Apr. 9—As part of the Congressional recess, Rep. Jim Baird (R, Ind. 4th District) visited Cass County on Thursday.
"We've been travelling around the district," said Baird. "It's kind of the first that we've had the opportunity to get out."
After being in Kokomo in the morning, Baird ate at Bullshipper's Cafe in Logansport.
The business he visited in Logansport was Fiberglass Freaks, the company run by Mark Racop that is the only licensed Batmobile manufacturer, making versions of the car from the 1965 television series.
Baird said afterwards that he was impressed three years ago during his campaign by the talent and skills in the district when visiting to manufacturers and facilities.
"It's just like the passion Mark has, when you go in to some of these manufacturing facilities and see the passion those individual have," said Baird. "They take great pride in it."
"[To] try to pass our capabilities and talents on to the next generation is extremely important," he added.
He's heard comments from the COVID-19 relief from the summer, too.
"The PPP was valuable for them and useful for them," he said. "What we're trying to find now is how we get back to work, get things opened up. That's important to not only to us here in the district, but I think it's important to our country and our state."
Baird serves on the agriculture committee and the science, space and technology committee, which he said ties him to Purdue University here, "but all of this, to me, culminates in trying to keep us competitive around the world," he said.
On the infrastructure bill in Congress now, he's concerned that in December, they passed $4 trillion in stimulus money and have $1 trillion left over.
But he favors infrastructure improvements.
"I served as a county commissioner, so I'm well aware of the need for infrastructure, and I want to improve roads and bridges," he said. "But we were making great progress in that area, in my opinion, with some of the things we did in Indiana. So to add another $3 trillion, I'm challenged by it, of the idea that we're trying to do that as we just come out of the coronavirus."
He also favors the infrastructure of rural broadband.
In the agriculture committee, "we're very interested in rural broadband," said Baird.
"The pandemic really brought to the forefront tele-health, tele-work and then tele-education," he said. "I think tele-health is going to be a part of our life from now on."
It gives sick people a chance to get in front of a health provider without having to get out in the winter cold or summer heat, he added.
"That really emphasizes the importance of having access to broadband," he said.
Agriculture continues to generate volumes of data with technology, which is extremely valuable in making management decisions, he added.
Broadband also is a way to stimulate young people and work with their natural curiosity, providing ways to stimulate them and to help find their passions, as Racop found his interest in creating Batmobiles at a young age, he said.
Having access to high-speed internet would help young people.
"From that portal, you can really see things from around the world," he said.
On voting as an issue, he praised Connie Lawson's work as a secretary of state, "but when you try to federalize our election process, I don't think that's appropriate. In our Constitution, states have the responsibility to decide how they want to conduct their elections and how they keep those ballots."
"To federalize that is problematic," he said. "We need the people who are close to the areas and so on to make those decisions."
Asked if he supports free IDs for people who can't afford one, he responded, "As long as they're validated. I don't know about free IDs, but then you can go get government IDs now from the license branch."
On mail-in ballots, Baird said, "I am concerned about universal ballots, and I'm concerned about ballot harvesting. I don't think that's appropriate."
On the application for an absentee ballot, it has the date and verification that someone has the right to vote.
"I think that kind of validation is important," he said.
Reach James D. Wolf Jr. at email@example.com or 574-732-5117 Twitter