State Rep. John Boccieri (D-Poland) today criticized the passage of House Bill 410, legislation that slashes state funding to local communities who use photo enforcement of traffic laws. The bill also gives city and county courts exclusive jurisdiction over civil actions stemming from local traffic law violations.

“We should focus on common sense ways to fix photo enforcement complaints, not punish local communities by slashing their state funding,” said Boccieri. “We need to make sure taxpayers are treated fairly while preserving their ability to self govern and make their own decisions locally, without heavy-handed threats from Columbus.”

The bill comes as the state has cut more than $2 billion from local communities over the last several years.

Boccieri has made strides to protect taxpayers from uneven and confusing traffic law by sponsoring House Bill 219. House Bill 219 sets a commonsense standard for speed limits by requiring all speed limit zones to become effective beginning at the speed limit sign.

“I support this component of the bill, but local communities should answer to local taxpayers on the enforcement of traffic laws in our community.”

The bill passed the House 65-19 and now heads to the Senate for consideration.


Dayton-area Investments Key To Creating Jobs, Growing Economy, Says Rep. Strahorn
Lawmaker announces several Southwest Ohio projects included in state's capital budget
March 21, 2018

House Minority Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) today reported the passage of House Bill (HB) 529, the state’s $2.6 billion biennial capital budget. The capital budget is primarily used to invest in the upkeep of state facilities, colleges and university campuses, and state lands, but also includes a number of community projects.

HB 529 invests more than $480 million for technology and facility upgrades at Ohio’s colleges and universities, allowing them to retool to meet the demands of 21st century higher education and job training. Sinclair Community College will receive $10.33 million for campus renovations and upgrades.

“A competitive workforce begins with educating our students and training workers with the skills they need in this new and changing economy,” said Strahorn. “For years, Sinclair has been a leader in education and job training in Southwest Ohio, and these investments will allow the next generation of students, business leaders and entrepreneurs to make an impact in their communities.”

In addition to more than $1 billion in statewide funding for K-12 and higher education capital projects, HB 529 invests $350 million in statewide infrastructure projects through the Public Works Commission and $147 million throughout the state in local community projects.

“Whether it’s rebuilding crumbling roads and bridges or upgrading our cultural centers, investing in Ohio communities makes us more competitive, creating jobs and spurring growth in our local and regional economies,” added Strahorn. “Projects like the Arcade Innovation Hub are changing the game, using the tremendous community resources we already have right here in Southwest Ohio, including our universities and business leaders, to encourage entrepreneurs and students to take their ideas to the next level.”

Notable Montgomery County community projects funded under HB 529 include:

Historic YWCA Dayton Building Renovation project     $725,000

Gem City Market project                                              $200,000

Dayton Hope Center for Families                                  $725,000

Dayton Webster Station Landing project                        $200,000

Dayton Arcade Innovation Hub project                          $1 million

Victoria Theater Arts Annex project                              $350,000

Wright Factory Unit, Dayton                                         $175,000

“While we fought hard to include many of these community projects in this budget, a number of important projects did not receive funding as we had hoped,” noted Strahorn. “I will continue to work with these groups, organizations and local governments to find funding alternatives.”

A complete list of funded projects can be found here.

With its passage from the Senate, the bill goes to the governor to be signed into law.


State Rep. Jack Cera’s (D-Bellaire) bipartisan bill with Rep. Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell) to expand high-speed internet access in Ohio’s rural communities received bipartisan support today from the House Finance Committee. The legislation, House Bill 378, would better connect people and businesses, driving growth and creating jobs in rural communities across the state.

“People and businesses in our part of the state deserve the same economic opportunities other communities have, and that starts with reliable, modern infrastructure,” said Cera.

HB 378 would appropriate $100 million over the next two years from the proceeds of bonds issued to support Ohio’s Third Frontier Program. Local communities, businesses, nonprofits and co-ops would all be eligible to participate in the grant program, which would be administered by the Ohio Development Services Agency.

“Staying competitive, creating jobs and growing our economy comes from public-private partnerships like this, where our communities in Eastern Ohio aren’t priced out of taking the first step,” Cera added.

Cera is working with Republican leadership to determine the soonest date the bill could receive a full vote of the House before heading to the Ohio Senate.

Local Lawmakers Ask Ed Chairman For Legislative Review Of 'Youngstown Plan'
Say policy makers should put education before politics
March 18, 2018

State Reps. John Boccieri (D-Poland) and Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) sent a letter to state Rep. Andrew Brenner (R-Powell), Chair of the House Education and Career Readiness Committee, requesting an investigation into the effectiveness of the Youngstown Plan, which was created in House Bill (HB) 70 in 2015. Under the plan, the state assumed control of the Youngstown City School District, eliminated the school board and appointed a CEO to oversee all operations of the district. The letter comes amid the resignation of three Academic Distress Commission members and the potential departure of Youngstown City School District CEO, Krish Mohip.

“The rushed legislation that instituted the Youngstown Plan under HB 70 in the last biennium now causes a need for an investigation,” the Mahoning Valley lawmakers wrote.

Boccieri and Lepore-Hagan are scheduled to meet with Brenner and a member of the Academic Distress Commission in Youngstown on Monday, April 16.

*Editor’s note: A copy of the letter is attached


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In the wake of Ohio Republican lawmaker Niraj Antani’s public comments suggesting students should arm themselves in high schools across the state, state Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) today issued the following statement:

“To suggest students should carry guns at school is to turn our backs on our constitutional oath to further a free society where students have an equal opportunity to succeed. Arming students in the 21st century violates every shred of commonsense, responsible lawmaking, and is better saved for oppressive regimes in foreign lands – not America.

“We should be deeply troubled and angered by politicians who suggest arming students is an appropriate response to the national discussion on commonsense ways to reduce gun violence in our nation. Too many politicians have robbed our students of a childhood by failing to keep them safe, which has pushed them out of our schools and into the streets to fight for accountability from their elected officials. It’s clear some politicians still aren’t listening.”

As State Takes First Step To Frack Public Lands, Leland Pushes For Commonsense Protections
Legislation prohibiting fracking in state and local parks introduced in the Ohio House
March 16, 2018

On the heels of the first state Oil and Gas Commission meeting Thursday, state Rep. David Leland (D-Columbus) today introduced legislation that would protect Ohio’s parks and nature preserves from the impacts of fracking. The proposed bill will ensure adequate protections for Ohio’s state and local parks by refusing any new well permits for lands typically enjoyed by families and people who enjoy the outdoors. 

“It is my hope that we can all share a vision for our state that includes meeting our energy needs without ever having to sacrifice our beautiful state and local parks, forests, nature preserves, and wildlife areas,” said Leland. “Conserving Ohio’s public lands ensures they will be around for future generations to utilize and enjoy.”

This year’s state-budget-veto showdown between Gov. Kasich and Ohio House Republicans resulted in the appointment of members to the vacant Oil and Gas Commission, which is responsible for issuing drilling licenses for state lands. The commission held its first meeting Thursday in Columbus.

The footprint and disruption of fracking, or horizontal drilling, is much larger than conventional oil and gas wells, raising additional concerns over habitat fragmentation and wetland destruction. Fracking also typically costs Ohio’s communities much more in added cleanup, greater wear and tear on roads, and significant emergency response needs.

House Dems Protest Controversial Proposed Healthcare Restrictions
Lawmakers say Medicaid waiver would cost taxpayers, hurt economy and take away healthcare
March 15, 2018

Ohio House Democratic lawmakers today sent a letter to Ohio Department of Medicaid Director Barbara Sears, during the agency’s public comment period, calling on the agency to rethink controversial and partisan Medicaid restrictions. The new restrictions would deny some qualifying Medicaid recipients their healthcare without notice if they cannot work a specified number of hours in a given month.

“In a state economy that has trailed the nation in job growth for five consecutive years and where most new jobs are low-wage, part-time work, now is not the time to impose these restrictions. These new stringent rules will force Ohioans into these low-wage, part-time jobs, further exacerbating issues of underemployment and economic mobility,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter.

Though the administration claims no more than 36,036 Ohioans are in jeopardy of losing healthcare coverage under the new restrictions, experts say the actual number of people impacted will be significantly higher if the economy continues to grind to a halt or even more people have trouble finding work.

“Playing political games and increasing barriers to quality, affordable healthcare is wrong and puts people at risk. We urge you to rethink these proposed changes to Medicaid and focus your efforts on expanding, not denying, the right of every Ohioan to quality, affordable healthcare,” the lawmakers continued.

A review of past, similar restrictions found that they do not cut poverty, but instead force participants into low-wage, part-time jobs or temporary jobs with little room for growth or economic mobility.


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Democratic Lawmakers Announce $15 Minimum Wage Bill
Call for modernizing Ohio's wages, giving 1.8 million Ohioans a raise
March 13, 2018

Ohio Democratic state lawmakers, workers and advocates today announced a bill to address Ohio’s bad economic growth and low wages with new legislation to increase Ohio’s minimum wage to $15 per hour. House Assistant Democratic Whip Brigid Kelly (D-Cincinnati), Senate Assistant Democratic Whip Cecil Thomas (D-Cincinnati) and state Senator Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) called for the legislation, which would give a raise to 1.8 million Ohioans.

“A job should lift you out of poverty – not keep you in it,” said Rep. Kelly. “America is supposed to be the land of opportunity, but too many people in Ohio know it doesn’t matter how hard they work, they still have to live paycheck to paycheck to make ends meet. By modernizing our minimum wage, more people can earn the opportunity for a better life.”

Today almost 70 percent of new jobs in Ohio pay poverty wages. And an Ohio family of three with a breadwinner who works full-time at minimum wage makes $3,500 below the poverty line, according to Policy Matters Ohio.

“When companies pay low wages, that costs the taxpayers,” said Senator Thomas. “That’s because low-wage workers are forced to rely on social safety net programs to make ends meet. When we raise the minimum wage, we recognize the dignity of work and the belief that all workers deserve the opportunity to build a better future for themselves and their families.” 

Small businesses agree that an increase in income for low-wage workers is good for business. A 2014 survey found that small business owners believe raising the minimum wage will increase consumer purchasing power, boost the economy and increase productivity.

“Raising the minimum wage is good for our economy and good for business,” said Senator Schiavoni. “When people are bringing home more money, they spend it in their local economy. That means increased demand for goods and services creating more jobs.”

Despite the myth that minimum wage earners are young people, 88 percent of Ohio’s minimum wage workers are over 20. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the average minimum wage worker is a 35-year-old woman with some college education working full-time. Raising the wage helps women and their families. If Ohio increases its minimum wage, nearly 700,000 Ohio children will have a parent who gets a raise. 

“No one who works full-time in our state should have to live in poverty,” said Chaundra Kidd, a Cleveland-area nursing home employee. “Working people deserve a wage that allows them to provide for their families. Raising the minimum wage gives workers a fighting chance for a better future.”

Ohio’s minimum wage currently sits at $8.30 per hour and $4.15 per hour for tipped workers. The companion legislation being introduced by the Democratic lawmakers would take a tiered approach to raising the wage, calling for $12 per hour in 2019, $12.50 in 2020, $13 in 2021, and 50 cents every following year until 2025 when the minimum wage reaches $15 per hour. The minimum wage would continue to be adjusted upward for inflation every year following, according to the Ohio Constitution.

Lawmakers cite the Ohio General Assembly’s 2016 ban on local communities raising the minimum wage as a primary reason why this bill should move through the state legislature.

The lawmakers are currently circulating co-sponsorship requests to gain support from fellow lawmakers prior to formal introduction.

Real State Of The State Shows Ohio Losing Ground To Too Many Other States
Ohioans continue to miss out on economic growth and opportunity
March 06, 2018

Ohio House Democratic lawmakers this evening responded to Gov. Kasich’s annual State of the State address in Westerville, Ohio. Though the governor touted a comeback for the Buckeye State, House Democrats noted that Ohioans disproportionately face lower quality-of-life standards than the rest of the nation.

“Ohio used to lead the nation in innovation and economic opportunity. We were first in flight, we have sent men to the moon and even more to the White House,” said House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton). “Now we lead the in all the wrong ways. We’ve tried everything their way for seven years straight. It’s just not working for the middle class and working families.”

After the last 7 years of total Republican control of state government, Ohio has dropped from 5th to 22nd in education, and ranks first in student debt and near last in college affordability. Though the state has seen an uptick in high school graduation rates in recent years, rates for minority students remain among the worst in the country.

“Headline after headline, study after study – Ohio isn’t leading the nation anymore. We’re slipping. We’ve fallen behind, and we’ve gotten off track,” said Democratic Whip Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron). “We’ve tried things the way one political party wants them, but it’s not working. We need to do something different. We need a change.”

Despite funding increases in the state budget to fight the state’s ongoing opioid crisis, deaths from opioid-related overdoses rose by 39 percent last year, nearly triple the national average. Ongoing issues with infant mortality and access to health care for women, infants and children, among other factors, rank the Buckeye State 39th in the nation in overall health.

“In the face of losing ground at home, in the face of diminishing opportunity and increasing debt – the Statehouse crowd continues to embrace the same failed policies, hoping things will get better,” said Assistant Democratic Leader Nicholas J. Celebrezze (D-Parma). “We won’t stop fighting. We’re fighting to get Ohio back on track, headed back to our place in the nation as a leader.”

Ohio’s job growth has trailed the national average for five straight years, and in 2017 ranked 33rd overall in job growth. In the past decade, middle class Ohioans have seen the sixth worst decline in wages as share of total income among U.S. states. In addition, Ohio incomes have dropped more than six percent in recent decades, which ranks worse than all but three other states.

“Ohioans send us to the Statehouse to do work that increases wages and creates more opportunity for more people to have a better life,” said Assistant Democratic Whip Brigid Kelly (D-Cincinnati). “But the hard truth is wages are down, the opportunity to get ahead is limited and the middle class is shrinking in Ohio. We won’t get our state back on track through the same priorities that got us in to this hole. We need a change.”

Here's what other Democratic lawmakers are saying:

“Since 2011, Ohio has fallen backward in too many standards of living,” said state Rep. Tavia Galonski (D-Akron). “Ohio is leading, but unfortunately it is leading in all the wrong ways. Our state was once a place where people came to start a new life, because they knew they could find good jobs and many other opportunities to better themselves and their families. In order for Ohio to begin leading in the right ways, changes must be made to attract future generations.”

“I appreciate Gov. Kasich’s comments during his final State of the State address,” said state Rep. Michael O’Brien (D-Warren). “However, Ohio is not moving ahead, we are falling behind. After $2 billion in budget cuts to local communities, we now have 32 Ohio cities on the state’s fiscal distress list because of inadequate funding for basic services. In addition, 17,000 state and local government jobs have been cut since 2007, which has reduced the number of police, firefighters and paramedics serving our communities. Ohio cannot afford to keep balancing the budget on the backs of local governments. We can and must do better for Ohio’s citizens.”

“I am proud to be an Ohioan and I am proud to call this great state my home, but I am continually saddened that many of the issues that have faced our state throughout recent years remain unsolved,” said state Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo). “I believe our state government can do better for Ohio. I believe that the dreams we have for ourselves, our families, our homes and our state can come true. However, the one-sided path we have been following has been hurting us, putting these dreams in jeopardy.

“Tonight, I wanted to see some plans made to protect and clean up Lake Erie. Toledo is my home, it is my constituents’ home, and the safety of our water is under threat. I hope to see many of the promises made tonight come true, and I hope the next administration and the state will have a greater focus on protecting Lake Erie and those who depend on it.”

“My fellow Democratic colleagues and I want Ohio to lead in economic growth, good jobs and affordable college for our kids,” said state Rep. Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood). “The days of passing policies that only benefit the rich need to be over if we are ever going to make the American Dream come true for the majority of Americans. We can turn Ohio around with forward-thinking, progressive policies like equal pay. It is time to protect our communities’ future by strengthening our hardworking, everyday families.”

“The tempest is raging in Ohio, and the GOP leadership has abandoned the ship,” said state Rep. Kent Smith (D-Euclid). “Our Governor is either on a west coast book tour or is debating Bernie Sanders. Every other statewide Republican officeholder is running for a different job, and the Ohio House GOP is at war with itself. Meanwhile the S.S. Ohio is adrift in dangerous waters that threaten to swallow up our middle class and plunge more of our citizens into poverty. Ohioans deserve better. They will remember and make a change in November.”

“Governor Kasich painted a great picture of Ohio under his leadership, but the facts are stubborn,” said state Rep. John Boccieri (D-Poland). “14 of the last 18 years, Republicans have controlled Ohio’s government. Ohio has seven of the nation’s top 100 cities; however, eight out of 10 of Ohio’s largest cities are economically distressed.

“What I find more troubling is the opioid epidemic. Governor Kasich has stalled community intervention because of devastating budget cuts to local governments. Ohio ranks second worst in the nation for cuts to local government funds, and this has crippled a local response to this public health crisis. Ohioans are leaving the state in search of jobs to accommodate the rise in these costs. We need to provide the right resources for local governments to combat the opioid crisis. We need to invest in small businesses to help jumpstart Ohio’s economy. We need to tie our curriculum to our local economy to ensure Ohio will have a competitive workforce.”


Ohio House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) today issued the following statement in response to Gov. John Kasich’s gun safety announcement:

“Today we are at a breaking point, where the American epidemic of gun violence and the activism of our nation’s young people are forcing politicians to retreat from the once-comfortable shadows of partisan, political ideology. This gives us hope and reaffirms our continued work to keep our schools, places of worship, and public settings free from the fear that gun violence holds over our everyday lives. We welcome anyone who is serious about gun safety to the table, and we continue to stand ready to work with anyone who supports restoring commonsense and sanity to the ongoing American dialogue on how we form a more perfect Union.” 

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Ohio House Dems Stand With Ohio Workers, Speak Out Against GOP Anti-worker Bills


Ohio House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) and Democratic House members from across the state today issued statements in support of the Working People’s Day of Action planned for Saturday, February 24 at the Ohio Statehouse. The Ohio march comes on the heels of the introduction of six Republican-sponsored constitutional amendments to implement so-called “right to work” legislation and other workplace restrictions in the Buckeye State. 


Bipartisan Redistricting Reform Clears Last Legislative Hurdle Before Voters Have Final Say In May


Following months of negotiation, the Ohio House today passed Senate Joint Resolution 5, bipartisan legislation that puts a constitutional amendment before voters in May to restrict congressional gerrymandering in the state. 

“After months of negotiation, thousands of Ohioans speaking out, and several false starts, we’re closer to stopping congressional gerrymandering today than we have ever been before. Though imperfect, this latest plan represents one of the most fundamental tenets of our American democracy – compromise,” said House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton). “We support this plan today, with the hope and expectation that it will help impart that same spirit and guiding principle of cooperation on Washington in the near future.”

Democratic House expressed concerns over several parts of the proposed plan that they see as loopholes that, in extreme cases, could still allow partisan congressional district rigging. Ultimately, most Democrats still supported the final language in the resolution.


House Democrats Celebrate Black History Month


Each February, Black History Month raises awareness about the significant portion of the American story that African Americans have authored. From science and business to literature, the arts and public service, Black History Month highlights the struggles and triumphs of our nation.


Dem Lawmakers Unveil Paid Family Leave Bill


State Reps. Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights) and Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus) today announced legislation to establish the Ohio Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program, which would provide economic stability to working families in times of a medical emergency, when caring for a sick loved one, or welcoming a newborn into the family. While federal law provides some workers the ability to take leave, it does not provide those workers with any guarantees that they will have compensation while on leave.