This weekend—and every day—we honor the brave women and men who have sacrificed their lives to serve, protect and defend our nation, freedoms and way of life. We honor them when we speak out against injustice and give back to our communities. We remember them when we stand up for veterans, immigrants, teachers and all those who for generations have made America great. We respect them when we strive to live up to the ideals of fairness and opportunity for all.


The Ohio House Democrats thank these selfless heroes and their families for their tremendous and enduring sacrifices and hold them forever in our hearts and minds. Their courage, duty and patriotism will never be forgotten. Happy Memorial Day.

 
 
  
 
Leader Strahorn Responds To Continued Statehouse Dysfunction
House Republicans cancel fourth House session day preventing new laws from passing
May 23, 2018
 
 

State Rep. Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) issued the following statement in response to today’s session cancellation notice from House Republicans hours before the House was scheduled to vote on a new Republican speaker:


“While I may disagree with Republicans on important key issues, the fact remains they are the majority party and they are tasked with and have an obligation to lead. They are failing at this test miserably. As a result, the work of the people is suffering.


“I am dismayed over our former Speaker’s own FBI investigation, and the internal Republican leadership battle has put a spotlight on the extreme dysfunction of the majority, which has cast a cloud of uncertainty over the entire institution.”

 
 
  
 
Celebrezze Responds To Continued Statehouse Dysfunction
House Republicans cancel fourth House session day, preventing new laws from passing
May 23, 2018
 
 

Ohio House Democratic Assistant Leader Nicholas J. Celebrezze (D-Parma) issued the following statement in response to today’s session cancellation notice from House Republicans hours before the House was scheduled to vote on a new Republican speaker:


“This chaos and dysfunction prevents us from doing the People’s work. The inability to put politics aside and focus on governing raises serious concerns about the legislature’s inability to pass much needed laws that will grow our economy, create better jobs and improve people’s lives. Never before in the history of this institution has the integrity of our work and the lack of leadership been called into such sharp question by the public and community leaders.”

 
 
  
 
Ramos Proposes Tuition Coverage For Ohio College Students
Tax credit would revolutionize how students and families pay for higher education
May 17, 2018
 
 

As Ohio college students don their caps and gowns this month, many will leave school with mountains of debt for four-year degrees. In fact, Ohio families and students face the highest burden of student loan debt in the nation, with the Buckeye State ranking 45th nationally for college affordability. With college out of reach for too many families and students, state Rep. Dan Ramos (D-Lorain) today introduced legislation to cover 90 percent of the cost for students to attend public college in Ohio. The Ohio Lets Everyone Achieve Right Now (LEARN) tax credit would make Ohio the first state to make college truly affordable for all students.


“Our economy increasingly demands a college degree, but for many Ohioans, college remains unaffordable. Simply freezing tuition that is already unaffordable isn’t a long-term solution to make college more accessible. Something has to change,” said Rep. Ramos. “Families and students shouldn’t have to mortgage their future to pay for college. The Ohio LEARN program would allow graduates to focus on their careers and pursuing their dreams upon graduation—not managing decades of crippling debt.”


Currently, colleges and universities are required by the federal government to report their full cost of education. Each potential student seeking aide must also complete the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA). Using education cost and FAFSA information, federal officials produce an Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which represents the maximum a family could potentially pay out of pocket for a student to attend college. The EFC factors in a number of variables such as savings, income and siblings. A student’s EFC is then used to determine eligibility for loans and direct aid.


The Ohio LEARN tax credit would create an individualized, refundable tax credit covering the full Cost of Attendance (COA) including tuition, room & board, books, etc., spread out over 10 years, subtracting aid or scholarships received, and subtracting 10% of a students (EFC). Students would ultimately be responsible for 10 percent of their EFC, ensuring an equitable amount of skin in the game for each student. 


The Ohio LEARN program would be available after each taxable year for students paying cash, or when loans become due for students financing their education. The tax credit would go to the payer. If the student pays or finances their education themselves, they would receive the tax benefit. If parents pay, they will receive the benefit under the program.


Ramos’s proposal is currently awaiting a bill number and committee assignment in the House.

 
 
  
 
Reps. Smith, Boggs Introduce Bill To Stabilize 26 Fiscally Distressed Communities
Lawmakers say bill gives money to communities hit hard by budget cuts
May 14, 2018
 
 

State Reps. Kent Smith (D-Euclid) and Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus) today announced legislation to support 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 the local government fund by forty-five percent. Over 70 cities have lost at least $1 million each year due to Kasich’s budgeting and tax decisions. These cuts have forced to communities to raise taxes, cut essential services, and delay needed repairs, just to keep their heads above water.


If passed, this legislation will allocate money from the Budget Stabilization Fund, also known as the Rainy Day Fund, to 26 communities on the Auditor of State Fiscal Distress List that received lower Local Government Fund (LGF) allocations than what they received in Fiscal Year (FY) 2008.


Governing magazine did a 50 state analysis of state cuts to local schools and communities and they found that Ohio's cuts were the second worst in the nation behind Arizona, and three times the national average,” said Smith. “Governor Kasich's tax shifting policies have hurt communities all across the state, but these 26 cities, townships and villages are suffering the most. While the Governor never served as a local official, many of my General Assembly colleagues have that background. I call upon my fellow lawmakers to do what is right, to correct this damaging policy and fix these 26 communities.”


Under the proposed bill, local communities in fiscal distress would receive a portion of $23,299,717 – the total amount they would have received under LGF allocation levels from Fiscal Year 2008 – from the Rainy Day Fund.


“Over the past few years, our local communities have been stripped of state resources and as a result now find themselves in fiscal distress,” said Boggs. “Utilizing money stockpiled in the Budget Stabilization Funds will help restore our most vulnerable communities. It’s time we use the Rainy Day Fund as it is intended and provide stability for communities all across the state of Ohio.”


The current balance of the Rainy Day Fund is over $2 billion.


The LGF is an over 80-year old revenue sharing program that has been essential to helping local communities deliver basic public services that maintain property values, protect safety and enhance the quality of life.

 
 
  
 
Clyde Introduces Keep It Open, Keep It Honest Act
Plan would maximize transparency in state and congressional redistricting
May 11, 2018
 
 
Ohio House Seats By Political Party

State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) today introduced the Keep it Open, Keep It Honest Act, which would ensure transparency in Ohio’s state and congressional redistricting processes. Ohio voters overwhelmingly approved the new process for congressional redistricting in a statewide vote Tuesday. In 2015, the Buckeye State saw the same overwhelming voter approval for a new process for drawing state legislative districts.


“It’s exciting that Ohio will have a new redistricting process when we redraw the state and congressional lines in 2021. The commonsense provisions in the Keep It Open, Keep it Honest plan will help ensure that all steps of the map-drawing processes are transparent and open to the public,” said Rep. Clyde. “No part of our map drawing should happen behind closed doors – that is what led to Ohio having some of the most undemocratic, gerrymandered districts in the country. Ohio voters wanted to take special interests out of redistricting and that requires a strong commitment to transparency.”


Clyde’s bill would:


-Require regular public reports and the release of draft maps under negotiation in real time.


-Mandate regular public briefings and allowing for ongoing public input.


-Require public redistricting meetings with sufficient notice, and prohibit any secretive meeting process.


-Require that those involved, including private consultants, preserve all redistricting records and related communications.


-Allow the Ohio Attorney General's Office to quickly bring suspected violations before a court of law for judicial review.


According to a recent Brennan Center for Justice report, Ohio ranks among the worst states for gerrymandered congressional districts, a direct result of the Republican-led, closed-door redistricting process after the 2010 census. Republicans in the three congressional elections since have won 75 percent of U.S. House races in Ohio while winning only 56 percent of the overall vote. Ohio’s state legislature is also severely gerrymandered. In 2012, House Democrats received more total votes than House Republicans but won 21 fewer seats in the chamber.


Rep. Clyde serves as Ranking Member on the House Government Accountability and Oversight committee, which hears elections and redistricting-related bills. She is an attorney and former election official and was named 2016 Legislator of the Year by the Ohio Association of Election Officials for her elections work.

 
 
  
 
Lawmakers Ask DeWine For Special Prosecutor To Investigate ECOT Audit Findings
Say state should bring charges against criminal wrongdoing and determine state's role in prolonged fraud
May 10, 2018
 
 

State Reps. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) and Tavia Galonski (D-Akron) today sent a letter asking Attorney General Mike DeWine to appoint special state prosecutor to  determine the extent of criminal activities of the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) publicized by Auditor Dave Yost in a stalled audit released today. The lawmakers are also asking that a special prosecutor determine whether state negligence contributed to additional taxpayer fraud, and whether or not state officials are liable for any additional fraud that developed as a result of their negligence or malfeasance.


“Taxpayers, students and their families deserve to know the truth about the extent of ECOT officials’ criminal activity to defraud the state out of tens of millions of dollars,” said the letter from the lawmakers.


The letter follows State Auditor Dave Yost's press conference announcing ECOT may have committed a criminal act when it misled the Department of Education (DOE) by inflating how much time students were participating in online-learning, information which was used by regulators to determine ECOT’s funding.


Yost has taken thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from ECOT, spoke at their graduation and even presented them with an honorary award for "outstanding record keeping." Yost's announcement and audit release today follows over a year of inaction from him and his office since a whistle-blower alerted them to alleged criminal wrongdoing designed to defraud taxpayers.


“Taxpayers deserve transparency and accountability. We must reinstate the LOEO to keep charter schools—and public officials—honest. We reiterate our call for a full investigation into the extent of the alleged criminal activity at ECOT and whether any state officials should be held responsible in this case.”

 

Related Content

 
 
  
 
Lawmakers Look To Federal Authorities For Answers On Former House Speaker's Alleged Corruption
Leland, Boggs say the people of Ohio "deserve to know the truth"
May 04, 2018
 
 

Ahead of an anticipated May 16 vote to elect a new speaker of the Ohio House, two lawmakers are seeking answers as to why former Republican House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger resigned abruptly, amid reports of potential corruption. State Reps. Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus) and David Leland (D-Columbus) today asked the special agent in charge of the Cincinnati Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Ohio to provide any or as much information as possible on any current or potential investigation of Rosenberger’s unprecedented resignation.


“How can taxpayers trust their lawmakers to elect a new Speaker when we don’t know how deep this alleged corruption runs through state government,” Leland questioned. “I am sure some want to sweep this under the rug and get back to ‘business as usual,’ but Ohioans deserve answers as soon as possible to avoid any deeper corruption or wrongdoing with their hard earned tax dollars.”


The two Columbus-area lawmakers followed up with federal investigators after asking the Legislative Ethics Commission and Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien to look at allegations of corruption in the Ohio House reported by Ohio news media.


“In the midst of this chaos and dysfunction at the Statehouse, we need to send a strong message to Ohioans that we work for them – not for ourselves,” said Boggs. “That starts with a full accounting of any wrongdoing or corruption that took place at the expense of taxpayers.”

 

Related Content

 
 
  
 
Antonio, Burke Ask Kasich To Keep Local Behavioral Health Youth Program Running
PEP Connections to lose funding from new Medicaid restrictions
May 04, 2018
 
 

State Rep. Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) and state Senator Dave Burke (R-Marysville) today wrote a letter* to Gov. John Kasich asking him to reconsider his administration’s move to shutter Cuyahoga County’s local Positive Education Program (PEP) Connections, a behavioral health program that serves some 500 high-risk youth each day.


“PEP Connections has changed the lives of so many families and their children in Cuyahoga County, and due to their intervention, 75 percent of the youth served by PEP Connections has shown a decreased severity of their clinical problems, and more than 71 percent showed improvement in their ability to function allowing them to live normal, healthy lives,” the bipartisan duo wrote in their letter to Kasich.


The Ohio Department of Medicaid will take away PEP Connections’ funding at the end of June, when the agency terminates a state waiver that ensures some $2 million per year in funding for the local organization. The department’s move comes amidst the state’s behavioral health redesign, as a way to cut funding and lower casework loads under the current administration.


“We look forward to finding a way to collaborate in our efforts to maintain this quality program for these children and continue providing them with the intensive behavioral healthcare that they truly need and deserve,” the lawmakers continued in the letter. “We sincerely hope that you will work with us and the Department of Medicaid to find a way to continue funding for PEP Connections for up to the next 12 months or until a new Medicaid-reimbursable service, such as High Fidelity Wraparound, is implemented.”


Burke and Antonio serve on the state’s Joint Medicaid Oversight Committee, the state panel tasked with ensuring accountability and efficiency in the state’s Medicaid program.

 

Related Content

 
 
  
 
Clyde Announces The Ohio Future Voter Act To Allow Voter Pre-registration
Plan would close registration gap for young voting-age Ohioans
May 04, 2018
 
 

State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) today introduced House Bill 637, the Ohio Future Voter Act, which would allow 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote. Under the bill, pre-registered Ohioans would automatically be added to the state voter rolls before the next primary or general election in which they are eligible to vote.


“Young people in Ohio have demonstrated that they are engaged and they want their voices to be heard,” said Rep. Clyde. “The Ohio Future Voter Act will improve voter registration and ultimately improve young voter turnout here in Ohio. States like North Carolina, Utah, Maryland and others have already passed similar legislation and we should show our young people here in Ohio that their voices matter, too.”


According to the Brennan Center for Justice, only 59 percent of young people aged 18 to 24 years old are registered to vote. The Ohio Future Voter Act aims to meet young Ohioans where they are in order to close that gap. The bill also designates January 16th or the last school day before January 16th as Future Voter Day.


“We support the pre-registration of 16- and 17-year-olds because it puts them on the pathway to becoming responsible and engaged young adults,” said Camille Wimbish, Election Administration Director at Ohio Voice, an organization dedicated to voter participation and civic engagement. “The evidence suggests that pre-registration encourages everyone equally -- young Democrats and young Republicans, men and women, white and black – to become lifelong voters."


In Ohio, those who will be 18 years old by the general election have the right to vote in the primary. A group of 17-year-olds in 2016 sued the current Secretary of State for blocking them from voting in the presidential primary. They won and their voting rights were restored.


Rep. Clyde currently serves as Ranking Member on the House Government Oversight and Accountability Committee, which hears elections and voting rights bills. She is a lawyer and former election official and was named 2016 Legislator of the Year by the Ohio Association of Election Officials for her voting work.

 
 
  
<< Older Posts
Featured Posts

Leader Strahorn Responds To Continued Statehouse Dysfunction

 

State Rep. Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) issued the following statement in response to today’s session cancellation notice from House Republicans hours before the House was scheduled to vote on a new Republican speaker:



 
 

Celebrezze Responds To Continued Statehouse Dysfunction

 

Ohio House Democratic Assistant Leader Nicholas J. Celebrezze (D-Parma) issued the following statement in response to today’s session cancellation notice from House Republicans hours before the House was scheduled to vote on a new Republican speaker:



 
 

Ramos Proposes Tuition Coverage For Ohio College Students

 

As Ohio college students don their caps and gowns this month, many will leave school with mountains of debt for four-year degrees. In fact, Ohio families and students face the highest burden of student loan debt in the nation, with the Buckeye State ranking 45th nationally for college affordability. With college out of reach for too many families and students, state Rep. Dan Ramos (D-Lorain) today introduced legislation to cover 90 percent of the cost for students to attend public college in Ohio. The Ohio Lets Everyone Achieve Right Now (LEARN) tax credit would make Ohio the first state to make college truly affordable for all students.



 
 

Lawmakers Ask DeWine For Special Prosecutor To Investigate ECOT Audit Findings

 

State Reps. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) and Tavia Galonski (D-Akron) today sent a letter asking Attorney General Mike DeWine to appoint special state prosecutor to  determine the extent of criminal activities of the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) publicized by Auditor Dave Yost in a stalled audit released today. The lawmakers are also asking that a special prosecutor determine whether state negligence contributed to additional taxpayer fraud, and whether or not state officials are liable for any additional fraud that developed as a result of their negligence or malfeasance.