Johnson shares business concerns
STEUBENVILLE — U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Marietta, heard concerns from local small business owners while also discussing federal regulatory powers, taxes and the upcoming elections during a free-wheeling discussion Thursday sponsored by the National Federation of Small Businesses at Froehlich’s Classic Corner.
Johnson discussed matters of interest to about 20 small business owners attending the event. After a brief presentation by officials from the small business advocate and lunch, Johnson said federal over-regulation is hurting small businesses.
“Regulations are out of control coming out of Washington, D.C.,” said Johnson, adding he and his fellow congressmen are doing what they can to curb regulations having a negative impact on smaller businesses.
Johnson characterized a new federal Environmental Protection Agency regulation — known as the Waters of the United States Rule — as “crazy.” He added the EPA regulations would regulate “puddles” on farms and other agricultural areas.
“It’s in the courts now,” Johnson said of the new regulation. “We don’t know how that case is going to go.”
Johnson also criticized a new federal Labor of Department regulation doubling the salary cap and making employees who earn up to $48,000 hourly wage employees.
“They’ve doubled the salary cap,” Johnson said, adding in Ohio that would affect some 134,000 workers. He noted employers must “now pay (salaried employees) mandatory overtime pay. (The new regulation) doesn’t provide what the Department of Labor wants.”
Johnson said he and House colleagues are trying to “push back” regulations created by nonelected officials that are detrimental to smaller businesses.
The congressman also said the presidential election is critical, as the next president could name up to seven Supreme Court nominees. He added without new leadership in Washington, “we’re not going to get the results we need.”
“I’m in favor of common sense regulations. We (in the House) are trying to rein in regulators. We’ve been successful in reining in the EPA.”
Johnson said Congress cut the agency’s funding by 20 percent, although, “(The EPA) is trying to make up the difference by higher fines and (more) oversight. There are no limits to what they won’t do to push this radical, environmentalist agenda.”
Appalachian areas have their own EPAs, said Johnson, adding those agencies are more than capable of regulating their own waterways and land without federal intervention.
“There’s a lot we’ve stopped this administration from doing,” he said. The Supreme Court has issued a stay concerning a federal EPA regulation concerning coal-fired plants.
Johnson also said he’d discussed many of this issues with Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for president.
“Donald Trump is much, much different than that guy you see on TV,” he said, adding Trump listens and “was engaged,” and “asked a lot of questions” during their conversation.
Johnson also criticized the Obama administration for what he characterized as paying a $400 million “ransom” for hostages held by Iran.
He also was critical of Hillary Clinton and her handling of classified e-mails and Obama’s Justice Department.
“There are real concerns if this justice department will hold this administration accountable,” Johnson said.
He also criticized the national media, noting, “They would rather televise the fight” rather than focus on issues. “The American people are a lot smarter than that. There’s just corruption in this administration from top to bottom. I hope there’s a big change soon.”
Mike Biasi, president of Valley Converting in Toronto, told Johnson his father, who owned the company, recently died, and Biasi and his family are concerned about estate taxes affecting the business.
“I’m really scared right now,” said Biasi. “My (family) doesn’t understand why we have to pay the government (taxes).”
“I think it’s crazy,” replied Johnson.
“We tax people when they’re born, and we tax people when we die,” he added.
Johnson said he is in favor of doing away with the estate tax.