Democratic Lawmakers Introduce "Not My Boss's Business" Act
Bill would protect women from discrimination and their boss's interference in personal healthcare decisions
July 22, 2014

Tuesday, State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) and Assistant Senate Democratic Leader Charleta B. Tavares (D-Columbus) held a press conference announcing legislation to address the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. In that decision, the Court ruled that some corporations cannot be required to provide insurance coverage for contraception methods that would violate the religious beliefs of company owners. The development was widely panned as a setback to the personal liberty of hard-working American women.

“We are introducing this legislation to protect the health care decisions of women and their health providers. Physicians are best able to decide appropriate health care and prescriptions needed by their patients. Employers should not be able to selectively decide which care or prescriptions can be given to whom,” stated Tavares.

The Not My Boss’s Business Act will prohibit employers from excluding birth control from coverage and from discriminating against an individual based on reproductive health decisions. Recent polling from Hart Research indicates that 84 percent of women agree that birth control “should be a woman’s personal decision.”

State Senator Nina Turner (D-Cleveland), a joint sponsor of the Senate bill, commented that the bill “ensures the right that women should be the sole decision makers regarding their reproductive health—not their bosses, their insurance company or their government.”

“Women work hard to earn their workplace insurance plans, and to have CEOs dictate what forms of birth control are acceptable is a slap in the face to American women.” said Turner.

“Women can’t afford these recent attacks on this very basic part of their preventive health care, not when the costs of some birth control methods are as much as a minimum wage worker’s monthly take-home pay. It is not fair to target medicine taken only by women for exclusion from basic health coverage,” said Rep. Clyde, who will be introducing the bill in the House.

Rashida Manuel, a patient from Cincinnati, elaborated on the need to have guaranteed access to contraceptive coverage. “I’ve had two surgeries in the last few years because of my polycystic ovarian syndrome, and birth control pills are the preventative care that I need to ensure my body functions at its best,” Rashida said. “I’m more than willing to share my story, but I shouldn’t have to. My medical conditions are not my boss’s business—they’re mine and my doctor’s.”

“When we force women into deeper poverty or force them into a situation in which they must rely on an employer’s religious beliefs in order to make decisions about their own health care, we are not being kind,” said the Reverend Kate Shaner, Minister of Missions at the First Community Church in Columbus. “The thought that my daughters and your daughters would have their reproductive decisions made by an employer instead of themselves in consultation with their families, their clergy and their God seems archaic and inhumane at best.”


State Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) sent a letter Monday to House Education Committee Chairman Rep. Gerald Stebelton (R-Lancaster) calling for the panel to hold traveling committee hearings in the coming months on issues of charter school accountability and transparency.

The call for additional state oversight follows recent testimony before the state board of education from former educators and students with Horizon schools in Dayton. The testimony detailed alarming allegations of sexual misconduct, grade tampering, wasted tax dollars and racism.

Rep. Fedor, the highest-ranking Democrat on the panel, said in the letter that the state’s initial response was inadequate, warranting greater involvement from legislators. The state has since promised a full investigation, even targeting the teachers who came forward with complaints for further scrutiny.

“Although the state has now promised to look into these charges further, this matter seems best addressed by the body that appropriates money to — and writes laws governing — charter schools. Future policy decisions that will affect charter schools should be based on a full understanding of what is at stake, and I think a summer traveling committee would afford legislators a better opportunity to make informed decisions,” said Rep. Fedor in the letter.

The Ohio House of Representatives holds field hearings throughout the state during the summer to give more Ohioans a chance to interact with their legislators and explore specific state issues in depth. This summer, the House is scheduling two traveling committees — Law Enforcement Perspectives on the Drug Epidemic & Its Impact on Families Study Committee and the Unemployment Compensation Debt & Reducing Burdens on Ohio Businesses Study Committee. Last year, the House created three traveling study committees.

In a follow-up memo to the House Education Committee Chairman, Rep. Fedor included today’s Toledo Blade editorial, which called for stronger state standards for charter schools.

Rep. Fedor recently introduced two bills, HB 547 and 548, to help hold charter schools and their teachers to the same standards as public schools. 

State Job Growth Not Enough To Keep Pace With National Economy
June looks OK, but trend says otherwise on state job creation since recession
July 18, 2014

The state jobs report for June was released today, showing an unchanging May-to-June unemployment rate— 5.5 percent — in the Buckeye state. Job growth ticked up, but the larger trend suggests Ohio has a long way to go to share in the relative success of the national recovery.

“Months ago, the nation recovered the jobs lost during the recession, but Ohio still has a long way to go,” said House Democratic Whip Michael Ashford (D-Toledo). “And, many feel that you can attribute that directly to the GOP pattern of targeting tax cuts at the wealthy while increasing state spending and cutting funding to local communities and schools.”

Ohio ranks 41st in job creation nationally since the recession, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. In May of this year, the nation had recovered all the jobs lost since the recession — but with little help from Ohio. Job creation in the state since the economic crisis has decreased by 2.4 percent, while the national rate has increased by 0.3 percent.

“When will Ohio Republicans work across the aisle to grow our economy by putting middle-class families first,” asked Rep. Vernon Sykes (D-Akron). “It’s time to wake up and realize our economy is a little more complex than one party’s antiquated philosophy of concentrating wealth in the hands of a few.”

The governor and his allies spent much of 2013 and the first part of 2014 saying Ohio was ninth in job creation nationally, a statistic widely panned as faulty for failing to disaggregate job growth based on Ohio’s population and labor force.

“The epitome of economic stupidity is to pursue the same approach and expect a different outcome, and that’s exactly what Ohio’s GOP is doing,” said Rep. Robert F. Hagan (D-Youngstown). “They have rejected bi-partisan solutions to grow our economy, and the last three and a-half years show the detrimental economic impact of that.”

June’s job numbers reflect the largest gain for the state in a year, but sub-par monthly results continue to keep Ohio’s job growth rate close to one percent. The national job creation rate is closer to two percent.

“The governor should change his slogan to ‘Ohio Works for The Wealthy,’ because everyday Ohioans don’t buy what he’s selling,” said Rep. Mike Foley (D-Cleveland). “Every state has had a ‘comeback’ since the global recession, so when Ohio Republicans lean on our poor job growth over the last three and a-half years as something to be heralded — it’s dishonest.”

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data analyzed by Arizona State University’s WP Carey School of Business, Ohio finished 2013 as 44th in the nation for job creation. Ohio finished May 2014 as 38th in job creation, according to the school’s analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

“Outperforming only nine states in job creation since the recession is nothing to be glorified,” said Rep. Tom Letson (D-Warren). “It is past time for Ohio’s economy to reflect policies that benefit everyone in Ohio, not just those with the biggest bank accounts.”

Rep. Carney Calls For Legislative Oversight Of State Prison, Aramark Contract
Numerous contract violations warrant committee's review, says lawmaker
July 11, 2014

Today, State Rep. John Patrick Carney (D-Columbus) asked House Speaker Bill Batchelder to hold a hearing of bipartisan legislators to investigate the state’s controversial contract with private prison food vendor, Aramark Corporation. Rep. Carney’s letter follows multiple, recent reports of vendor contract breaches due to food shortages, improper employee behavior and unsanitary food conditions—including several separate instances of maggot infestations.

A copy of Rep. Carney’s letter to Speaker Batchelder can be seen below:

 July 10, 2014


Speaker Batchelder,

I am very troubled by the recent reports of maggots in state prison meals as a result of improper conduct by Aramark. My initial skepticism of the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC)’s decision to privatize food service delivery has proven accurate, as we are faced with more and more inconsistencies and violations on the part of Aramark’s food services to Ohio’s prisons.

Yesterday I submitted the attached letter to DRC Director Gary Mohr requesting public records about Aramark’s policies and services to Ohio’s prisons and documentation from several prisons concerning unsanitary living conditions. Given that more information emerged today indicating another maggot infestation in yet another prison, I am respectfully requesting hearings be held in the Finance Subcommittee on Transportation and Justice to investigate the severity of Aramark’s inability to meet the standards set forth in their $110 million contract with the state.

As I am sure you are aware, since their service began in September 2013, Aramark has faced much scrutiny over misconduct by its employees, resulting in 76 employees permanently banned from Ohio prisons. Additional contract violations resulted in a $142,000 fine for problems, including failure to hire enough workers to prepare and serve meals.

Yet, these fines have not solved the problems Aramark has created for Ohio prisons. Since the fine was implemented on April 18, 2014, we learned of food shortages at the Warren Correctional Institution and the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee (CIIC) reported on the poor quality of food supplied by Aramark to the Chillicothe Correctional Institution. Now, we are discovering that Aramark is providing our prisons with unsanitary food and equipment, including maggots reported at the Noble Correctional Institution, the Ohio Reformatory for Women and the Trumbull Correctional Institution.

Aramark’s failure to provide safe and sanitary conditions in our prisons must be resolved. The taxpayers of Ohio deserve to know how their money is being spent, and as such, we must hold accountable the entities entrusted with taxpayer money. I trust that you will convene these hearings promptly to protect taxpayers’ dollars and hold Aramark responsible for its actions.

I thank you in advance for your timely response to this urgent request.


Representative John Patrick Carney


To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, House Democratic Leader Maxwell Heard (D-Columbus) Wednesday released the following statement:

“Today’s anniversary is a sobering reminder that it takes monumental social action and sweeping government reforms to uphold the rights and liberties Americans hold sacred. There is no free market for our constitutionally-guaranteed rights. Rather, brave women and men throughout history fought tirelessly to compel their government to take action in order to form a more perfect union. And, whether it’s today’s fight for equal pay, access to the polls, workers’ rights or women’s healthcare rights, it is clear that many will be on the wrong side of history in the ongoing struggle for civil rights.”


What House Democrats Are Saying About Ohio's Abysmal Job Growth
Kasich Economy keeps Ohio 41st in nation for job creation from 2008-2014
July 03, 2014

National Public Radio’s economic series, Planet Money, today released a comparison of post-recession job gains and losses on a state-by-state basis from Jan. 2008 to May 2014. The comparison shows Ohio ranks 41st in post-recession job growth, with jobs shrinking by 2.4 percent in the Buckeye State.

“This shows what many Ohioans and Democrats have been saying about Governor Kasich’s economy all along,” said House Democratic Leader Tracy Maxwell Heard (D-Columbus). “His recovery for the rich is not creating jobs for the rest of Ohio. Tax cuts targeted at the wealthy aren’t creating the job growth Governor Kasich promised.”

Here is what other Democratic lawmakers are saying about the economic comparison:

“While Gov. Kasich and his allies promised fracking jobs would be a windfall for our state, it’s clear that their stance against requiring companies to hire Ohioans for theses jobs has meant that out-of-state workers continue to get work instead of Ohioans. Meanwhile, North Dakota and Texas are leading the nation in post-recession job growth thanks to oil and gas drilling. This is more proof that Gov. Kasich and Ohio’s GOP are lying about our state’s economy.” --Rep. Robert F. Hagan (D-Youngstown)

“Gov. Kasich’s state savings account has grown by $800 million, but middle class Ohioans have felt the pinch of more taxes and economic policies that favor the wealthy. Ohioans realize that wealth does not ‘trickle down’ and that the Ohio’s GOP view of what a successful economy means is wildly different from that of everyday Ohioans. Rich people continue to make out like bandits. Poor and Middle class people again got next to nothing.” --Rep. Mike Foley (D-Cleveland)

“Gov. Kasich promised an economic turnaround when he took office, yet he is failing to live up to that promise. Ohio is the seventh most impoverished state in the nation and welfare numbers are still trending upward. The top-down approach our governor has taken is straining the middle class and holding Ohio back. Ohioans deserve a leader who works on behalf of all citizens – not just a select few.”— Rep. Vernon Sykes (D-Akron)

“The national economy climbed back steadily from recession, yet it is a very different picture in Ohio. Our state consistently remains at the bottom in job growth, and we have fewer jobs than we did before the recession. Instead of catering to special interests and pandering to the wealthiest among us, Governor Kasich should push policies that help average Ohioans get back on their feet.”—House Democratic Whip Michael Ashford (D-Toledo) 

“We know that Ohioans have the skills and determination to make this state an economic powerhouse. But, the top-down, partisan priorities of Governor Kasich and the administration are holding us back from our true potential. Targeting tax breaks to the wealthiest Ohioans while cutting schools and communities is a strategy that is not working, and it continues to move our state in the wrong direction.” –Assistant Democratic Whip Dan Ramos (D-Lorain)


Post-Recession Job Growth Reaffirms Worst Fears Of Kasich Economy
Stagnant job growth keeps Ohio 41st in job creation from 2008-2014
July 03, 2014

National Public Radio’s economic series, Planet Money, today released a comparison of post-recession job gains and losses on a state-by-state basis from Jan. 2008 to May 2014. The comparison shows Ohio ranks 41st in post-recession job growth, with jobs shrinking by 2.4 percent in the Buckeye State.

The data is contrary to the Kasich Administration’s belief that Ohio’s economy has been a national leader in job growth under Kasich’s watch. The governor and his allies spent much of 2013 and the first part of 2014 saying Ohio was ninth in job creation nationally, a statistic widely panned as faulty for failing to disaggregate job growth based on Ohio’s labor force. Democrats often point to Arizona State University’s WP Carey School of Business for state-by-state job growth rankings. According to the university, Ohio finished 2013 as 44th nationally in job creation, and currently ranks 38th.

“This shows what many Ohioans and Democrats have been saying about Governor Kasich’s economy all along,” said House Democratic Leader Tracy Maxwell Heard (D-Columbus). “His recovery for the rich is not creating jobs for the rest of Ohio. Tax cuts targeted at the wealthy aren’t creating the job growth Governor Kasich promised.”

The collapse of Wall Street in the fall of 2008 triggered a global economic recession that impacted states all across the country, including Ohio. Ohio began to recover from the Great Recession in March 2010 when the unemployment rate first started to drop. Over the next 12 months, and before any of Gov. Kasich’s policies were in place, the unemployment rate would continue to drop to 8.8 percent, from over 10 percent, by March of 2011. 


Tax Hikes, Funding Cuts From Last Year's Budget Taking Hold
Bad economic growth, increasing local taxes mark one-year anniversary of budget
July 01, 2014

House Democratic Leader Tracy Maxwell Heard (D-Columbus) and members of the Democratic caucus today marked the start of the state’s new fiscal year and the one-year anniversary of the largest General Revenue Fund budget in state history. Gov. Kasich signed the last state budget bill on June 30, 2013. At the time, House Democrats stood in opposition to the budget, saying the toxic mix of tax hikes on working and middle class Ohioans and funding cuts to schools and communities would not create the economic opportunity Kasich and his Republican colleagues promised.

Republicans used property and sales tax increases along with funding cuts to schools and communities to target tax cuts at the state’s top income earners—a policy they say helps the state’s economy. Still, Ohio’s job creation rate trails the national average, and the state ranks 38 out of 50 over the last year in job creation according to the Arizona State University W.P. Carey School of Business.

“Instead of strengthening Ohio’s communities and prioritizing our schools, last year’s budget continues down a misguided road marked with more spending, but fewer results,” said Leader Heard. “The fact remains that a strong middle class, vibrant communities and a robust public education system drive economic growth, but Governor Kasich and his allies continue to turn a blind eye to reality for economic policies that favor a wealthy few.”

In recent weeks, news outlets throughout Ohio have reported that the state continues to shift the tax burden to local homeowners, seniors and farmers. Republicans accelerated the problem through the last state budget when they cut close to $600 million more from Ohio schools compared to 2011 levels. They also continued to cut funding for local communities, bringing the total amount of cuts since 2011 to some $1.1 billion.

“Communities across Ohio are suffering under Governor Kasich’s state budgets,” said Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent). “One year after he signed the most recent budget, Ohioans are still wondering why he raised taxes on the middle class, made cuts to local communities, hurt public schools and harmed women’s health. What Ohioans want from their state leaders are policies that strengthen schools, create jobs for our middle class and respect families’ medical decisions.”

Locals have largely viewed the cuts as irresponsible, while the moves have allowed the state to reduce its responsibility for education and essential services. Increasingly, communities and schools are forced to seek more levies from local taxpayers to make up the difference. The non-profit policy think-tank Innovation Ohio calculates that local taxes for schools alone have gone up 34 percent since Gov. Kasich and his legislative allies started cutting funding in 2011.

“If we truly wish to grow our economy and create jobs, the right course of action is to invest in education and infrastructure, but this requires taxation that is fair and shared,” Rep. John Patterson (D-Jefferson) said. “The current administration’s plan has clearly shifted the tax burden to the middle class."

In addition to cuts, Republican lawmakers and Gov. John Kasich increased the state’s sales tax by 4.5 percent while raising property taxes by 12.5 percent for new and replacement levies. The Kasich Administration estimates the sales tax hike will cost Ohioans at least $425 million over the course of the year, and the 12.5 percent property tax increase could cost local taxpayers millions more.

“It’s mind-boggling that, in the largest budget in state history, Republicans still could not find room for investment in public education or our middle class,” said Rep. Robert F. Hagan (D-Youngstown). “Our local communities are hurting, but their calls for help continue to be met with cold indifference from our GOP-controlled state government.”

During last year’s budget debate, House Democrats attempted to invest in middle class Ohioans and reverse the trend of shifting taxes to middleclass homeowners and seniors. Democratic lawmakers have also unsuccessfully pushed the GOP-controlled state government to prioritize schools and communities by restoring state funding to pre-Kasich levels.

“Historic cuts to local schools and communities force an extra burden on Ohio taxpayers with an increase in local tax levies across the state,” said House Democratic Whip and State Rep. Michael Ashford (D-Toledo). “With slow economic growth and a lack of good-paying jobs, regular families in Ohio cannot afford the extra tax burden that the state has placed on them. And our state’s slow economic growth shows this.”


Healthcare Decisions Should Not Be Placed In The Hands Of Corporations
Supreme Court rules that Hobby Lobby, corporations can limit healthcare coverage based on religious belief
June 30, 2014

Today, Ohio Democratic Women’s Caucus Chair Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) released the following statement in response to a Supreme Court decision allowing certain companies the right to refuse contraception coverage on a health insurance plan.

 “Today, five men decided the reproductive fate of countless female employees in a historic ruling that places the religious preferences of a few over the health and safety of millions of women across the country. A woman’s healthcare decisions should be made in her doctor’s office, not a corporate board room and today’s ruling undermines the ability of a woman to make her own decisions. According to the Supreme Court, the religious beliefs of a corporation officially trump the healthcare options of individual employees. Now, access to healthcare benefits could be determined by a boss, not by an individual or her doctor.”  

Rep. Phillips: Harmful Policies Leave Unemployed Ohioans Behind
Thousands remain without work, little hope of getting ahead
June 20, 2014

The state jobs report for May was released today, highlighting the loss of 14,000 Ohioans from the workforce and 10,700 nonagricultural jobs in state-targeted industrial sectors last month, despite the unemployment rate ticking down to 5.5 percent from 5.7 percent in April. On Thursday, the U.S. Labor Department reported that Ohio’s job creation rate for the fourth quarter of 2013 was below the national average again, at 1.4 percent compared to 1.8 percent nationwide. The Labor Department report also suggested that Ohio’s wages have continued to fall since the second quarter 2013. In response, House Assistant Democratic Leader Debbie Phillips (D-Albany) released the following statement:

“While Gov. Kasich touts a so-called ‘economic miracle,’ the sad reality is that more than 10,000 Ohioans lost their jobs this month, and even more have simply stopped looking. At the same time, Gov. Kasich and the GOP-dominated legislature continue to make it harder for these Ohioans to get ahead by pursuing policies that benefit a select few at the expense of everybody else, like cutting funds to schools while giving tax breaks to the wealthy. It is time to do better for the thousands of Ohioans who simply want a stable job that provides for their family—we need state policies that promote strong communities and broad-based opportunity, rather than just rewarding the few who are well-connected.”

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