BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – Ohio Senator Rob Portman said the epidemic of heroin abuse and addiction is not only taking a human toll, it’s affecting businesses.
Wednesday afternoon, Portman spoke to members of the Regional Chamber during their annual meeting. He was also presented with the group’s “Political Achivement” award.
He said while government needs to do more to help boost economic development, the problems of substance abuse cannot be ignored when potential employers have trouble finding applicants who can pass drug screenings.
“You’ve got 183,000 jobs open in Ohio, and yet over 200,000 people out of work,” Portman said. “Well, part of that job gap is a skills gap that needs to be focused on. And I ‘ve talked about what we’re doing in Washington, but part of it is this drug use, so it does affect our businesses.”
Portman claims heroin and other opiate overdoses are now claiming 25 lives each week in Ohio, putting the state among the highest in the nation for drug-related deaths.
Portman also spoke about national security in the wake of Tuesday’s attacks in Belgium. Ohio Senator Rob Portman said America needs to do more to find those willing to commit terrorism both here at home and abroad.
Besides working more aggressively to hunt down terrorists before they strike, the Senator said the government needs to do a better job of convincing other Muslim nations to cooperate in identifying terrorists and their locations.
“How do you ensure the community is helping to identify these people and to stop this, because (other) Muslim countries around are affected also,” Portman said. “They’re in the cross hairs, And for too long they’ve kind of allowed some of this to go on.”
To boost American security, Portman stressed the nation needs to maintain a strong military with updated equipment, telling the audience support defense doesn’t just mean going to war, but maintaining the peace.