State Rep. Joe Miller (D-Amherst) today announced $34,000 in Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) grant funding to support marine patrol units for the Lorain Port Authority. 


“This assistance is essential to the Lorain Port Authority carrying out their mission of maintaining waterway safety,” said Rep. Miller. “It is heartening to see the state demonstrate their commitment to making sure our community has the tools necessary to keep our lakes safe and open for everyone.”


In addition to patrols, funding will help law enforcement to provide emergency responses and purchase safety equipment.


The release of funding comes from ODNR’s Division of Parks and Watercraft through the Marine Patrol Assistance Grant Program. Lorain Port Authority is one of 23 grant recipients throughout the state.

 
 
  
 
Rep. Rogers Announces State Funds For Local Marine Patrol Assistance
$30,500 awarded to the Lake County Sheriff's Office
March 21, 2019
 
 

State Rep. John Rogers (D-Mentor-on-the-Lake) today announced that the Lake County Sheriff's Office has received an Ohio Department Marine Patrol Assistances Grant provided by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Parks and Watercraft.


These funds are made available to law enforcement agencies through the State’s continuing effort to keep our waterways safe while enhancing recreational boating experiences.


In particular, the $30,554.05 grant will help the Lake County Sheriff’s Office provide emergency response to boating-related incidents, conduct routine waterway patrols and purchase safety equipment for use on marine patrol vessels.


Rep. Rogers stated, “As an owner of a sailboat with a family who enjoys being out on Lake Erie, we all understand that safety is paramount. And with the State having reduced its revenue sharing with communities over the last few years, every nickel helps!”

 
 
  
 
Miller Introduces Bipartisan School Takeover Repeal Bill
Legislation would restore local control to school districts
March 19, 2019
 
 

State Reps. Joe Miller (D-Amherst) and Don Jones (R-Freeport) today introduced bipartisan legislation to end state takeovers of local schools. Three districts, including Rep. Miller’s own Lorain City Schools, are currently under state control, while ten districts across the state could potentially join them over the next two years.


“Ohio’s promise of better lives and brighter futures begins in the classroom,” said Miller. “The failed state takeover experiment has shown we can’t impose a one-size-fits-all model for turning schools around. Instead, we need to give communities the tools to build success themselves.”


Under Miller’s bill, Academic Distress Commissions would be dissolved, restoring local control over public schools and moving toward a building-based, bottom-up reform model. Low performing schools would be empowered to provide coordinated support services like after-school enrichment and social/health services, a model Miller believes will better help students maximize their potential.


“I’m happy to get this legislation introduced,” said Rep. Jones. “This bill has bipartisan support, as well as support from the OEA and local school boards. Education is why I came to Columbus, and this issue is a prime example of something that needs fixed. I’m grateful for everyone coming together to find a solution, and ensure our children are receiving a quality education.”


Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) represents the Youngstown City School District, one of the three districts currently under state control, and is lending her support to the bill.


“This bipartisan legislation will end the failing Academic Distress Commission system and restore our district’s control to the democratically-elected school board,” said Lepore-Hagan. “We need an effective, evidence-based turnaround model that allows children and teachers to truly have the opportunity they need to succeed.”


“Colleagues on both sides of the aisle see that HB 70’s so-called reforms aren’t working—in Youngstown, Lorain and East Cleveland. In the wake of charter school corruption and these failed takeovers, now is the time to invest in our future by investing in our public schools,” added Lepore-Hagan. “The Youngstown City School District has suffered under our former governor’s disastrous plan for too long, and I look forward to finally passing a real solution.”


The bill will now be sent to the House Rules and Reference Committee, where it will receive a bill number and committee assignment.

 
 
  
 
Broadcasting Committees A Win For Taxpayers, Says Sykes
House leaders announce first of eight rooms now wired for broadcast
March 19, 2019
 
 

House Democratic Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) joined Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) today to announce that the first of eight remaining House committee rooms has been wired to broadcast committee hearings through the Ohio Channel. 


“Taxpayers deserve more access to what’s going on at their Statehouse, the People’s House,” said Sykes. “Increasing transparency and making government more accessible lets taxpayers know we’re working for them—together—to restore Ohio’s promise as a place where you can live, work and have the opportunity to get ahead.”


The House will begin broadcasting committee meetings with the House Health Committee today, and more committees will be aired as wired rooms become operational. Prior to today’s announcements, the House Finance Committee was the only committee broadcasted on the Ohio Channel.


An additional committee room is set to be wired over the next week and the remaining six will have cameras installed throughout the spring and summer months.


The public can access livestreaming and archived legislative coverage at Ohiochannel.org

 
 
  

State Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) announced her support today for bipartisan legislation aimed at repealing and replacing House Bill (HB) 70, known as the “Youngstown Plan.” Lepore-Hagan added her support as a cosponsor to Rep. Joe Miller (D-Amherst) and Rep. Don Jones’ (R-Nottingham Township) legislation that would terminate Academic Distress Commissions, restore local control over public schools and move to a building-based, bottom-up reform model.


“This legislation offers a much-needed opportunity to end the failing system of Academic Distress Commissions and restore our district’s control to a democratically elected school board,” said Lepore-Hagan. “We also need an evidence-based turnaround model that allows children and teachers to truly have the opportunity they need to succeed.  My colleagues on both sides of the aisle have recognized the ineffectiveness of HB 70 in Youngstown, Lorain and East Cleveland and the need to refocus on public education in the wake of charter school scandals. The Youngstown City School District has suffered under our former governor’s disastrous plan for too long, and I look forward to finally passing a real solution.”


The original, bipartisan version of the Youngstown Plan included provisions for community input and guidelines on which schools qualified for transition to a community learning center. Following a 92-6 passage from the House, a Kasich-backed substitute bill replaced this legislation, eliminating community input and installing a CEO with sweeping powers over the district. The new bill would repeal HB 70 and include a return to wraparound student support services and the community learning center model.


Following its introduction, the HB 70 repeal and replace will move to the House Primary and Secondary Education Committee for consideration.

 
 
  
 
Thousands Of Ohioans To Lose Healthcare With Federal Approval Of Ohio GOP Healthcare Restrictions
Costly Medicaid work restrictions will keep people from having healthcare needed to work
March 15, 2019
 
 

House Democratic Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) today responded to the federal approval of an Ohio Republican-led Medicaid waiver that is likely to result in some 36,000 Ohioans losing access to healthcare.


“With these new restrictions, tens of thousands of Ohioans stand to lose their healthcare, some when they need it the most,” said Ohio House Democratic Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron). “We all want better lives and brighter futures for ourselves and our families, but restricting access to healthcare makes it harder for our state to live up to its full promise.”


Based on other states with similar restrictions, some have estimated the new Medicaid restrictions will actually cost Ohio counties $378 million in operational expenses, while potentially freeing up hundreds of millions for the state over a five year period.


“Not only does taking away healthcare make it harder for Ohioans to have a job, but creating more costs for local communities to potentially free up money for the state is fiscally irresponsible,” added Sykes. “Now, we could have our first glimpse into how the governor uses ‘new’ money to fund a portion of new spending in the state budget.”


Ohio Republicans sought the work restriction waiver in a previous Ohio operating budget.

 
 
  

COLUMBUS— Ohio House Democratic Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) and state Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire), the House Democratic budget panel leader, today issued the following statements in response to Gov. Mike DeWine’s news conference outlining almost $1 billion in new spending in the upcoming biennial state budget:


“While we are encouraged by the governor’s commitment to supporting Democratic policies of investing in children and families, maintaining access to quality, affordable healthcare and cleaning up Lake Erie, the devil will be in the details.


“We have serious concerns regarding the fiscal stability of the current proposal. We can’t build a budget on broken economic assumptions or wishful thinking. We need to be honest and realistic about where new spending comes from.


“A budget is a promise, and restoring our promise as an opportunity state begins by investing in the future and modernizing our tax system to put more money back in the pockets of working and middle class people to pay the bills, send their kids to college or save for retirement.


 


“But, the truth is, after a decade of partisan priorities that have held children, workers and businesses back, we need a bold blueprint for our future that will correct course and restore the promise of Ohio.


“Under our current economic system that’s slanted against working people, local communities and families, Ohio’s promise of good-paying jobs and the opportunity to get ahead has faded for too many. People are working harder than ever, but seeing less at the end of the day. Communities are struggling to maintain the quality of life we need to grow and compete economically.


“We will be looking at this budget closely in the coming days to find where we can work together to invest in working families and the communities in which they live. We are hopeful that this process will remain open and collaborative, and that everyday Ohioans stand to benefit the most at the end of the day.” –House Democratic Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron)


 


“The state budget is a promise to invest in the future, to grow our economy and to ensure everyday Ohioans have the tools they need to live better lives. I am heartened that the governor is stepping up on a number of issues Democrats have been pushing, and we look forward to working with him to strengthen Ohio’s promise of opportunity for working people. But it’s hard to look to the future without fixing mistakes from the past.


“That promise is sacred, and it can’t be built on shaky economic ground or faulty fiscal assumptions. The governor is proposing investments, but it’s unclear where the additional spending will come from.


“Investing in education and in children is important, but we need to be realistic about our fiscal responsibility to taxpayers. We cannot continue to shift taxes onto middle class families to fund tax giveaways to millionaires and billionaires. We need to look at ways we can modernize our tax system to benefit working people, invest in local communities and grow our economy.


“In the coming days and weeks, we need to take a hard look at this proposal to strike the right balance for taxpayers. We’re committed to working together to get this right.” –Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire)


 


 


 

 
 
  
 
House Dems Unveil Ohio Promise To Taxpayers
Say Ohioans deserve better jobs, brighter futures and economy that works for everyone
March 14, 2019
 
 

House Democratic Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) today joined Democratic lawmakers to unveil the Ohio Promise, a blueprint to renew the Buckeye State’s promise of better jobs and brighter futures.


“For many, Ohio’s promise of good-paying jobs and the opportunity to get ahead has faded,” said Leader Sykes. “Democrats are committed to restoring Ohio’s promise of better jobs and brighter futures by working together to expand opportunity and create an economy that works for everyone.”


The Democratic blueprint to restore the Ohio Promise includes a five-point compact to build opportunity for working people, to strengthen families and the communities they live in, and to hold government accountable to taxpayers.*


“The promise of Ohio is our promise to you,” said Rep. Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington). “It’s an framework for the future that puts families first, giving them the tools they need to get ahead. We do it by lowering taxes, making education attainable and promoting job growth by making it easier for Ohioans to start and grow a business.”


The announcement comes amid declining quality of life metrics in Ohio, which currently ranks 44th in unemployment and 41st in population growth. Working Ohioans continue to fall behind, seeing $147 less in wages than the average American at the end of each week. In addition, Ohio has fallen from fifth to 23rd in education and ranks among the worst for both infant mortality and overdose deaths.


“Years of broken promises have rigged the system against everyday Ohioans. They are working harder, but seeing less at the end of the day. They can’t get ahead,” said Rep. Phil Robinson (D-Solon). “To restore Ohio’s promise, we need to keep our promises and work together to make sure that if you work hard you can get ahead in Ohio. It’s about creating good jobs and an economy that works for everyone—not just those at the top.”


The plan includes a number of bipartisan priorities, including plans to protect healthcare and Medicaid expansion, invest in education, expand public transit and improve children’s services, in addition to reforming the state’s tax system and reducing the price of prescription drugs.


“We are committed to working together to deliver real results for taxpayers,” said Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire). “Better lives and brighter futures begin with good-paying jobs, a growing economy and the chance to get ahead. That’s the Ohio Promise.”


Democrats plan to expand on their policy priorities in the coming weeks as the House debates the governor’s first two-year budget.


Here is what other House Democratic lawmakers are saying about the Ohio Promise:


"We need to make Ohio an opportunity state again. That will happen if State Government focuses on helping to grow good paying, community building, middle-class jobs. When the Ohio middle class is healthy, the economy grows for everyone." – House Democratic Whip and state Rep. Kent Smith (D-Euclid)


“Everyday Ohioans see an economy that’s rigged against them, where they work hard and do everything right, but still can’t get ahead,” said “We need to restore the Ohio promise, that if you work hard, you can get ahead. We’re committed to working together to build opportunity so that every Ohioan has a real shot at the American Dream.” –Assistant Democratic Whip and state Rep. Paula Hicks-Hudson (D-Toledo)


“It is up to the legislature to fulfill Ohio’s promise as we look to attract new residents to Ohio and keep our families, friends, and neighbors in this great state. We need diverse opportunities that help hard working families thrive, not just survive, investment in education that supports our youth from cradle to career, and fair treatment and access to services for all Ohioans.” – Rep. Erica C. Crawley (D-Columbus)


“My husband I moved back to his hometown because of the promise Ohio offered for quality fair-wage jobs to help grow our family, the beautiful landscapes especially overlooking Lake Erie, and outstanding opportunities.


Sadly, we’re stuck as a state and we haven’t lived up to the promise for thousands of Ohioans. Potential is there for Ohio to be a place where someone can live the American Dream, work hard to get ahead and retire comfortably. Everyday my colleagues and I are focused on ensuring Ohio is a brilliant place to work, live, raise a family, and we pledge a new promise to all Ohioans to help craft a better tomorrow.” –Rep. Lisa Sobecki (D-Toledo)


“I am delighted that Democrats in the Ohio House are speaking in a unified voice as this decade draws to a close. We stand proudly to offer this Ohio promise because we believe you have the right to a good education, good jobs, secure housing, access to affordable health care, and the ability to save for retirement.” – State Rep. Mary Lightbody (D-Westerville)


"Ohio's Veterans and military families understand the importance of making and fulfilling promises. As service members, we promise our families we will do whatever it takes to secure their safety and freedom.


“We promise our spouses and our children that we will return when we are called to duty. As legislators, we promise Veterans that we will ensure the benefits they have earned are there when needed. I am very pleased to see the Democratic Caucus adopt the Ohio Promise with the same sense of duty and purpose that Ohio's military families make every day.” –State Rep. Adam Miller (D-Columbus)

 
 
  
 
Miller Announces Bipartisan Bill To Aid Victims Of Human Trafficking
Says increasing penalties for solicitation will help break the opioid - prostitution cycle
March 13, 2019
 
 

State Reps. Adam Miller (D-Columbus) and Kyle Koehler (R-Springfield) today announced bipartisan legislation that would strengthen penalties for soliciting prostitution and increase funding for Ohio’s Victims of Human Trafficking Fund.


“The link between the opioid crisis and prostitution is clear—and one we cannot ignore,” said Rep. Miller. “Cracking down on those exploiting addicts is one step, but providing essential resources and connecting those struggling with addiction with treatment options will help Ohioans reclaim their lives and end this vicious cycle.”


Ohio’s ongoing opioid crisis has led to an increase in prostitution across the state. Over the past two years, the number of prostitution-related arrests have increased by more than 30 percent, according to police statistics.


More than two-thirds of women involved in human trafficking who were addicted to opioids became prostitutes after their opioid use began, according to the Polaris Project.


In Franklin County, a first-time offense of soliciting is a third-degree misdemeanor, with a maximum sentence of 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500. However, most offenders plea down to a small fine, typically around $150. 


The proposed legislation would take solicitation offenses from a third to a first-degree misdemeanor, increasing fines for solicitation to up to $1,500, nearly half of which could go to court-sanctioned prostitution prevention or victim relief programs.


In addition, the bill would make solicitation within 1,500 feet of a school or place of worship a fifth-degree felony, punishable by a fine of up to $1,500, with up to $750 going to prevention and relief programs.

 
 
  

State Reps. Kent Smith (D-Euclid) and Steve Hambley (R-Brunswick) today introduced legislation, House Bill 127, to stop the state from taking over additional local school districts and privatizing local school boards. The legislation follows the controversial state takeovers of Youngstown City Schools, Lorain City Schools, and, most recently, East Cleveland City Schools. Ohio Department of Education reviews of these districts post-takeover show the districts are still failing to meet key state education standards.


“House Bill 70, which created state takeovers, was poorly designed, rushed into law, and done with zero public input,” said Rep. Smith. “School districts that were headed in the right direction have had their voices silenced, their students harmed, and their communities upended by a ‘Columbus’knows-best’ approach that has made the situation worse, not better.”


The passage of House Bill (HB) 70 in the 131st General Assembly fast-tracked the state takeover of local schools when districts receive three consecutive failing grades on state report cards. Under this law, failing districts are placed under the control of a state-run academic distress commission that installs an outside CEO to run the district instead of a superintendent or the publicly-elected school board.


Under the proposed legislation, school restructuring would return to its pre-HB 70 structure. However, the three districts already under state control would remain under state control.


Academic distress commissions remove locally-elected officials and create a bureaucratic system with little public accountability. Despite these drastic changes, the academically-challenged school districts under state control have not improved their grades on state report cards nor improved the learning environments within the schools.


"Although HB 70 state takeovers of school districts is thankfully not a local problem for my county, we are close enough to see that the volatility and uncertainty they breed is counter-productive to improving the public education system,” said Rep. Hambley.  He added, "National studies over the last decade have shown that school districts are doubtful to see much improvement where there is political or administrative turmoil, especially when the changes are made by the state rather than by locally elected leaders."


Currently, ten school districts in Ohio have received one or two failing grades on their state report cards and are at high risk of falling under control of an academic stress commission. Those districts include:



  • Ashtabula City Schools

  • Canton City Schools

  • Columbus City Schools

  • Dayton Public Schools

  • Euclid City Schools

  • Lima City Schools

  • Mansfield City Schools

  • North College Hill City Schools

  • Painesville City Schools

  • Toledo City Schools


An amendment to HB 70 enacted in the last General Assembly (Am Sub SB 216) requires the state superintendent to review all policies and procedures regarding academic distress commissions and issue a report to the General Assembly by May 1, 2019. The General Assembly must have time to adequately evaluate that report and make relevant changes to the current law that mandates the state-led takeover by ODE of these academically-challenged districts.


The proposed legislation by Rep. Smith and Rep. Hambley will provide an immediate and decisive cessation of state takeovers, returning control of Ohio’s school districts to local officials while the General Assembly considers a better solution to school restructuring.

 
 
  
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Miller Introduces Bipartisan School Takeover Repeal Bill

 

State Reps. Joe Miller (D-Amherst) and Don Jones (R-Freeport) today introduced bipartisan legislation to end state takeovers of local schools. Three districts, including Rep. Miller’s own Lorain City Schools, are currently under state control, while ten districts across the state could potentially join them over the next two years.



 
 

House Dems Unveil Ohio Promise To Taxpayers

 

House Democratic Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) today joined Democratic lawmakers to unveil the Ohio Promise, a blueprint to renew the Buckeye State’s promise of better jobs and brighter futures.



 
 

Miller Announces Bipartisan Bill To Aid Victims Of Human Trafficking

 

State Reps. Adam Miller (D-Columbus) and Kyle Koehler (R-Springfield) today announced bipartisan legislation that would strengthen penalties for soliciting prostitution and increase funding for Ohio’s Victims of Human Trafficking Fund. 



 
 

Lepore-Hagan Stands With Workers On Eve Of GM Lordstown Shutdown

 

State Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) today issued a statement in support of the more than 1,300 workers who will be affected by the closure of GM’s Lordstown, Ohio production facility, which is scheduled to take place as soon as Wednesday, March 6. An Ohio House panel today unanimously passed a resolution urging GM to allocate a new product to the plant, which has employed Mahoning Valley workers for more than 50 years.