By Gary Huffenberger
One thing U.S. Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Columbus) tries to do when introducing legislation is to have at least one Democrat as a co-sponsor.
"I feel like we need to work together. I'm not going to trade my principles, but at the same time where we can work together, we should," Stivers said during a Tuesday visit at the News Journal.
Stivers met with three groups of Clinton County residents Tuesday as he eyes a re-election bid for the seat of Ohio's 15th Congressional District. Due to recently re-drawn district maps, all of Clinton County starting next year will be part of the 15th.
The Clinton Countians he sat down with came from agriculture, or were elected officials, or hail from the fields of economic development or business.
A lot of the talk from the locals, particularly at the agriculture round table, was to the effect that they don't want government to impede their opportunities, Stivers said.
An example is Steve Fricke, who oversees the Buckley Bros. grain elevator business. Fricke spoke about the Occupational Safety and Health Administration -- called OSHA -- which is the main federal agency charged with the enforcement of safety and health legislation for the workplace.
The cost to make the local grain elevator be in compliance with OSHA regulation on "lots of little things," said Stivers, was $50,000.
"That was $50,000 he couldn't spend on creating other jobs or capital investment in his company," the freshman congressman said.
Asked his early thoughts about a local economy that incurred whiplash when DHL left and that remains in slack water, he noted the departure caused both direct and indirect job losses as well as falling revenues at supporting local businesses. He described the effects as "devastating."
"I think the resiliency I saw in the three meetings I had today is really impressive," Stivers said.
"They wanted to have a partnership -- which is different than saying, "Give me, Give me.' They were saying, "Let's work together to make this happen'," he added.
"That really speaks to the character of the folks here in Wilmington and in Clinton County. The fact they understand they can control their destiny better than anybody else can, but that they need some support and help along the way as a partnership. That's what I'm here to offer and want to try to help."
On Dec. 15, 2011 Stivers introduced legislation to lower the cost of producing nickels and pennies, and to ensure they are minted with steel instead of minerals imported from outside the United States. U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, a Democrat from Ohio, signed on as an original co-sponsor.
Of the coins in circulation today, the cost of producing nickels and pennies is greater than the face value of the coins. The Stivers' legislation would require the nickel and penny both be made of American steel moving forward, with the penny dipped in copper.
According to the House Financial Services Committee, of which Stivers is a member, by changing the composition of both coins to steel, the United States would save up to $159 million in the production of nickels and $274 million in penny production over 10 years.
In mid-November 2011, Stivers announced plans to introduce a bill to expand U.S. offshore energy production in order to create jobs and provide a new dedicated source of revenue to help pay for infrastructure projects.
And near on the horizon is his introduction of a bill that would suspend the payments used to buy new federal land. The legislation also says that if the federal government wants to buy new land, it's required to sell other land to help pay for it, he said.
His three main priorities, Stivers said, are job creation, reducing federal spending, and paying down the U.S. debt.