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Rob’s Rundown: Week of February 24 – February 28, 2020


February 28, 2020

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Rob’s Rundown

On Fox Business with Maria Bartiromo this week, Portman highlighted legislation he plans to introduce soon to stop foreign governments, particularly China, from stealing U.S. taxpayer-funded research and intellectual property. Portman detailed the yearlong investigation and bipartisan report that led to the legislation and detailed how American taxpayers have been unwittingly funding the rise of China’s military and economy over the last two decades while federal agencies have done little to stop it. 

Portman also delivered remarks on the Senate floor laying out a strong case for federal legislative action to expand affordable access to skills training programs. Portman’s bipartisan JOBS Act would address this need by expanding Pell Grant eligibility to cover high-quality and rigorous short-term job training programs so workers can afford the work skills training and credentials they need to be prepared for the jobs available today.

In addition, Portman penned an op-ed for Barron’s highlighting the bipartisan Retirement Security & Savings Act – landmark legislation that will ensure hard-working Americans have the opportunity to achieve a safe and secure retirement. 

Earlier today Portman toured the construction site of the future Ripley Union Lewis Huntington Local School District (RULH) School District health center in Brown County. Last December, Portman wrote a letter to the Human Resources and Services Administration’s Administrator Thomas Engels supporting a request by Lewis County Primary Care Center, Inc. dba PrimaryPlus to expand their scope of services to develop the School Based Health Center, and Administrator Engels approved the change. 

Finally, Portman also participated in a drug addiction roundtable discussion with law enforcement, local officials, and members of the Brown County Mental Health and Addiction Services Board to highlight progress in combating the drug addiction epidemic thanks to the $445,000 in grant funding received through the bipartisan federal 21st Century CURES Act from 2017-2019.

For a more detailed look at Senator Portman’s week, please see the following: 

Monday, February 24, 2020

Portman, Brown Introduce Resolution Honoring Ohio-Native and Civil Rights Activist, Judge Nathaniel R. Jones   

Senators Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown introduced a resolution honoring the life, legacy and work of Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge, Nathaniel R. Jones. Jones, a civil rights activist and Youngstown native, was the first African-American Federal Appeals Court Judge in Ohio, and the first black prosecutor in the Northern District of Ohio. He served 23 years as a Judge on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. Jones passed away at his home in Cincinnati last month, but his legacy will live on for generations. 

“We lost a giant in Judge Nathaniel Jones. Through his work as a lawyer he was a national leader in advancing civil rights and as a judge a distinguished champion in protecting those rights. Through it all, he was a humble man of the highest integrity. I’m proud to introduce this resolution honoring my friend Nate Jones,” said Portman.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Portman Votes to Protect Life

Portman voted to protect life by supporting the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act and the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act requires that when abortion results in the live birth of an infant, health care practitioners must exercise the same degree of professional skill and care to protect the newborn as would be offered to any other child born alive at the same gestational age. The Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act restricts abortions on unborn children after the 20-week mark, the point at which scientific evidence tells us an unborn child can feel pain. The United States is one of only seven countries in the world that allows an abortion after 20 weeks. Portman issued the following statement: 

“The sanctity of life is a fundamental and universal value, and I am committed to protecting it. Today I joined a majority of my Senate colleagues in voting to protect unborn children and make a strong statement that we value all life.  I’m disappointed that passage of both the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act and the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act were blocked by Senate Democrats. While members have differing views on abortion, we should at least be able to agree that if a child survives an abortion or if an unborn child has reached the point where he or she can feel pain, that child’s life deserves protection.”

Portman, Brown, Johnson Introduce Legislation to Preserve Historic Barker House in Southeast Ohio 

Portman and Sherrod Brown and Representative Bill Johnson (R-OH) introduced legislation to restore and protect the historic Joseph Barker Jr. House (Barker House) along the Ohio River in southern Washington County, Ohio. Specifically, the legislation will convey the Barker House and land immediately surrounding the house to the local friends group, Friends of the Joseph Barker Jr. House, with plans for the house to be restored and accessible to the public. The Barker House is currently owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and was used as office space in the 1960s for the Willow Island Lock and Dam. The Barker House was originally proposed to be torn down by the Corps since it is no longer in use and is in need of repair. However, following discussions with the Corps and local stakeholders, the Corps agreed to reverse its decision and leave the Barker House standing to allow for the land conveyance and restoration of the house.

“I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation to preserve an important piece of history of the Northwest Territories and my home state of Ohio. The Barker House dates back almost 200 years and has a rich history that will now be enjoyed by future generations,” said Senator Portman. “I’d like to thank Assistant Secretary R.D. James, whose leadership at the Army Corps made this partnership possible, as well as the Friends of the Joseph Barker Jr. House, Ohio State Historic Preservation Office, and Ohio Department of Transportation for sharing this vision to preserve our history. I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this legislation. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2020 

Portman, Brown Thank Members of Ohio Bipartisan Judicial Advisory Commission  

Senators Portman and Brown expressed their appreciation to the members of the bipartisan judiciary advisory commission that assisted them in identifying the best candidates to fill recent vacancies on the U.S. District Courts for the Southern and Northern Districts of Ohio. The Southern District has court locations in Cincinnati, Columbus, and Dayton and serves more than five million Ohioans in 48 counties.  The Northern District has court locations in Akron, Cleveland, Toledo, and Youngstown and serves approximately 5.9 million citizens of the 40 northernmost counties in Ohio. 

“The members of this bipartisan commission served honorably to ensure that the people of Ohio have the best candidates to fill the judicial vacancies around the state. We’d like to thank them for their time and dedication,” said the Senators. 

Based on the recommendations of Senators Portman and Brown, who utilized the commission’s recommendations, today, the President nominated three distinguished Ohioans to federal district court vacancies, including:

  • The Honorable J. Philip Calabrese, a Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas judge, for the Northern District vacancy created when the Honorable Christopher Boyko took senior status.
  • The Honorable James Knepp, a magistrate judge on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, for the vacancy created on that court when the Honorable Jack Zouhary took senior status. 
  • The Honorable Michael Newman, a magistrate judge on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District, for the vacancy created on that court when the Honorable Michael Barrett took senior status. 

Portman, Brown Applaud Nomination of Judge J. Philip Calabrese to Serve on the U.S. Federal District Court for the Northern District of Ohio

Senators Portman and Brown applauded President Trump for nominating Judge J. Philip Calabrese to the position of U.S. Federal District Court Judge for the Northern District of Ohio. The nomination will now be vetted by the Senate Judiciary Committee before being considered for confirmation by the full U.S. Senate. The Northern District has court locations in Akron, Cleveland, Toledo, and Youngstown and serves approximately 5.9 million citizens of the 40 most northern counties in Ohio. 

“I am pleased the president has nominated Judge Philip Calabrese to be the next federal judge in the Northern District,” said Portman.  “Judge Calabrese has been a dedicated public servant on the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas. I know if confirmed, he will serve in this role admirably.”

Portman, Brown Applaud Nomination of Judge James Knepp to Serve on the U.S. Federal District Court for the Northern District of Ohio

Senators Portman and Brown applauded President Trump for nominating Judge James Knepp to the position of U.S. Federal District Court Judge for the Northern District of Ohio. The nomination will now be vetted by the Senate Judiciary Committee before being considered for confirmation by the full U.S. Senate. The Northern District has court locations in Akron, Cleveland, Toledo, and Youngstown and serves approximately 5.9 million citizens of the 40 most northern counties in Ohio. 

“I am pleased the president has nominated Judge James Knepp to be the next federal judge in the Northern District,” said Portman.  “Judge Knepp’s experience as a magistrate judge in Toledo has uniquely prepared him for this role. I am confident he will serve the people of Ohio admirably.”

Portman, Brown Applaud Nomination of Judge Michael Newman to Serve on the U.S. Federal District Court for the Southern District of Ohio

Senators Portman and Brown applauded President Trump for nominating Judge Michael Newman to the position of U.S. Federal District Court Judge for the Southern District of Ohio. The nomination will now be vetted by the Senate Judiciary Committee before being considered for confirmation by the full U.S. Senate. The Southern District has court locations in Cincinnati, Columbus, and Dayton and serves more than five million Ohioans in 48 counties.  

“I am pleased the president has nominated Judge Michael Newman to be the next federal judge in the Southern District,” said Portman.  “He has served the community of Dayton with honor and distinction as magistrate judge. He will bring significant experience to this role from his time in the public and private sectors. I’m confident he will make Ohio proud.” 

Thursday, February 27, 2020

On FOX Business, Portman Highlights Upcoming Legislation to Stop China’s Theft of U.S. Taxpayer-Funded Research & Innovation 

On FOX Business with Maria Bartiromo, Senator Portman highlighted legislation he plans to introduce soon to stop foreign governments, particularly China, from stealing U.S. taxpayer-funded research and intellectual property (IP). Portman, as Chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI), has led a yearlong investigation into this issue, releasing a bipartisan report in November 2019 that detailed how American taxpayers have been unwittingly funding the rise of Chinas military and economy over the last two decades while federal agencies have done little to stop it. Starting in the late 1990s through its “talent recruitment programs,” China began recruiting U.S.-based scientists and researchers and incentivizing them to transfer U.S. taxpayer-funded research and IP to China for their own military and economic gain. A report published in the Wall Street Journal last month detailed the growing issue of U.S. university systems receiving funding from the Chinese government without transparency, affecting academic freedom in America. Portman will be introducing bipartisan legislation to stop America’s global competitors, like China, from stealing U.S. taxpayer-funded research and IP soon. 

In addition, Portman praised the administration’s quick response to the threat of coronavirus and highlighted Ohio’s preparedness to handle a potential outbreak if the virus spreads domestically. The video can be found here. 

Portman Announces $4.7 Million Federal Grant for Southwest Ohio Rail Transit Authority 

Senators Portman praised the Department of Transportation (DOT) for awarding a $4.7 million grant to Southwest Ohio Rail Transit Authority (SORTA) for funding in the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure Safety and Improvements grant program. These improvements include the repair of two bridges and a tunnel as well as upgrades to two local freight yards and the main line for the Indiana & Ohio Railway. 

“This is great news for Cincinnati and Southwest Ohio. I applaud Secretary Chao for providing Ohio with the resources need to repair and upgrade our infrastructure,” said Portman. “These infrastructure upgrades are essential for improving the safety, efficiency, and reliability of our freight movement, which continue to foster economic growth for Greater Cincinnati and Southwest Ohio.” 

Portman Op-Ed in Barron’s: Americans Deserve to Retire With Dignity. Here’s How We’d Help Them Do It 

In an op-ed for Barron’s, Senators Portman and his colleague Ben Cardin (D-MD) highlight the next big legislative step forward to ensure hard-working Americans achieve a safe and secure retirement. The Retirement Security & Savings Act includes a broad set of reforms designed to strengthen Americans’ retirement security by addressing four major opportunities in the existing retirement system: (1) allowing people who have saved too little to set more aside for their retirement; (2) helping small businesses offer 401(k)s and other retirement plans; (3) expanding access to retirement savings plans for low-income Americans without coverage; and (4) providing more certainty and flexibility during Americans’ retirement years. The measure includes more than 50 provisions to accomplish these objectives, which will help to ensure hard-working Americans can retire with dignity and peace of mind. This measure will build upon the success of the SECURE Act legislation to strengthen our private retirement system and help more Americans save for their retirement which was signed into law late last year.  

The full op-ed can be found at this link.   

Portman Announces $10.9 Million Federal Highway Administration Grant to Address Damage to State Route 376 in Morgan County  

Senators Portman praised the Department of Transportation (DOT) for awarding a $10.9 million Federal Highway Administration Emergency Relief (ER) program grant to the Ohio Department of Transportation. The ER grant program is designed to help fund the repair or reconstruction of federal-aid highways and roads on federal lands that have suffered serious damage as a result of natural disasters or catastrophic failures from an external cause. Due to record rainfall in Morgan County, Ohio in February 2019, a landslide occurred along State Route 376 at approximately milepost 8.1. The landslide caused buckling and cracking of the adjacent 2-lane state highway, resulting in a complete closure of the facility since February 22, 2019. This grant will provide the Ohio Department of Transportation with resources to address that damage in Morgan County.

This is great news for Southeast Ohio and anyone who travels on State Route 376. I applaud Secretary Chao for providing the Ohio Department of Transportation with the critical resources needed to help Morgan County recover from storm damage,” said Portman. “These funds will ensure that the storm damage to State Route 376 is repaired so that families in Morgan County can easily traverse the area.”  

Portman Announces $1.7 Million Federal Grant to the Ohio Rail Development Commission for Southwest Ohio  

Senators Portman praised the Department of Transportation (DOT) for awarding a $1.7 million grant to the Ohio Rail Development Commission for their Revitalizing Rail to Retain Jobs in Rural Ohio program. Located in Clinton and Highland Counties, Ohio, the Revitalizing Rail to Retain Jobs in Rural Ohio Project (the Project) will repair and rehabilitate 29.5 miles of track from the Indiana & Ohio Railway connection in Midland, Ohio to Greenfield, Ohio, in order to ensure the line’s continued existence.  The Project will install over 20,000 ties, including surfacing, brush cutting, and gauging where needed, to return the line to a state of good repair.  Currently, the state of the line is poor, with a severe lack of adequate ties throughout the line to maintain necessary track classification to effectively serve customers.  These deficiencies are especially prevalent between Midland and Leesburg.  

This is great news for Southwest Ohio, specifically Clinton, and Highland counties. I applaud Secretary Chao for providing Ohio with the resources need to repair and upgrade our infrastructure,” said Portman. “These infrastructure upgrades are essential for improving the safety, efficiency, and reliability of our freight movement, which continue to foster economic growth for Southwest Ohio.” 

Senate Passes Portman, Brown Resolution Honoring Lifelong Ohioan and Civil Rights Activist, Judge Nathaniel R. Jones 

The Senate passed Portman and Sherrod Brown’s resolution honoring the life, legacy and work of Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge, Nathaniel R. Jones. Jones, a civil rights activist and Youngstown native, was the first African-American Federal Appeals Court Judge in Ohio, and the first black prosecutor in the Northern District of Ohio. He served 23 years as a Judge on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. Jones passed away at his home in Cincinnati last month, but his legacy will live on for generations.

“We lost a giant in Judge Nathaniel Jones. Through his work as a lawyer he was a national leader in advancing civil rights and as a judge a distinguished champion in protecting those rights. Through it all, he was a humble man of the highest integrity. I’m proud the Senate passed the resolution honoring my friend Nate Jones,” said Portman. 

On Senate Floor, Portman Highlights How Bipartisan JOBS Act Will Increase Workforce Participation & Close the Skills Gap 

On the Senate floor, during Career and Technical Education Month, Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) highlighted the need to continue to build on the economic progress we’ve made by improving work skills training and addressing the shortage of skilled workers to fill the new jobs available today. 

As co-chair of the Senate Career and Technical Education Caucus, Portman has led efforts in the Senate to strengthen work skills programs and help Ohioans find meaningful employment. Last year, Portman and Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) introduced the bipartisan JOBS Act, which would expand Pell Grant eligibility to cover high-quality and rigorous short-term job training programs so workers can afford the skills training and credentials they need to be prepared for today’s job market. President Trump included the JOBS Act in his FY 2020 budget request and Portman is working to pass the legislation this year. 

In addition, his Second Chance Act, which was reauthorized in 2018, is working to help people exiting the prison system rebuild their lives by getting the mental health treatment and skills training they need to reenter the workforce.  

A transcript of his remarks can be found here and a video can be found here.

Friday, February 28, 2020

In Brown County, Portman Tours Future Site of Comprehensive Primary Care Center for the Ripley Union Lewis Huntington RULH Local School District

Portman toured the construction site of the future Ripley Union Lewis Huntington Local School District (RULH) School District health center. The RULH School District, in conjunction with non-profit partner PrimaryPlus, will be providing a full-range of comprehensive primary care services at this new health center and will staff the facility with an experienced family health nurse practitioner and nurse. This center will expand health care to a large part of Brown County that was previously unserved. The center is slated to open on spring of 2020. Prior to the tour, Portman met with the school district and center leadership.

“I enjoyed touring the future site of the Ripley Union Lewis Huntington Local School District Health Center, and meeting with the leadership who are making this center possible,” said Portman. “I was proud to support the Ripley Union Lewis Huntington Local School District’s request to expand and build this center that will be able to provide much-needed critical medical care to both students, families, and the general public of the Southwest Ohio region. Healthy students can focus on learning and reaching their God-given potential. I will continue to do everything I can from the federal level to ensure the Ripley Union Lewis Huntington Local School District has the resources it needs to provide the education and care the Ohioans in the region deserve.”

Last December, Portman wrote a letter to the Human Resources and Services Administration’s Administrator Thomas Engels supporting a request by Lewis County Primary Care Center, Inc. dba PrimaryPlus to expand their scope of services to develop the School Based Health Center, and Administrator Engels approved the change. 

Photos from the event are here.

In Brown County, Portman Highlights Progress in Combating Drug Crisis With Help of $445,000 in Federal Grants

Portman participated in a drug addiction roundtable discussion with law enforcement, local officials, and members of the Brown County Mental Health and Addiction Services to highlight progress in better combating the drug addiction epidemic thanks to the $445,000 in grant funding received through the bipartisan federal 21st Century CURES Act from 2017-2019.

“I had a productive meeting today with members of the Brown County Mental Health and Addiction Services Board, and other local leaders on how the drug addiction epidemic is impacting communities in Southwest Ohio,” said Portman. “The Brown County Mental Health and Addiction Services Board is making terrific use of the CURES grant money it was awarded through their quick response team and a peer support program along with other coordinated local efforts and I know these resources are helping to save lives. Their work is a wonderful example of how community leaders are working together to find ways to address this crisis in meaningful ways. I will continue to work with local communities across Ohio to help ensure they have the support and funding they need to continue their good work.” 

Senator Portman has led efforts in the U.S. Senate to provide more resources to combat the nation’s drug addiction epidemic. Portman worked to secure $1 billion in new funding for state grants to fight opioid abuse in the 21st Century CURES Act. He’s also fought for more overall funding to fight addiction, helping to secure more than $4 billion in new funding over the last few years between CARA, CURES, and other programs.

In addition, Portman is the author of the bipartisan Comprehensive Addiction & Recovery Act (CARA) that became law in 2016 and provides resources for evidence-based prevention, treatment, and recovery programs to help people overcome their addiction. The most recent bipartisan funding agreement funded these CARA programs at $658 million, much higher than the authorized amount. Portman’s CARA 2.0 Act would increase these authorization levels further. Recently, Portman’s Combating Meth & Cocaine Act – to give states more flexibility to use federal funding to address the resurgence of meth and cocaine – was included in the final FY 2020 funding bill, and signed into law. He also introduced the FIGHT Fentanyl Act to permanently list fentanyl-related substances as criminally scheduled drugs.

Photos from the event are here.

SOCIAL MEDIA

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Portman Op-Ed: Americans Deserve to Retire With Dignity. Here’s How We’d Help Them Do It. 

Everybody hopes for a financially secure retirement plan at the end of their working years, but the truth is most Americans haven’t been able to save or prepare enough to reach that goal. While more Americans are saving more in 401(k)s and individual retirement accounts, according to a recent study by Northwestern Mutual, more than two-thirds of Americans think there’s a chance they will outlast their retirement savings—and they’re right. Among households over the age of 55, nearly three in ten have no retirement savings or pension plan whatsoever.

While we’re fortunate to have Social Security as a guaranteed safety net, it is hard to live on Social Security alone. For most people private retirement savings are needed to maintain your preretirement standard of living and retire with dignity.

Late last year, Congress made progress on this issue by passing the Secure Act, which took a number of steps to strengthen our private retirement system, prevent more than 400,000 U.S. citizens from losing their pension benefits, and expand access to 401(k)s for 700,000 small business employees and millions of part-time workers. This new law will boost national savings, an important component to our long-term economic outlook.

But much more can and should be done and we can build on the success of the Secure Act. That’s why we’ve introduced the Retirement Security & Savings Act, which includes 57 reforms to help more Americans achieve a safe and secure retirement, ensuring that Americans can retire with dignity as the economy changes. In particular, our bill addresses four major opportunities to improve our retirement system.

First, we know many lower-income Americans lack access to robust workplace retirement plans and have trouble saving. Only one in four American workers in the lowest income bracket participates in a workplace retirement plan. And among part-time workers in the private sector, only 22 percent have access to a savings plan. When hard-working people are still living paycheck to paycheck, it’s tough to set aside money for tomorrow when you need it for today.

To address this reality, our bill expands the Saver’s Credit to help more low-income Americans increase their retirement savings and make it directly refundable into a retirement account. Additionally, it increases the credit amount available for many low-income savers. The bill also requires employers to allow part-time workers who have completed two years of service to participate in 401(k) plans.

Second, we know some older workers simply haven’t saved as much for their retirement as they’d hoped. A recent Government Accountability Office report found that nearly half of all near-retirees (over age 55) have nothing in their private retirement accounts.

To address that problem, our bill increases “catch-up” retirement plan contribution limits after age 60, letting workers save more money in less time. It also encourages employers to make larger contributions to their employees’ retirement funds through both tax credits and regulatory improvements.

Third, the legislation focuses on workplace plans at small businesses, because that is where there is the most potential for expanded 401(k) savings. Less than half of workers employed by small business have access to employer-sponsored plans, compared to 88 percent of workers employed by large businesses. Americans who work for small businesses often find themselves without much to live on when they retire, and that’s wrong.

To help more small businesses offer robust retirement plans, the bill would further strengthen the small business tax credit, and create a tax credit and legal relief for small business plans with both automatic enrollment features and a 3% employer match. It also includes another credit for small businesses plans with automatic re-enrollment every three years, and reduces some burdensome or duplicative regulations associated with administering a plan.

Our legislation also permits employers to make matching contributions to the 401(k) accounts of employees paying off student loans who otherwise would not receive the full match because they don’t contribute enough to their retirement account.

Finally, as people are living longer, even retirees who have accumulated some savings are increasingly outliving them. While living longer is good news, it’s tough on our bank accounts, especially when current laws force Americans to start depleting and taxing their retirement savings accounts at age 72.

Our bill raises that age requirement before Americans are required to start withdrawing their retirement savings to 75 years, and for people with less than $100,000 in their retirement account, removes the requirement entirely. This will give seniors the peace of mind to set aside money for retirement and continue to work for longer if they want.

While Congress has made progress on this issue, the lack of sufficient retirement savings remains an urgent problem that requires more congressional attention. In 2020, we’re committed to moving this critical legislation forward so that even more Americans can start saving up today for a more secure tomorrow.

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Federal legislation to help save Barker House

Federal legislation introduced this week concerning the Joseph Barker Jr. House outside of Newport has signaled a united front and reversed previous condemnation.

The nearly 200-year-old house south of the Willow Island Lock and Dam was scheduled for demolition in the fall of 2018 by the present owners, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

But after two years of organizing, along with a private purchase of land as an option to move the property and political lobbying that execution was stayed and now U.S. Senators Rob Portman, R-OH, and Sherrod Brown, D-OH, and U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-OH, have introduced coinciding bills in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives to convey ownership of the property to the nonprofit Friends of the Barker House.

Senate Bill 3335 and House Bill 5960 each ask the nation’s legislators to require the Secretary of the Army “to convey certain Federal property in the State of Ohio to the Friends of Barker House.”

“I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation to preserve an important piece of history of the Northwest Territories and my home state of Ohio,” said Portman in a press release. “The Barker House dates back almost 200 years and has a rich history that will now be enjoyed by future generations.”

The work to convey property ownership is a significant, but preliminary step in preservation, noted Wes Clarke, a local archaeologist and the Friends of The Barker House vice president for development.

“We’ll want to have the property surveyed, including for any hazardous waste before we take ownership, but assuming the bill is passed and the property transfer takes place in some ways this is just the beginning of the process to save the structure,” he said. “Even a year ago though, I don’t think any of us could have predicted this outcome that we could potentially keep the structure in its original location.”

In 2018, Friends of the Barker House President Jack Haessly purchased property across Ohio 7 from his family business as a potential relocation spot for the house if it could be moved. However, after Preservation Ohio recognized the site on its most endangered list for 2018 in August of that year and Portman visited the Corps property in September 2018 additional weight was thrown behind preservation advocacy.

“The Friends of the Joseph Barker Jr. House are grateful to Senators Portman and Brown and Representative Johnson for their efforts to preserve this significant structure and prepare the conveyance legislation,” said Haessly. “We now look forward to the next tasks for restoration and program development.”

The house was last used in the 1960s by the Corps as office space while the dam was under construction.

“The brick structure we believe was original, though there are some wooden additions we’re not sure can be salvaged,” noted Clarke. “But our general intention is to restore the brick and the interior in a historically sensitive way. We intend to continue operating under the advice and guidance from the state historic preservation office.”

The Ohio Department of Transportation has also been involved in the preservation discussions in the last year, fielding options for additional road access to the house from Ohio 7 under the direction of Director Jack Marchbanks, who noted in the summer of 2019 that technical designs to add an intersection and potential driveway were under development beginning northeast of the house.

Also by last summer talks concerning turning over land and the structure were more favorable.

“If you’ve read David McCullough’s latest book, ‘The Pioneers,’ the name of Joseph Barker sounds very familiar… (the house) is an important part of both national and local history,” said Johnson. “Everyone involved came to the table with a can-do bipartisan spirit, determined to find a solution that will save this historic home, and we’re on the right track.”

Senators Brown and Portman are co-sponsors on Senate Bill 3335 and Johnson is the sole listed sponsor of House Bill 5960.

According to Congress.Gov, the bills have been referred to committee. To track the coinciding bills visit bit.ly/SB3335 and bit.ly/HB-5960 for developments and amendments.

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