Fortenberry IMG_1521

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., meets with constituents after his town hall in Bellevue on Wednesday.

A Bellevue woman whose parents died after they didn’t properly turn off their keyless ignition car broke through partisan debate at a Wednesday night town hall with her plea that others learn from her loss.

Sharon Shore came to Rep. Jeff Fortenberry’s town hall to tell the story of her parents, Thomas and Ann MacKinnon.

Her emotional recounting of their lives and deaths garnered bipartisan applause at a meeting with the 1st Congressional District Republican that was otherwise dominated by disagreements about issues such as health care, the federal income tax overhaul and racism.

Shore was asking the congressman to support a bill, H.R. 3145, that would direct the Secretary of Transportation to finalize rules, including one to require manufacturers to provide for automatic shutoff of cars with keyless ignition after the vehicle has idled to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

Fortenberry said he hadn’t heard about the issue before. She said most people haven’t — unless, like her, they’ve had to live it.

“If you have a vehicle like this or you know someone who does, please make sure you’re aware (that it might not shut off) if you get out of the car,” Shore said. “Please let people in your lives know.”

Fortenberry promised to look into the matter, along with several other specific issues raised at the town hall.

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The most commonly raised topic was health care. Several people asked about a variety of health care-related topics, including concern about rising costs, wanting to keep provisions of the Affordable Care Act, mental health care benefits for those on public assistance and how deaf veterans communicate with doctors.

Generally, Fortenberry said he wants to find “holistic” and “innovative” solutions that improve care while decreasing costs.

On the tax overhaul, he acknowledged that the Republican measure had raised the deficit, but he said he hoped that would be temporary. Long term, he said, he hopes that the result will be more people working and for higher wages.

When asked to address President Donald Trump’s recent tweets that the questioner said have been identified to be racist, Fortenberry condemned them without mentioning Trump by name.

“Racism in all of its forms is wrong,” the congressman said. “And, frankly, all of this — ‘send her back,’ ‘lock her up,’ or calling the president an ‘M-F-er’ — needs to stop.”

Afterward, some shouted for Fortenberry to say Trump is racist — “Say it!” — while others shouted, “He did!”

Fortenberry also has town halls scheduled in Lincoln, Fremont, Norfolk and Columbus this week.

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