Since 1987, we’ve celebrated March as Women’s History Month throughout the United States. From the first six female legislators elected in 1923 to the nearly 200 women who have served in the Ohio General Assembly since, this state is certainly rich in examples of women who have leant their names to Ohio’s history with courage, leadership, and determination.
Recently, House Democrats introduced legislation that would close loopholes in Ohio that allow employers to practice wage discrimination based on gender. The Ohio Equal Pay Act is a first step towards closing this wage disparity in Ohio and bringing the state in line with the federal Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which authorizes legal action in cases of gender-based pay discrimination. However, it is only a first step, and Ohio should continue to be vigilant in the fight for equal pay for equal work.
While legislation like the Equal Pay Act helps the women of today, we must also consider how to help protect girls who will grow up to become the women of tomorrow. Unfortunately, human trafficking is a crime that disproportionately affects young women in Ohio. The End Demand Act, House Bill 130, takes several important steps to protect young children from becoming the victims of human trafficking, while also creating stronger punishments for those who perpetrate this heinous crime.
Further legislation introduced by my colleagues also focuses on ensuring quality reproductive healthcare, protecting low-income women who are victims of domestic violence or sexual offenses from excessive court fees, and creating a gender pay disparity task force.
House Democats are committed to advancing issues that are important to women. And, as we celebrate Women’s History Month, we must remember that the issues that are important to women’s success are important to the successes of all Ohioans.
State Rep. John Patterson (D-Jefferson) announced that his commonsense proposal to update registered historical vehicle uses was recently signed into law.
On Friday, Gov. Kasich signed Senate Bill 194, which included provisions to allow historical vehicles owners to transport themselves to and from routine vehicle maintenance. Previously, historical vehicles in Ohio could only be driven for participation in club activities, exhibitions, tours, parades and similar uses. The bill maintains the current prohibition on use for general transportation.
“By working closely with the Ohio Highway Patrol and the Ohio historical vehicle community, we were able to enact a law that provides legal clarity for both historical vehicle owners and law enforcement agencies,” Rep. Patterson said. “This bill will limit unnecessary traffic stops and will alleviate a major burden for historical car enthusiasts who are simply driving their vehicles for an oil or tire change.”
Rep. Patterson’s proposal was originally introduced as a stand-alone bill, House Bill 350, but was amended into S.B. 194 during the House committee process. S.B. 194 will take effect on May 29, 2014, 90 days from the day it was signed.
COLUMBUS – Today, House Democratic Leader Tracy Maxwell Heard (D-Columbus) responded to the recent release of JobsOhio’s self-published 2013 report, showing Ohio has gained some 17,000 jobs in the last year:
“If the new standard of success for job creation in Ohio is simply not to lose jobs, we have a long way to go. 31,000 more Ohioans are out of a work than at this time last year, and we’re 45th in the nation for job creation. We are clearly falling behind.”
COLUMBUS – Today, State Rep. Mike Foley (D-Cleveland) responded to the recent release of JobsOhio’s self-published 2013 report, showing Ohio has gained some 17,000 jobs in the last year:
“The JobsOhio report further illustrates the raw deal that Ohio taxpayers are getting while they continue to fund the Governor’s pet project,” said Rep. Foley. “We spent too much of 2013 as a national leader in job loss, and more Ohioans are out of work than at this time last year. We need to know that JobsOhio is up to the task. 45th in the nation for job creation just doesn’t cut it. Gov. Kasich’s JobsOhio is a contradiction in terms.”v
Democratic members of the Ohio House on Monday called on Auditor Dave Yost, Treasurer Josh Mandel and Attorney General Mike DeWine to ensure that Treasurer Mandel’s proposed micro targeting of tele-town hall participants does not cross the fine line between campaigning and constituent service. The Democratic lawmakers say that any future tele-town hall should be subject to immediate audit to ensure taxpayer resources were not used for political purposes.
The text of the letter can be seen below:
March 3, 2014
Dear Treasurer Mandel, Attorney General DeWine, and Auditor Yost,
We write to address the State Treasurer’s recent proposal to target tele-town hall participants and the subsequent Attorney General’s opinion authorizing the State Treasurer to do so at taxpayer expense, even if the town hall covers topics wholly unrelated to the functions of the Treasurer’s Office.
The dividing line between what is appropriate and what is inappropriate lies in the manner in which the participants are targeted for these town halls. While the opinion limits the ability to target citizens based on party affiliation or voting history, technology has made it increasingly easier to identify supporters and potential voters through other demographic means. Because of the obvious risks for waste, fraud, and abuse in using taxpayer dollars to target tele-town hall participants, Ohioans would be best served by strong oversight and transparency if such a meeting is to be held.
As public servants, we should always seek innovative ways to encourage participation in government and we should strive to make our government fully accessible to all citizens. We find it extremely troubling that certain Ohioans may be discouraged from participating or shut out from the meetings altogether while subsidizing these traditional campaign-targeting tactics.
We believe that democracy functions best when all citizens’ voices are heard. To ensure the integrity of these town halls, we ask that contracts be competitively bid and that formulas for targeting participants be made available to the public. Additionally, we ask that all of the tele-town halls be subject to audit by the Auditor of State. The only way to guarantee that Ohioans are not being taken advantage of is through strong enforcement of accountability measures. We trust that you will all commit to subjecting this program to scrutiny and oversight.
We know this is one issue where we can put our political differences aside and promote strong ethical standards in state government.
Rep. Nickie J. Antonio
Rep. Nick Barborak
Rep. Kevin L. Boyce
Rep. John Patrick Carney
Rep. Nicholas Celebrezze
Rep. Denise Driehaus
Rep. Teresa Fedor
Rep. Mike Foley
Rep. Ronald V. Gerberry
Rep. Robert F. Hagan
Rep. Matt Lundy
Rep. Connie Pillich
Rep. Stephen D. Slesnick
Rep. Fred Strahorn
State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) recently condemned the Ohio GOP’s partisan elections agenda, including the passage of Senate Bill 216, which makes counting provisional ballots more difficult.
CINCINNATI – State Reps. Dale Mallory (D-Cincinnati) and Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati) announced today that they are calling for changes to be made to provisional ballot envelopes in order to eliminate deceptive language. Currently, there is a line on the back of the envelope that reads, “Failure to complete this form will not cause your provisional ballot to be rejected.” However, thousands of votes in the last presidential election were rejected because of minor errors on provisional ballots.
“The line on the back of provisional ballot envelopes is misleading and inaccurate,” Rep. Mallory said. “Hundreds, if not thousands, of votes were not counted as a result of failure to complete the provisional ballot form. Changes must be made to rectify this significant error.”
Yesterday, Ohio House Republicans approved elections legislation that would require even more information to be detailed on a provisional ballot in order for it to count.
“Ohio throws out a significant number of provisional ballots every election year, and this deceptive language is part of the problem,” said Rep. Reece. “We should make it as easy as possible for Ohioans to have their voices heard and their votes counted.”
Rep. Mallory and Rep. Reece are calling for this problem to be corrected before the primary election on May 6, 2014.