Democratic lawmakers today contrasted harmful energy legislation passed by Republicans with recent findings on the attitudes of Ohioans on renewable energy. State Reps. Dan Ramos (D-Lorain), Michael Ashford (D-Toledo) and Mike Foley (D-Cleveland) pointed to energy policies such as Senate Bill 310, which contradict the attitudes of Ohioans, environmental experts and business leaders on the need for renewable energy in Ohio.
A recent bipartisan poll released by Re-AMP, a Midwest collaboration of environmental advocacy organizations, found that Ohioans strongly support renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, especially as methods of job creation. Yet, Gov. Kasich and Republican lawmakers passed SB 310 this year, which puts a two-year freeze on all renewable energy standards and threatens energy efficiency projects in Ohio.
“Many of the concerns we heard in committee on SB 310 are the same concerns we’re hearing from Ohioans today,” said Rep. Ashford. “Ohioans know that a commitment to renewable energy leads to job creation, energy savings and a safe environment in the future. Ohio should not be catering to special interests at the cost of good jobs and energy savings.”
The renewable energy standards, passed with support from both parties in 2008, created more than 3,200 jobs in Ohio and saved Ohioans $1.3 billion over the course of four years. The freeze on these standards is estimated to cost Ohioans $4 billion in energy savings and 4,000 jobs in renewable energy fields. Despite the opposition of 73 companies and organizations in Ohio to the freeze, the legislature passed SB 310 essentially along party lines.
“The freeze on renewable energy standards reverses all of the progress Ohio has made over recent years in the energy sector. Our state had the opportunity to stand out as a leader in the field of renewable energy, and now we have let that opportunity slip. It is a loss for our state as a whole and for the hundreds of thousands of Ohioans who remain desperate to find work,” said Rep. Ramos.
Republican lawmakers claim the freeze on renewable energy standards will allow time to study the standards and understand their impact. House leadership recently announced that a committee created through SB 310 is currently being organized to study the standards.
“The creation of this committee is a complete sham and utterly meaningless with regard to supporting an advanced energy economy,” said Rep. Foley. “While real issues like the failing economy and charter school reform remain unaddressed, the GOP feels the need to set up phony hearings to continue to undermine investments that Ohioans generally support.”
State Reps. Mike Foley (D-Cleveland) and Robert F. Hagan (D-Youngstown) held a press conference today outlining proposed legislation to protect Ohio students and taxpayer dollars. The lawmakers’ bill would prohibit for-profit public charter schools from using state funds for lobbying purposes or public relations activities.
Currently, for-profit charter schools, which received over $1 billion from the state last year, can use this state funding to pay for lobbying events, consulting costs and public relations campaigns. The bill proposed by the Democratic legislators today would prevent public charter schools from using state funding for these purposes.
“As stewards of taxpayer dollars, it is our responsibility as legislators to ensure that state funding is spent in a responsible manner,” said Rep. Foley. “The funding is sent to public schools for the purpose of educating Ohio students, not for lobbying luncheons or television commercials. While charter schools are certainly welcome to lobby legislators or organize supporters with outside funds, they should not subsidize these activities with tax dollars meant for students and teachers.”
The Democratic lawmakers also highlighted the low performance of for-profit charter schools in Ohio, pointing to recent school report card data that shows 62 percent of charter schools’ report card grades are a “D” or “F” according to an analysis by the policy think-tank Innovation Ohio. The state has closed several public charter schools in recent months due to underperformance and mismanagement.
“These public charter schools should me focusing more on providing a high-quality education to their students and less on generating revenue,” said Rep. Hagan. “If these for-profit charter schools were truly effective at teaching our kids, they wouldn’t need to spend money on advertisements or lobbyists. It is not the responsibility of Ohio taxpayers to foot the bill for their failures.”
The announcement came ahead of Lorain’s Horizon Science Academy Lobby Day tomorrow at the Statehouse. The schools is funding a chartered bus, lunch and after-school childcare for the students of parents that make the trip to Columbus.
Reps. Foley and Hagan will be present at tomorrow’s 10:30 a.m. state school board meeting, where the lawmakers plan to testify following the Horizon School’s presentation.
COLUMBUS– State Reps. Robert F. Hagan (D-Youngstown) and Nicholas J. Celebrezze (D-Parma), legislative members of the state’s Correctional Institution Inspection Committee, today released the following joint statement on Thursday night’s escape of three prisoners from the Allen County Correctional Facility:
“The escape of three prisoners last night raises serious safety and procedural concerns regarding the administration of Ohio’s correctional facilities. Unfortunately, Thursday’s incident is just the most recent example in a troubling trend of prison mismanagement that ranges from overcrowding to pest-infested food, understaffing, general inmate unrest and jailbreaks. It is becoming clear that our state’s corrections department is failing to live up to safety and security standards expected by the general public.”
House Democratic Leader Tracy Maxwell Heard (D-Columbus) sent a letter today to Attorney General (AG) Mike DeWine requesting representation from the AG’s office or approved outside counsel for Democratic members seeking to intervene in the NAACP v. Husted early voting case.
On Monday, Republican lawmakers joined Secretary of State Jon Husted in appealing the recent district court decision, but Leader Heard contends that the GOP intervention does not represent Democratic members’ interest of protecting early voting.
“Our Republican colleagues have been granted intervention as a full party with counsel provided by your office to the ‘Ohio General Assembly,’” Leader Heard stated in the letter. “However, the interests of House Democratic members—to protect the early voting opportunities that the district court has ordered—diverge from those of the majority party and are not represented by the ‘Ohio General Assembly’ as a party to the lawsuit.”
A copy of the letter can be seen below:
The Honorable Mike DeWine
Ohio Attorney General
30 East Broad Street, 14th floor
Columbus, Ohio 43215
Dear Attorney General DeWine,
I write to request representation from the Office of the Attorney General for myself and my Democratic colleagues as we seek to intervene in the NAACP v. Husted lawsuit.
Our Republican colleagues have been granted intervention as a full party with counsel provided by your office to the “Ohio General Assembly.” However, the interests of House Democratic members—to protect the early voting opportunities that the district court has ordered—diverge from those of the majority party and are not represented by the “Ohio General Assembly” as a party to the lawsuit.
I seek representation for myself and my Democratic colleagues from your office so that we have equal opportunity to intervene.
If the AG’s Office is unable to provide us representation due to your staff’s assignment to the Defendants, we will work with you to best select outside counsel to represent our Democratic members.
We look forward to your expedited response to this time-sensitive request.
Yours in service,
Tracy Maxwell Heard
State Representative, 26th District
State of Ohio Rep. Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati) released the following statement on today’s U.S. district court decision in which Secretary of State Husted was ordered to restore early voting hours in all counties in time for the November 2014 election. The ruling requires that voters be allowed to cast in-person absentee ballots 35 days prior to the election, which includes the restoration of “Golden Week”:
“Once again, the courts have reaffirmed the position that there is no room in Ohio for any legislation that makes it harder for citizens to vote. While we celebrate this victory today, we must also realize that more work remains in the fight to establish a permanent set of basic voting rights in Ohio. I urge leaders in Columbus to finally overcome past partisan politics and work together to secure these voting protections permanently in our constitution for all Ohioans.”
Many Northwest Ohioans will celebrate Labor Day this weekend by attending a family picnic or enjoying big sales while back-to-school shopping.
But the real reason for commemorating Labor Day is to honor hardworking Americans in their everyday pursuit to keep our workforce the best in the world.
Since the days of the Industrial Revolution, labor unions have fought hand-in-hand with American workers to bolster our nation’s economy by backing solid wages, safe working environments and fair employment practices. And these unions continue to stick up for the middle class.
However, politically-motivated attacks on workers and unions have taken center stage in Ohio. Even after Ohio voters soundly defeated anti-worker legislation Senate Bill 5 in 2011, out-of-touch state lawmakers introduced so-called “right to work” legislation. If implemented, these laws would threaten the livelihood of our state’s already-hurting working and middle class families.
Unlike the discounted school supplies you purchase this weekend, so-called “right to work” is a bad deal. But by standing behind our workers on Labor Day and everyday, we can promote a robust economy that ensures Ohio stays open for businesses and families alike.
As we celebrate Labor Day with picnics and parades, let’s also take time today to reflect on the contributions of the hardworking men and women to whom this holiday is dedicated.
Since the mid-19th century, unions have stood on the front lines to promote an equal playing field and fair working conditions for all American workers. Because of unions’ advocacy, Ohio families can enjoy an 8-hour work day, weekends and workplace safety laws.
Labor unions have directly contributed to the creation and endurance of the middle class in America.
Yet in recent years, we have seen politically-motivated attacks against unions and the working class way of life. Radical lawmakers, including members of the Ohio legislature, have advocated for so-called “right-to-work” legislation that hurts workers and middle-class families in Ohio.
If passed, so-called “right-to-work” laws would bypass all of the important rights and protections labor groups and unions have worked so hard to establish on behalf of Ohio workers. Ohioans resoundingly rejected similar anti-labor legislation when they voted down Senate Bill 5 in 2011.
We must remain vigilant this Labor Day in the fight to protect and maintain an equal playing field for Ohio’s middle-class workers.
State Representative and Ohio Legislative Black Caucus President Alicia Reece released the following statement in commemoration of the 51st Anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech:
“As we reflect on the triumphs and challenges of those who came before us, we cannot forget that there is still much work to be done to promote equality, race relations, voting rights and jobs. We must also fight for openness and fairness in our political system to ensure that everyone has a chance at the American Dream. That is why I have called for a new civil rights movement, and I will not rest until our right to vote is enshrined in our constitution.”
Last year, Rep. Reece was invited to speak at the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington where she addressed over 200,000 attendees. A link to her speech, “No More Temporary Solutions to Permanent Problems,” is included below:
Today, Ohio House Democratic Women’s Caucus Chair and State Rep. Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood) and State Rep. Connie Pillich (D-Montgomery) reflected on and celebrated national Women’s Equality Day.
“Women have had the right to vote for nearly one hundred years, but the fight to reach gender parity rallies on today,” said Rep. Antonio. “What’s so important to remember in this struggle is that the key to combating harmful state legislation, enacting pro-woman policies, and reaching gender equality lies in that fundamental right to vote.”
Women’s Equality Day was established in 1971 as a day to commemorate the passage of the 19th Amendment, securing women’s right to vote. Since then, August 26 has served as a day to reflect on the strides and struggles of women to achieve parity in American society. Modern issues of Women’s Equality Day include affordable health care, violence against women, and the gender wage gap.
“On Women’s Equality Day, we reflect on how important it is that we level the playing field—not just for the sake of individual women, but for their families and for our economy,” said Rep. Pillich. “Enacting policies like the Ohio Equal Pay Act would signal to women that we value hard work, justice, and equal opportunity for all.”
In February, Rep. Pillich introduced the Ohio Equal Pay Act to close state loopholes that allow employers to engage in discriminatory gender-based pay practices. The legislation would bring Ohio in line with the federal Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, allowing women to take legal action against an employer practicing gender-based wage discrimination.
The Ohio House Democratic Women’s Caucus meets regularly to discuss issues concerning women. Their goal is to develop policies that enhance the livelihood of Ohio women, including fair pay, health initiatives, and the protection of women's rights.
Today, on the 94th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, we pause to reflect on the struggle for women’s suffrage and to celebrate this momentous milestone on the path to voting and gender equality.
We remember those courageous, heroic women–such as Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Alice Paul— who sacrificed so much to ensure that men and women are recognized as equals at the voting booth.
However, we understand that more work remains today in the state of Ohio, in the United States and all over the globe to fully realize the goal of true gender equality.
Guided by the example of the heroes who have come before us, we must continue to strive for a world that truly fosters a level playing field for all genders, especially in the areas of education, healthcare and employment.
Appropriately, one of the greatest tools in creating this level playing field is our collective voice. By voting on Election Day, by writing or calling elected officials and by advocating on behalf of important causes, we can continue our progress and work to achieve gender equality both inside and outside of the ballot box.