Dems Unveil Clean Energy Jobs Act As Controversial Corporate Bailout Clears Committee
Bailout bill forces Ohio ratepayers to pay millions to bail out failing coal-burning plant in Indiana
May 23, 2019
 
 

House Democratic lawmakers today unveiled the Clean Energy Jobs Act, their proposal to protect existing jobs, grow new ones and invest in Ohio’s clean energy future. The announcement follows the latest changes to House Bill (HB) 6, which Republican lawmakers amended to bail out more corporations and all but eliminate energy efficiency and renewable energy standards in Ohio. The bill passed out of committee Thursday.


“HB 6 is a total flip-flop that started by calling itself a clean air bill and evolved to be a corporate welfare bill that bails out a failing Indiana coal plant,” said Assistant Minority Leader Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus).


HB 6 guts energy standards and raises monthly rates for consumers without any promise that current workers are protected.


The revised HB 6 also forces Ohio ratepayers to pay millions of dollars to bail out a failing coal-burning power plant in Indiana over the next decade.


Democrats detailed their own Clean Energy Jobs Act, which is already backed by more than two-dozen members.


“Democrats have been at the table working in good faith with Republicans to find common ground on a statewide energy policy that can have bipartisan support,” said Rep. Sedrick Denson (D-Cincinnati), joint sponsor of the Clean Energy Jobs Act and lead Democrat on the House Energy panel. “We remain committed to finding that common ground, but Republicans rejected our offers to compromise. We owe it to taxpayers to find a better solution that protects good paying jobs, grows new ones and moves our state forward. That’s why we’re introducing the Clean Energy Jobs Act.”


The Clean Energy Jobs Act would:


—Protect existing jobs and grows new ones in emerging sectors of the economy.


—Have neutral tax impacts on businesses and consumers.


—Strengthen Ohio’s clean energy future.


“My constituents didn’t send me to Columbus to preserve the status quo, but to fight for a cleaner future,” said Rep. Casey Weinstein (D-Hudson), the Clean Energy Jobs Act’s other joint sponsor. “Our bill does that.”


Democrats say the Ohio Clean Energy Jobs Act restores the promise of better jobs and brighter futures, giving the next generation of Ohio workers the opportunity to compete for the jobs of tomorrow.


“Republicans have refused attempts to make HB 6 better, and this latest version forces Ohio ratepayers to pay millions of dollars over the next decade to bail out a failing coal-burning power plant in the state of Indiana. It’s a bad deal that kills jobs, subsidizes failing out-of-state corporations and takes us backward,” said Rep. David Leland (D-Columbus). “We owe it to taxpayers to live up to our promise that we work for them. Our Ohio Clean Energy Jobs Act invests in a framework for the future that protects existing jobs, grows new ones and moves Ohio forward toward a clean energy economy.”


Republicans on the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee Thursday failed to include any of the Democratic provisions in the final version of HB 6, passing it out of committee without Democratic support.

 
 
  
 
Corporate Energy Bailout A Bad Deal For Ohio, Says Leland
HB 6 update bails out big business at expense of taxpayers
May 22, 2019
 
 

State Rep. David Leland (D-Columbus) today issued a statement following the latest changes to House Bill (HB) 6, which Republican lawmakers amended to bail out more corporations and all but eliminate energy efficiency and renewable energy standards in Ohio.


“Democrats came to the table in good faith ready to fight for workers, consumers and our clean energy future. Instead, this misguided bill has gone from bad to worse, bailing out more corporations at the expense of working people and the environment. It’s a bad deal for workers, for consumers and for Ohio.


“We owe it to taxpayers to live up to our promise that we work for them—not for the big businesses and corporate lobbyists. We cannot stand by as our clean energy future is decimated while big corporations get another handout.”

 
 
  
 
Dems Unveil Commonsense Solutions To Keep Kids And Communities Safe
Say Republicans are offering solutions in search of a problem
May 22, 2019
 
 

Ohio House Democratic lawmakers today announced a number of proposals, including safe storage, red-flag and background check laws, commonsense measures they say will better keep kids and communities safe. The package comes amid debate on House Bill (HB) 178, controversial legislation Democrats say is a solution in search of a problem.


“The answer to gun violence is not simply more guns.  The answer is responsible gun ownership with laws that protect the gun owner and non-gun owner alike,” said Rep. Adam Miller (D-Columbus), the lead Democrat on the House panel hearing HB 178. “If HB 178 passes it will be easier to own a concealed weapon than it is to register to vote. Our children and our law enforcement community deserve better.”


HB 178 would allow anyone aged 21 or older to carry a concealed weapon without a license, without having to meet current concealed carry training requirements and without having to inform police of concealed weapons during a traffic stop.


Some two-thirds of Ohioans say they are worried about the threat of gun violence in their community, at their church or in their child’s school.


Democrats’ package includes the Child Safety Protection Act, which would require firearms to be stored safely and securely out of the reach of minors. A 2018 study by the Giffords Law Center found that 4.6 million American minors live in homes with at least one loaded, unlocked firearm.


“As a concealed carry permit holder myself, I support and respect the right to responsibly bear arms,” said Rep. Jessica E. Miranda (D-Forest Park). “Our thoughts and prayers are not enough. It’s time to act to pass commonsense measures to keep kids and communities safe.”


Under the proposed law, gun owners with children in their household would be required to keep firearms in safe storage, equipped with a tamper-resistant lock or other safety devices that render the weapon inaccessible or inoperable by a minor.


Democrats also announced their version of a red-flag law, allowing temporary court-approved removal of guns from individuals at risk of violence to themselves or others.


“Thousands of students, moms and families across Ohio have stood up to say they want safer schools and safer communities,” said Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland), one of the bill’s joint sponsors. “Instituting a commonsense red flag law is a proven, effective solution to reduce gun violence and make our schools, homes and communities safer.”


“Gun violence is a public health crisis. We owe it to our constituents to aggressively pursue these commonsense solutions that reduce the risk of gun injury and death,” said Rep. Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington), the red-flag bill’s other joint sponsor. “Otherwise, we are not delivering on our promise to families that you can live, work, go to school and retire in Ohio with safety and security.”


The package also includes a bill requiring background checks for all gun purchases.


“Closing background check loopholes that allows minors, felons, and domestic abusers to have easy access to guns is common sense as far as I’m concerned. The vast majority of Ohioans support expanding background checks, which have proven to reduce violent crime and deter self-harm,” said Rep. Phil Robinson (D-Solon), who plans to sponsor the bill. “The gun lobby and their allies are trying to force Ohio to turn its back on the thousands of students, moms, and families who want gun safety—not more gun violence.”


Democrats’ commonsense safety proposals follow the recent announcement of the Ohio Promise, Democrat’s legislative agenda to restore the state’s promise of better lives and brighter futures for all Ohioans.


Here is what other Democratic lawmakers are saying about commonsense gun safety:


“According to a March 2018 Quinnipiac University poll, 97 percent of American voters support background checks. States with universal background check requirements have 53 percent fewer firearm suicides per capita than states without these laws. In the last 30 days, I have heard from diverse local constituent groups, such as the Cuyahoga County Police Chiefs Association and the Cleveland chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women asking Columbus to pass commonsense laws on gun safety. Ohio should do better for its citizens.” –Minority Whip Rep. Kent Smith (D-Euclid)


"I am against House Bill 178. How can we explain to the family of homicide firearm victims that we passed a bill for no background check for guns and no concealed carry weapon class requirement? How can we make sure that police have the necessary information that the person they pulled over has a concealed carry weapon or not? We will not be able to do either if HB 178 passes. We must kill HB 178 before this becomes laws and kills someone in our family—that is how we keep Ohio's Promise.” –Rep. Juanita Brent (D-Cleveland)


“Last year, more than 40,000 Americans lost their lives to gun violence. Solutions to prevent gun violence exist—we just need the courage to implement them. We can and must do better to enact commonsense measures to keep our children safe.”–Rep. Brigid Kelly (D-Cincinnati).


“I am in full support of legislation that promotes commonsense gun safety.  Having a red flag law will allow us to protect our loved ones when they are most vulnerable to harming themselves. We don’t let our friends drive drunk, so why would we let our family members or close friends have easy access to a gun when they are severely depressed? These commonsense measures are a commitment to Ohio communities and will protect families from tragic loss of loved ones.”–Rep. Mary Lightbody (D-Westerville)


"As a safety instructor in the Navy, I understood the importance of taking common sense steps to protect ourselves and families. Widespread Common Sense Gun Safety laws are essential for protecting our children, law enforcement, and communities." –Rep. Lisa Sobecki (D-Toledo)


“This common sense evidence-based approach will save lives.  It is critical that we protect and support our children.” –Rep. Beth Liston (D-Dublin)


“We owe it to our constituents to do what we can to keep our children and all Ohioans safe from gun violence. Commonsense safety measures like these, along with closing the gun show loophole and requiring universal background checks, will help us restore the promise of stronger neighborhoods and communities where you can feel safe raising a family.” –Rep. Erica Crawley (D-Columbus) 


“It is far too common that I hear of lives lost to gun violence in my district. As legislators, it is our duty to make our state a safer place to live, work and raise a family. We cannot continue to stand by as innocent people die because of a lack of commonsense gun safety measures. It is my hope that with a renewed focus on bipartisanship, we can come together to work on these issues to deliver real results to Ohioans.” –Rep. Thomas West (D-Canton)


"We owe it to Ohio's families and children to ensure that those exercising their second amendment rights are doing so responsibly. The vast majority of Ohioans agree that anyone carrying a deadly firearm should be able to pass a background check and be properly trained. The measures brought forward today by my Democratic colleagues are straightforward steps towards a safer Ohio." - Rep. Joe Miller (D-Amherst)

 
 
  
 
Ohio Effort To Make All Rape And Assault Illegal Undercut By Weak GOP Proposal
House Democrats to continue pushing for end of statute of limitations for rape and assault
May 20, 2019
 
 

State Reps. Lisa Sobecki (D-Toledo) and state Rep. Tavia Galonski (D-Akron) today criticized a new Republican bill that fails to outlaw all instances of rape and assault in Ohio, regardless of when they occurred.


Instead, new legislation from Statehouse Republicans, House Bill 249, narrowly ends the statute of limitations for civil claims relating to sexual misconduct by physicians of land grant universities between the years of 1978-2000, a carve-out specially tailored to the more than 150 men who claim they were sexually assaulted by Dr. Richard Strauss while attending The Ohio State University 19 or more years ago.


“Rape and sexual assault destroy lives and take a part of victims’ freedom and individual liberty that they can never get back,” said Sobecki and Galonski in a joint statement. “We’re proud to continue leading the fight to ensure all victims of rape and sexual assault receive justice. We’re disappointed, but not surprised, that this bill misses that mark so terribly by failing to protect the many other Ohioans around our state who are equally deserving of justice.”


Since at least 2015, House Democratic lawmakers in Ohio have been pushing to end the statute of limitations for criminal and civil proceedings on rape and sexual assault cases entirely. Democrats offered an amendment to do so recently to the state’s latest near-total abortion ban, but faced stiff opposition from House Republicans – including Rep. Brett Hillyer (R-Uhrichsville) the author of HB 249 – who voted 58 to 38 to kill the proposed law change.


“This sends the wrong message to victims of rape and sexual assault,” the Democratic lawmakers added. “This says some victims are more important than others. It says some rapes and sexual assaults don’t matter.”


Galonski has been working to garner bipartisan support for forthcoming legislation which would also outlaw marital rape in Ohio.


 


 


 


 

 
 
  
 
Reps. Russo, Weinstein Unveil "Madeline's Law" Supporting Early Intervention For Hearing Impaired
HB 243 would require health insurance coverage of hearing aids for children
May 15, 2019
 
 

 State Reps. Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) and Casey Weinstein (D-Hudson) recently introduced House Bill (HB) 243 titled “Madeline’s Law”, new legislation with bipartisan support that requires Ohio insurance companies to cover a portion of the cost of hearing aids for children.


“For young children with hearing loss, early intervention is crucial for speech and language development,” said Rep. Russo. “This legislation supports early intervention by ensuring families have the insurance coverage necessary to afford hearing aids for their children.”


Under current Ohio law, hearing aids are often considered a “cosmetic device” like plastic surgery or liposuction, exempting them from health insurance benefit coverage. Modeled after similar legislation in Kentucky and 22 other states, HB 243 would require coverage for hearing aids up to $1,400 every 36 months for individuals up to 22 years of age who are insured.


“When constituents approached me with their struggles to afford their young daughter’s hearing aids due to the lack of coverage, I knew this was something that had to be addressed head on,” said Rep. Weinstein. “The legislature has an obligation to ensure the success of future generations, regardless of any pre-existing conditions, and we are currently failing to do that for hearing-impaired kids here in Ohio.”


Research shows that detection and intervention for hearing loss prior to six months of age results in significantly better outcomes than intervention later in life. As a result, newborn hearing screening has become universal in hospitals across the United States, and children with hearing loss are being identified and treated at much younger ages.


By the time a child with hearing loss graduates high school, the Governmental Policy Group reports more than $400,000 per child can be saved in special education costs if the child is identified early and provided appropriate medical, audio-logical and educational services. In addition, without healthcare insurance coverage, hearing aids can cost anywhere between $1,000 and $6,000 in out of pocket expenses.

 
 
  
 
"Stunt Committee Hearing" On Nuclear Bailout Bill Collapses
Democratic members slam "rigged process," promote all-of-the-above energy strategy
May 15, 2019
 
 

Democratic members of the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee today released a joint statement after Republicans running the committee banned questions from the elected officials in a failed effort to promote partisan legislation – House Bill 6 – designed to bailout one energy company in the state at expense to taxpayers.


“Taxpayers deserve an open and transparent legislative process, especially when they’re being asked to bailout an energy company. Instead, today, elected officials were silenced and debate was restricted in favor of a rigged process with a predetermined outcome to cast House Bill 6 in the best public light possible – no matter what the cost. We won’t take part in a political sideshow or stunt committee hearing. The people we represent expect us to ask tough questions, have honest debate and make tough decisions at their Statehouse,” the Democratic Committee Members said.


Democratic members are pushing for more debate that incorporates elements of their own Clean Energy Jobs Plan, an all-of-the-above statewide energy strategy that would save jobs at Ohio’s nuclear power facilities while reducing rates for consumers and growing jobs in emerging sectors of the economy.


Democratic members on the committee include:


Ranking Member Sedrick Denson (D-Cincinnati)


Assistant Democratic Leader Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus)


Energy Subcommittee Co-Chair Mike O’Brien (D-Warren)


Rep. David Leland (D-Columbus)


Rep. Casey Weinstein (D-Hudson)

 
 
  

State Reps. Brigid Kelly (D-Cincinnati) and Jessica Miranda (D-Forest Park) this week introduced the Child Access Prevention law in the Ohio House, commonsense gun safety legislation to ensure firearms are stored safely and securely out of the reach of minors.  


“Last year, more than 40,000 Americans lost their lives to gun violence. Solutions to prevent gun violence exist—we just need the courage to implement them,” said Rep. Kelly. “With yet another school shooting this week, we can and must do better to enact commonsense measures to keep our children safe.”


According to the Giffords Law Center, a 2018 study found that 4.6 million American minors live in homes with at least one loaded, unlocked firearm. Every day, 22 children are shot in the U.S., and 3 million children are directly exposed to gun violence each year. In a separate study of school shootings, in 65 percent of cases, the attacker used a firearm from either their own home or that of a relative.


“As a concealed carry permit holder myself, I support the right to responsibly bear arms, but join the majority of Ohioans who want to see more commonsense gun safety measures to keep children and families safe,” said Rep. Miranda. “This bill is an essential step to prevent the type of school shootings that have become far too familiar in our country. We are past the time for thoughts and prayers. This crisis demands action.”


Under the proposed law, gun owners with children in their household would be required to keep firearms in safe storage, equipped with a tamper-resistant lock or other safety devices that render the weapon inaccessible or inoperable by a minor.


After receiving a bill number, the Child Access Prevention law will be assigned to a committee for consideration.

 
 
  
 
Democratic Priorities Shape Budget As Bill Clears Ohio House
Bill includes tax cut for working people and families
May 09, 2019
 
 

House Democratic lawmakers today voted in favor of the state budget, House Bill 166, which includes a number of key Democratic priorities, including a significant tax cut for working people and families.


“I am proud of our Democratic members and their work to make this budget a more realistic blueprint for our state’s future by including a number of our key priorities,” said Democratic Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron). “Democrats were able to deliver real results for taxpayers by closing some costly tax loopholes and passing a working families tax cut, which will put money back in the pockets of everyday Ohioans. We kept our promise to the taxpayers of Ohio—we work for you.”


The budget includes historic tax cuts for working people and families, reducing the middle two income tax brackets and eliminating the bottom two altogether.


“We have an obligation to taxpayers to pass a fiscally responsible budget, and Democratic changes made this a balanced plan that invests in our future,” said Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire), the lead Democrat on the House budget panel. “Democrats were able to move this budget in the right direction to benefit small businesses, working people and families.”


Long-held Democratic priorities of closing tax loopholes, like lowering the LLC loophole threshold from $250,000 to $100,000 and eliminating the corporate jet timeshare exemption, also made it into the budget. In addition, lawmakers included a provision to level the playing field for Ohio small businesses by administering online-sales tax collection for large corporations.


Democrats fought to remove a controversial, GOP-backed provision to limit healthcare access for low-income Ohioans that would have charged monthly premiums for Medicaid coverage, a practice that would have jeopardized care for thousands of Ohioans.


“The budget is a promise for a better, more secure future, and the work we were able to do to invest in working people and communities is a step in the right direction,” said Assistant Minority Whip Rep. Paula Hicks-Hudson (D-Toledo). “Good government comes through compromise, and the only way we can keep our promise to taxpayers and restore the promise of better lives and brighter futures is by working together.”


Additional key Democratic amendments added to the budget include making college more affordable for low-income students by increasing funding for the Ohio College Opportunity Grant.


The bill also includes provisions outlined in recently-passed HB 154, which would end controversial state takeovers and restore control to local school districts.


A $32 million increase in home visitation funding to combat infant mortality and a minimum wage increase for direct service employees were also included.


“Improving access to healthcare and investing in children’s services, education and workers begins to restore Ohio’s promise as a place where people want to move again to find a good job, go to school and raise a family,” said Rep. Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington). “This budget shows that Democrats are here, working together to deliver real results for Ohio taxpayers.”


The bipartisan bill passed the House and now heads to the state Senate for further consideration. 


Here is what other Democratic lawmakers are saying:


“In my first two terms, I voted no on the state budget because it took Ohio in the wrong direction. Today, I am happy to vote yes on the bipartisan FY 2020-2021 budget. This budget cuts taxes for those who need it the most, it takes steps to protect Lake Erie with sustained funds, it adds critical investment in higher education to make college more affordable, and it closes ineffective and expensive tax loopholes. This budget moves Ohio forward and that’s a great change.” –Minority Whip Rep. Kent Smith (D-Euclid)


“Being a member of the finance committee, I was a part of the process where Democrats focused on having a budget that invests in working people and families versus the historic cuts to local communities that has been occurring over the past decade. While this budget is not perfect, it shows real promise that we are working together to deliver real results for all Ohioans, not just a select few.” –Rep. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland)


“I campaigned as a champion of the environment for Ohio families. So I’m proud of the historic investment we are making in water quality in this budget.” –Rep. Casey Weinstein (D-Hudson)


“Throughout my campaign I promised that I would work along with my colleagues in the House to improve access to quality education, affordable health care, and jobs.  The budget we passed today includes many key Democratic priorities, including lower state income taxes for those who earn the least, better jobs, stronger schools, more support for pre-schools, and healthier Ohioans. There is more work to be done, but our voices are being heard and progress is being made.” –Rep. Mary Lightbody (D-Westerville)


“This budget pairs tax cuts for working families with common sense tax loophole closures. Although there is still work to be done, I am proud of my Democratic colleagues who fought for this course correction to deliver results for people in Ohio.” –Rep. Beth Liston (D-Dublin)


“While real progress was made in this budget, the reality is that it doesn’t go far enough to make up for a decade of Republican budget cuts and tax giveaways to millionaires and corporations. But restoring some tax fairness by walking back a tax system rigged against working people puts money back in the pockets of everyday Ohioans, giving them more opportunity for a better life.” –Rep. Brigid Kelly (D-Cincinnati)


“A wise man once told me that ‘the state budget process was a process of allocating pain.’ So I went in ready for the reality. While real progress was made in this budget, the reality is that it doesn’t go far enough to make up for a decade of Republican budget cuts and tax giveaways to millionaires and corporations. We have an immense amount of work to do to restore the promise made to Ohioans—that you can work hard and get ahead. I will continue to fight for the hard working families while ensuring the backbone of our economy, small business owners, continue to thrive.” –Rep. Jessica Miranda (D-Forest Park)


"This budget is the embodiment of the bipartisan coalition we forged in the House earlier this year. Our coalition stands as a model of what government should and can be –a cooperative collection of diverse views that finds common ground and holds itself accountable to the people we represent." –Rep. David Leland (D-Cincinnati)


“We spent long hours in and out of Finance Committee to produce a budget that is balanced and benefits all Ohioans. The additional funding to reduce infant mortality, funding for domestic violence programs, and the creation of the Pregnancy Associated Mortality Review Board are necessary additions to ensure men, women, and families have the resources to thrive and not just survive. As we move forward in the General Assembly, I hope we continue to have conversations around the issues brought to light during the budget process and implement effective legislation.” –Rep. Erica Crawley (D-Columbus)


“Government needs to keep its promise to all Ohioans by facilitating their ability to get ahead.  Our job with the budget is to help increase the quality of lives for our constituents.” –Rep. Tavia Galonski (D-Akron)


“If I were a member of the Republican Caucus, I’d thank the Democrats for offering amendments to the budget that help Ohioans, and for fighting harmful amendments that their members offered so that their members could stand up on the House floor today and speak positively about a budget bill that includes middle and lower income tax cuts, the creation of the Pregnancy Mortality Review Board, and more support for children in foster care. As a Democrat, I’d like to thank my colleagues, our staff and our leadership for all of their diligence, as we worked together to restore the Ohio Promise throughout the budget, and finally begin to move legislative investments in the right direction.” –Rep. Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights).


“Our Democratic members have fought tirelessly to strengthen this budget and renew Ohio’s promise as an opportunity state. While there are still areas that need improvement, it includes key provisions that invest in the children of our state and their education. That starts with ending the disastrous state takeovers of public schools that have wreaked havoc in places like Lorain. The ideas we brought forward with HB 154 have been incorporated, restoring local control over schools and putting in place a process for bottom up, building-based school improvement.” –Rep. Joe Miller (D-Amherst)


“Today’s budget vote was a step in the right direction especially for education and foster care but we still have a long way to go. I look forward to having those continual conservations regarding the Cupp-Patterson school funding plan and other issues. It is my hope we continue to improve our laws to help spread the Ohio Promise for everyone.” –Rep. Lisa Sobecki (D-Toledo)


“This budget is about putting people first. I was happy to see a pay increase for direct service providers serving our most vulnerable individuals, more transparency in drug pricing, and tax relief for working families. Although we have invested in increased services to children and families, there are still significant barriers to access services looming. When we work together, we can achieve real results for Ohioans. ”—Rep. Thomas West (D-Canton)


“The passing of the Operating Budget moves us one step closer to fulfilling Ohio’s Promise to the people of Ohio. We removed the academic distress commission to increase the local voice in our school districts. To ensure Ohio has more healthy babies make it past their first birthday, we added $2M to reduce infant mortality and we developed a Pregnancy Association Mortality Review Board to make sure the mothers concerns are addressed first. Also, we ensured affordability of a college degree by freezing tuition cost to incoming freshman. We doubled the amount of funding for foster care to support our children and those that take care of them. Provided the biggest tax break to those in the bottom three tax brackets ($22,250 or less from tax) to help boost the economy and lowered the business income tax deductions to $100,000 (from $250,000). This is how we help keep Ohio’s Promise!” –Rep. Juanita Brent (D-Cleveland)


 

 
 
  
 
Ohio Redistricting Task Force Co-Chair Sykes Looks To Next Steps For Fair Districts
Calls preliminary meeting on fair Districts in Ohio following court ruling, consensus on rigged, partisan Districts
May 08, 2019
 
 

House Democratic Leader and Legislative Taskforce on Redistricting Co-Chair Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) today detailed next steps that the Task Force, co-chaired by Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina), must take to “consider the recent Court decision and, more importantly, to take necessary steps to ensure Ohio is taking the lead on our own fair districts, regardless of the Court’s decision on matters pending before it and outcomes in other states or courts,” she wrote in a letter* to Obhof.


“Time and again, Ohio voters have rejected Ohio’s districts as rigged—and the courts agree,” said Leader Sykes. “It is our duty, as legislative leaders and Redistricting Task Force co-chairs, to do the work that is in front of us, and that means drawing new maps that are fair, constitutional and give every Ohio voter the opportunity to have their voice heard and vote counted.”


The Ohio Legislative Task Force on Redistricting, Reapportionment, and Demographic Research is charged with providing assistance to the Ohio legislature to help it fulfill its duty to “establish districts for the election of representatives to congress.” The body receives some $5 million in state funding and is authorized to hire and contract for data and mapmaking services needed to draw fair districts, in addition to holding public meetings and hearings.


“It doesn’t matter what comes out of the court ruling because we know what the right thing to do is, and we know what our job as elected officials is – to be responsive to the will of the people and to ensure their voice matters and their vote counts,” said Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland) said in a news briefing with the press.


In the letter to Obhof, Sykes proposed the body convene a meeting Monday, May 13 to consider to court’s decision:


“As co-chair of the Legislative Task Force on Redistricting, Reapportionment, and Demographic Research, I propose that the Task Force convene in Statehouse Room 313 on Monday, May 13, at 9:00 a.m. to consider the recent Court decision and, more importantly, to take necessary steps to ensure Ohio is taking the lead on our own fair districts, regardless of the Court’s decision on matters pending before it and outcomes in other states or courts.”


*Read the letter below:


May 8, 2019


Senator Larry Obhof
Statehouse
1 Capitol Square, 2nd Floor
Columbus, OH 43215


Dear President Obhof:


As co-chair of the Legislative Task Force on Redistricting, Reapportionment, and Demographic Research, I propose that the Task Force convene in Statehouse Room 313 on Monday, May 13, at 9:00 a.m. to consider the recent Court decision and, more importantly, to take necessary steps to ensure Ohio is taking the lead on our own fair districts, regardless of the Court’s decision on matters pending before it and outcomes in other states or courts.



As outlined in statute, it is the Task Force’s duty, and ours as co-chairs, to ensure the legislature has the resources it needs to carry out all redistricting-related duties, including preparing for the next decennial redistricting process as well as responding appropriately to court decisions, like the one issued May 3, ordering creation of new, fair congressional districts.


It is disappointing that Defendants in this case—legislative leaders and Secretary of State LaRose—chose to go against the will of the voters by appealing the Court’s order. Regardless, it would be a dereliction of duty for the legislature to do nothing while waiting for federal judicial intervention or letting other states’ issues decide our future in Ohio.


The Task Force’s important bipartisan work is underscored by the passage of not one, but two reform measures, where Ohio voters overwhelmingly called for more bipartisanship, more transparency, and fair maps to replace Ohio’s current rigged districts.


The Task Force has unfinished business before it now, including bringing Ohio’s congressional districts into compliance as well as ensuring state liaisons have the tools and resources they need to ensure we collect the most accurate demographic data from the next census. As it stands, legislative software licenses are expired, equipment is outdated and liaisons are currently working without pay.


The Legislative Task Force needs to hold a public meeting to do the work it is required to do. Please confirm your availability so we can provide the public with adequate notice of the meeting.


Thank you for your time.


Respectfully,


Emilia Strong Sykes
Minority Leader
Ohio House District 34

 
 
  
 
Legislative Leaders Urge GOP Officials To Put Partisanship Aside, Respect Will Of Ohio Voters
Ask statewide GOP officials to reject court appeal, draw new nonpartisan maps
May 03, 2019
 
 

House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) and Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights) today urged Ohio GOP officials to accept the will of Ohio voters and reject congressional redistricting court appeals motivated by maintaining partisan, political control over the next election cycle.


“Whether or not our current congressional map is unfair and unconstitutional is not in dispute. Virtually no one believes it to be a fair map. The egregiously gerrymandered districts are what drove the voters to approve a reform measure that would eliminate the current mapmaking process and ensure fairer district lines. The Court has just given us the opportunity to start a little sooner than we expected,” the leaders wrote in a letter to GOP officials.


State officials have until June 14, 2019 to put new congressional districts in place after the federal courts today struck down Ohio’s existing congressional district map as unconstitutional.


“We hope we can work together with the fairness, transparency and bipartisanship that we promised Ohioans when we asked them to vote on a congressional redistricting proposal. The voters overwhelmingly approved this measure we crafted. They want fair maps. Appealing this decision would fly in the face of the voters’ clear demands,” the leaders continued.

 

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Dems Unveil Clean Energy Jobs Act As Controversial Corporate Bailout Clears Committee

 

House Democratic lawmakers today unveiled the Clean Energy Jobs Act, their proposal to protect existing jobs, grow new ones and invest in Ohio’s clean energy future. The announcement follows the latest changes to House Bill (HB) 6, which Republican lawmakers amended to bail out more corporations and all but eliminate energy efficiency and renewable energy standards in Ohio. The bill passed out of committee Thursday.



 
 

Dems Unveil Commonsense Solutions To Keep Kids And Communities Safe

 

Ohio House Democratic lawmakers today announced a number of proposals, including safe storage, red-flag and background check laws, commonsense measures they say will better keep kids and communities safe. The package comes amid debate on House Bill (HB) 178, controversial legislation Democrats say is a solution in search of a problem. 



 
 

Democratic Priorities Shape Budget As Bill Clears Ohio House

 

House Democratic lawmakers today voted in favor of the state budget, House Bill 166, which includes a number of key Democratic priorities, including a significant tax cut for working people and families. 



 
 

House Dems Lead Bipartisan Effort To End School Takeovers, Restore Local Control

 

House Democrats today announced the House passage of House Bill (HB) 154, a bipartisan effort to end state takeovers of local schools and restore control to local education officials. The bill comes amid questions of accountability, transparency and lackluster results from district takeovers in Youngstown, Lorain and East Cleveland.