House Democratic Caucus Asks Kasich To Veto Student-voting Barrier In Transportation Budget
Proposed law change would make it harder for students to vote
March 27, 2015
 
 

The Ohio House Democratic Caucus today sent a letter to Gov. John Kasich asking him to veto a provision in the state’s transportation budget that would make it harder for students to vote in Ohio.


The provision will require anyone who registers to vote in Ohio to surrender their driver’s license if it is from another state, obtain an Ohio driver’s license and register their vehicle with the state. Failure to do so within 30 days results in a criminal offense.


Students and lawmakers have estimated that this imposes a cost of about $75 to $100 for out-of-state American students to vote for local issues and candidates that carry quality of life consequences for students and the communities in which they live.


The Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus sent a similar request to the governor following Wednesday’s Senate vote.


A copy of the letter is available below:


March 27, 2015


Dear Governor Kasich,


We write to ask you to use your executive authority to veto the provision tying voter registration to motor vehicle residency in Substitute House Bill 53. After careful review of this provision, we believe it is contrary to the best interests of Ohioans, specifically students attending college from out of state. The Senate amended version contains a provision requiring those who register to vote to also obtain state driver’s licenses and vehicle registrations.


This provision targets out-of-state students who attend Ohio’s colleges and universities, requiring them to jump through a number of hoops and pay unnecessary fees to participate in Ohio elections—or face fines and a criminal record.


This amendment forces students to pay $75 or more in order to register to vote in Ohio. The U.S. Constitution guarantees certain fundamental rights to all citizens including the right to travel and the right to vote. The 1979 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Symm v. United States largely settled the right of college students to vote where they reside, including their college address, without undue burden.


Students would undoubtedly find it harder to vote in Ohio under this provision. In a state where barely half of registered voters show up to the polls, we should be doing everything we can to increase voter turnout—not erecting barriers to student voters. This provision sends the wrong message to students coming to Ohio to attend our schools. Forcing students to pay the equivalent of two new textbooks or more simply to register to vote in local elections is unfair. Targeting students at the ballot box is the fastest way to ensure they leave Ohio after graduation.


This provision does not belong in a budget bill. It does not belong in any bill. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 prohibits voter intimidation such as using one’s voter registration status to target, investigate, prosecute and criminally punish anyone for unrelated matters. Vehicle registration and making students use dorm addresses on driver’s licenses should not be tied to voting in this way. Schools already provide proof of residence to every student in Ohio. Furthermore, The U.S. Census Department counts out-of-state students at their dorm addresses regardless of what their driver’s license reads, because residency for every purpose is not determined by one’s privilege to drive.


The hallmark of our voting system should be free, fair and open elections. With this provision, students taking the initiative to engage in the political process will be met with a system that is far from free—and certainly not fair. We ask that you veto this voting rights provision from Sub H.B. 53.


Sincerely,


Minority Leader Fred Strahorn


39th House District


 


Assistant Minority Leader Nicholas J. Celebrezze


15th House District


 


Minority Whip Kevin Boyce


25th House District


 


Assistant Minority Whip Nickie J. Antonio


13th House District


 


Rep. Michael Ashford


44th House District


 


Rep. Heather Bishoff


20th House District


 


Rep. Janine Boyd


9th House District


 


Rep. Jack Cera


96th House District


 


Rep. Kathleen Clyde


75th House District


 


Rep. Hearcel Craig


26th House District


 


Rep. Michael F. Curtin


17th House District


 


Rep. Denise Driehaus


31st House District


 


Rep. Teresa Fedor


45th House District


 


Rep. Ronald V. Gerberry


59th House District


 


Rep. Stephanie Howse


11th House District


 


Rep. Greta Johnson


35th House District


 


Rep. Christie Kuhns


32nd House District


 


Rep. David Leland


22nd House District


 


Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan


58th House District


 


Rep. Michael O’Brien


64th House District


 


Rep. Sean J. O’Brien


63rd House District


 


Rep. John Patterson


99th House District


 


Rep. Debbie Phillips


94th House District


 


Rep. Dan Ramos


56th House District


 


Rep. Alicia Reece


33rd House District


 


Rep. John Rogers


60th House District


 


Rep. Michael P. Sheehy


46th House District


 


Rep. Stephen D. Slesnick


49th House District


 


Rep. Kent Smith


8th House District


 


Rep. Michael Stinziano


18th House District


 


Rep. Martin J. Sweeney


14th House District


 


Rep. Emilia Sykes


34th House District

 
 
  
 
Rep. Driehaus' Outdoor Refreshment Districts Bill Passes Out Of House
Bipartisan effort would allow open container districts in certain cities
March 27, 2015
 
 
Rep. Denise Driehaus

The Ohio House of Representatives passed legislation Thursday sponsored by State Representative Denise Driehaus (D–Cincinnati) to allow cities over a certain population to create Outdoor Refreshment Districts.


“It is our goal that these outdoor refreshment areas be used to create another incentive for Ohioans to patronize local businesses,” Rep. Driehaus said. “Ultimately, HB 47 is about creating economic vitality in our communities.”


The bill would allow cities with a population of over 35,000 to apply for Outdoor Refreshment District areas within their cities. Specifically, it would allow cities with a population between 35,000 and 50,000 to create one Outdoor Refreshment District, while cities with over 50,000 would have the opportunity to create two.


The legislation requires that before applying for permits, cities must plan to adopt public health and safety requirements for Outdoor Refreshment Districts, including the specific boundaries of the area, hours of operation, and a sanitation plan that will help maintain the appearance and public health of the area.


Rep. Driehaus was joined by Republican Rep. Louis W. Blessing, III in sponsoring the legislation.


The bill now goes to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.

 
 
  

Wednesday, the Ohio House passed Senate Bill 1, bipartisan legislation to reduce toxic algae in Lake Erie. S.B. 1 comes a little less than a year after 500,000 Toledo residents were left without clean drinking water for three days after toxic algae blooms contaminated the water supply in the western Lake Erie basin.


“We know there is still work to be done, but I am confident that this proposal will lead to significant progress and cleaner and safer water for Ohioans,”  said State Rep. Michael Sheehy (D-Oregon).  “I’m proud that lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have come together to take positive steps that will improve our waterways, especially the western Lake Erie basin.”


S.B. 1 would prohibit the application of fertilizer and manure on frozen and saturated ground within the western basin of Lake Erie. The bill will also require some publicly-owned water treatment facilities to begin monthly monitoring of phosphorus by December 1, 2016. Starting on July 1, 2020, the legislation bans depositing dredged material in Ohio’s portion of Lake Erie and its tributaries.


“Since last August, lawmakers have worked together with community leaders, local citizens, farmers, stakeholders and experts to help find meaningful solutions to promote a healthier Lake Erie,” said State Rep. and Agriculture and Rural Development Committee Ranking Member John Patterson (D-Jefferson). “We’ve still got more work to do, but S.B. 1 is a much-needed step in ensuring that our state’s greatest natural resource maintains its vitality for years to come.”


The Ohio Senate confered on the House’s changes later that day. It is anticipated that the Governor will sign S.B. 1 into law by the end of this week.


 

 
 
  

COLUMBUS— The Ohio House today approved the strictest anti-abortion bill in the nation, the six week ban, largely along party lines. House Bill 69 would outlaw abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, as early as 6 weeks gestation—often before a woman knows she is pregnant. H.B. 69 makes an exception only in cases where the life of the mother is at risk and does not include exceptions for rape or incest.


The bill, which was introduced and failed to garner adequate support during the last two General Assemblies, is generally recognized as unconstitutional. Democratic lawmakers say the bill would amount to a near total abortion ban and is in direct violation of Roe v. Wade which established viability, not a heartbeat, as the determining factor for whether or not abortions should be legal.


“I voted against this legislation because I support a woman’s right to make her own health care choices free from government intrusion.”- Rep. Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights)


 In 2014, federal judges overturned so-called fetal heartbeat legislation in North Dakota and Arkansas.

 
 
  

The Ohio House today approved the strictest anti-abortion bill in the nation, the six-week ban, largely along party lines. House Bill 69 would outlaw abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, as early as six weeks gestation—often before a woman knows she is pregnant. H.B. 69 makes an exception only in cases where the life of the mother is at risk and does not include exceptions for rape or incest.


The bill, which was introduced and failed to garner adequate support during the last two General Assemblies, is generally recognized as unconstitutional. Democratic lawmakers say the bill would amount to a near total abortion ban and is in direct violation of Roe v. Wade which established viability, not a heartbeat, as the determining factor for whether or not abortions should be legal.


In 2014, federal judges overturned so-called fetal heartbeat legislation in North Dakota and Arkansas.


Here is what Democratic lawmakers are saying about the passage of the six-week ban:


“Women in this state don't need legislators in Columbus interfering with some of the most important decisions of their lives.  Today's vote is an affront to public health and the protections that have been consistently upheld by the United States Supreme Court. We should all be disappointed in this vote.” –Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Akron)


“No exception for rape, no exception for incest. The six-week ban is nothing more than an unconstitutional political ploy that replaces a woman’s physician with a politician. If the legislature wants to be serious about preventing abortion, it would devote more resources to providing comprehensive sex-ed and access to contraception-- it is as simple as that.” -Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown)


“I am appalled that this legislation was passed by the House of Representatives. It shows a blatant, contemptuous disregard for the Constitution which we, in our oath of office, swore to protect and uphold. The legislation is unconstitutional and has been acknowledged as such, yet the bill was put before us today for a vote. As a body, we are better than that.


“Choice is a healthcare issue. Choice is between a woman and her healthcare provider. The Constitution gives us that choice, and it has been upheld for 40 years.


“I strongly oppose this legislation because I support the Constitutions of the United States and Ohio.” –Rep. Greta Johnson (D-Akron)


“Abortion bans do not stop abortions they simply move the procedure to the shadows and make it unsafe and dangerous.” –Rep. Kent Smith (D-Euclid)


“I voted against this legislation because I support a woman’s right to make her own health care choices free of government intrusion.” –Rep. Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland)


“In addition to substituting politics for a woman's right to make healthcare decisions with trained medical professionals that impact her health and family, this bill is unconstitutional on its face and goes against the oath we took as legislators the moment we were sworn into office.” –Rep. Christie Kuhns (D-Cincinnati) 

 
 
  

State Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) and State Rep. Heather Bishoff (D-Blacklick) announced today the introduction of legislation aimed at preventing unintended pregnancies and abortions through increased education and access to resources. The Ohio Prevention First Act, House Bill 132, would prevent unintended pregnancies by offering comprehensive, abstinence-inclusive sex education for teens; increasing access to birth control, including emergency contraception for rape survivors; and creating a state Teen Pregnancy Prevention Task.


“Half of all unintended pregnancies end in abortion. If the legislature wants to be serious about preventing abortion, it would devote more resources to providing comprehensive sex-ed and access to contraception-- it is as simple as that,” said Rep. Lepore-Hagan.


Introduced on the same day that a House committee voted to report the unconstitutional 6-week abortion ban, The Ohio Prevention First Act would require the Ohio Department of Health to post accurate information about emergency contraception on its website for the benefit of the general public. 


According to the federal Department of Health and Human Services Ohio currently has the 26th highest teen pregnancy rate in the United States, with over 25,000 girls aged 15-19 becoming pregnant in 2008. Over twenty percent of those teenage pregnancies resulted in abortion.  


The Ohio House today will vote on House Bill 69, which would ban abortions at about six weeks, well before most women generally recognize they are pregnant. To watch the floor debate live, go to www.ohiochannel.org at 1:30 p.m. 

 
 
  

State Representative Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) released the following statement in response to Secretary of State Jon Husted’s comments on the attack on student voting rights:


“Secretary Husted today described voting in Ohio as a "privilege" and described Democratic legislative concerns about the voting rights attached in the transportation budget as "hysteria" and "hysterics". He wrongly claimed the Senate Republicans' provision will not affect voting by students in Ohio when, in reality, it will cause students who register and vote in Ohio to pay $75 or more to get new documents from the BMV or be fined $150 to $1000 and face jail time.


“I believe Secretary Husted is mistaken about the legal implications of this provision and I am disappointed to hear him dismiss the concerns of our congressional representatives, Judge Nathaniel Jones, my colleagues and myself as "hysteria." The Voting Rights Act of 1965 prohibits voter intimidation such as using one's voter registration status to target, investigate, prosecute, and criminally punish them for unrelated matters. Over 100,000 students come to Ohio to further their education and this provision will surely intimidate them and cause them to not register to vote, even though it is their fundamental right to do so.”

 
 
  
 
Rep. Clyde, League Of Women Voters Join Student Leader To Denounce Attack On Voting Rights In Transportation Budget
Last minute amendment will cost Ohio students their right to vote
March 24, 2015
 
 

Today State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D–Kent) and Democratic lawmakers stood with the League of Women Voters and an Ohio State student leader to denounce an attack on student voting rights included in the Senate’s version of the state transportation budget. 


“This provision makes it harder to vote and has no place in the transportation budget or anywhere in Ohio law. It will punish students for exercising their most fundamental right,” said Rep. Clyde.


The provision will require anyone who registers to vote in Ohio to surrender their driver’s license if it’s from another state, obtain an Ohio driver’s license and register their vehicle with the state. The amendment appears to be aimed at the over 100,000 out-of-state students who come to Ohio each year and exercise their constitutional right to register and vote.


“With voter turnout at a record low in Ohio, we shouldn’t be making it harder to vote, especially through a bill that should be focused on funding our roads and bridges,” said Rep. Greta Johnson (D-Akron). “Instead of imposing new costs and requirements on voters, we should ensure Americans have free and fair access to the most basic right in a democracy— the fundamental freedom to vote. I was pleased that we were able to handle the residency issue last week, and I strongly urge the Conference Committee to remove these provisions.”


The U.S. Constitution guarantees certain fundamental rights to all citizens including the right to travel and the right to vote. And the US Supreme Court decision in Symm v. United States, 439 U.S. 1105, 99 S.Ct. 1006 (1979) largely settled the right of college students to vote where they reside, including at their college address. 


“You can’t have it both ways—say you want to prevent brain drain in our state, but then create new ways to drive our college students away,” said Rep. Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights). “The right to vote is one paid for in blood and it should be left alone.”


Last General Assembly, Republicans tried to force Ohio’s public universities to withhold from their students essential documents commonly used as voter identification by making the schools charge such students lower in-state tuition even if they are from out-of-state. The provision was removed from the state budget after vigorous opposition by Democratic legislators. 

 
 
  

State Reps. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo), Michael Ashford (D-Toledo) and Michael P. Sheehy (D-Oregon) recently released the following statement mourning the loss of former House Minority Leader and Toledo Mayor, Councilman Jack Ford:


“The people of Toledo and the State of Ohio mourn the loss of a great leader, colleague and friend Jack Ford. Toledo’s first black mayor and former House Minority Leader, Jack was a tremendous public servant whose legacy of mentorship and selfless service to our city and state will not be forgotten.


“Our most heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and loved ones during this difficult time.”


 

 
 
  
 
 
 

Straight from the House floor to Rep. Christie Kuhns- Congratulations on the birth of Kai Christopher! 

 
 
  
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