Lawmakers talk IRS, nuclear energy, disaster assistance

By Craig Kelly -

WASHINGTON — Local representatives on Capitol Hill had a busy week, with several bills being introduced or discussed.

U.S. House of Representatives

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana: On Tuesday, Jordan questioned attorney Cleta Mitchell regarding the IRS conservative targeting scandal, asserting that while the IRS failed to collect roughly $385 billion for the Treasury Department while simultaneously acquiring cell tower-mimicking Stingray technology that Jordan said could be used to violate Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights.

“This is the fundamental mission of the Internal Revenue Service, to collect the tax revenue due the federal treasury,” he said. “That is what their job is and they are failing to the tune of $385 billion a year.”

Rep. Bob Latta, R-Bowling Green: Latta issued a statement on Tuesday recognizing Tax Freedom Day in Ohio, the day when Ohio taxpayers have earned enough money to pay federal, state and local tax bills for the year.

“In 2016, Americans will pay $3.3 trillion in federal taxes and $1.6 trillion in state and local taxes, for a total of almost $5 trillion, or 31 percent, of the nation’s income,” he said. “I remain committed to working with my colleagues to ensure taxpayers, families and small businesses are able to keep more of their hard-earned money in their pockets rather than in the hands of the government.”

Latta also spoke with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Wednesday about his legislation, the Advanced Nuclear Technology Development Act, which he said “directs the NRC to examine the current regulatory framework to create more certainty for private sector innovators developing advanced nuclear technologies.”

“The answers received from the commissioners today encourages me that this legislation is the best next step in providing the regulatory framework needed for the future,” he said.

U.S. Senate

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio: On Tuesday, Brown reminded small-business owners in Mercer County that the deadline for federal low-interest disaster loans from the Small Business Administration is May 18.

The loans are available for businesses who endured losses due to severe storms, tornadoes and flooding that occurred between June 7 and July 29 of last year. The loans can be used to pay fixed debts, payroll and other bills that would have been paid if the severe weather had not occurred.

Applications can be made online at or by calling the SBA Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955.

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio: Portman introduced legislation Monday aimed to give taxpayers the means to make appeals to the IRS Office of Appeals and ensure the IRS can not give audits or private taxpayer information to outside law firms.

“Many Americans have lost trust in an IRS that has recently targeted conservative groups and failed to be good stewards of taxpayers’ money and our tax laws,” he said.

On Tuesday, Portman spoke on the Senate floor in support of energy efficiency reform legislation that is on the verge of passing the chamber. Parts of the bill he helped write have been signed into law, with the goal being to help both individuals and companies use less energy and reduce emissions. The Portman-Shaheen Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act was passed on Wednesday.

Also on Wednesday, Portman helped introduce the Flexibility in Electronic Health Record Reporting Act, which gives more flexibility to health care providers in using technology in storing health information by shortening the meaningful use reporting period from one year to 90 days. This would give providers more time to work through technical issues and red tape.

On Thursday, Portman continued to mount pressure on the House of Representatives to pass the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, aimed to help reverse the trend of increased heroin abuse in the nation.

By Craig Kelly

Reach Craig Kelly at 567-242-0390 or on Twitter @Lima_CKelly.

Reach Craig Kelly at 567-242-0390 or on Twitter @Lima_CKelly.

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