Eleventh-hour Lawmaking Brings Strictest Abortion Ban In The Nation To Kasich's Desk
Ohio joins unconstitutional protest against women's access to healthcare
December 06, 2016
 
 

Eleventh-hour lawmaking brought the strictest abortion ban in the nation to Gov. John Kasich’s desk this evening, for his signature into law. With U.S. Senate inaction giving way to a pending U.S. Supreme Court justice appointment from President-elect Donald Trump, Ohio Republicans appear to be counting on a new federal bench to re-litigate the constitutionality of their attacks on women’s health care. But Roe v. Wade is settled law upheld most recently by the Whole Women’s Health decision which overturned undue burdens on women’s access to abortion. 


The unprecedented six-week abortion ban was amended into House Bill 493, legislation that strengthens Ohio’s child abuse reporting system. The last-minute amendment comes as the legislature closes out the 131st General Assembly on Thursday. 


Here is what House Democratic lawmakers are saying about the six-week abortion ban: 


“The six-week ban is a shameful, gross government invasion of deeply personal and private decisions made by families and women in consultation with medical professionals. The role of government should not be one that overrides the sovereignty women have over their own bodies and healthcare decisions. The fact that this unconstitutional ban doesn’t even include an exception for rape or incest is an embarrassment that directly conflicts with our values as Americans.” –House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) 


“This vote says to the women of Ohio that legislators do not trust your ability to make personal decisions. Legislators should not practice medicine without a license. We need to respect the constitutionally protected right to privacy and honor women's decision making ability. House Democratic lawmakers call on Governor Kasich to immediately veto this extreme and unconstitutional restriction.” –House Democratic Whip Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood) 


“If the legislature is serious about supporting life, how about supporting babies and families in a state with one of the worst infant mortality rates in the nation? How about finally adequately funding our children’s education? For all the talk from some lawmakers about the sanctity and value of life, that value seems to end once the child is outside the womb. This extreme, unconstitutional legislation places partisan politics above the health and well-being of Ohio women and their families.” –Rep. Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) 


“Roe vs Wade was not the beginning of women having abortions – it was the end of women dying from them. Today, Ohio's women were intentionally put at risk. To pass this legislation and to do so without an exception for rape or incest is unconscionable. This legislature has turned its back on victims.” –State Rep. Greta Johnson (D-Akron) 


“By passing legislation that would ban abortions at such an early stage of gestation would, in many cases, require a transvaginal ultrasound to determine if an abortion is legal – even in cases of rape and incest – this legislature shows contempt for women, their health, and their autonomy as citizens.  


“At some point in this country we must accept and agree that women are people and capable of making their own decisions about their own bodies.  It’s clear, at least in the Ohio House, the Republican Majority is not there yet.”  –State Rep. Dan Ramos (D-Lorain) 


“The Senate and House action relative to HB 493 is not good government. To take a piece of well- intended legislation and slip in a harmful provision at the last minute is the epitome of bad government. The six-week abortion ban imposes political agenda upon the intimate family planning choices of a woman and her physician. Decisions about medical care need to be left to women in consultation with their health care provider, their families and their faith, NOT politicians.” –State Rep. Kevin Boyce (D-Columbus)

 
 
  
 
House Dems: Ohio Legislature Threatens Job Growth With Energy Standards Redo
Bucks leading business movement to renewable energy sources
December 06, 2016
 
 

House Democratic lawmakers today criticized the passage of House Bill (HB) 554, saying legislation that changes the state’s energy efficiency standards to unenforceable “goals” through 2019 will harm consumers and jeopardize thousands of manufacturing and development jobs in Ohio’s advanced energy industry. 


“Ohio has a long and proud history as a leader in the industrial economy. However, as globalism expands and corporations ship more blue collar jobs overseas, we must adapt and invest in advanced technologies to pave the path to economic stability for working families, but this bill sets us back.” said House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton). 


Ohio’s energy efficiency standards were originally passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in 2008. According to various reports, the standards have since saved consumers over $1 billion in energy costs, helped create thousands of jobs in the state’s advanced energy industry, and were on track to reduce an estimated 23 million tons of annual carbon pollution by 2029, helping prevent thousands of lost work days, asthma attacks, heart attacks and premature deaths. 


“The skills and knowledge obtained by Ohio workers in cutting-edge energy technologies puts them at the forefront of an advanced sector of the economy and positions us to compete in the twenty-first century,” Strahorn added. “We owe Ohioans who need good jobs more than outdated policies that discourage new growth.”   


The nation and world’s leading companies are increasingly turning to renewable energy sources to power their businesses. Some of the largest corporate brands – including Apple, Coca-Cola Enterprises, Facebook, General Motors, Google, Microsoft, Nike, Cincinnati-based Proctor & Gamble, Starbucks, Walmart and more – have all publicly pledged to procure 100 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by a certain date in the near future. 


“We need to advance Ohio into the future with policies that include strategies for sustainable, renewable energy,” said Democratic Whip Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood). “House bill 554 is not a solution for Ohioans and actually burdens consumers and businesses. That is why I voted against this bill.” 


“With this step backward, we are shirking our responsibility to fight the critical issue of our time and missing out on a forward-looking opportunity for smart growth and development,” said Rep. David Leland (D-Columbus). “There are over 100,000 clean energy jobs in Ohio. Because of our manufacturing workforce and capacity, we are better situated than almost any other state to take advantage of this clean energy economic boom.” 


Amazon Web Services, Inc., an Amazon.com subsidiary, recently announced plans to build a $300 million wind farm in Hardin County, Ohio, in addition to their 100-megawatt wind farm in nearby Paulding County that is expected to start producing electricity next May. 


“Ohio is drastically under utilizing its manufacturing sector capabilities, its natural resources and its workforce by continuing to put roadblocks in front of the emerging clean energy industry,” said Rep. Kent Smith (D-Euclid). “Moving from a carbon based power generation economy to a renewable and clean based economy will not happen overnight. But doing nothing is not an option. This is a fight I will not give up. I am committed to continue working for good jobs and smart economic growth.”    


Thanks to the state energy efficiency standards, Ohio had an opportunity to position itself as a leader in the burgeoning renewable energy industry. The future of the roughly 7,200 Ohio businesses and approximately 89,000 Ohio workers currently supported by Ohio’s clean energy industry is now uncertain following the passage of HB 554. 


“Ohio must look at building a renewable energy portfolio that makes significant investment in future technology,” said Rep. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland). “We need to get to a place where we’re not only providing careers with family sustaining wages and benefits, but also being intentional about protecting the health of communities and the environment. HB 554 is shortsighted and will only hinder Ohio's economic competitiveness in being a global leader in the renewable energy industry. These new standards, or lack thereof, are a missed opportunity to bolster emerging sectors of Ohio’s economy.” 

 
 
  
 
Clyde Responds To Good And Bad News In Ohio's Vote Certification
Lawmaker fought successfully to count 7,515 purged voters' ballots
December 02, 2016
 
 

State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) responded to yesterday’s certification of the Ohio’s vote totals.


“There was both good news and bad news this year in the counting of Ohio’s votes,” said Rep. Clyde. “Because of our long fight to count ballots and the persistence of voting rights advocates, the good news is that 7,515 illegally purged voters had their ballots counted instead of thrown out yesterday. If Secretary Husted had prevailed, those ballots would have been thrown out again and the provisional ballot count rate would have been the worst since Ken Blackwell ran the 2004 election. Instead, the 2016 count rate was just under average for the last decade.


“The bad news is Ohio’s voter turnout was the lowest since the year 2000. Secretary Husted is touting a falsely high turnout rate among registered voters, rolls that have been shrunken by years of aggressive voter purging. The real turnout of Ohio’s voting eligible population was only 64.1%. When voter turnout is low, all Ohioans are worse off. Meanwhile, Minnesota with a culture of easy voting and encouragement of civic duty saw 75% of their eligible citizens turn out.”


Below are the presidential election turnout rates in Ohio going back to 2000 and the available provisional ballot count rates going back to 2004.


Ohio Voting Eligible Population Turnout in Presidential Elections 2000 - 2016











2016


64.1%


2012


65.1%


2008


67.8%


2004


67.9%





2000


57.8%


Source: http://www.electproject.org/home/voter-turnout/voter-turnout-data


 


Provisional Ballot Count Rates 2004 – 2016



























2016


85.17%


2015


84.63%


2014


90.39%


2013


88.06%


2012


83.52%


2011


86.33%


2010


88.81%


2009


86.67%


2008


80.67%


2007


84.78%


2006


80.79%


2004


77.9%


Source: http://www.sos.state.oh.us/SOS/elections/Research/electResultsMain.aspx

 
 
  

Along party lines, the Ohio Senate’s Public Utilities Committee today rejected Gov. John Kasich’s appointment of M. Howard Petricoff, a Democrat, to the Public Utility Commission of Ohio (PUCO). Petricoff’s appointment to the PUCO more closely followed historical interpretations of Ohio law that prevents PUCO from having more than three commissioners affiliated with or belonging to the same political party.


“The Senate’s rejection of Mr. Petricoff is a case in point as to why reform is needed in the way Ohio’s public utility law has been interpreted in recent years,” said David Leland (D-Columbus). “In Mr. Petricoff, it seems we have a qualified and experienced choice that would bring balance and diversity in philosophy to the work of the commission, but recent party-line appointments have empowered lawmakers to put political party above all else. Balance and competing perspectives are fundamental to ensuring sound public policy that weighs the interests of business with the health and checkbooks of Ohio consumers.”


Columbus lawmaker Rep. David Leland introduced legislation to bring bipartisanship back to the state panel that is supposed to balance multi-billion-dollar utility decisions with best interests of consumers in the state.


Leland’s legislation, House Bill 122, was introduced in March of 2015 and is scheduled for a first hearing next week in House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee. 

 
 
  
 
Sheehy Joins State, Federal Lawmakers In Efforts To Improve Lake Erie Water Quality
Northwest Ohio elected officials at all levels call for unity and immediate action
December 01, 2016
 
 

State Rep. Michael Sheehy (D-Oregon) today hailed recent calls to action at both the state and federal level for more comprehensive efforts to improve the health of Lake Erie, saying cooperation and unity were key to ensuring the region’s greatest natural resource is adequately protected and preserved for future generations.


On Tuesday, U.S. Reps. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) and Debbie Dingell (D-MI) made a joint plea for the U.S. EPA to step in and designate the open water of Lake Erie’s western basin as impaired under the federal Clean Water Act. The same day, Sheehy offered sponsor testimony on House Resolution (HR) 214, legislation encouraging support for the 2016 agreement between Ontario, Michigan, and Ohio that established a goal of a 40 percent phosphorus reduction in the lake by 2025. 


“The combined efforts of federal and state lawmakers all calling for action at virtually the same day and time clearly underscores the will of the people to take aggressive action to save our fresh water in Maumee and Lake Erie,” said Sheehy. “Collectively, we have been pushing for reform and adequate funding to keep our constituents, wildlife and infrastructure safe from toxic runoff. Our beloved lake cannot wait any longer – we must save it now.”


Concern over the extent of harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie resonates in both chambers of the state legislature. Sen. Edna Brown (D-Toledo) also recently testified in support of Senate Bill (SB) 224, legislation emphasizing the importance of monitoring the distribution, use, and location of manure, as well as closing loopholes to make enforcement of manure application limits more effective. 

 
 
  

House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) took issue with the decision today by the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) to revoke the operating license for the Women’s Medical Center of Dayton.


“I believe women have the constitutional right to make their own personal healthcare decisions in consultation with their physician and their families,” said Strahorn. “Not only does this decision jeopardize that fundamental freedom and right, but it stands on shaky legal ground by using questionable policies that have been drawn into constitutional question by Ohio courts and the U.S. Supreme Court.”  


The state says the health care facility didn’t qualify for a variance from a 2013 Ohio transfer agreement restriction – a hurdle that has been struck down twice as unconstitutional by Ohio courts. Similar restrictions were also ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt. Attorney General Mike DeWine is currently appealing the latest Ohio court order.


The Women’s Medical Center of Dayton has been meeting changing demands from ODH regarding the number of back-up obstetricians needed for a variance from Ohio’s 2013 restrictions, but a recent doctor harassment and intimidation campaign made it difficult to meet a new arbitrary four-doctor threshold from ODH

 
 
  
 
Dems Join National Popular Vote Interstate Compact To Restore Citizen's Democracy
Lawmakers say electoral college does not respect will of the people
December 01, 2016
 
 

State Reps. Dan Ramos (D-Lorain) and David Leland (D-Columbus) today announced they plan to introduce new legislation aimed at restoring true democracy in America by ensuring the presidential candidate that receives the greatest total of votes is the candidate that ends up in the White House. This legislation proposes that Ohio join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, a group of states that pledge their entire Electoral College delegation to the winner of the national popular vote during the general election.


“This is a change that is long overdue. Two-thirds of the presidents elected in my adult life will have been chosen by the Electoral College in their first term without a corresponding majority of the electorate,” said Ramos. “Our current framework does not respect the direct will of the people. This is patently undemocratic and undermines confidence in the people that we are truly a democracy.”


The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact would allow for the national popular vote for president to be chosen by the states through the Electoral College, without dictating how states choose their electors and without the need for a constitutional amendment. Instead, it would allow states to award all electoral votes to whichever candidate wins the popular vote – the vote of the people.


“For the second time in 16 years the will of the American people has been hijacked by the Electoral College. Enough is enough,” said Leland. “This National Popular Vote legislation will add Ohio to the compact of states that believe, in a true Democracy, the candidate with the most votes wins.”


The lawmakers’ proposal will not affect the outcome of this year’s presidential election. The compact will automatically go into effect when enough states join to represent an absolute electoral majority – 270 electoral votes.


Since 2007, 10 states and the District of Columbia – a total of 165 electoral votes – have joined the compact. Should Ohio join, the compact’s electoral total would jump to 183 electoral votes. 

 
 
  

House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) today issued the following statement in response to the violent attack at Ohio State’s campus that harmed nine individuals:


“I am deeply saddened by the violent attacks at Ohio State’s main campus today. Now, more than ever, we must support one another as we strive to respond to and comprehend such a tragic and senseless attack.


“No student should have to fear for their safety. Our schools and universities should be safe spaces where students can learn in the classroom and from each other, while growing as individuals and expressing themselves freely. As an elected official, I am committed to ensuring students, faculty, staff and their families feel safe and secure on campus.


“I am grateful for the heroic efforts of our law enforcement officials, first responders and healthcare workers, whose quick and decisive actions undoubtedly saved lives.


“The entire Ohio State University family is in our hearts, thoughts and prayers.”

 
 
  
 
House Dems Add GOP Support To Call For Kasich To Declare Statewide Opioid Emergency
House Resolution 510 picks up Republican leadership backing
November 17, 2016
 
 

The House Democratic Caucus’ call for Gov. John Kasich to declare Ohio’s heroin and opioid epidemic a statewide emergency has officially earned the backing of top House Republican leadership.


In August, Democratic lawmakers called on the governor to address the historic number of Ohioans dying from opioids and heroin by declaring a statewide emergency or releasing emergency funding for first responders, law enforcement and local health organizations. At the time, the governor’s office pushed back hard, denying they had the ability to declare a statewide emergency and release funding, even though they had done so in the past for numerous catastrophes and events like the 2016 Republican National Committee Convention in Cleveland.


After the back and forth with the governor’s office, state Reps. Denise Driehaus (D-Cincinnati) and Greta Johnson (D-Akron) introduced legislation formally calling on Kasich to declare an emergency and release funding – a caucus-wide effort that garnered broad support.


“The support for our efforts from members in Republican House leadership sends a positive message to citizens throughout the state that we can do more together, and that we want to do more together, to fight this historic statewide crisis,” said Driehaus. “I am hopeful bipartisan support for the governor to act will loosen the reluctance of the administration to recognize the opioid epidemic for the emergency that it is and take decisive, meaningful action.”


House Resolution 510 earned support from House Speaker Pro Tempore Ron Amstutz (R-Wooster), the second highest-ranking Republican House legislator, in addition to support from House Education Committee Chairman Andrew Brenner (R-Powell) and state Rep. Ron Hood (R-Ashville).


“Heroin and opioid overdoses and deaths don’t only hit Democratic districts or big cities,” said Johnson. “This is a statewide crisis of emergency proportions that is tearing families and communities apart all across our state, and I believe the broad bipartisan support for more action underscores this reality.”


If passed by the Republican-controlled legislature, HR 510 would put tremendous political pressure on Gov. Kasich to declare a statewide emergency and release emergency funding to combat the opioid crisis. The resolution has been assigned to the House Health and Aging Committee, but there are is currently no indication if it will be brought to a vote in the near future.

 
 
  

State Rep. and Caucus Dean Jack Cera (D-Bellaire) today announced the Ohio House Democratic Caucus has selected their new leadership team for the 132nd General Assembly. State Rep. Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) was re-elected to the highest minority leadership position, House Democratic leader, in a caucus-wide vote this evening.


“Words cannot express my level of appreciation and respect for the talent, dedication and work that our leadership team, members and staff have shared with Ohioans over the last two years. We are truly grateful and better because of their efforts,” said Strahorn. “I also would like to thank Rep. Jack Cera for his continued leadership within our caucus. I look forward to growing and developing our caucus over the next two years.”


Rep. Cera will continue to play a key role in the leadership of the caucus, while Leader Strahorn will be joined on leadership by Assistant Democratic Leader Nicholas J. Celebrezze (D-Parma), Democratic Whip Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood) and Assistant Democratic Whip Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron).


“Our success will only be possible because of the high caliber members and staff that will dedicate their public service to the pursuit of a stronger Ohio during the next two years. I am humbled by their continued trust and support,” said Celebrezze, who served as assistant leader in the 131st General Assembly.


In addition to Rep. Celebrezze, Rep. Antonio was also re-elected to her respective leadership position.


“I am honored to continue our work together as a caucus, united by the promise of freedom and allied by the fight for equality. We are unified in our belief in our state and our hope for the future,” said Antonio.


The caucus is bringing on state Rep. Emilia Strong Sykes, an Akron lawmaker in her first term, as assistant Democratic whip.


“I feel honored to serve my colleagues, constituents and fellow Ohioans in this leadership position,” said Sykes. “I am eager to work together to show our state that we find strength in our differences and that we realize opportunity and unity from our diversity.”

 
 
  
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Dem Lawmakers Call On Kasich To Declare Opioid Crisis A Statewide Emergency

 

Democratic lawmakers today called on the Governor John Kasich to recognize the devastating opioid addiction epidemic for what it is: a public health emergency. At a statehouse press conference this morning the lawmakers said the state must have a strong, unified response and release emergency state funding to combat the statewide opioid crisis that is claiming lives in rural areas and urban centers alike.    

“The first step in any road to recovery is admitting that you have a problem, and it’s time for the administration to recognize the opioid addiction crisis as the public health emergency that it is,” said Rep. Greta Johnson (D-Akron). “Too many Ohio families are losing loved ones to drug addiction and overdoses. We must marshal all available state resources and attention to fight back against this rapidly growing threat to our communities.”



 
 

Johnson Pushes For Statewide Opioid Response

 

State Rep. Greta Johnson (D-Akron), today responded to Gov. John Kasich’s Thursday comments at the Regional Judicial Opioid Initiative and the state’s actions to combat the opioid epidemic. The governor’s optimistic comments came on the same day the Ohio Department of Health released the report on 2015 Ohio Drug Overdose Data stating fentanyl-related drug overdoses more than doubled from 2014 to 2015. And the numbers continue to climb. For July 2016, Summit County alone experienced an estimated 395 overdoses, which matched the total number of overdoses in the county for the four months prior combined.*

“State leaders still refuse to call the opioid epidemic what it is: a public health crisis,” said Johnson. “It is imperative we remain hopeful and positive, but only if we are also employing all available resources to the law enforcement officers and treatment providers on the front lines. There has yet to be a coherent, statewide response to this devastating public health crisis that is killing more Ohioans than ever before. Summit County is doing a tremendous job at treating and preventing overdoses in my district, but with greater funding and direction from the state, we could be doing far more.”



 
 

Lawmakers Push Solution To Stabilize 31 Fiscally Distressed Communities Hit Hard By Kasich's Budget Cuts

 

State Reps. Kent Smith (D-Euclid) and Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus) today announced a new plan to assist struggling communities hit hardest by Governor Kasich’s budget cuts and tax shifting policies over the past several years. Since taking office, Gov. Kasich cut over $1.7 billion in local community funding. Over 70 cities have lost at least $1 million each year due to Kasich’s budgeting and tax decisions, and 12 small cities have lost at least $2 million each, per year.



 
 

Ohio Rep. Greta Johnson On Women's Access To Healthcare: "We're Not Damsels In Distress Tied To Railroad Tracks, We Are The Train Carrying The Message."

 

Ohio House Democratic members hosted a press conference today to speak out against the recent attacks on women’s access to healthcare. Led by State Rep. Greta Johnson (D-Akron), the lawmakers introduced a package of bills aimed at securing and expanding women’s access to comprehensive healthcare services.

WATCH Rep. Johnson deliver her powerful closing above.