State Rep. David Leland (D-Columbus) today announced that he will soon introduce legislation to help cities and local law enforcement officials shutter dangerous properties with a history of violence.
The need for a law change was brought to Rep. Leland’s attention by the Columbus City Attorney’s office, the Columbus Police Department and community activists, who are spearheading efforts to shut down nuisance properties in the Northland region of Columbus.
“This bill will give police officers and code enforcement officials across the State of Ohio one additional tool to fight crime,” said Rep. Leland. “No one should have to live in fear because of dangerous activity taking place next door. It will make our communities stronger and safer."
Current law doesn't allow for properties to be shuttered because of a pattern of violence—they must mainly have a history of prostitution or illegal drug or alcohol sales before the courts can take action.
Leland’s proposal would change the definition of “nuisance” in Ohio law to include places where violent offences occur.
The legislation is supported by the Ohio Fraternal Order of Police.
Democratic members of the House’s budget panel today discussed their priorities for the upcoming state budget. Details of the governor’s version of the state budget are expected to be available Monday, Feb. 2.
The Democratic representatives said their primary goal is to better position the state to compete for quality jobs through investments in education, access to healthcare, community development and a more targeted approach on taxes.
“We are really focused on building opportunity so every Ohioan has a fair shot at a higher quality of life,” said Rep. Driehaus. “In the past, the state has walked away from that with complicated policies that don’t make sense for the working families and small businesses that drive demand and innovation in our economy.”
Democrats said a better economic climate would be achieved with a budget that prioritizes fairer tax policies. They say there is a growing disparity between the taxes paid by the state’s wealthiest and middle class. A recent study by the nonpartisan think tank Policy Matters Ohio shows middle class Ohioans pay roughly 10.6 percent of their income in taxes, while people making $350,000 or more pay, on average, just 7 percent.
The committee members said the state must stop shifting taxes through untargeted cuts to the income tax, which has only increased the sales tax, property taxes at the local level and taxes on Ohio businesses in the past.
“Instead of middle and working class Ohioans paying an unfair share of their income in state and local taxes, we need to be rewarding hard work through fair tax policies to strengthen families and businesses that grow our economy,” said Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire). “Families should have time to sit around the dinner table, talk about their day and plan for the future— not less time at home because mom and dad need to work two jobs to just keep up with the cost of living.”
To attract the jobs of the future, Democrats said long-term, sustainable investments in education are necessary. The group pointed to over half-a billion dollars cut from schools in the past four years and the tax shifting that takes place when local homeowners are asked to make up shortfalls through levy increases. Democrats also called for charter school reform to ensure taxpayer dollars are going to community schools have the same standards as public schools.
“We need to create opportunity and attract businesses of the new economy by investing in our children and workers to make sure they get the best education in the best schools to compete for jobs of the future,” said Rep. Dan Ramos (D-Lorain). “We need to provide an equal opportunity framework for children from all backgrounds to not only succeed, but to excel.”
Rep. Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati) said meaningful economic growth is also tied to robust, sustainable communities. The lawmaker said communities have not gotten their fair share of tax revenues they send to the state and that the consequences of that have been real. One-third of Ohio communities lack the recommended level of budget reserves and communities have been forced to cut some 41,000 jobs of police officers, essential personnel and firefighters, according to Policy Matters Ohio.
“It seems like there’s been an inside the beltway mentality coming from Columbus, where folks making decisions forget about sending the tax dollars they collect from our communities back home,” said Rep. Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati). “Rebuilding our communities will help drive business growth, consumer confidence and quality jobs in every corner of our state, not just the Columbus metropolitan area.”
Finally, the Democratic representatives called for supporting access to healthcare for uninsured working Ohioans. Citing the half-a million more Ohioans and tens of thousands of veterans with increased access to healthcare since 2013, the group said healthcare access should be a top budget priority.
“Quality, preventive healthcare is critical to a higher quality of life,” said Rep. Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood). “Supporting access to healthcare for the uninsured means Ohioans can be more productive at work, advance their careers and focus on their families.”
In response to a state released report today looking at statewide community school attendance, State Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) announced she will reintroduce a bill to establish a committee to study the effectiveness of community schools and community school regulations.
“So many parents, teachers, kids and education advocates for so many years have been sounding the warning siren about our state’s wasteful spending on ineffective charter schools,” said Fedor. “Now, it looks like the political will in Columbus is finally starting to catch up with the reforms that are necessary to make sure our children get the best education in the best schools to prepare them for success.”
In the report, Auditor Dave Yost critiqued several aspects of current charter school laws and noted “unusually high” discrepancies between the number of students in school and the number reported to the state. At least seven charter schools that state reviewed had enrollment levels 34 percent to 93 percent less than what was reported to the state for funding purposes.
“At its worst this looks like systemic fraud and abuse from a group of charter schools, and at its best this is reflection of the state’s long-term failure to hold charter schools accountable,” Fedor added. “Either way, taxpayers and our children are being robbed. I’ll be pushing for a collective effort to fix this mess once and for all.”
Fedor, a former public school teacher, said she wants to see a state study commission in place, one that would review the effectiveness of charter school regulations and issue findings to the legislature and governor.
Fedor also said that when the state first embraced charter schools in 1997, the authorizing law came with the condition that a review would help guide what was being billed at the time as an “experiment” by charter proponents.
Such a review or study has yet to take place.
An aging bridge that was being prepared for controlled demolition unexpectedly collapsed on Monday, killing a construction worker and injuring a truck driver. The Hopple Street bridge collapsed around 10:30 p.m. when a section being prepped crumbled and fell onto I-75 below.
State Representative Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati) issued the following statement in response to the incident:
“Our hearts and prayers go out to the families who have been affected by this tragedy. We now need answers as to how this happened and what the state can do to prevent something so tragic from happening again. As the ranking member of the transportation finance committee, I am committed to ensuring a full investigation takes place to detail the cause of the collapse and to ensure we have every possible protocol in place to protect workers and the public.”
Each January, Americans across the nation celebrate the life and legacy of civil rights pioneer Martin Luther King, Jr. A fierce advocate for social change, Dr. King led a passionate fight against segregation and racism throughout the United States during the 1960s. Dr. King held a deep-rooted desire for social justice and equality among all Americans, no matter their race. He possessed qualities of grace and leadership during one of the most transformative periods in American history. He pushed his followers to speak out against injustice and promote change through acts of peaceful resistance.
Dr. King inspired Americans through his speeches, his marches, and his writing. The March on Washington and his “I Have a Dream” speech forever live in our memories as the enduring legacy of Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement.
Dr. King believed in an America where opportunity is bestowed upon all her citizens, regardless of their background. He challenged the status quo and fought so that no one in America should have to give up on his or her dream for lack of opportunity. Dr. King believed that opportunity was the hallmark of the American Dream and without it tyranny prevailed. For too long, people of color were denied this fundamental right. Thanks to the efforts of Dr. King and other civil rights pioneers, much has changed.
Despite significant progress, more needs to be done to secure equality for all Ohioans. We honor Dr. King’s legacy when we stand up to unjust laws or systems of oppression that make it hard for people to find work, access healthcare and education, and work to end violence in their neighborhoods. We carry on the work Dr. King started when we speak out against injustice and oppression.
Even after his death, Dr. King’s legacy lives on in the work we do to make our communities better places to live, work, and raise our kids.
State Rep. Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood) today issued the following statement in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to rule on marriage equality:
“I join all fair minded Ohioans in applauding today's decision by the Supreme Court of The United States to hear all cases from the 6th Circuit Court, which includes Ohio’s case. I am ever hopeful of a time in our future when all couples will have the right to marry so that families like mine have the opportunity to experience the full depth and breadth of constitutional equality.”
State Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) hosted the Sixth Annual Human Trafficking Awareness Day today at the Ohio Statehouse. Lawmakers, law enforcement officials, advocates and survivors from all over the nation gathered for a day of discussion on ways to raise awareness and fight back against human trafficking in Ohio.
Here is what House lawmakers are saying about Ohio’s fight against human trafficking:
“Ohio has made great strides in recent years to combat human trafficking, thanks to the leadership of Teresa Fedor, state officials and so many advocates and survivors. And with that progress, there is still the sense of urgency that more work must be done to protect our children and end this modern-day slavery.
“As the father of an 18 year-old daughter, I really can’t express how much the good work of so many people has moved me on a personal level. From the bottom of my heart, I thank all the advocates and activists on the front lines of this fight. They are truly doing God’s work.” —House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton)
“The progress our state has made in the fight against human trafficking has been inspiring, and I am proud to stand with State Rep. Teresa Fedor, who has been on the front lines of that fight. We certainly have more work to do, but through increased education and awareness, our state is in a much better position today than we have been in the past. We must continue to do everything in our power to protect our state’s women and children from the evil that is human trafficking.” —Assistant Democratic Whip Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood)
“Modern day slavery is hard to imagine for a lot of people, but it exists in Ohio and the United States. Representative Fedor has been a champion on this issue and I look forward to helping toughen our laws and raising awareness so that we may soon be able to rid ourselves of this terrible scourge.” —Rep. Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights)
“This annual event is an important aspect of Ohio’s fight against human trafficking. Bringing further awareness to the issue and shining a light on the role that Ohio plays will no doubt save lives. Locally, I have hosted town hall meetings in Cincinnati to discuss the dangers of human trafficking, and I plan to highlight this critical issue again in the future.” —State Rep. Denise Driehaus (D-Clifton)
“In a land that is a beacon of freedom to the world, there remain those in the shadows whose freedom is denied. Human trafficking is a deeply troubling issue across both the nation and here in our own state. I hope that by raising awareness of this important issue, we can help the fight to eradicate modern day slavery and trafficking.”
—Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown)
“It’s important that we continue our support for efforts that protect and support victims and survivors of human trafficking. This issue requires active engagement from a broad army of people including the business community, non-profit organizations, lawmakers and law enforcement. I applaud Rep. Fedor for her work on bringing so many individuals and organizations together to tackle this issue, and I encourage more people to become involved in eradicating human trafficking.” —Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Akron)
“Every generation must be vigilant to protect the dignity of all and safeguard a life of freedom, purpose and vision to improve oneself and the world. I am so thankful to the hundreds of participants who joined together today, and who work tirelessly everyday, in the fight against modern-day slavery.
“By engaging a diverse group of public servants, activists and survivors, this event has allowed us to develop and implement comprehensive solutions to combat human trafficking. We have such a dedicated and passionate group of leaders who have helped Ohio come a long way in this fight, and I look forward to continuing the charge during the 131st General Assembly and beyond.” —Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo)
David Leland (D-Columbus) was officially sworn in to the Ohio House of Representatives Monday as State Representative to the 22nd House District. Rep. Leland will return to the Statehouse to serve the citizens of Clintonville, Northland and northern Columbus.
"I called this campaign my ‘Back to the Future’ effort to once again serve my community that has been so important to me and my family," said Rep. Leland. “There is much to be done, and I look forward to working with Democrats and Republicans to help make Ohio an even better place to live, work and raise a family."
From 1995-2002, Rep. Leland served as Chair of the Ohio Democratic Party. In 2000, he was appointed to the Federal Service Impasses Panel by President William J. Clinton. He also serves on the Board of Trustees of the Columbus Clippers, the Cleveland Indians Triple-A franchise.
Rep. Leland is a graduate of Columbus North High School, The Ohio State University, and Capital University Law School. He serves as partner with the Columbus Law firm Carpenter Lipps & Leland.
Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights) was officially sworn in to the Ohio House of Representatives Monday as State Representative for the 9th House District. Boyd, elected to her first House term in November, will serve the citizens in Cleveland Heights, Shaker Heights, University Heights and parts of Ward 2, and all of Ward 4 in Cleveland.
“I am honored that voters have entrusted me with this responsibility,” said Rep. Boyd. “I believe my public service experience and my background in advocacy for children and working families will serve our district well. I look forward to fighting for good jobs and quality services for our neighbors and community members. We have to focus on improving the quality of life for all Ohioans.”
A former Cleveland Heights council member, Boyd has worked on a mentoring and juvenile diversion program and beginning the expansion of Human Rights laws to increase protections for members of the LGBT community. With over 15 years of experience in health and human services advocacy and policy working for OhioGuidestone, Boyd has been actively involved in the state budget process on behalf of programs that serve some of the state’s most vulnerable citizens, including children and families facing poverty; seniors; children with special needs and mental health disorders; adults with developmental disabilities; victims of human trafficking; at-risk youth; and veterans.
Boyd will serve the same House District her mother, Barbara Boyd, represented for some sixteen years. A lifelong resident of the district, Janine is a ‘1993 graduate of Hillsdale College with a Bachelors of Arts in Spanish. She holds a Masters of Speech and Language Pathology from Michigan State University.
Kent Smith (D- Euclid) was officially sworn in to the Ohio House of Representatives Monday as State Representative for the 8th House District. Rep. Smith, elected to his first term in the House in November, will serve the citizens of eastern and northern parts of Cuyahoga County, including parts of the city of Cleveland and its eastern suburbs.
“I am excited and honored to represent the hardworking people of the 8th district,” said Rep. Smith. “I embrace the opportunity to improve lives in the 8th district by attracting quality jobs, improving our schools and strengthening our communities.”
Rep. Smith served on the Euclid Board of Education from 2002-2013, where he won the “Award of Achievement” from the Ohio School Boards Association four times. In his twelve years on the school board, Rep. Smith never missed a meeting. Rep. Smith was also elected the local leader of the Euclid Democratic Party in 2006 and reelected to that position in 2010 and 2014.
In 2006, Rep. Smith earned a Graduate Certificate in Urban Economic Development during his Ph.D. coursework in the Economic Development program at Cleveland State University. His Masters thesis dealt with the emerging threat of predatory lending. He used this expertise to co-author the first Predatory Lending Report by Policy Matters Ohio in 2002.
Rep. Smith is a 2013 graduate of the Climate Reality Project Leadership Corps. He has worked for the Cuyahoga County Prosecutors Office and also for four Northeast Ohio non-profit organizations.