WELLSBURG - U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-Charleston, commented on healthcare reform, environmental regulations for industry and other issues during a visit Tuesday to Eagle Manufacturing.
The visit was among several stops in the Northern Panhandle made by Capito, who has declared her candidacy for the seat in the U.S. Senate held by Jay Rockefeller, who has decided not to seek re-election.
Joe Eddy, the company's president, gave Capito a tour of the plant's facilities, where it produces a variety of cans, cabinets, drums and other containers used to store and collect hazardous materials.
FACTORY VISIT — Don Coen, a foreman at Eagle Manufacturing; and Joe Eddy, president of the Wellsburg business; showed U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-Charleston, the production line for the company’s red safety cans. The cans are among many containers for hazardous materials produced by Eagle. -- Warren Scott
Eddy said changes in healthcare coverage wrought by the Affordable Care Act was among issues he discussed with Capito. He said last year the company saw a $1,000 increase in health coverage costs for each of its 180 employees and expects to see a larger hike this year.
Capito said healthcare reforms introduced by the Obama administration have resulted in insurance premiums increasing and deductibles doubling.
She said it discourages small businesses from employing more than 50 full-time employees to avoid being required to provide coverage or pay a fine and encourages all businesses to employ more part-time staff at a time when there aren't enough full-time jobs.
"We've got more part-time jobs than we've ever had," she said, noting young families can't be supported by such positions.
Capito said while efforts by her and others to repeal Obamacare have been unsuccessful, she's hopeful that it can be dismantled and positive changes, such as prohibiting discrimination against those with pre-existing conditions, kept.
She said healthcare reform is one of many issues that prevent American businesses from competing in the global marketplace. She said federal environmental regulations set unattainable goals for domestic industries, particularly coal.
"American manufacturing is the backbone of our country. We've got to preserve that. We need to encourage energy independence and make American product available to foreign markets," she said.
Capito said she's not against regulations, noting she introduced legislation, following the Elk River chemical spill, calling for routine inspection of chemical storage facilities and aboveground chemical storage tanks.
Asked about regulations for the booming natural gas industry, she said the state should be the primary regulator for it but environmental regulations are needed to ensure the state's water and air are safe.
Asked if she's concerned about a large amount of natural gas being exported overseas, Capito said she is not because she believes there's an abundance of the resource available for foreign and domestic consumption.
Capito also commented on an issue beyond the business world but affecting many in Wellsburg, the Biggert-Waters Act.
The law was approved to help the National Flood Insurance Program address billions of dollars in claims related to Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy.
But it's resulted in dramatic increases in insurance costs for owners of property in Wellsburg's floodplain, where flooding is less frequent and disastrous.
Capito said she supported the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act which she hopes will succeed in lowering rates to an affordable level, with gradual increases as needed.
(Scott can be contacted at email@example.com)