State Rep. Michael Sheehy (D-Oregon) recently announced that the Ohio Development Services Agency has opened the application process for the Ohio Incumbent Workforce Training Voucher Program, which provides direct financial assistance to train workers and improve the economic competitiveness of the state’s employers.


“I am hopeful that employers in Lucas County will take advantage of this important opportunity to grow and supplement our skilled workforce,” said Rep. Sheehy. “This program offers educational training opportunities for companies to retain and grow their existing workforce while also improving overall company competitiveness.”


Training is available in high-demand fields such as: Advanced Manufacturing, Aerospace and Aviation, Automotive Manufacturing, Automotive Technicians, BioHealth, Corporate Headquarters, Energy, Financial Services, Food Processing, Information Technology and Services, Polymers and Chemicals, Logistics, or Research and Development.  Training opportunities include, but are not limited to, operational skills training, certification processes and equipment training. Training can occur at the employer’s facility, the provider’s training facility or at a third-party site.


The Ohio Development Services Agency reimburses the employer for up to 50 percent of the eligible training costs, up to $4,000 per employee, after 1) the employer pays the full cost of the training, and 2) the employee successfully completes the training. The maximum amount an employer may qualify for in a Fiscal Year is $75,000. The company must be in operation for at least 12 months in Ohio to participate.


Eligible businesses can begin the online application process on September 26, 2016 and will have three weeks to gather the necessary information to complete their application.  The online applications will be accepted on a first-come, first- served basis and can be submitted beginning at 10:00 a.m. on October 14, 2016. 


Potential applicants can visit http://development.ohio.gov/bs/bs_wtvp.htm for more information.

 
 
  

Democratic lawmakers from the Ohio House and Senate held a press conference today pushing for legislative action to combat the worsening statewide opioid emergency. Senate Democratic Leader Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) and state Reps. Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood), Denise Driehaus (D-Cincinnati) and Greta Johnson (D-Akron) pushed for the legislature and the governor to finish work on Senate Bill (SB) 319, opioid and heroin omnibus legislation that the Senate passed before the summer recess but has since stalled in the House.


“Senate Bill 319— which helps decrease the availability of opioids throughout Ohio— is a good piece of legislation, and I was proud to support it,” said Schiavoni. “However, we know there is much more work to be done. Communities have experienced a troubling number of overdoses this summer. The public is calling for action, and it’s time we equip them with the resources they need to fight this epidemic.”


The Dem lawmakers’ call to action comes as data recently released by the Ohio Department of Health shows that drug overdoses killed a record 3,050 people – an average of eight each day – in the state last year. As part of the push for immediate action, state Reps. Johnson and Driehaus recently introduced legislation urging the governor to declare the opioid epidemic a statewide emergency and to divert additional state funds to local efforts aimed at prevention, treatment and law enforcement. In an unrelated emergency declaration for the Republican National Committee’s 2016 Cleveland Convention, the legislature approved $9 million in emergency funds Monday to pay extra first responders that were on hand for the political convention.


“Communities throughout our state are doing everything in their power to fight back against opioid use and overdoses, but without active partnership and a sense of urgency from the state, we risk losing ground,” said Driehaus. “We have a duty and obligation to press pause on politics and campaigns to get back to the unfinished work we were elected to do. There are meaningful measures that lawmakers can act on now and in the future to have a real and positive impact on communities struggling with opioid abuse and overdoses.”


The drug addiction and abuse epidemic also recently reached new and terrifying heights in southwest Ohio, where heroin – possibly spiked with carfentanil, a synthetic opiate painkiller used to care for large wildlife animals such as elephants – was responsible for 174 overdoses in one week, some 78 of which hit the community in a span of only 48 hours.


“As opioid overdoses and deaths continue to skyrocket all across the state, local communities are struggling to meet the demands of what has quickly turned into a state of emergency,” said Johnson. “In light of this grim reality, state leaders and elected officials must put politics aside and use every tool immediately at our disposal to confront this public health emergency head-on, in a unified way. And the first step in doing that is to call the opioid epidemic what it is: a statewide emergency.”


Introduced this spring, SB 319 received widespread praise from numerous medical and provider organizations, including the Ohio State Medical Association, the Ohio Alliance of Recovery Providers and the Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities. 


“Treatment providers, law enforcement and those on the front lines of this epidemic are working tirelessly to prevent more families from losing loved ones to opioid-related deaths,” said Antonio. “But, the legislature must do its part as well. Ohio’s families cannot wait for election season to end – the legislature should continue working on SB 319 to strengthen it so we can better fight back against the growing opioid emergency.”

 
 
  

State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) today provided details about last week's historic court victory, which will put more than 1.2 million Ohio voters back on the voting rolls. 


Rep. Clyde and Andre Washington, a lead plaintiff in the case that restored these voters, outlined the impact of the five year legal battle to rightfully restore purged voters back to the rolls.


“On this National Voter Registration Day, we're elated to say that Ohio voters will no longer have to worry that Secretary Husted will randomly select them to be unregistered simply because they don't vote in every single election,” said Rep. Clyde. “This is a landmark victory for voters, one that is so huge it has the capability of changing the election outcome in Ohio.”


Last week, the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a U.S. District Court decision and ordered Secretary Husted to stop purging voters for not voting. Andre Washington, State President of Ohio APRI, joined Rep. Clyde in praising the decision. APRI was a lead plaintiff on the case against Husted. 


“We fought for Ohio voters, and the voters won,” said Washington. “We celebrate this victory today, on National Voter Registration Day, as we encourage more people to get registered and educate voters about one of their most sacred rights as citizens.”


The case will now return to the U.S. District Court to craft a final remedy that should include adding the 1.2 million voters purged for not voting back to the voter rolls. 

 
 
  
 
Rep. Boccieri Throws A Flag On Fantasy Sports Regulation Bill
A recently introduced Senate bill would ban for-profit fantasy sports in Ohio
September 27, 2016
 
 

State Rep. John Boccieri (D-Poland) today said that fantasy sports should not constitute a gambling activity that needs to be regulated by the government. The lawmaker’s comments are in response to Senate Bill (SB) 356, legislation recently introduced by Sen. Bill Coley that would ban for-profit fantasy sports and betting on outcomes of an electronic sports contest.


“I am anxious to hear more about this debate, but on first look I don’t believe fantasy teams should be considered gambling activities equivalent to slot machines and the like,” Rep. Boccieri said. “To my knowledge, no one has ever squandered their life savings playing fantasy football. There is an obvious difference between pulling the slot lever too times and washing away your financial future, and competing in casual, less frequent online sports with their friends.”


Sen. Coley introduced SB 356 to eliminate for-profit fantasy leagues that do not dole out all the money they collect from participants, which he considers illegal under the Ohio Revised Code. The bill also places considerable authority in the hands of the Ohio Casino Control Commission to control not-for-profit fantasy sports.


“I have great respect for Sen. Coley and we agree on a lot of issues,” Rep. Boccieri clarified, “but on this matter I have a different view.”


The bill comes amid a national push by fantasy sports companies FanDuel and DraftKings to legalize the practice in several states. Fantasy sports have been growing in popularity, but much uncertainty remains over its regulation.

 
 
  
 
Rep. Ashford: Toledo Psychiatric Hospital To Receive $1.8M For Technology Upgrades
Lawmaker says modern equipment will improve quality of care for patients
September 26, 2016
 
 

State Rep. Michael Ashford (D-Toledo) today announced the release of $1,827,843 in state funds to the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (MHAS) for upgrades to five of the state’s mental health facilities. Among MHAS facilities selected to receive a portion of the Network Switch & Cabling Upgrade funds is the Northwest Ohio Psychiatric Hospital (NOPH) in Lucas County.


“These necessary upgrades will help enhance comprehensive healthcare services that patients at NOPH desperately need and depend on,” said Ashford. “Aging and out of date technology can significantly reduce the quality of service that health care professionals are able to provide, potentially causing major setbacks on a patient’s road to recovery. I’m pleased that the state is supporting NOPH in their commitment to providing the most effective and efficient care for Ohioans suffering with mental illnesses.”


Upgrades for MHAS hospitals will include new analog telephone adapters, core switches, power supplies, cable installation, and vandal resistant phones. The Network Switch and Cabling Upgrade project will help support hospitals’ day to day communications, video surveillance, electronic medical record maintenance and even emergency communications.


The Northwest Psychiatric Hospital in Toledo is one of six regional psychiatric hospitals that operate under the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. These specialized facilities provide short-term, intensive treatment to patients in both inpatient and community-supported environments. They also deliver comprehensive care to patients committed by criminal courts.

 
 
  
 
Rep. O'Brien: State To Boost Mahoning Valley Nonprofit Expansion Project
New headquarters building will allow public safety organization to create, retain local jobs
September 26, 2016
 
 

State Rep. Sean O’Brien (D-Bazetta) today announced the approval of a $500,000 state loan to Ohio Utilities Protection Service (OUPS) for the construction of a new corporate office in North Jackson, Mahoning County. Expected to open in August 2017, the new state-of-the-art 16,524 sq. ft. corporate office will be built in the Youngstown Commerce Park and allow the not-for-profit public safety organization to create nine new jobs and retain 66 existing jobs. Once the new building is complete, the headquarters will house all 75 of the nonprofit’s employees.


“As a long standing employer in Mahoning County, I’m happy that OUPS’ new office will allow them to remain close to home,” said O’Brien. “For over 40 years, OUPS has served as a community resource and protective service for Ohio property owners looking to break new ground. I am pleased that the state has invested to help keep and create new jobs here in the Mahoning Valley.”


Established in the Mahoning Valley in 1972, OUPS serves as a means of communication between homeowners and other property owners who need to dig and the operators of underground utilities across the state of Ohio. The organization can provide property owners with the information they need to avoid hitting an underground utility line when they dig, which could disrupt utility service, cause damage to the environment and even serious personal injury. The company’s current headquarters are on Belmont Avenue in Youngstown.


The loan is being allocated as part of the state’s Regional 166 Loan Program, which provides low interest loans for land and building acquisition, construction, expansion or renovation, and equipment purchases for eligible businesses. Eligible projects include those related to industry, commerce, and distribution or research activities.

 
 
  

Democratic lawmakers say today’s request by the Kasich administration for over $9 million in state emergency funds for law enforcement costs from the RNC 2016 convention show the governor has the power to take a similar approach in fighting the statewide opioid and heroin epidemic. Today’s state Controlling Board request comes at the same time the administration has danced around multiple requests to declare a statewide emergency on the opioid and heroin epidemic that claimed the lives of eight Ohioans on average every day last year.


“Requesting millions in emergency funds for a political event already past underscores the fact that the governor has broad authority to declare an emergency in our state,” said Rep. Kevin Boyce (D-Columbus), who sits on the state Controlling Board. “Thousands of Ohioans have lost their lives to opioid abuse and addiction in recent years; that, to me, is a statewide emergency. I would love to hear from the governor why he continues to refuse to bring the full force of the state to bear on the growing statewide opioid epidemic.”


State Reps. Greta Johnson (D-Akron) and Denise Driehaus (D-Cincinnati) recently introduced legislation urging the governor to declare the opioid epidemic a statewide emergency and to divert additional state funds to local efforts aimed at prevention, treatment and law enforcement.


“As today’s Controlling Board meeting demonstrates, there are mechanisms built into our state government to address urgent needs which could not be planned for during the budget process,” says Johnson. “The Governor and the GOP controlled legislature absolutely have the authority to do more to combat the opioid epidemic, including declare a public health emergency and provide additional funding to localities. Meanwhile, more and more Ohio families are losing loved ones to opioid abuse and addiction. It is past time for the governor to acknowledge the opioid epidemic for what it is: a statewide emergency.”


The drug addiction and abuse epidemic recently reached new and terrifying heights in southwest Ohio, where heroin – possibly spiked with carfentanil, a synthetic opiate painkiller used to care for large wildlife animals such as elephants – was responsible for 174 overdoses in one week, some 78 of which hit the community in a span of only 48 hours.


“Without the full partnership and a sense of urgency from the state, Ohio communities will continue to struggle to beat back the growing number of opioid related overdoses and deaths,” said Driehaus. “First responders, treatment providers and law enforcement in communities across the state are being pushed to the brink by this epidemic. As a state we must recognize the opioid epidemic as the emergency that it is and do everything in our power to help prevent more Ohio families from losing loved ones.”


Data recently released by the Ohio Department of Health shows that drug overdoses killed a record 3,050 people – and average of eight each day – in the state last year. 

 
 
  

State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) issued the following response to Ohio Secretary of State John Husted’s mischaracterization of the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decision, which found Husted’s voter registration purging to be illegal and ordered him to stop purging voters for not voting:


“I refuse to let this secretary of state mischaracterize yet another win for Ohio voters. Jon Husted’s suggestion that we want ineligible or dead voters on the rolls is nothing but inflammatory partisan politics. This decision validates the voting rights of hundreds of thousands of people who never should have been purged in the first place – people who simply moved within the state or didn’t vote in every election. I look forward to seeing the hundreds of thousands of purged Ohioans who are still eligible to vote restored to the rolls.”

 
 
  

Ohio Legislative Black Caucus President and state Rep. Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati) responded to today’s 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision overturning the district court and ordering Secretary of State Jon Husted to stop purging voters for inactivity:


“Thankfully, today’s court decision effectively halts Ohio’s unlawful voter registration cancellations and will hopefully lead to the end of this arbitrary silencing of voters’ voices.”


“I believe there is never a good reason to make it harder for The People to exercise their most fundamental American freedom. Just like we wouldn’t send our brave men and women in uniform into battle without equipment and provisions, our American political system shouldn’t be in the business of cutting corners when it comes to upholding the freedom that so many have fought and died to protect.


“It is disappointing that taxpayers have been forced to foot the bill defending on expensive, politically motivated voter purge that disproportionately impacts low-income and minority voters. I hope today’s voting rights victory marks a turning point in our state, one where our elected officials who are sworn to uphold the right to vote finally do just that.”


Reece is a long-time voting rights advocate and leads the ongoing push for a Voter Bill of Rights, a grassroots effort to amend the state constitution to protect all Ohioans’ right to vote. The Voter Bill of Rights would amend the state constitution to define the right to vote as a fundamental right, establish early voting dates and times, allow the legislature to prescribe proper training and staffing for polling locations, create an online voter registration system, protect against voter ID requirements and voter registration tests, and include safeguards that ensure provisional ballots are counted.

 
 
  

State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) released the following statement in response to the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decision overturning the district court and ordering Secretary Husted to stop purging voters for not voting:


“Today’s decision is a victory for voters, voting rights and common sense. Husted must stop illegally purging eligible and registered voters. Now, Ohioans who are registered and show up to vote can be confident that their ballots will be counted instead of thrown out.


"This decision upholds the fundamental right to vote, and the purpose of the National Voter Registration Act: to register eligible voters and keep eligible voters on the rolls."


The decision of the panel can be found here.

 
 
  
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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.