Taylor conducts meeting in Poplarville

Published 12:38 am Sunday, June 10, 2007

United States Congressman Gene Taylor of the Fourth District of Mississippi was at the courthouse in Poplarville on Saturday to address local concerns about our government, taxes, and veteran’s issues.

Taylor tries to hold town meetings throughout his district at least twice per month, and he has employees on hand to help with problems with federal agencies.

Approximately 15 people attended Saturday’s meeting.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Clarence Branson of Picayune asked Taylor about a news story that he had heard about representatives who are charged with and convicted of crimes continuing to receive their pensions. Branson’s opinion was that if these representatives were guilty of criminal activity, they should not continue to receive money. Branson mentioned an unnamed Louisiana representative who is awaiting trial for several criminal activities.

Taylor said that representatives receive a fraction of their yearly salary as a pension, and that they would continue to receive money if for some reason they were convicted of a crime. Taylor used former California Representative Randall “Duke” Cunningham as an example.

“Duke Cunningham was a congressman and a decorated naval aviator and was convicted of bribery. Should we hold his pension, even though he has such an impressive service record,” Taylor asked.

Representatives do not get a large fraction of their yearly income, Taylor said, and the amount they get is dependent upon how long they actually serve in office. Most congressmen do not serve very many terms.

“If a representative serves in Congress for 20 years, he is eligible for around one-third of his salary, and those like Trent Lott and Thad Cochran who have been there for years are the exception,” Taylor said.

Congressmen are held to the same standards as any other federal employee, Taylor said. “I would never ask for anything special for a congressman.”

Cindy Stockstill of Picayune questioned Taylor about immigration and the “Real ID Act,” which is a Congressional act from 2005 that made changes such as setting national standards for driver’s licenses and identification cards and waiving laws that interfere with the construction of physical fences at borders. The act is slated to go into effect in late 2009, after a two-year postponement was announced this past March.

Taylor defended the act, saying that instant verification of identification is needed as part of controlling illegal immigration. Taylor says employers who utilize illegal immigrants are to blame for the problem.

“The only way to cut out illegal immigration is to get employers to quit hiring them. Once we cut out employment opportunities, they will quit coming,” said Taylor.

Taylor says wages should also be raised to better compensate Americans, and he realizes it takes more money to employ Americans.

“When I started rebuilding my house after Katrina, I told the contractor I wanted an all-American crew. … I know I paid twice as much on my roof because I wanted American workers,” Taylor said.

Taylor believes if punishments were more severe for employers who use illegal immigrants, they would be more careful when hiring and the problem will go away.

“They don’t come here to vacation. They come here to work,” said Taylor.

Other topics of discussion included ways to save energy, gas prices, the war in Iraq, and health and home insurance.

Taylor is from Bay St. Louis, and served in the Coast Guard Reserve from 1971-194. He was first elected to Congress for the Fourth District of Mississippi in 1989, and has also served in the Mississippi State Senate. He currently serves on the House Armed Services Committee and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.