Today is Memorial Day, a day set aside every year to honor the heroic women and men who have put their lives on the line to fight for our American values of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Memorial Day originated in the 1800’s after the American Civil War, originally recognized as Decoration Day. The day of observance was used to decorate a soldier’s grave with flowers and memorabilia.


The earliest celebration of this national day of remembrance was initiated in the north states and, decades later, expanded to the south. Memorial Day originally only honored those lives lost during the Civil War, but during World War I the holiday became a time to commemorate lives lost in all wars. It was not until 1971 that Congress passed the National Holiday Act, making Memorial Day an official nationally recognized holiday.


In 2000, the “National Moment of Remembrance” resolution was passed in an effort to re-engage Americans in the celebration of our veterans. This resolution asks that Americans voluntarily take a moment of silence at 3p.m. out of remembrance and respect to reflect on those who have fought for our country while listening to Taps.


On this day, many families visit the graves of fallen veterans, to recognize and appreciate the life and service of those sworn to protect our country. Today, roughly 1,264,000 American soldiers have lost their lives in wars.[1] Be sure to thank a veteran and take a moment of silence in honor of the women and men that made the ultimate sacrifice for our great nation. 



[1] http://www.civilwar.org/education/history/faq/?referrer=https://www.google.com/


 
 
  

Lead Democratic member of the House Education Committee State Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) today issued the following statement in response to reports that one-third of charter schools have closed or failed to even open after receiving $30 million in federal grants during the last decade: 


“In no organization, public or private, is this abhorrent level of mismanagement and waste tolerated. But in Ohio it has not only been tolerated, but encouraged by state education officials who directed thirty million dollars over the last decade to charter schools that have closed or never even opened. By failing to hold charter schools to the same standards and expectations as traditional schools, the state is failing an entire generation of children who will not be able to earn the skills they need to succeed. State inaction has allowed charter schools to not only embezzle tax dollars, but to embezzle something more precious that cannot be measured or counted – the hopes and dreams of so many Ohio children and families.”

 
 
  
 
Rep. Ramos: Ohio Pushes Nation Past Halfway Point For Access To Legal Medical Marijuana
Landmark legislation will give patients, doctors alternatives for treatment of severe injuries, illnesses
May 25, 2016
 
 

State Rep. Dan Ramos (D-Lorain) today announced the final passage of House Bill (HB) 523, legislation to legalize the use of certain forms of medical marijuana in Ohio to treat a variety of illnesses and injuries, including cancer, chronic pain, epilepsy, traumatic brain injury, Parkinson’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, spinal cord injury, HIV and AIDS. Ohio will become the 26th state in the nation to grant access to legal medical marijuana once the bill is signed into law.    


“After an historic vote, Ohio citizens suffering from severe pain or chronic illness will now be able to seek relief through the use of this non-addictive medicine,” said Ramos, who served as ranking minority member of the Select Committee on Medical Marijuana, was a founding member of the Medical Marijuana Task Force, and was instrumental in penning HB 523. “From children with seizure disorders to returning war heroes with PTSD, this bill will help to manage symptoms that get in the way of everyday life. I am honored to have had the opportunity to take part in drafting monumental legislation that will dramatically change so many people’s lives for the better.”


Oversight and regulation of the new medical marijuana system will be shared amongst several state agencies, including the Department of Commerce, the Ohio Board of Pharmacy, the Ohio State Medical Board. A new 13-member Medical Marijuana Control Commission will be established to promulgate rules and advise the aforementioned agencies.


Under the legislation, patients may receive treatment from physicians who obtain a license to prescribe medical marijuana. Doctors could prescribe cannabis oil, tinctures, plant material, edibles or patches to treat 20 serious medical conditions specifically listed in the bill. The measure also allows cannabis to be vaporized by patients, but not smoked. 


The bill now awaits the governor’s signature. 

 
 
  
 
Democratic Proposal To Modernize State Domestic Violence Laws Clears House
Bipartisan legislation will close loophole that leaves victims vulnerable to intimate partner violence
May 25, 2016
 
 

The Ohio House of Representatives today passed House Bill (HB) 392, legislation to modernize Ohio’s domestic violence laws. The bill, sponsored by Democratic freshman State Reps. Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) and Christie Kuhns (D-Cincinnati), will allow victims of domestic violence at the hands of an intimate partner to obtain civil protective orders against their attacker. 


If enacted, HB 392 will close a loophole in existing state law that leaves thousands of Ohioans without recourse in the event of domestic violence. Ohio only defines domestic violence as occurring between spouses, family members, those cohabiting, or parents. People in ongoing, substantial, intimate and romantic relationships are not included in Ohio’s definition. 


“The most dangerous moment for a victim of domestic violence is when they try to separate from their abuser,” said Sykes. “By modernizing Ohio’s domestic violence laws to include individuals in serious dating relationships, we can help victims in any abusive relationship access the recourse they need to end the cycle of violence.” 


Ohio and Georgia are the only two states that do not cover dating violence under their domestic violence laws. Kentucky, the last Ohio border state to expand protections, signed a domestic violence modernization bill into law last year. 


“Protections for victims of domestic violence in dating relationships have been in place in other states for over a decade. It is a shameful that Ohio is one of only two states who have yet to make this change,” said Kuhns. “By closing this loophole we can ensure that Ohio treats all domestic violence survivors the same.” 


The National Domestic Violence Hotline defines abuse as a repetitive pattern of behaviors, including physical or sexual violence, threats, intimidation, emotional abuse, and economic deprivation, used to maintain power and control over an intimate partner. Women aged 18 to 34 face the highest rates of intimate partner violence. In the United States, a woman is assaulted or beaten every nine seconds. 


House Bill 392 passed the House with bipartisan support with a vote of 89-0. The bill now goes to the Senate for further consideration.
  

 
 
  

Ohio Legislative Black Caucus (OLBC) President and State Rep. Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati) and members of the OLBC today introduced a resolution to remove slavery references from the Ohio constitution, calling the references archaic and offensive to all Ohioans, including those whose ancestors were kidnapped and held captive as slaves.


“No slavery, no exceptions,” said Reece. “Over 150 years after our nation abolished slavery, there can be no acceptable circumstance for slavery in our state, and our constitution must reflect that. In 2016, this General Assembly should give Ohioans the opportunity to take slavery out of our state’s guiding document.”


Section six of the Ohio constitution’s Bill of Rights says “there shall be no slavery in this State; nor involuntary servitude, unless for the punishment of crime.”


“Any form of slavery, regardless of the circumstance, is immoral and abhorrent and should not be condoned by the state constitution,” said State Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Akron). “The people of Ohio should have the chance to remove the antiquated, offensive slavery reference from our state’s founding document.”


Should the resolution receive approval from three-fifths of both the House and Senate, a statewide proposal to remove the slavery reference from the state constitution would be put on the ballot this November.


“This issue is about more than language – it’s about our values and what we stand for as a state,” said House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton). “A constitution is not just an arrangement of governing laws, but a set of fundamental principles that guides its people. Slavery has no rightful place in our state’s founding document.”  


The OLBC also announced they will hold their decennial convention, required by the caucus’ bylaws, from July 15 to 17 in Cincinnati.


“As we continue to grapple with modern day forms of slavery such as human trafficking, it is important that our state constitution does not condone any form of involuntary servitude,” said Rep. Michael Ashford (D-Toledo).


“OLBC legislators will be introducing companion resolutions in both the House and the Senate that will remove the mentioning of slavery from the Ohio Constitution,” said Ohio Sen. and Senate Assistant Democratic Leader Charleta Tavares (D-Columbus). “The implementation of this legislation is critical as we attempt to move Ohio forward. Having the following six words, ‘unless for the punishment of crime’ stricken from the Constitution will help rid ourselves of any vestiges of our dark and brutal past. We cannot continue to allow this exception to remain in the Ohio Constitution and we will not allow ourselves to go backward. We will fight this issue until the victory is won.” 

 
 
  
 
Public Officials Who Break The Law Could Lose Their Pensions Under Recently Passed House Bill
Sponsor says it's good government, Boccieri says Legislature isn't really serious about public corruption
May 24, 2016
 
 

State Rep. John Boccieri (D-Poland) today reiterated his call for comprehensive campaign finance reform while affirming his support for House Bill 284. The bill adds extortion, perjury, and certain federal offenses to the list of convictions that could cause an individual to lose public retirement system benefits. The House passed the legislation earlier this afternoon by a vote of 88-2. 


The ‘good government’ bill is well-intended, but fails to target the real root cause of public corruption, according to Boccieri.


“The sponsor said this is 'good government' and I said the Legislature needs to get serious,” Boccieri said. “If the General Assembly wants to start tackling public corruption, then at the top of the list should be campaign finance reform. I supported this legislation in the hopes that it would be one more deterrent to prevent bad decisions by officeholders. However, bills like this end up burdening the families of public officials who become offenders instead of targeting the root cause of public corruption: the obscene amount of money in the political process.”


Since the Supreme Court held in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010) that the First Amendment prohibits government restrictions on political expenditures, all types of advocacy and political organizations have had free rein to engage in unlimited political spending. As a result, wealthy interests have had an advantage in gaining the ear of politicians and influencing policy decisions. Rep. Boccieri feels strongly that these interests cloud public officials’ ability to adequately serve their constituents and prioritize their needs.


“We need to crack down on money in politics because it stacks the system against everyday people and drowns out their voices,” Rep. Boccieri said.


HB 284 was sponsored by Reps. Mike Dovilla (R-Berea) and Marlene Anielski (R-Walton hills) and now heads to the Senate for consideration. 

 
 
  
 
Sheehy's Bicycle Safety Bill Passes Ohio House
Says bipartisan legislation will prevent fatal accidents, protect communities
May 24, 2016
 
 

State Rep. Michael P. Sheehy (D-Oregon) today applauded the House passage of House Bill (HB) 154, bipartisan legislation aimed at improving safety standards for cyclists in Ohio.


“This common-sense legislation will help motorists and cyclists stay safe while sharing the road,” said Sheehy. “Several states have already passed similar legislation, including Kentucky and Pennsylvania. As more and more Ohioans choose alternate modes of transportation, it is imperative that we modernize our laws to protect all Ohioans.”


Under HB 154, a motor vehicle must allow at least three feet of space when passing a cyclist on a road. In addition, the legislation allows cyclists at an intersection where the traffic control signal is malfunctioning to follow the same procedures that apply to an intersection directed by stop signs. 


HB 154, which was joint-sponsored with State Rep. Michael Henne (R-Clayton), passed the House today with broad bipartisan support. The bill now goes to the Senate for further consideration.

 
 
  
 
Bipartisan OVI Immobilization Reform Bill Clears Ohio House
Legislation makes common-sense changes to OVI sentencing, vehicle impoundment
May 24, 2016
 
 

State Reps. John Rogers (D-Mentor-on-the-Lake) and Robert Cupp (R-Lima) today hailed the House passage of House Bill (HB) 436, legislation to addresses inconsistency in state law with regard to OVI license suspension and offender vehicle immobilization.  


“This issue was brought to my attention by Judge John Trebets and other members of the judiciary in Lake County,” said Rogers. “Essentially, because of a clear discrepancy in state law, judges are faced with a situation where OVI offenders are issued a license suspension of 45 days with a mandatory vehicle immobilization of 90 days. Thus, after 45 days an offender with their driving privileges restored are still not allowed the ability to use their car. This bill remedies this inconsistency while keeping in place proper judicial discretion and penalties in OVI cases. It just makes sense.”  


Under current law, the court may allow a second-time OVI offender restricted driving privileges after 45 days of the imposition of a driver’s license suspension. However, a court may not release the offender’s vehicle from the immobilized order until 90 days have elapsed. This lack of conformity is problematic as individuals may be permitted to drive to work, but not have a vehicle to do so.  


“HB 436 will enable the existing law on this matter to work better and in a more practical way by making the time periods for suspension and immobilization work together. Moreover, it gives the judges handling the case needed discretion tailored to the particular circumstances,” said Cupp.


If the courts lift the immobilization order, and the offender later violates any condition imposed by the court, the bill authorizes re-imposition of the immobilization for the duration of any time remaining on the original immobilization period.


The bill now goes to the Senate for further consideration. 

 
 
  

State Rep. and House Democratic Whip Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood) today released the following statement in response to federal Judge Michael R. Barrett’s issuance of temporary restraining order against Ohio, through June 6, to block the implementation of a state law designed to defund Planned Parenthood. 


“Judge Barrett’s ruling today sends a positive signal to healthcare advocates and women throughout our state. By temporarily blocking the defunding of Planned Parenthood in Ohio, the courts are effectively recognizing this bill for what it is – political posturing that puts women, infants and families in greater danger. I remain hopeful that these politically motivated healthcare restrictions will be stopped once and for all. Ohioans deserve comprehensive access to healthcare services.”


 

 
 
  
 
Leland Calls For Restored Bipartisanship On Utilities Commission Via Open Seat
Pending legislation would restore minority representation on important state oversight body
May 20, 2016
 
 
Rep. David Leland

State Rep. David Leland (D-Columbus) today called on the governor and the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) nominating council to return bipartisanship to the utilities oversight commission by filling an upcoming vacancy with a Democratic commissioner.


The PUCO nominating council is accepting applications for the commission seat Chairman Andre Porter vacates today.


“Bipartisanship is vital to good government – it ensures we have checks and balances so that decisions are measured and fair,” Leland said. “With an agency like the PUCO, which makes multi-billion dollar decisions affecting millions of Ohioans, bipartisanship is absolutely essential.”


Without Porter, a Republican, the commission is comprised of two Republicans and two independents. Leland’s legislation, House Bill 122, would require that both major political parties be represented on the PUCO.


“It’s fairly clear that the intent of the law governing PUCO appointments was to ensure that there would be equal representation of both political parties,” Leland added. “I have introduced legislation that would clarify this, so that moving forward we no longer have a single-party commission.”


House Bill 122 was referred to the House Committee on Government Accountability and Oversight in March of last year but has yet to receive a hearing.

 
 
  
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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.



 
 

Dem Lawmakers Push Proposals For Women's "access To Healthcare Without Apology"

 

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.

“The women and families of our state deserve better and need not apologize for demanding access to comprehensive healthcare,” said Johnson. “We are not damsels in distress tied to the train tracks, waiting to be rescued. We have the fundamental right to make healthcare decisions about our own bodies.”



 
 

Reps. Howse, Clyde Introduce The Ohio Equal Pay Act

 

State Reps. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) and Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland) today announced the introduction of House Bill 330, the Ohio Equal Pay Act. The legislation aims to address the persistent problem of unequal pay between women and men.