s what we want to do as a congressional office.
What policies are you focusing on?
My hat goes off to the entrepreneur—the person willing to take the risk to accomplish something. That’s what I see in Alachua County.
I’m focused on having an environment in which people can grow business. Georgia Congressman Doug Collins and I started a regulatory reform caucus. We’re asking people to let us know about regulations that affect their businesses. A regulation might have come out under the guise of consumer safety or environmental improvement, but you might have found that following the regulation doesn’t improve safety or help the environment, but it increases your cost of doing business.
A good example is a timber company in Levy County. The inspector found something wrong, but she couldn’t complete the inspection at that time. When she came back in a couple hours, the people at the company had already fixed that problem, but the inspector levied a $5,600 fine—and once the paper trail got initiated, the business had to close down for three days.
One of my constituents had a watermelon packing shed. An inspector said he couldn’t use a wooden broom handle around the watermelons because the wood could hold bacteria and contaminate his watermelons. How did we get this far in life without those regulations?
What are your committee assignments?
I’m on the agriculture and foreign affairs committees. I’m especially excited about the ag committee, since I’m a University of Florida graduate and we have [UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences] right here. I’m looking forward to working on the farm bill.
A lot of the problem I see with agriculture and other parts of the economy is that the uncertainty about the tax structure, regulations and mandates has created so much confusion that people are unwilling to expand.
I met with a very successful farmer who said that he had to spend about $30,000 over the last couple years to do his inheritance planning, and then the rules changed. He said, “Had I know it was going to be like this, I wouldn’t have had to spend all that money.”
I’m looking at legislation to repeal the inheritance tax. If that isn’t possible, I’m interested in just repealing the inheritance tax on family farms.
What has surprised you about being in Washington, D.C.?
One of the biggest is the amount of lobbyists in Washington. It’s also mind-boggling to see how wealthy that whole town is.
What’s the relationship between Republicans and Democrats?
I thought we would work together more, but there’s really no discussion. I don’t see a long-term direction for our country. I want to bring a new focus and new direction for the Republican Party.
I’m a registered Republican; I ran as an American. We can’t put party above our country. I see one side trying to beat the other side, and vice versa. The freshmen group in the House sent a letter to leadership of both parties, saying that we’re tired of not resolving the problems and blaming one side or the other.
What’s your outlook for America?
I grew up as a product of America. I don’t ever want to lose track of the greatness in America that’s guaranteed by our Constitution. The other greatness that we have is the ingenuity and the work ethic of the American people.
We need a Kennedy moment. We need someone who will unite the nation around a goal like putting a man on the moon by the end of the decade of the ’60s. Think of how bodacious and awesome that was.
They had slide rules and protractors. We did it, and the nation rallied around that. The spin-off from that propelled the growth of America.