Since my swearing in on Jan. 5, I have been back in Ohio whenever we don't have votes in the Senate. I have continued traveling all over the state, visiting a number of Ohio businesses, speaking with workers and management about what we can do in Washington to make it easier to hire employees in Ohio.

One thing is for sure Ohio companies I visited recently, like Babcock & Wilcox in Cleveland, Whirlpool in Sandusky County, Chrysler in Toledo, the Tank Plant in Lima, Xpedx in Clermont County and L-3 Cincinnati Electronics - are all looking for more certainty in order to grow and to invest in new technology. A lot of the uncertainty comes from Washington: new federal regulations could substantially impact the bottom line, new rules in the health care law are raising costs for small businesses, there are mixed signals about whether and how Washington will address the record deficits and dangerous levels of debt, and continued uncertainty on the temporary tax laws meant to encourage businesses to purchase technology and other equipment and conduct research and development. All of this leads to a reluctance by Ohio companies to hire the workers they need. With unemployment hovering near 10 percent, that is unacceptable.

Some of these concerns are addressed in the first piece of legislation I introduced in the new Congress. The Job Creation Act of 2011, which I introduced on the first day the Senate was open for business, is the result of input I received all around the state.

The Job Creation Act of 2011 would provide much needed tax and regulatory relief to the private sector to help create new jobs and provide greater certainty for our economy. Economists say the proposal would create more than 1.4 million jobs, provide nearly $240 billion in tax relief to foster hiring and investment, and reduce the deficit by $85 billion, all while decreasing job destroying mandates.

The Job Creation Act includes a repeal of the individual mandate, a key part of the health care law that stifles job creation, and that courts are already ruling as unconstitutional. The legislation also includes a one year employer payroll tax cut of 2 percent, matching the employee payroll tax cut of late last year. This will reduce the cost of an additional hire, making it easier for businesses to employ new workers. The legislation also repeals new IRS 1099 reporting requirements in the health care law, widely seen as burdensome paperwork - even the President indicated in his State of the Union address that he was willing to work together to fix this provision. Lastly, the legislation includes a permanent extension of key business incentives to hire: the research tax credit, which promotes and accelerates innovation through research and new technologies and the immediate write-off for equipment.

At a time when our national unemployment rate has remained above 9 percent for 20 straight months, creating favorable conditions for private-sector job growth is critical to our economic recovery. Ohio is second to none in its trained workforce, manufacturing skills, facilities and research institutions. We need to do everything in our power to make sure Ohio's employers have the certainty they need to create new jobs and reach the full potential of our economy. The Job Creation Act of 2011 is a blueprint for the path forward. It creates more certainty and a more favorable business climate all job creators are seeking.

Rob Portman is one of Ohio's U.S. senators.