Democratic state Reps. Jeff Crossman (D-Parma), Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown), Lisa Sobecki (D-Toledo) and Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) will hold a press conference TOMORROW, Thursday, Oct. 17, at 9:30 a.m. in the Harding Senate Press Briefing Room to introduce legislation to extend unemployment benefits and food assistance to union workers fighting for fair wages, better benefits and safer working conditions. The call comes amid a nationwide strike by UAW employees as they reach a tentative agreement today on the 31st day of the strike with General Motors.


“We have walked the picket lines with our brothers and sisters in labor these last few weeks and heard their struggles,” said Rep. Jeff Crossman (D-Parma). “What we have been told over and over again is that striking was a difficult decision and it has been made all the more difficult by the lack of support they are receiving at the state and federal level. That is why Rep. Lepore-Hagan and I are introducing a bill that would allow striking workers to obtain unemployment benefits to offset the hardships encountered by being on the picket line. Because workers shouldn’t have to accept starvation, foreclosure and bankruptcy in their pursuit of fair wages, better benefits and safer working conditions.”


“This time we are talking about UAW workers, but next time it could be one of our other unions who need help,” said Rep. Lisa Sobecki (D-Toledo). “My colleague Rep. Russo and I will be introducing a House Resolution intended to complement Reps. Crossman and Lepore-Hagan’s bill that encourages the federal government to not deny SNAP benefits to striking workers. Our country was built by our unions; the hard-fought battles they have waged have resulted in improving the quality of life for working people throughout the U.S. It is our responsibility and our duty to take care of these workers in their times of need because their victories are all of our victories.”   


WHO: Rep. Jeff Crossman (D-Parma); Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown); Rep. Lisa Sobecki (D-Toledo); Rep. Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington); Margie Chambers, Vice President UAW Local 1005; Sheri Baker, UAW Local 211


WHAT: Press conference to announce legislation to support Ohio workers


WHEN: TOMORROW, Thursday, Oct. 17, at 9:30 a.m.


WHERE: Harding Senate Press Briefing Room

 
 
  
 
Rep. Skindell Introduces Bipartisan Ohio Fairness Act
Says inclusive policies will attract workers, business investment to Ohio
October 16, 2019
 
 

State Reps. Michael Skindell (D-Lakewood) and Brett Hillyer (R-Uhrichsville) today introduced the Ohio Fairness Act, bipartisan legislation to modernize state law to bar discrimination against LGBTQ Ohioans in employment, housing and public accommodations.


“As we work to grow our economy and lower unemployment, we must not allow discrimination of any form to occur,” said Rep. Skindell. “Qualified and competent employees can currently lose their jobs because of who they are or whom they love. Ohio should be a welcoming place to attract and retain the most talented workers. This legislation will also provide equity and fairness in the housing market.”


The majority of Ohio business owners support adding LGBTQ non-discrimination to Ohio law, with more than 50 percent saying nondiscrimination laws improve businesses’ bottom lines. More than 800 leading Ohio businesses and organizations have backed the Ohio Fairness Act, which they say will attract workers, increase investment and grow the state’s economy.


“The great Woody Hayes said it best, ‘you win with people,’” said Rep. Hillyer. “People matter and should be protected in their workplace and in public.”,


Ohio is home to the sixth largest LGBTQ population the country, and nearly 70 percent of Ohioans support LGBTQ-inclusive statewide non-discrimination policies.


A previous version of the Ohio Fairness Act (The Equal Housing and Employment Act) passed the Ohio House of Representatives on Sept. 15, 2009, with bipartisan support.


“Over two dozen localities in Ohio have passed local, LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination protections. But that only protects about a quarter of Ohioans. You shouldn’t have to move to the city to feel protected from discrimination at work, in accessing housing, and when purchasing goods or services. It’s time for Ohio’s legislators to make a commitment to LGBTQ Ohioans—urban, suburban and rural—that they have the same right to work hard and provide for their families as everybody else. We applaud Representatives Skindell and Hillyer for introducing the Ohio Fairness Act with bipartisan support,” said Alana Jochum, Executive Director of Equality Ohio.


The Ohio Fairness Act awaits a bill number and committee assignment in the Ohio House, where it will receive its initial hearings.

 
 
  
 
Rep. Brigid Kelly Statement On Passage Of Pink Tax Repeal
Says repeal will save Ohio women more than $4 million each year
October 10, 2019
 
 

State Rep. Brigid Kelly (D-Cincinnati) today applauded the passage of Senate Bill (SB) 26, which includes a provision she sponsored to eliminate Ohio sales taxes on feminine hygiene products, commonly known as the Pink Tax, which would save Ohio women millions of dollars each year. She released the following statement:


“Through the sales tax exemption for feminine hygiene period products included in this bill, we are making medically necessary products more accessible to women and girls in our state, ensuring they are better able to lead a healthful life, to regularly attend school, work or personal events, and to fully participate in their communities.”


According to the Legislative Service Commission, Ohio women give the state nearly $4 million in annual taxes from purchasing medically necessary feminine hygiene products. If SB 26 is signed into law, Ohio would join 15 other states embarking on the tampon tax push to exempt feminine products from sales tax.


Kelly previously sponsored legislation to eliminate the pink tax in the 132nd General Assembly, which passed the House before stalling in the Senate.


SB 26 heads to the Senate for final approval before heading to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.

 
 
  

State Rep. Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights) today introduced a bill to designate October 11 as “Coming Out Day” in Ohio.


“By recognizing this day, the Ohio General Assembly can acknowledge that coming out is one of the most courageous steps any LGBTQ+ person can take,” said Rep. Boyd. “Our recognition of that courage helps counter bigotry, ignorance and fear, and is an integral part of our collective, continued progress towards full equality.”


National Coming Out Day is celebrated annually on October 11 to recognize the importance of “coming out” as LGBTQ+ to provide a source of community and strength for other LGBTQ+ individuals. In addition to normalizing LGBTQ+ identities, the day also seeks to combat discrimination and highlight civil rights infractions against the LGBTQ+ community.


“Coming Out Day has been a tradition in the community for years, and I'm thrilled that the Ohio Legislature is acknowledging it. For many, Coming Out Day was the first time they knew they were not alone, and that is life-changing,” said Marshall Troxell, Policy Coordinator for Equality Ohio.


Boyd’s announcement of her bill comes on the same day that the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 applies to cases of discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals.


In Ohio, there are no statewide anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ residents.

 
 
  

House Democratic Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) today issued a statement following the governor’s press conference Monday afternoon outlining his gun safety plan:


“When the people told the governor to do something, they didn’t mean to do just anything. Ohioans want common sense gun safety. STRONG Ohio is weak. It is not what Ohioans want. More than 90 percent of Ohioans want more commonsense gun safety, not watered down proposals to appease the gun lobby.


While I applaud the Governor for making an effort, this plan falls desperately short of the comprehensive reforms necessary to keep our kids and communities safe.”

 
 
  
 
House Dems Call For Reversal Of Voter Purge Before Voter Reg Deadline
Lawmakers decry error-filled untrustworthy process
October 04, 2019
 
 

Ohio House Democrats today sent a letter to Secretary of State Frank LaRose calling on him to reverse most of the voter purge that has occurred over the last past several weeks. Errors in the process have been continually revealed and the status of each person on the “last chance” list is still unknown. The deadline to register to vote is Monday, October 7. See the letter below.


“Voter roll maintenance is about removing people from the rolls who are no longer eligible to vote,” said Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland). “It is not supposed to be an obstacle course where still-eligible voters have to prove their worthiness to stay on the rolls and access their fundamental right to vote. First it was discovered that 1,100 people were accidentally on the ‘last chance’ list, then there were 1,600 more, then several thousand more. We still don’t know how many eligible voters have been removed due to errors or their choice to sit out an election. With this much uncertainty remaining and the voter registration deadline looming, the most responsible thing is for the secretary to reverse the majority of this voter purge.”


Voter registration and update information:


Ohioans who are not yet registered to vote must do so by Monday, October 7 to vote in the November 5election. Registered voters who have moved and update their address by October 7 will be eligible to cast a regular ballot in the election. Under Ohio’s Portable Voter Registration law, registered voters may still update their address after October 7 and may cast a provisional ballot at Early Voting or on Election Day. Voters may register and update their registration online at http://voteohio.gov.


Letter from House Democrats:


October 4, 2019


Dear Secretary LaRose,


We write to urge once more that you stop and reverse this voter purge before next week’s October 7th voter registration deadline. Last week, the Cleveland Plain Dealer called on you to stop this purge. Every new development since has cast further doubt on the integrity of this voter purge process. The only way to restore voter confidence is to reverse this purge.


The latest problem is with the “Fresh Start” list your office issued last Friday at 5pm. The list is incomplete. It shows over 182,000 voters were purged. But the state voter file your office released the next day shows over 194,000 voters were purged. These unexplained disparities make it nearly impossible for a group of voters to figure out theirstatus. If someone searches the “Fresh Start” list and does not find their name, they may assume they are safe and able to vote a regular ballot. But that may not be true because the list is incomplete.


You yourself recently acknowledged that the voting rights advocates were right, that this process is riddled with errors and you might even look back at purges done by your predecessor. That is progress, but we still don’t know how many voters were purged this time and why. For these reasons, we call on you to reverse the majority of this voter purge. Let’s examine this purge and past ones to be sure every eligible voter is where they should be - on the voter rolls.


Only those voters who we know from Post Office data moved out of Ohio, who we know are deceased, and who we know requested to be removed from the rolls should remain cancelled. The vast majority of those who have been purged should be reinstated to the rolls. The Dispatch reports that most were removed just for being infrequent voters, but we know the law does not require their removal. 


Voters who are still eligible to vote under Ohio law have been caught up in this error-filled process. A faulty list and an unclear directive from your office caused thousands to be removed in error. Many software errors, missing data, and human errors have also been documented. Reversing the purge will ensure that everyone who should be reinstated will be reinstated before the next election and restore voter confidence in our system. 


Secretary LaRose, too many errors have been revealed and your office has not adequately explained what happened. The transparency you brought to the beginning of this process is commendable but means little if we do nothing with what we’ve learned. You have the power to reverse this purge just like you had the power to change your mind and keep voters who moved in their counties on the rolls. Ohio will still meet its obligations under federal and state law to perform voter roll maintenance, and our list will be more accurate and secure if you undo the majority of this flawed purge.


Ohio is heavily scrutinized and has an unfortunate history of partisan manipulations of our voting rules.  But by correcting course, we can restore voter confidence in our elections. We all share the goal of making sure Ohio’s elections are open, honest and secure. That requires stopping the purge. Thank you for your attention to our concerns.


Respectfully,


Minority Leader Emilia Sykes (D-Akron)


Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland)


Assistant Minority Leader Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus)


Minority Whip Paula Hicks-Hudson (D-Toledo)


Assistant Minority Whip Richard Brown (D-Canal Winchester)


Rep. Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Hts.)


Rep. Juanita Brent (D-Cleveland)


Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire)


Rep. Randi Clites (D-Ravenna)


Rep. Erica Crawley (D-Columbus)


Rep. Jeffrey Crossman (D-Parma)


Rep. Sedrick Denson (D-Cincinnati)


Rep. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland)


Rep. Catherine Ingram (D-Cincinnati)


Rep. Brigid Kelly (D-Cincinnati)


Rep. David Leland (D-Columbus)


Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown)


Rep. Mary Lightbody (D-Westerville)


Rep. Beth Liston (D-Dublin)


Rep. Adam Miller (D-Columbus)


Rep. Joe Miller (D-Amherst)


Rep. Jessica Miranda (D-Forest Park)


Rep. Michael O'Brien (D-Warren)


Rep. John Patterson (D-Jefferson)


Rep. Phillip Robinson (D-Solon)


Rep. John Rogers (D-Mentor-on-the-Lake)


Rep. Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington)


Rep. Michael Sheehy (D-Oregon)


Rep. Skindell, Michael (D-Lakewood)


Rep. Kent Smith (D-Euclid)


Rep. Lisa Sobecki (D-Toledo)


Rep. Terrence Upchurch (D-Cleveland)


Rep. Thomas West (D-Canton)

 
 
  
 
Reps. Lepore-Hagan, Sobecki Introduce Legislation Protecting Victims Of Domestic Violence
Bill gives victims lease agreement flexibility
October 03, 2019
 
 

State Reps. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) and Lisa Sobecki (D-Toledo) today recognized October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month and announced the introduction of House Bill (HB) 351, legislation allowing tenants to terminate their rental agreement if they are a victim of domestic violence or rape.


“After an arrest or protection order is issued, victims should not face hurdles that make it difficult for them to put distance between themselves and their abusers,” said Rep. Lepore-Hagan.What they do need is an exit strategy and assurances that they will be safe. HB 351 gives them an opportunity for a fresh start at a new address away from the person who is threatening or hurting them.”


“Everyone should feel safe in their own home, but often in domestic violence incidents, that is not the case,” said Rep. Sobecki. “This bill creates the opportunity for victims of domestic violence to move out of a dangerous situation and find a safe place to live.”


HB 351 will enable victims to terminate their lease agreement harm-free by presenting a certified copy of a qualifying court order to their landlord within 30 days of issuance. Landlords will be entitled to withhold a portion of any security deposit for damage that may have been done to the property before the tenant vacates. If the victim is co-leasing the property, the other party to the lease will remain responsible for paying any rent that is due.


“Victims of domestic violence must be able to leave dangerous situations as quickly as possible,” added Rep. Lepore-Hagan. “This law will save lives by giving survivors the freedom to move the moment the need arises.”


The bill also stipulates that the definition of “nuisance” shall not include emergency service calls relating to domestic violence incidents.


The legislation currently awaits hearings before the Ohio House Civil Justice Committee.

 
 
  

House Democratic lawmakers today held a press conference detailing the next steps of their Ohio Promise legislative campaign. Democrats said safety and security issues, including commonsense gun safety, are top priorities as the state legislature returns for its fall session dates.


“Democrats are committed to working together to continue delivering results for Ohio taxpayers that renew our promise of safer schools, safer communities and greater economic security for you and your family at every stage of life,” said Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron).


Leader Sykes highlighted several bipartisan wins to promote the safety and security of Ohioans, including bills to reform the state’s criminal justice system, create the first-ever Office of Drug Policy and ensure ride safety at state and county fairs. 


Dem lawmakers noted that though progress has been made this General Assembly, there is more work to do, particularly on ways to address gun safety.


“Ohioans continue to speak up, urging their lawmakers to do something about gun violence,” said Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland). “We can’t continue to wait and push legislation that fails to address the root of the problem. Democrats are proposing commonsense legislation backed by the majority of Ohioans, legislation that will do something to save lives and keep our kids and communities safe.”


 House Dems introduced several new bills to curb gun violence in the wake of the shooting in Dayton, Ohio. They have continued to call for action, launching a website to provides resources for Ohioans who want to get involved and hold the legislature accountable to do something about gun violence.


 “We need to take action on gun safety to keep our kids and communities safe while also respecting our fundamental rights as Americans,” said Rep. Phil Robinson (D-Solon). “More than 90 percent of Ohioans support these commonsense measures. That’s why we’re calling on House leaders to begin hearings immediately.”


 Democrats also highlighted bipartisan efforts to protect victims of domestic violence, including Aisha’s Law, a bipartisan bill championed by Rep. Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights) to help law enforcement address high-risk domestic violence cases.


“As a fellow Dayton resident, and after experiencing violence in my own home, I was shaken up after the Dayton shooting,” said Diona Clark, a domestic violence survivor and advocate. “We need better laws, and better protections for victims. I want to thank everyone standing behind making our communities and our homes safer.”


 In addition to safer homes and communities, Democratic lawmakers stressed several bills promoting economic security and stability for everyday Ohioans, including efforts to expand the state’s homestead exemption to help keep elderly Ohioans in their homes as well as proposals to extend Workers Compensation benefits to first responders with PTSD and for certain workers who get sick on the job.


“When we talk about security, we are not only talking about being safe from violence, but also economic security when exposed to the burden of high healthcare costs for Ohio’s senior population, especially those on a fixed income,” said Rep. John Rogers (D-Mentor-on-the-Lake). “Our legislative efforts reflect our ongoing commitment of working together to ensure Ohio’s promise of safety and security throughout one’s lifetime.”


 Democrats also pointed to efforts to strengthen labor and protect pensions for retired workers.


 Sykes and other Democrats joined striking UAW workers on the picket line in Toledo, Ohio Monday.


 Wednesday’s rollout follows the caucus’s Ohio Promise Tour, which saw more than two dozen town hall events in cities across the state over the past two months.


 

 
 
  
 
Dem Lawmakers Urge Action On Ohio Fairness Act
Call follows Speaker's decision to refuse protections for LGBTQ+ employees in new HR directive
October 01, 2019
 
 

House Democratic Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) and Rep. Michael Skindell (D-Lakewood) joined Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein and Equality Ohio today to urge action on the Ohio Fairness Act to protect LGBTQ+ Ohioans from discrimination in employment, housing and accommodations.


The call follows a new directive issued by Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) on Friday that failed to extend non-discrimination protections to LGBTQ+ House employees despite Democratic requests to the Speaker to include the provisions during the drafting process.


“The Speaker’s new directive sends the wrong message, not only to LGBTQ+ staffers at the House, but also to the thousands of Ohioans across the state who worry that they can be fired any time, any day simply for being who they are,” said Leader Sykes. “The governor and leading Ohio businesses have it right—we can’t compete for jobs and investment if we don’t value our workers. It’s past time to pass the Fairness Act to renew our promise of opportunity for all Ohioans.”


More than 800 leading Ohio businesses and organizations have signed onto the Ohio Fairness Act, which would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing and accommodations.


“Businesses and workers alike say non-discrimination policies often determine investment and relocation,” said Rep. Skindell, who plans to introduce a version of the Ohio Fairness Act in the Ohio House. “That’s why we’re bringing business leaders and advocates to the table to make our state more inclusive and attractive to young workers, their families and the businesses who will drive Ohio’s economic future.”


Ohio remains one of 28 states where individuals can be denied jobs, housing and services based on sexual orientation or gender identity. In Ohio, more than two dozen communities have enacted ordinances protecting LGBTQ+ residents, but the majority of Ohioans still have no protections from discrimination.


Ohio currently has the sixth largest LGBTQ+ population in the nation.


“No one should go to work fearing they could be fired simply for who they are or who they love. This is a real opportunity for the Ohio House of Representatives to join Governor DeWine, the Ohio Senate, the City of Columbus, and dozens of other municipalities in Ohio who protect against overt discrimination against our LGBTQ friends and neighbors. Discrimination is morally wrong, and it sends a terrible message that Ohio isn’t an opening and welcoming state for future employees,” said Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein.

 
 
  
 
House Dems Conclude Ohio Promise Tour As Legislature Returns For Fall Session
Say Ohioans across the state concerned about safety and security, urge action on gun reform
September 27, 2019
 
 

House Democrats announced the conclusion of their Ohio Promise Town Hall Tour this week, which saw more than two dozen stops in cities across the state over the past two months. In the wake of the mass shooting in Dayton in August, Ohioans all across the state came out to urge action on commonsense gun safety, an issue Democrats say is a top concern heading into the fall session.


“As elected officials, we work for you, and that’s what this Ohio Promise Tour was all about—to be accessible to our constituents, to listen to their concerns and to reaffirm our commitment to working together to better the lives of working people and families by restoring opportunity for all Ohioans,” said House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron).


In the nearly 30 town halls House Democrats held this summer, a top issue at nearly every event was commonsense gun safety reform, with everyday Ohioans expressing concerns about what the legislature is doing to help keep Ohio’s kids and communities safe.


“Ohioans from all political backgrounds want more—not less—safety in their communities,” added Leader Sykes. “That’s why we’re calling on Republican leadership in the House to hold hearings on commonsense gun safety bills. We can’t afford to wait another day.”


In the wake of the Dayton shooting, House Dems renewed their calls for commonsense gun safety measures, introducing several new bills to help keep Ohio’s kids and communities safe. They’ve continued to call for action, launching a website, DoSomethingOhio.com, which provides resources for Ohioans who want to get involved and hold the legislature accountable to do something about gun violence.


In addition to gun safety, many of the other top concerns among attendees during the Ohio Promise Tour focused on local issues, including Republican budget cuts to local governments, fair school funding and state takeovers. Other issues included healthcare access and job training.


The tour also saw lawmakers provide constituents with a legislative update, including information on the recently passed state budget, bipartisan priorities, and several Democratic-led wins for working people and families during the first half of the 2019 legislative session.


To close the tour, House Democrats today released an Ohio Promise Tour recap video, which shows footage from more than a dozen town hall tour events, as well as interviews with Democratic members and attendees. Media can download production quality video of the Ohio Promise tour HERE.


To find a full list of Ohio Promise Tour stops and to access official photos, visit www.ohiohousedemocrats.org.

 
 
  
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Dem Lawmakers To Outline Plan To Support Ohio Workers As GM Strike Reaches A Tentative Deal

 

Democratic state Reps. Jeff Crossman (D-Parma), Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown), Lisa Sobecki (D-Toledo) and Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) will hold a press conference TOMORROW, Thursday, Oct. 17, at 9:30 a.m. in the Harding Senate Press Briefing Room to introduce legislation to extend unemployment benefits and food assistance to union workers fighting for fair wages, better benefits and safer working conditions. The call comes amid a nationwide strike by UAW employees as they reach a tentative agreement today on the 31st day of the strike with General Motors.



 
 

Rep. Skindell Introduces Bipartisan Ohio Fairness Act

 

State Reps. Michael Skindell (D-Lakewood) and Brett Hillyer (R-Uhrichsville) today introduced the Ohio Fairness Act, bipartisan legislation to modernize state law to bar discrimination against LGBTQ Ohioans in employment, housing and public accommodations. 



 
 

Rep. Brigid Kelly Statement On Passage Of Pink Tax Repeal

 

State Rep. Brigid Kelly (D-Cincinnati) today applauded the passage of Senate Bill (SB) 26, which includes a provision she sponsored to eliminate Ohio sales taxes on feminine hygiene products, commonly known as the Pink Tax, which would save Ohio women millions of dollars each year. She released the following statement: 



 
 

Rep. Boyd Introduces Bill Designating October 11 "Coming Out Day"

 

State Rep. Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights) today introduced a bill to designate October 11 as “Coming Out Day” in Ohio.

“By recognizing this day, the Ohio General Assembly can acknowledge that coming out is one of the most courageous steps any LGBTQ+ person can take,” said Rep. Boyd. “Our recognition of that courage helps counter bigotry, ignorance and fear, and is an integral part of our collective, continued progress towards full equality.”