Economic issues are the primary focus for incumbent U.S. Rep. Bob Latta, R-Bowling Green, who is serving his seventh term representing Ohio’s Fifth Congressional District.
He is a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, where he is the Republican leader on the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology. He also serves on both the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce and the Subcommittee on Energy. He is also a member of the Committee on the Modernization of Congress.
“Right now, across my district and the county, the number one issue is about inflation and the economy,” Latta said. “We had a 1.4% inflation rate in January of 2021 and we all know it went to 9.1%.
“It’s a pocketbook issue. It affects everybody,” Latta said.
He gave examples of how the rate is affecting people.
“Marcia (Bob’s wife) went to the grocery store to buy eggs, for a casserole for a retreat at church, and she said ‘You won’t believe it, but eggs are $4.19 a dozen in Bowling Green,’” Latta said. “Inflation is hurting everyone. In all businesses equipment is going up in price and it’s becoming tougher to hire people.”
Latta also looks at the issue from an energy perspective, because of his committee assignments. He said he is proud of how the U.S. is now the number one producer of natural gas and working to be energy independent.
He is also upset by the fluctuations in gas prices, pointing out that at the end of the Trump administration gasoline prices were $2.32 per gallon, and this week it was around $3.60.
Latta is opposed to use of the 15 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve as an effort to control the price of gasoline. He called it a “drop in the bucket” because 18 million are used here, on a daily basis.
He said it makes the country more dependent on foreign countries and linked it to “massive deficit spending” from the Biden administration.
Latta is not opposed to electric vehicles. He recently went to Nevada, looking at the only lithium production site in the United States. He said it only produces about 1% of the lithium in the world,” a required mineral for electric car batteries. However, he is opposed to reliance on rare earth minerals from countries such as China, Argentina, Bolivia and Chile, where much of the lithium comes from.
Latta is one of 150 co-signers on a letter to President Joe Biden about the electrical capacity issues related to the recent California push for all electric vehicles by 2035.
“We need to produce more lithium in this country,” Latta said.
He believes there isn’t the base load capacity of energy for the uptick in electric power needs.
“This is where you have to have an all-of-the-above energy policy. If you want carbon-free production of energy, that’s nuclear,” Latta said. “I just met with some people, about three weeks ago, that were coming up with an idea of having micro-reactors, that would be about the size of a flatbed semi trailer.”
Latta is also focusing on crime issues.
“The other big issue is the massive amount of drugs that are flowing across our southern border,” Latta said.
He is proud of opioid abuse legislation he helped to pass in the 115th Congress.
“We saw, at that time, about 73,000 people dying from opioid overdoses, then we saw a dip, but it’s climbing again,” Latta said.
He said that those annual deaths have now increased to 107,000 and links that with the drug cartels in Mexico and the fentanyl trade from China.
Latta is an avid sportsman and lifelong resident of Northwest Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree at Bowling Green State University and his Juris Doctor degree at the University of Toledo College of Law. He and Marcia live in Bowling Green, and they have two daughters.
Redistricting, on March 2, changed the shape of the Fifth Congressional District. It currently covers 14 counties, but will cover 12 in the 118th Congress. It covers counties from the Indiana border east through Lorain County, which has the most constituents for the district, at approximately 40%. The other counties which will have at least partial coverage are Wood, Mercer, Paulding, Van Wert, Henry, Putnam, Seneca, Hancock, Wyandot, Crawford and Huron. According to the Ohio Secretary of State website, the redistricting is subject to further judicial review.