Johnson tours area businesses

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson has been busy in Washington, D.C., this year with President Trump’s agenda of regulatory, tax and health care reform and while Congress is on break, he has been touring his district of 17 counties in Eastern Ohio.

On Wednesday, the St. Clairsville Area Chamber of Commerce hosted the congressman at a luncheon at Undo’s after he visited two St. Clairsville small businesses — The Snotty Pooch and Kelly’s Suite II. Owned by Peggy Riccadonna, The Snotty Pooch is a “stylish pet boutique” specializing in pet accessories; and Kelly’s Suite II, owned by Kelly Cappelletti, is an interior design firm that specializes in design, custom flooring, window treatments, paint, wallpaper, furniture and accessories.

“We’ve been in Belmont County today like we have been across our district talking to small businesses, talking to economic development agencies, talking to elected officials about how we’re going to create opportunities for people in this region of the country to achieve the American Dream,” Johnson, R-Ohio, said, adding that Congress has made efforts toward regulatory reform, tax reform, infrastructure buildup and broadband internet access.

“Talking to small businesses that provide about 60 percent of the jobs in America today, it’s very important that I understand from them the struggles that they go through, because that better informs me when I go back to Washington and try to craft pro-economic growth and pro-business policies that will support them in what they do,” Johnson said.

He also touched on the issues Congress will tackle in the immediate future.

“Tax reform and infrastructure are the two big things we’re going to be working on this fall,” he said. “What the American people are talking about, what the people that I see in our district are talking about, they want lower taxes. They want less Washington interference in their business operations, and those are the kinds of things we will continue to work on.”

In addition to reforming the tax code and providing for infrastructure, Johnson said Congress must pass a budget and fund the federal government by the end of September and will continue to press for meaningful health care reform.

Johnson also spoke about the importance of the Ohio Valley area.

“This region of the country is, in many regards, at the back of everybody’s mind in Columbus, at the back of everybody’s mind in Washington, D.C., and so trying to make sure that Appalachian communities like those here in Belmont County have the wherewithall to provide those essential services — water, sewer, broadband access — how is a region of our country supposed to thrive when businesses can’t come in there, because they can’t get access through the internet to their customers, their suppliers, employees and such? There’s lots of work to do.”

Belmont County Commissioner J.P. Dutton was on hand at the luncheon and had positive things to say regarding the business that is getting done in Washington, D.C.

“It was a great update of where things are in Washington, particularly the House Representatives and what they’re able to accomplish at this point of the year and what they’re looking at possibly getting into after they conclude their congressional recess,” Dutton said.

Johnson will return soon to Washington as Congress resumes its business on Sept. 5.

“We’ve got a pretty heavy legislative slate when we come back in September,” Johnson noted. “It’s going to be a heavy workload, but that is what we are supposed to be doing.”

Staff Writer Robert A. DeFrank contributed to this report.