COLUMBUS—Ohio Legislative Black Caucus (OLBC) members today held a press conference to provide updates on their Build Up Black Families legislative package in honor of Black History Month. This initiative was first introduced in June 2019. 

“When it comes to restoring the Ohio promise of better lives, brighter futures for all, family must come first,” said Rep. Juanita Brent (D-Cleveland). “Our members have been working together, drafting common sense legislation to deliver results for a real shot at the American Dream for black families in Ohio.”

OLBC Parliamentarian and state Rep. Erica Crawley (D-Columbus) spoke on two bills aimed at improving maternal health outcomes in Ohio, including House Bill (HB) 434 to improve statewide reporting on maternal mortality and HB 435 to expand training at hospitals and other birthing facilities across the state to improve care for certain life-threatening complications arising from childbirth.

“Currently, women are going into a healthcare system that doesn’t treat everyone fairly or equitably and it’s having devastating results,” said Crawley. “These commonsense proposals put families first, and will take us one step closer to ensuring that all mothers and babies receive the best possible standards of care here in Ohio.”

Rep. Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights) has been working on legislation to establish the Ohio Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program, which would provide economic stability to working families in times of a medical emergency, when caring for a sick loved one, or welcoming a newborn into the family. 

“Too often, African Americans are not considered when it comes to policies that enhance family stability,” said Boyd. “Paid family leave strengthens our communities by putting families first.”

State Sen. Hearcel Craig (D-Columbus) discussed Senate Bill (SB) 232, which would cap out-of-pocket costs for insulin, as well as a bill to limit increases in property taxes.

“In the state of Ohio, we should channel our resources to empower working families and provide ladders of opportunity to our most marginalized,” said Craig. “By ensuring that the cost of life-saving medication and housing are stable, we can help families worry less about paying for today and give them the tools they need strengthen themselves and our communities.”

State Sen. Vernon Sykes (D-Akron) outlined proposals to automate voter registration and address health education standards in Ohio.

“As we continue building up black families, it is extremely important for us to encourage civic engagement and optimal health,” said Sykes. “We not only want black families to survive from generation to generation but to thrive and become change agents in all aspects of life.”

State Sen. Tina Maharath (D-Canal Winchester) spoke on SB 149, her bill to prohibit asking job applicants about wage or salary history.

“When employers rely on a job candidate’s prior salary in hiring or establishing pay, any pay disparity or discrimination the candidate faced in his or her past employment can be perpetuated throughout their career,” said Maharath. “The use of salary history in hiring also penalizes candidates who are returning to the workforce full time after raising a family or reducing their hours to care for a loved one. In these ways, salary history questions can inadvertently cause inequalities to snowball over time.”

OLBC President and state Rep. Stephanie Howse (D- Cleveland) reaffirmed the caucus’ commitment to protecting and restoring opportunity for all Ohioans.

“I am proud to stand with our members today as we strive to address the challenges facing so many African American families in Ohio,” said Howse. “Our members are at the forefront of pushing for policy that closes equity gaps so all Ohioans can live with dignity.”

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