COLUMBUS – State Representatives David Leland (D-Columbus) and Jeffrey Crossman (D-Parma) issued statements today in response to Ohio Attorney General David Yost filing a complaint in Franklin County Common Pleas Court that would prevent FirstEnergy and its successor-organizations from benefiting from the increased rates in House Bill (HB) 6 and prohibit the defendants in the case, including former Ohio Speaker of the House Larry Householder, from holding an elected office or lobbying for eight years.


Representative David Leland (D-Columbus), Ranking Member of the House Select Committee on Energy Policy & Oversight:


“I hope this isn’t a distraction to give Republican leadership cover as they continue to stand in the way of a repeal of House Bill 6.  


This complaint could keep the ill-gotten gains generated from the largest bribery scandal in Ohio history from flowing to FirstEnergy. But the people of Ohio still have to pay $1.3 billion as a result of this corrupt legislation, and this complaint does nothing to prevent that money from being taken out of Ohioans’ pockets.


This complaint does nothing to get Ohioans their money back, and it does nothing to bring back the 100,000-plus green energy jobs House Bill 6 kills. It does nothing to stop the $444 million bailout of two dirty coal plants (one in Indiana). The fact remains that Republican leadership in the legislature is the only thing standing in the way of a full and immediate repeal of House Bill 6.


We need to show that Ohio is not for sale... We need to Repeal HB 6 now!”


Representative Jeffrey Crossman (D-Parma), in response to AG Yost seeking to prohibit Larry Householder from holding an elected office for eight years:


“I made a motion to expel Larry Householder from the Ohio House back in July after we unanimously agreed to remove him as Speaker, but my Republican colleagues voted to keep him in his seat. Since they refuse to remove him and have even allowed Householder himself to come back and vote to preserve the very bill that led to his federal indictment, it is reassuring to see the Attorney General at least seeking an injunction to right this wrong.


But it never should have gotten to this point. He should have been removed back in July. House Republicans could remove him today, but they won’t.”


Rep. Crossman and Rep. Gil Blair (D-Weatherfield) have introduced a bill that would require state lawmakers to reimburse the state for any compensation received following a conviction for public corruption felonies. The bill would also prohibit anyone elected while under felony indictment for public corruption from taking their seat in the General Assembly. That bill has been assigned to the State and Local Government committee where it is yet to have a single hearing.


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Hicks-Hudson Statement On Ohio Voter Registration Failures
State reveals dropped ball on Emancipation Day and National Voter Registration Day
September 22, 2020
 
 

COLUMBUS— State Representative Paula Hicks-Hudson (D-Toledo) responded today to an announcement by Governor Mike DeWine that state agencies have not been meeting their federally mandated duty to offer voter registration to Ohioans when those Ohioans interact with government offices. Roughly 59,000 voters were affected at one agency.


“Today is Emancipation Day, the day that the Emancipation Proclamation was signed in 1862 for the purpose of abolishing slavery. It is also National Voter Registration Day. I have mixed feelings about these two days sharing a page on the calendar this year because, 158 years later, we are still fighting for the right to vote without obstacles in our path. We still regularly fight for basic voting services like a convenient place to drop your ballot, the inclusion of return postage on our absentee ballots, and an easy way to request those ballots in the first place. And we are also fighting for ease of access to voter registration.


Today, we learned that state agencies have failed in their duty to provide the voter registration opportunity to Ohioans who are supposed to be offered voter registration when they interact with their government. This is a longstanding duty placed on government agencies by the National Voter Registration Act of 1993. How has this 27-year-old duty fallen by the wayside? Roughly 59,000 Ohioans tried to use this method of voter registration but were ignored. The state is now playing catch-up.


Last week, we learned that college students at the University of Cincinnati are receiving cryptic error messages by the Secretary of State’s voter registration system when they try to register to vote at their campus address. The Secretary of State defended the practice and says it's because of the BMV. College students have for decades been guaranteed the right to vote in their campus communities. This is not new. Why is the system still failing them? Because the state is not prioritizing their rights.


I am calling on DAS, the BMV, and the Secretary of State to give a full accounting of any problems Ohioans are having with voter registration and what these public offices are doing to immediately fix these problems. Mailing a voter registration form to few thousand people is not enough. Every person who interacts with their government must be provided a voter registration opportunity and we know far more than 59,000 people have been talking to public offices during this pandemic.


It is very hard to celebrate this Emancipation Day when the rights of all Ohioans are still not prioritized by our leaders.”


 

 
 
  
 
Leader Sykes, House Dems Recognize National Voter Registration Day
Urges Republican leadership to pass Dem-sponsored HB 687
September 22, 2020
 
 

COLUMBUS –House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) today recognized National Voter Registration Day as an opportunity to encourage participation in this November’s election despite challenges caused by the pandemic and a failure by Republican state leaders to make this unprecedented election more accessible.


“There is still time to register and to make a plan to vote in this November’s election,” said Leader Sykes. “I encourage all eligible Ohioans to register or double check their registration and make a plan to have their voice heard this fall.”


House Democrats have repeatedly advocated for and introduced pro-voter legislation that would ensure anaccessible November election. State Representatives Paula Hicks-Hudson (D-Toledo) and Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland) announced in June the introduction of House Bill 687, a bill to improve voting and address challenges posed by the global pandemic. The bill is a strong contrast with the GOP’s HB 680, which would shorten the time for absentee votingand prevents the Secretary of State from providing return postage for absentee ballots.


Measures that are supported by House Democrats and included in HB 687 include:



  • Counting ballots postmarked by Election Day;



  • Protecting accessible in-person voting opportunities;



  • Greater access to voter registration.


Eligible Ohioans are encouraged to visit voteohio.gov to register or confirm their voter registration, find information on their polling location, sign up to be a poll worker, or to learn how to request and cast an absentee ballot.


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COLUMBUS — Rep. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland) issued a statement today following the informal hearing of Senate Bill (SB) 357, which appropriates the remaining $650 million local government Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds.


The distribution formula used for these remaining funds and the committee process that allowed testimony only were unusual. Instead of basing the distribution on the local government fund formula as it was in HB 481 and when Controlling Board has approved other rounds of CARES Act funding, Republicans determined unilaterally that the distribution for SB 357 should be allocated by a per capita formula. This means that more densely populated cities like Cleveland, Cincinnati, Dayton, Toledo and Akron get substantially shortchanged* millions and more suburban, rural areas are getting increased funding to handle COVID-19 related expenses.


Cleveland         ~$43.9 million


Cincinnati        ~$17.8 million


Dayton              ~$10.2 million


Toledo               ~$8.7 million


Akron                ~$7.6 million


Canton             ~$4.3 million   


Furthermore, House Finance Committee Co-Chairs noticed the committee meeting today as an “informal hearing,” meaning amendments could not be offered from House Democrats. Several Democratic Representatives from some of the areas most shortchanged voiced their disapproval during the meeting. Cleveland Rep. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland), who represents one of the poorest districts in the state and one of the hardest hit by COVID-19, was one of them.


“Let’s call this what it actually is: legislative robbery, electorate bribery and more Republican sleight of hand,” said Rep. Howse. “The human impact of COVID-19 has not been per capita. The areas that are most hardest hit are the ones who are being cut the most by this new funding formula designed by Statehouse Republicans to benefit their own districts. Republicans want to give more to their own communities when their own communities aren’t the ones hurting the most - mine is. And it is being shortchanged $43.9 million and I don’t even have the ability to offer an amendment to this bill to help them.


This bill was passed by the Senate three weeks ago. During that time, Republicans could have been holding public hearings, allowing constituents to weigh in on their desired path forward or permitting House Democrats to offer amendments to make the bill better, but instead Republicans have found a way to circumvent the traditional process and make this allocation as undemocratic and self-serving as possible.”


As House Finance met for this “informal” hearing today to discuss this bill, Senate Republicans were simultaneously amending the $650 million of CARES Act funds into HB 614 during the Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee.


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*Editor’s note: A spreadsheet containing estimated allocation comparisons is attached.


 

 
 
  

COLUMBUS— State Reps. Randi Clites (D-Ravenna) and Jeff Crossman (D- Parma) today called on Statehouse leaders to protect Ohioans’ healthcare by advancing the bipartisan Pre-Existing Condition Protection Act, House Bill 390. The call comes after the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, which has created more uncertainty about the future of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA), including its provision to protect healthcare access for those with pre-existing conditions. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a case challenging the ACA’s constitutionality on November 10th of this year.


The Pre-Existing Condition Protection Act, filed in Ohio by Reps. Clites & Crossman, would codify several popular patient protections that are currently guaranteed under the ACA, including coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, into Ohio Law.


“Ohio families cannot afford more political games from Washington while their access to affordable healthcare hangs in the balance during a global pandemic. It’s time to put politics aside and put people first,” said Rep. Clites. “We cannot wait until two million Ohioans with pre-existing conditions lose their health insurance to take action- we must protect patients now.”


“The passing of Justice Ginsburg re-enforces the urgency to pass protections for people with pre-existing conditions here in Ohio.” said Rep. Crossman. “HB 390 has been stalled in the Ohio House for months and our Republican colleagues should join us in making healthcare a top priority for Ohioans. Otherwise, thousands of Ohioans stand to lose their healthcare if the ACA is repealed, weakened, undermined or gutted as the current administration has sought to do without any plan to replace it.”


The Pre-Existing Protection Act would:



  • Protect coverage for those with pre-existing conditions;

  • Limit health insurance premium hikes;

  • Ban annual and lifetime limits on care; and

  • And, protect coverage of essential health benefits, like preventative, maternal and emergency care.


HB 390 has had three hearings in the House Insurance Committee to date. No additional hearings are currently scheduled for the bill.


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COLUMBUS –House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) today issued a statement following the news that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away at the age of 87 from complications of cancer.


 “My heart breaks tonight, along with so many other Americans, as together we mourn the loss of a true American treasure.


Justice Ginsburg has been an inspiration to me and to so many other women in the legal profession. She was a champion of equality and reproductive justice as she fought for ALL of us from the bench. She was a trailblazer, a real American hero, and we are a better country because she served on the High Court.


Rest in peace, Notorious RBG.”  


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COLUMBUS –Ohio Democratic Women’s Legislative Caucus Rep. Tavia Galonski (D-Akron) today issued a statement following the news that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away at the age of 87 from complications of cancer.


“In living, Ruth Bader Ginsburg showed the whole world what it is to be a fighter. I refuse to see her death as anything but the next chapter for all of us. May her memory be a blessing. Shanah Tovah to all.”


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COLUMBUS – State Reps. Paula Hicks-Hudson (D-Toledo), Mike Sheehy (D-Oregon), and Lisa Sobecki (D-Toledo) expressed disappointment today after Governor Mike DeWine decided to issue a waiver of his public health orders for political rallies, including an upcoming presidential rally in Toledo on Monday.


“It is unfortunate that just days after Toledo Express Airport's name was officially re-dedicated to honor a man of science, NASA Mission Control legend and Toledoan Eugene F. Kranz, our Governor ignores science and sound judgment by waiving the COVID-19 guidelines,” said Rep. Paula Hicks-Hudson. “On balance, our right to life and liberty requires implementing safety standards and rules with the cooperation of all.”


While the Representatives all agree that protecting the First Amendment right to freedom of speech is of the upmost importance, it seems inconsistent to say that mask mandates and social distancing undermine that right. The DeWine administration has previously issued a mask mandate on church attendance, as well as limitations on the size of other gatherings, presumably also protected by the First Amendment. The Representatives also believe that these science-based orders do not fundamentally hinder a campaign’s right to freedom of speech.


“Since the pandemic began, Lucas County has confirmed the fifth most COVID-19 cases in Ohio. Fortunately, the precautions outlined in the Governor’s public health orders have worked, and coronavirus cases in Lucas County have trended downward since the end of July. It is disappointing that the Governor has waived the statewide public health orders for the upcoming presidential rally,” said Rep. Sheehy.


“Over the past few months, Lucas County residents have practiced social distancing, worn masks outside of the home, and slowed the spread of COVID-19. Doing so has allowed us to be downgraded from red to orange on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System. Unfortunately, now the upcoming rally next week, without appropriate health guidelines in place, threatens all of that progress,” said Rep. Sobecki. “I’m disappointed that the Governor waived requirements to wear masks in public, maintain social distance, and cap the number of attendees allowed inside the venue. Throughout the country, there have been Americans who have gotten sick, or died from COVID-19 as a result of attending political rallies without reasonable precautions. It’s a shame that the Governor, who led early on in this pandemic, is faltering and jeopardizing people’s health.”


Reps. Hicks-Hudson, Sheehy, and Sobecki call on Governor DeWine to reconsider the waiver he granted to political rallies given that it is clear in this instance that campaigns will not be universally enforcing COVID-19 precautions, such as mandatory mask wearing and social distanced attendees, on their own recognizance.


In addition to the event in Toledo, there will also be a stop in Montgomery County, which Governor DeWine has said he will attend. Montgomery County is presently listed as red on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System, and has the tenth most cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 statewide.


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Ahead Of National Black Voter Day, OLBC Calls For Action To Eliminate Systemic Barriers To Voting
Call comes as Senate considers GOP election bill that would create new voting restrictions
September 17, 2020
 
 

COLUMBUS –Ahead of the first-ever National Black Voter Day on Sept. 18, Ohio Legislative Black Caucus (OLBC) issued a statement calling for action to eliminate systemic barriers to voting in Ohio. The call comes as the Ohio Senate considers House Bill (HB) 680, the GOP election bill that would create new voting restrictions like shortening the time for voters to request absentee ballots, eliminating the ability for the secretary of state to prepay return postage for ballot materials, and barring the Health Director and other officials from affecting the conduct of elections—even in the interest of public health.


“Black voters today continue to face systemic barriers to voting, barriers which have only been exacerbated in the current COVID-19 pandemic. Decisions from the Secretary of State, such as not allowing multiple secure drop boxes or online applications for absentee ballots, disenfranchise Black Ohioans. There is a lot of work to be done to ensure that crises like the current COVID-19 pandemic, economic recession and calls for racial justice are addressed properly for all communities, but especially for Black communities. We must ensure that the voices of Black Ohioans are heard as we propose solutions to these crises— that starts with implementing meaningful policies to make voting more accessible for all,” said OLBC President Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland).


The GOP elections bill stands in stark contrast to HB 687, the House Democrats’ general elections proposal, which would expand online registration, make it easier for Ohioans to vote by mail, and protect in-person voting opportunities amid the coronavirus pandemic.


House Democrats have also continued to call on Secretary of State Frank LaRose to do everything in his power to make voting more accessible for voters in these unprecedented times. On Aug. 18, the caucus provided LaRose a 16-point checklist of what they would like to see from his office, including:


·         Multiple secure drop boxes


·         Paying return postage


·         Keeping all polling locations open


·         Online absentee ballot application


Below are also some important dates to remember for this election.


·         Sept. 18: Military early voting starts/National Black Voter Day


·         Oct. 5: Voter registration deadline


·         Oct. 6: Early voting starts for everyone


·         Oct. 31 by NOON: Deadline to request an absentee ballot


·         Nov. 2: Postmark absentee ballot if returning by mail


·         Nov. 3 by 7:30 p.m.: Submit absentee ballot to BOE if returning in person


·         Nov. 3, in-person voting from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.: Election Day


 


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COLUMBUS –House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) today issued a statement following Governor Mike DeWine’s creation of a new dashboard for parents and caregivers that provides information about cases, hospitalizations and deaths among Ohio’s children. DeWine today referred to the statistic that Black children make up 45% of all COVID-19 hospitalizations but only 18% of the population as “troubling.”


“What is troubling to me is that the governor created a Minority Health Strike Force and it has yet to strike nearly five months after is creation. Instead, COVID-19 ravages our Black communities and schools and our Black babies are disproportionately infected, hospitalized and dying while his Strike Force still does nothing. But at least he has the dashboard now so we can all watch the chaos, destruction and heartbreak in real time.


Pointing out statistics and calling them ‘troubling’ is easy. Saying ‘racism is a public health crisis’ during a press conference is simple. The hard work comes from real leadership that actually seeks to fix these very real societal problems that have existed for far too long and this pandemic has simply laid bare for all to see.


DeWine’s continued delay in action to help our Black communities is leading to preventable infection and death. Enough is enough. Do something!”


DeWine announced the creation of the Minority Health Strike Force April 20 and appointed Leader Sykes, who holds a Masters of Public Health and a Juris Doctor from the University of Florida, as one of its 41 members.


“The slogan ‘in this together Ohio’ evokes a sense of shared struggle, of sacrifice and of commitment to one another. But the reality is that since the onset of this pandemic—and for the greater part of a generation or more—Black and Brown families have seen the worst of it,” Sykes wrote in a letter to DeWine May 12. “Racial equity must be more than a talking point. It needs to be an action point for your administration.”


Democrats have called on the governor to act on minority heath disparities since the onset of the pandemic.


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Featured Posts

Democrats Lament Another Broken Promise By LaRose

 

State Reps. Paula Hicks-Hudson (D-Toledo) and Catherine D. Ingram (D-Cincinnati) responded to the state Controlling Board refusing to hear Secretary LaRose’s late request for additional authority to pay return postage for absentee ballots in its meeting yesterday. LaRose said he will come back to the Board in mid-September, but absentee ballot applications are set to be mailed to 7.8 Million Ohio voters before that – around Labor Day – without return postage. The members have been urging LaRose for months to use existing authority of his office to pay return postage for both applications and ballots.



 
 

Democrats Urge LaRose To Keep His Word To Ohio Voters

 

State Reps. Paula Hicks-Hudson (D-Toledo) and Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland) responded to Secretary LaRose’s announcement that he is requesting additional permission from the state Controlling Board to pay return postage for voting materials. The deadline for submitting such requests was Monday, Aug. 17 for the Board’s Aug. 24 meeting. No request from LaRose’s office appears yet on the Controlling Board’s website. It is unclear whether the late request will be added to the meeting agenda or what specifically is being requested.  



 
 

Democrats Unite To Tell LaRose: Do Your Job

 

The House Democratic Caucus today sent a letter to Secretary of State Frank LaRose addressing recent major developments in Ohio’s elections. Last week, the country watched in horror as Post Office mailboxes and processing machinery were dismantled and removed across the country and in Ohio.



 
 

OLBC President Rep. Stephanie Howse Urges Action On Pay Equity On Black Women's Equal Pay Day

 

Ohio Legislative Black Caucus President Rep. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland) today urged action on the Ohio Equal Pay Act, legislation alongside Rep. Randi Clites (D-Ravenna) that would recognize the full value and potential of Ohio’s working women.