Federal retirees deserve equity
I served the federal government for 23 years with the United States Capitol Police. I also worked in the private sector for security firms off-duty.
When I retired, I was surprised to learn my Social Security benefit would be $1,100 less per month than my colleagues and neighbors who had never worked for the federal government. This is all because of the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) under the Social Security law.
Throughout my government career, I held myself to a high standard of fairness and equity. But now in retirement, I'm subject to a law that is anything but fair and equitable, in my opinion. This provision unfairly reduces my Social Security benefits for no other reason than that I worked for the government.
Legislation introduced by U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, would reform the WEP. The Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act, H.R. 711, recognizes the work I've done and the contributions I've made, and would adjust my Social Security benefits accordingly. It would do so without costing taxpayers a nickel. Support fairness and equity now.
James Cooke, Pikeville, Tenn.
EPA should toughen toxic chemical rules
More than 100 million Americans across the country live near factories, water treatment plants and other industrial sites that make or use dangerous chemicals. People are in danger of injury, illness or even death in the case of leaks, spills, explosions or sabotage at these facilities.
Chattanooga is no exception. We have 29 facilities that are required by the Environmental Protection Agency to develop a Risk Management Plan in case of a chemical emergency.
The EPA has proposed a long-awaited safety rule for chemical facilities. Unfortunately, the EPA's proposed rule fails to require a switch to safer chemicals and technology where they are available and affordable. Many safer alternatives to hazardous chemicals exist, but because facilities are not required to use safer chemicals or technologies when available, they continue to do what they're doing.
One in three American schoolchildren attends a school that sits within a vulnerability zone, which means one-third of all children are at risk of being exposed to explosions, fires and toxic chemicals.
EPA must require chemical facilities to switch to safer chemicals and technologies that are both available and affordable. Our children deserve it.
Lindsay Pace, Tennessee Field Coordinator for Moms Clean Air Force