COLUMBUS- Today, Rep. Dan Ramos (D-Lorain), Rep. John Rogers (D-Mentor-on-the Lake) and Rep. Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood) introduced legislation that would authorize the state to temporarily fund the Women, Infant and Children program (WIC) if the federal government shutdown continues to jeopardize the stability of the safety net program. Over 260,000 Ohio women and children are served by the WIC program each year through supplemental foods, healthcare referrals and nutrition education.
“We cannot simply stand by and let our state’s most vulnerable citizens suffer while we allow radicals in the Tea Party to hold our nation hostage. Poor children should not be made to pay with empty bellies for the reprehensible lack of action by an extreme faction of one party in the U.S. House,” said Rep. Ramos. “We have a moral obligation to step in if extremists in Congress can’t put politics aside to do the right thing.
The Democratic proposal would authorize the Governor to disburse Budget Surplus Funds to the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) to prop up the WIC program if the shutdown drags on. The legislation would only become effective if the shutdown results in a programmatic funding loss for ODH. Up to $25 million in state funding could be directed to WIC under the bill, which includes an emergency clause to forego the 90-day waiting before it becomes law.
“We are calling on Governor Kasich and our colleagues in the General Assembly to authorize state funding for the WIC program if need be, so that no one goes hungry,” said Rep. Rogers. “People’s lives depend on it. I hope that my colleagues and the Governor show compassion for those in need during these hard economic times by passing this bill.”
“Women and children are once again collateral damage as political war wages with the federal government shutdown,” added. Rep. Antonio. “This resolution calls for a responsible action to provide needed nutritional safety net provisions-this appropriation would transcend partisan politics.”
Ohio ranks 48th in the nation for infant mortality rates, and WIC is helping to improve these alarming statistics by reducing the incidence of low birth weight, and providing infants and children with a healthy start in life by improving poor or inadequate diets. WIC provides specific nutritional supplements such as milk, cereal, cheese, fruits and vegetables to babies, pregnant women, women breastfeeding, and children under 5 who fall under 185% of the Federal Poverty Level.
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.”
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.”
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 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.