$131.6 Billion State Budget Clears House With Attacks On Working Ohioans, Tax Cuts For Richest One-percent
Democratic members say budget isn't a responsible plan for the future, doesn't work for middle-class Ohioans
April 23, 2015
Rep. Emilia Sykes discussing access to healthcare for pregnant women, breast and cervical cancer coverage, infant mortality

Wednesday, State Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) and Ohio House Democratic Caucus members stood in opposition to the state’s two-year budget proposal, House Bill 64. Democratic legislators said the bill failed to lay out a real plan for the future of the state and instead advanced partisan attacks on working Ohioans and policies that rig the tax system to help the richest one-percent and special interests.

Democrats offered several alternative proposals* that would have put more money in the pockets of middle class Ohioans, stopped attacks on working Ohioans, ensured equal pay for women, reduced the state’s sales tax and maintained access to healthcare for pregnant working mothers and women needing cancer treatment. The Democratic proposals were shot down along party lines.

“I am very disappointed that the Ohio House has decided against working families by passing this budget,” said Rep. Sykes. “I'm especially disappointed that an amendment I offered that would reduce Ohio's abysmal infant mortality rate was tabled. People say, ‘Show me your budget and I'll show you your priorities.’ The Ohio House showed us that working families, pregnant women, babies and an educated work force are not our priorities."

House Republicans scrapped nearly all of Gov. Kasich’s initial budget proposal, but largely kept the philosophy behind an untargeted income tax cut intact. Democratic representatives expressed disappointment with the House GOP’s move stripping accountability and transparency measures for charter schools out of the state budget even as failing, for-profit charters are set to receive a record amount of taxpayer dollars through the bill. Democrats attempted to remove what they called the “No Charter Left Behind” provision which would give online charter schools $25 per pupil for brick and mortar facilities— something online schools lack.   

State Rep. Denise Driehaus: State Budget Does Not Work For Middle-class Ohioans
Says policies should build opportunity for middle-class Ohioans, not attack working Ohioans
April 22, 2015

COLUMBUS— Today, State Rep. and highest ranking Democrat on the state budget panel Denise Driehaus (D-Cincinnati) stood in opposition to the state’s two-year, $131.6 billion budget proposal, House Bill 64. Democratic members said a bill of that magnitude should have been a strategic and targeted blueprint to grow the state’s economy for the future, but instead became a vehicle for tax cuts that favor the richest one-percent and last-minute attacks on working Ohioans.

“This budget doesn’t work to provide a real plan for the future of Ohio,” said Driehaus. “Not only does this budget fail to lay out a plan for growing and strengthening our middle class and Ohio’s economy for the future, it attacks working and middle class Ohioans.”

House Republicans scrapped nearly all of Gov. Kasich’s initial budget proposal, but largely kept the philosophy behind an untargeted income tax cut intact. Democratic representatives expressed disappointment with the House GOP’s move stripping accountability and transparency measures for charter schools out of the state budget even as failing, for-profit charters are set to receive a record amount of taxpayer dollars through the bill.

In addition to other proposed Democratic changes to the budget, Democrats will attempt to remove what they called the “No Charter Left Behind” provision which would give online charter schools $25 per pupil for brick and mortar facilities— something online schools lack.   

To watch the debate on House’s priorities for Ohio’s future go to www.ohiochannel.org



State Rep. Kent Smith (D-Euclid) today announced a proposal to promote music industry growth in Ohio. The proposed Ohio Sound Recording Investor Tax Credit, or "OhioSounds," would provide incentives for music production, studio construction and recording within the state. Smith submitted the proposal for consideration in the state budget.

“OhioSounds would solidify the state’s commitment to our musical legacy and help encourage further creative endeavors from Ohio musicians while driving economic growth in a competitive industry and making Ohio a destination for musicians and producers,” said Rep. Smith. “This will not only inspire the next generation of The Black Keys or Bootsy Collins, but will provide a substantial economic return for communities across the state.”

Current data lists music industry revenues at nearly $7 billion annually. Rep. Smith wants to see some of that investment come to Ohio.

Rep. Smith’s proposal would provide tax credits for 25 percent of the related sound recording production costs for music projects created in Ohio. It would also refund 25 percent of music studio construction and recording infrastructure costs. To qualify for OhioSounds, production costs must exceed $5,000 per project, with a maximum incentive set at $50,000. If OhioSounds becomes law, the total amount of initial incentives would be capped at $3 million.

“We have the ability to attract talent not only from Ohio, but across the globe to create music, pioneer new technologies and contribute to our local economies. It’s a win-win,” said Smith. “We have the opportunity for people to be exposed to and fall in love with more Ohio talent. I think its a solid gold opportunity— maybe even platinum.”


Smith’s proposal models a similar tax incentive program in Louisiana, which allows current residents to access credits for music production within the state without an upper cap limit. The Ohio program differs in that the credit is not limited to Ohio residents. However, with an upper limit of $50,000, Smith believes the credit is sustainable.

"Ohio’s history for musical talent and creativity has deep roots,” said Rep. Smith.  “This proposal will help seed Buckeye creativity and spur innovation across the state. I am excited to announce this during Rock N Roll Hall of Fame Induction Week."

Rep. Smith says music industry growth could have a big impact in the Buckeye State and points to Richard Florida, an American urban studies theorist, who discusses the growth potential—technologically and economically—for the music industry in the coming years.

In his 2005 best seller The Rise of the Creative Class, Florida writes, “Music is now being recognized as a fruit-fly industry – as an early indicator of new technologies, new business models and the economy in general.  Music is a highly competitive business – a hyper competitive market in miniature.”



State Budget Provision Would Review Decision To Close YDC
Provision included after bi-partisan efforts
April 14, 2015

Mahoning Valley lawmakers applauded today’s announcement that the latest version of the state budget includes a provision that may help keep the doors open and the lights on at the Youngstown Developmental Center. 

The latest version of the budget bill would establish a 13-member closure review commission anytime the Governor orders the closure of a state developmental center—a provision that closely mirrors a bi-partisan amendment submitted by Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan and Rep. Michael Henne (R-Clayton), whose district includes the Montgomery Developmental Center. 

“Since the decision was made to close the Youngstown Developmental Center, the response has been clear and unequivocal: the workers, residents and their families, and indeed the entire community want and need this facility to remain open,” said Rep. Lepore-Hagan. “The YDC provides a tremendous service for the most vulnerable population. I am thrilled that we were able to work in a bi-partisan fashion to work toward a review commission.” 

Under the new budget language, the review commission would consider at least 10 specified criteria and factors before making a recommendation, and the Governor could not close a facility without the commission’s recommendation.

“I am pleased the proposal for a review commission has been included in the latest amendments to the state budget,” said Leader Joe Schiavoni. "The residents, their families and the employees of the Youngstown Developmental Center deserve a fair and open process in deciding the future of the facility. While this looks promising for the future of the Developmental Center, the legislation still has a long way to go and I will be working hard to make sure it stays in the budget.”

Senate Democratic Leader Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) and Sen. Capri S. Cafaro (D-Hubbard) introduced a Senate bill that would establish a procedure similar to the one that is now included in the state budget.

“I am pleased to see that the House has included language in the budget similar to Senate Bill 62 recognizing the importance of making developmental disability center closures transparent,” said Sen. Cafaro. “The work done by Representative Lepore-Hagan and Representative Gerberry is much appreciated and I will work arduously to protect this language when it comes to the Senate.”

Lepore-Hagan recently joined Rep. Ron Gerberry (D-Austintown) to offer companion legislation to the Senate bill in the Ohio House.

“The center is so important to families and individuals in our community,” said Rep. Gerberry. “I am glad we were able to take a commonsense approach that could protect the quality of life for residents. I am hopeful that this provision will make it through the budget process and ultimately lead to a more thorough and transparent consideration of the importance of our community’s facility.”

The House Finance Committee will now hold additional public hearings, with a final vote by the full House expected at the end of next week. 

State Rep. Teresa Fedor Pushes For State Recognition Of Gender Equality In The Workplace
Resolution would recognize April 14 as "Equal Pay Day"
April 14, 2015

State Rep. Teresa Fedor today offered a resolution recognizing April 14th as Equal Pay Day in Ohio.  This date points out the inequality that exists in Ohio’s workforce and symbolizes how long, on average, a woman must work into a new year to match her male counterpart’s previous year’s earnings.  

“Bringing attention to paycheck inequality is critically important – we must honor equal pay for equal work,” said Fedor.  “If we allow the unfairness of wage equality to persist, we are shortchanging the full earning potential of Ohio’s families.

Women now comprise half the U.S. workforce and two-thirds of mothers bring home at least a quarter of their families’ earnings. In Ohio, women who are employed as full-time and year-round workers earn 77% of the wages that men in the state earn.  In Ohio women earned, on average, a salary of $35,984 compared to $46,789 for men – a difference of $10,805.  New research calculates that the pay inequity shortfall in women’s earnings is about $210,000 over a 35-year working life. For minorities and women of color, the wage gap looms even larger. Women continue to earn less than men even if they have similar educational levels and work in similar kinds of jobs – working just as hard but struggling to get ahead.

Although gender pay disparity has narrowed over time, U.S. Census Bureau statistics show stagnation in recent years. It will take 43 years, until 2058 for men and women to reach parity in pay if the pace of change in the annual earnings ratio continues at the same rate as it has since 1960. 

Rep. Alicia Reece To Attend National Civil Rights Convention
National Action Network hosts annual national convention
April 07, 2015

State Rep. and Ohio Legislative Black Caucus President Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati) will attend the National Action Network (NAN) convention in New York today where she will join other elected officials and civil rights activists for four days of panel discussions, workshops and events.

“I am proud to work with so many dedicated individuals through the National Action Network to bring together civil rights leaders in the pursuit of a new era of equal opportunity for all,” said Rep. Reece. “Whether it’s equal opportunity at the ballot box or in the justice system, the board room or the classroom, we are building a movement that recognizes our nation has much work remaining to build a more perfect union.”

National Action Network Founder and President Rev. Al Sharpton will kick off the annual convention with a ribbon cutting on Wednesday followed by a 2016 Presidential Election panel that morning. Panels and workshops will continue in the following days, addressing topics like, women in business, police brutality, crime, homophobia housing and healthcare.

Samaria Rice, mother of slain Ohio youth Tamir Rice, will speak on a victim-centered panel on justice and police, while other panels will include people like, presidential advisor Robert Gibbs, Dr. Ben Carson, actor Anthony Anderson, former RNC Chair Michael Steele, Senator Bernie Sanders and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.

Reece will present a “Woman of Power” award to a featured guest during Wednesday’s “When Women Win, We All Win” luncheon.

About Rep. Reece

During her speech at the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, Reece, a National Action Network board member, announced her Voter Bill of Rights effort— a constitutional amendment that would permanently enshrine voting rights in state constitutions across the nation, starting with the battleground state of Ohio.

Reece introduced John Crawford’s Law in response to Ohio police’s deadly shootings of John Crawford III and 12 year-old Tamir Rice. The Cincinnati lawmaker’s proposal would require toy guns to have brightly colored finishes or prominent fluorescent strips to distinguish them from real firearms.

Reece serves on Ohio’s Police-Community Relations Task Force, the panel tasked with developing strategies to help improve the relationship between law enforcement and communities in the wake of civil unrest across the nation following the police shootings of African American men.

During her time as city councilwoman, Reece played an integral role in brokering Cincinnati’s 2002 police-community relations collaborative agreement following the city’s 2001 riots sparked by the police shooting of 19-year-old Timothy Thomas.

Reece has been a strong advocate for voting rights since her days at Louisiana’s Grambling State University. She has fought for free, fair and accessible elections in Ohio and has championed numerous voting rights bills.

Reece testified before the Presidential Commission on Election Administration and the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission regarding best practices for Ohio’s elections and her proposal for a Voter Bill of Rights.



Today, Gov. Kasich signed the state’s $7 billion transportation budget bill, while striking a provision of the bill that would have made it harder for students to vote. Representative Dan Ramos (D-Lorain) was one of 13 Democrats who voted against the Senate changes to the transportation budget after voting for it weeks before.

“Weeks ago I voted for the House version of HB53: an effective, bi-partisan bill. Unfortunately, what came out of the Senate was undermining our fundamental freedom and most basic right in a democracy—the right to vote,” said Rep. Dan Ramos. “Our priority is to encourage talented students to stay in our state after graduation, and this sent the wrong message to those students.”

The vetoed budget provision would have required students who registered to vote in Ohio to surrender their driver’s license if it were from another state, and forced them to obtain an Ohio driver’s license and register their vehicle with the state. Failure to do so within 30 days resulted in a criminal offense. 

“This is a huge win for voter rights in this state, and I truly appreciate Governor Kasich’s action in favor of student voting rights,” Ramos added. “I believe the governor would not have vetoed this section of the bill if not for pressure from Democratic legislators, as well as the voices of countless students.”

The transportation budget now requires those who declare their Ohio residency to surrender their out of state license and re-register their vehicle within 30 days.

Gov. Kasich signed House Bill 53 into law earlier today in Columbus.



State Reps. Greta Johnson (D-Akron) and Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) today applauded the Governor’s veto of a student voter suppression provision in House Bill 53, the state transportation budget.

“The provision would have limited our constitutional right to vote,” said Rep. Johnson. “The majority was wrong to include it in the Senate- and conference-passed versions of the bill, so I am glad to see that it has been stripped out. This was the right – and constitutional - thing to do.”

The provision, added during Senate deliberations, would have required that anyone who registered to vote in Ohio surrender their driver’s license if it’s from another state, obtain an Ohio driver’s license and register their vehicle with the state. Failure to do so within 30 days would have resulted in a criminal offense.

"Having been an out of state college student I understand how difficult it is to maneuver voting and residency laws,” said Rep. Sykes. “I am very pleased that the Governor recognized this and vetoed language that would have made it harder for students to vote. Today the voices of students, voting rights groups and our caucus helped protect our most basic right in a democracy."

“If this politically-motivated stunt arises again in the General Assembly, I will continue to fight for the Constitution,” added Rep. Johnson. “There have been too many recent attacks on the keystone of our government, and, as someone who swore an oath to protect that document, I cannot stand idly by and watch the majority hack away at it. I will do everything in my power to ensure that these assaults are defeated again and again.”



State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) released the following statement in response to Governor Kasich’s line item veto of the harmful voting provision in the transportation budget:

“I am very pleased to see this harmful, ill-conceived provision come out of the transportation budget. Regrettably, our most fundamental democratic right has become a pawn in partisan games and even good bills get hijacked with schemes to stop people from voting. We never should have had this fight, especially in the transportation budget bill. Thank you for doing the right thing today, Governor Kasich.”

Alicia Reece Applauds Veto Of Student Voting Barrier
Says "cooler heads prevailed, state can focus on jobs"
April 01, 2015

Leading Democrat of the House transportation budget committee, Ohio Legislative Black Caucus President and State Rep. Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati) today applauded Gov. Kasich for using his veto authority to strike a line in the state’s transportation budget that would have made it harder for college students to vote in Ohio. The provision, inserted into the bill late by Senate Republicans, would have forced students from other states to get a driver’s license and register their vehicles in Ohio within 30 days of registering to vote.

“Thanks to the work of my Democratic colleagues, the governor, voting advocates and students around this state, cooler heads have prevailed and the controversial restriction that would have made it harder for students to vote has been removed from the this bill,” said Reece. “Instead of getting caught up in a legal fight over ballot access, we can continue to focus on jobs and economic development in our state. It’s the right thing to do.”

Reece and the Ohio House Democratic Caucus asked the governor to veto the voting restriction last week. Reece also penned a letter to the governor on her own last week, a copy of which can be seen below.

You can hear Reece’s comments during the House floor debate by clicking the video. 


March 26, 2015

Dear Governor Kasich,

I write to you today to formally request that you veto line Driver’s license and motor vehicle registration requirements for new Ohio residents (DPSCD73) of the House Bill 53 of the transportation budget.

The OLBC members have worked hard in a bipartisan way to produce a transportation budget that focuses on jobs which is consistent with our Prosperity Action Agenda 2015 that was unveiled on February 18th at our Day of Action. Our organization worked hard in the House and the Senate to eliminate hiring barriers and to assure equal access to employment of Ohioans and African-Americans who are already leading the state with a 15% unemployment rate.

While we were successful in our efforts, we are also concerned about a last minute and divisive provision that was added to the transportation budget that would target college voters without public hearings, cost analysis, and proper vetting. As indicated during our presentation for our Action Agenda to your cabinet this week, we recommend a line item veto of this provision of the transportation budget and ask that there be a moratorium on all new voting legislation until there is a Voter Bill of Rights Constitutional Amendment (signed by over 100,000 Ohioans) and is consistent with our Action Agenda.

It’s time to take politics out of voting and allow citizens to determine their voting rights and have them enshrined in our Ohio Constitution.

Thank you for your consideration.


Rep. Alicia Reece

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