WASHINGTON (WLFI) – The trip ended Friday near where it began Wednesday, in sight of the White House. The Lafayette delegation met with U.S. Ignite, a non-profit group with federal government backing which looks to shape the future of super high speed internet by creating applications in areas like health care and transportation that will have great public benefit. Lafayette is one of 32 cities across the country which has joined the U.S. Ignite network.
“This is very arcane. This is very technological. It has been hard for all of us to grasp the implications of this. I think for all them to hear directly from the people that are creating this vision here in Washington, it’s really important for the community,” said Ivy Tech Executive Director of Resource Development, Patricia Corey.
It follows a day spent meeting with the area’s representatives in Congress, Sens. Joe Donnelly and Dan Coats and Rep. Todd Rokita.
As News 18 has already reported, perhaps the two top items for discussion are immigration reform, especially to allow international Purdue students studying on a student visa to be more easily able to get work visas after graduation, so their education can be put to work in America. Also, the topic of transportation and finding more money to aid declining gas tax revenues to replace aging infrastructure.
“It seems to be a little bit more of a struggle, but I think the conversations, the dialogue is good,” Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski said.
For many who come on this trip, it’s not just all politics and politicians, it’s business too. Some meet with their lobbyists who lobby for them here on Capitol Hill and both mayors met with the Amtrak President to talk about the Hoosier State Line.
“Convey the seriousness of this needs to get better and it needs to get better quickly to the top decision makers within an organization is a big deal. So, meetings like that are every important to help move certain things forward,” Roswarski said.
The hope is that this trip does just that, helping move things forward politically too, in part by these meetings as well as the roughly 40 other members of the delegation listening in and occasionally speaking up.
“The fact of the matter is that it’s most important when they see, not just the individual elected officials that are having an insider baseball conversation, but for them to know that not only we are representing our community, but we are bringing some of the leadership of our community here to validate that representation,” West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis said.
“Sometimes you may only get one thing out of a certain meeting, or there may only be one idea that nobody thought about that came up,” said Roswarski. “If you’re hearing this from your staff members, this is where we’re at. I think having those truly sit down, man-to-man, face-to-face conversations are important.”
Conversations that area political and business leaders hope turn to real legislation. Though there are doubts, that in an election year in the current political climate, that it can happen. Which is why later this year, planning for the 2015 trip will begin.