WILMINGTON — Last year was a busy one for Steve Stivers, the congressman told the News Journal. And Monday was a busy day.
Stivers met several local officials, was the keynote speaker at the Clinton County GOP’s Lincoln Day Dinner, spoke with WALH Radio, met with the Wilmington News Journal and visited Wilmington College, Wilmington Air Park, Clinton Memorial Hospital and others.
In 2015, Stivers participated in job fairs, veterans’ resource fairs, an opiates roundtable, seminars, military academy appointments and an art competition, and he held office hours in the district, including in Wilmington, and town hall meetings.
Stivers said he’s currently focused on “big issues like the Balanced Budget Amendment as well as getting stuff done for my constituents.”
Stivers said the amendment, co-sponsored by Arizona Democrat Krysten Sinema, would allow the government to make use of a deficit in the event of a war or national disaster, granted that the deficit itself could only be used for the war or disaster. That amount must also be repaid in 10 years after the emergency or war subsides.
Stivers said the amendment would allow the government to spend flexibly during an emergency, a provision he said Democrats have wanted, but would also require government to be fiscally responsible.
“It allows the policy makers, in the day that they’re elected, to enact a solution that works for the people of that time,” Stivers said. “It’s important to remember we are amending the Constitution here, so we have to make it flexible and not too prescriptive, in my opinion.”
Amending the Constitution of the United States would require 290 Representatives, 60 Senators and 38 states to sign support.
Legislation passed with Stivers’ aid in 2015 included the bipartisan Protecting Our Infants Act; a bill currently in committee that would authorize the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to consider therapy dogs for veterans suffering from mental health disorders; a bill making it easier for credit unions and their members to get access to a mortgage; and the balanced budget amendment, among others.
The Protecting Our Infants Act directs the federal Department of Health and Human Services to study and develop recommendations preventing and treating prenatal opioid use disorders.
In an annual report, Stivers said the goal was to curb the number of babies born addicted to drugs by creating best practices “based on what doctors and hospitals say and field practitioners … not a one-size-fits-all approach from Washington.”
Stivers said giving veterans therapy dogs reduces the suicide rate, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder complications and the cost of healthcare.
Locally, Stivers spoke in favor of the public-private partnership at Wilmington College’s Center for Sports Science, Dr. Brian Santin’s Ohio Vein and Vascular practice, possibilities at the Wilmington Air Park and the locally-manufactured drug Vivitrol.
“Vivitrol’s a game-changer in the fight against opioids. I’ve seen it in the drug courts that use Vivitrol versus the ones that don’t,” Stivers said. “The two things that make drug courts work are things like Vivitrol, where you can take an injection and you can prevent someone from getting high on opioids, and then the wrap-around social services, where they actually deal with the underlying problems that drove them to addiction in the first place.”
Stivers said drugs are affecting employers’ ability to hire by making it difficult to fill those jobs.
“You guys have a lot of jobs available in this community, and if we’re somehow saying to these folks who have drug problems, ‘You can never get back into the working world and can’t get a job because you have a drug conviction,’ they’re never really going to get their life back.”
Stivers said a court could tell an employer that because someone is taking Vivitrol, they can’t get high on heroin or other opiates, and courts’ regular drug testing of probationers and drug court participants can help ease employers’ minds.
As for the air park, Stivers said it’s poised for several possibilities, including drones, light aviation manufacturing and mail and cargo freight.
“There’s lots of opportunities,” he said.
Nationally, Stivers endorsed John Kasich for president and said he believes national politics are gridlocked and people are angry with government.
“I think (Kasich has) got an outside shot,” Stivers said. “If people were hiring for president and they looked at the resumes and did interviews, they’d hire Governor Kasich. He may not be as flashy as some. He may not be as loud as others, but he would be a great president, and that’s why I’m for him.”
“I do think it’s way too gridlocked,” Stivers said of national politics. “I work really hard to bring Republicans and Democrats together where we can … even on hard issues like the balanced budget amendment.”
“It has to be a bipartisan effort if we’re going to get big things done in this country,” Stivers continued.
Stivers said the party itself is a coalition built on social conservatives, economic conservatives, libertarians and national defense hawks.
Social conservatives and libertarians have been growing in momentum and strength, according to Stivers, whereas economic conservatives were the leading group since the ’60s.
“We have to work to try to figure out how we can all get along together and understand that all of our groups inside our coalition are important,” Stivers said.
Reach Nathan Kraatz at 937-382-2574, ext. 2510 or on Twitter @NathanKraatz.