EXCLUSIVE: Sen. Blackburn marks first Tri-Cities trip since election

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TRI-CITIES, Tenn. (WJHL) Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn marked her first trip to Upper East Tennessee since her election to the United States Senate on Saturday, July 27.

Blackburn made two stops in Johnson City to see how legislation she has sponsored has helped spark some change in the Tri-Cities.

Her visit to BrightRidge power board in Johnson City was in effort to see how the company is expanding broadband access to rural areas of our region.

Blackburn says she has sponsored and written legislation in support of broadband access across the state, saying it is vitally important.

“You cannot have 21st century economic development, education, healthcare or even law enforcement without access to high-speed internet,” Blackburn told News Channel 11 in an exclusive sit-down interview Saturday.

The Senator also made a stop at the old Model Mill in Johnson City, currently under extensive renovation. Johnson City Chamber President Bob Cantler says the restoration of the iconic building is thanks to new market tax credits that Blackburn helped implement. That’s why the Senator made a stop at the site, to check out an example of the tax credits in action.

News Channel 11 also asked Senator Blackburn about her top priorities in Washington on Saturday.

In the Capitol, Blackburn is buckling down on big-tech companies, like Facebook and Snapchat, as the newly elected chair of the Judiciary Committee Tech Task Force.

“These tech companies are data-mining you, then they turn around and they sell it,” says Blackburn. “My legislation, the Browser Act is the only bipartisan privacy bill that there is. What it would do, in the virtual space it would give you the ability to say to big-tech companies, ‘you cannot use my private information unless I give you consent.'”

Also a hot button issue in Congress is what Blackburn calls a crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border. The Senator says immigration reform includes cracking down on asylum laws, that she says are being taken advantage of at the border. That is why Blackburn says she helped introduce the Asylum Abuse Reduction Act.

“The cartels are using this as a business model. They say, ‘If we can get you to the border, then you can get into the country, surrender and claim asylum, and they will turn you loose until it’s time for you to go to court and show up if you want to,” says Blackburn. “We need to change the asylum laws, and say you apply for asylum either in your country or a safe third country.”

Senator Blackburn also made stops at the Chamber Breakfast in Kingsport and the Grainger County Tomato Festival in her trip to Upper East Tennessee.

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