Catching up with the congressman: Balderson’s first months in Congress

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Catching up with the congressman: Balderson’s first months in Congress

By Christine Holmes, News Director

It’s been three months since the campaigning ended and Zanesville’s own Troy Balderson was elected U.S. Representative for the 12th Congressional District, for a second time in a matter of months.

Since November, Balderson has been sworn in, assigned to his committees, experienced a government shutdown, introduced his first piece of legislation, attended the State of the Union Address and continuously met with constituents.

Here’s what the congressman had to say about the experience since being sworn in to the 116th Congress on Jan. 3.

State of the Union

During last Tuesday night’s State of the Union Address, Muskingum County had one of its own on the floor of the House Chamber to hear President Trump’s speech with Balderson in attendance.

Balderson said he was honored and blessed to be able to take part in the national event.

“It was a very humbling experience for me,” said Balderson. “I’m very honored to be there, and I’m representing from my hometown, you know, I just couldn’t have done it without them. So that’s the important piece. I couldn’t have done it without the whole congressional district.”

Reflecting on the President’s speech, Balderson said he was encouraged by Trump’s words, especially regarding the state of the economy.

“The economy is booming,” said Balderson. “We had a job market number come out last week of 304,000 people, and that was a number that wasn’t expected.”

Balderson added that benefits of tax breaks are becoming evident in the first two years of Trump’s presidency, especially noting the impact on individuals and businesses.

“Businesses have moved forward. They’ve been able to reinvest in their employees, and that’s what small business and large business people like to do,” said Balderson.

Balderson said he thinks the successes of the current presidency are sometimes overlooked.

“I was encouraged by the President saying ‘look, we’ve all got to come together. We have to do this in a bipartisan manner, and we owe it to the country,'” said Balderson.

Committees

Balderson has been reassigned to the House Committee on Small Business and the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology for the the 116th Congress.

Already serving on both committees for the 115th Congress, Balderson was also added to a third committee, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

Transportation and Infrastructure

“It was one of the most sought after committees in this congress, so I felt very fortunate to be placed on that,” said Balderson.

Balderson emphasized the need for improvements to roads and bridges throughout the country, noting that progress could be made on a bipartisan basis.

The committee was even mentioned by Trump during his State of the Union Address, which Balderson believes indicates the President’s support moving forward with legislation.

“I can’t emphasize that enough,” said Balderson. “We will have his ear, and I think that’s important that the President is on board and is communicating with us working with us through the transportation and infrastructure committee.”

Small Business

In addition to his new appointment to the transportation and infrastructure committee, Balderson will continue his work with the small business committee.

“I’m really excited about that since I’m very passionate about workforce development,” said Balderson.

Already, Balderson has been active in communicating with business leaders and educators from his constituency to learn their needs and relay that information to D.C.

Balderson prides himself on his ability to meet with key players in the world of small business and understand the hurdles they may be facing.

“I think that’s the greatest asset … is for me to get out there and do more hands on,” said Balderson. “That’s what I try to do when I do this. I’ve been successful in doing that in the past, and I will continue to look forward to being successful in the future.”

Balderson said he would like to have representatives from vocational schools and community colleges make the trip to the nation’s capital to testify their needs and ideas before congress.

The Congressman said some of the goals he has for the committee involve meeting with educators to ensure students are trained for trade and STEM skills so they are more employable when the time comes.

“But also, more importantly, the small business folks and the business people and making sure that they come out and tell us what they need,” said Balderson. “They need to communicate with the education system to let them know the needs are that are out there for their companies.”

Shutdown

On Jan. 28, Balderson introduced his first piece of legislation to the House, the End Government Shutdowns Act (H.R. 791), which is a companion piece to the identical legislation Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) has been working on for the past five years, S. 104.

Balderson has garnered nine co-sponsors for his half of the legislation, compared to Portman’s 32 in the Senate.

“We continue to work that everyday so we can end these government shutdowns, because we know they don’t work,” said Balderson. “We cannot put this on Americans with these shutdowns, so we’ve got to get this passed. We’ve got to end all these shutdowns.”

Constituency

Balderson has continually been meeting with constituents, both in Ohio and in Washington D.C.

“Even campaigning, I tried to hit every county everyday — all seven counties,” said Balderson.

The congressman said he makes the most of the time he spends in the 12th Congressional District when he’s not in D.C., spending long days meeting with everyone he can to get a better understanding of what his constituents need.

“The more I can get out, the better we can express those ideas,” said Balderson.

Goals

Moving forward, Balderson said two of his biggest goals include workforce development and improvements to transportation and infrastructure.

Wherever he goes, Balderson said one of the greatest complaints from employers is a lack of workers.

“The people may be there, but they don’t have the specific skill training that they need to get there,” said Balderson. “Probably one of the biggest things that I have learned is what employers talk about is the lack of soft skills that people have, and I think that’s really important.”

In line with his appointment to the transportation and infrastructure committee, Balderson said another goal is to learn what concerns the district has with existing amenities.

“We know how our roads and bridges are, and we know we need to look to a lot of work with them,” said Balderson. “It includes many different things, so I’ll continue to get out in the district and see what the concerns are there.”