Dem Lawmakers Introduce Two Police Reform Bills
Bills would create a cadet program to provide more training for peace officers
June 30, 2020
 
 

COLUMBUS – State Representatives Joe Miller (D-Amherst), Thomas West (D-Canton) and Terrence Upchurch (D-Cleveland) have introduced two related bills that would tackle key issues surrounding police departments in Ohio. The legislation would ultimately allow the chief of police of a municipal corporation to conduct training schools for prospective law enforcement officers. The goal is to create a new unclassified position called “cadets” within the police department, allow for exceptional appointment of candidates with ideal qualifications and resolve any issues regarding lateral transfers within statutory cities.  


For many statutory cities, including Lorain, one of the main problems police departments face is a lack of diversity and retention within the department. A cadet program would allow for police departments to recruit high school students who have lived in and are representative of the community in which they will eventually swear an oath to protect and serve. Additionally, by permitting exceptional appointments for these cadets, cities would be able to retain the cadet officers that they have invested resources, time, and training. The Cincinnati Police Department has already implemented a similar cadet program within their own city.  


“This legislation identifies statutory cities who are often placed at a disadvantage when it comes to transfers within police departments. We have an opportunity to close gaps and inequities, and make minor changes that will have major impacts. We want to increase diversity within police departments and help make them more representative of the community they serve,” said Rep. Miller. “Currently, the average amount of training that departments are required to go through in the State is around 4o hours per year. However, Chief McCann of the Lorain Police Department has required his department to undergo 90 hours per year. This legislation would help provide and retain better trained officers who are from the communities they will protect, and also create better ties between our schools and our peace officers.”


“Allowing statutory cities like Canton and Lorain to retain more of the officers they’ve trained is critical to building a police force that is trusted by and that works for the community,” said Rep. West. “Cadet programs will also provide additional training to ensure that prospective officers are prepared to serve and protect each and every resident of our communities.”


“There is a need for diversity in police departments and for communities to be served by representatives of their community— this legislation addresses that need. Police departments have an oath to protect the community,” added Rep. Upchurch.  “We believe this is an opportunity to create better relationships between police departments and communities, especially in communities where there is an underrepresentation of minorities serving in police departments.”


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House Dems Announce Ohio Promise Virtual Town Hall Tour
Digital events to give voice to everyday Ohioans amid unprecedented crises facing state
June 30, 2020
 
 

House Democrats, led by Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron), today announced the kickoff to the Ohio Promise Virtual Town Hall Tour, a series of virtual town halls this summer where local lawmakers will discuss statewide issues like COVID-19, jobs and the economy, racial justice and police reforms.


“This virtual town hall tour may look different, but its importance remains the same. The conversations we have will continue to inform our work to find solutions to the issues that matter most to our communities—from a resurgent pandemic and economic uncertainty to racial justice and a real plan for a safe, accessible election this November,” said Leader Sykes. “Democrats are here to listen, and I hope every Ohioan takes the opportunity to join us on this tour. At the end of the day our job as lawmakers is to work for you, and that’s more important now than ever.”


The Ohio Promise Virtual Town Hall Tour is a follow-up to the more than 25 in-person events Democratic lawmakers held in the summer of 2019. The digital events will allow constituents to hear from lawmakers, ask questions and offer input on ways to address the issues facing their communities.


Democrats say the uncertainty felt by many in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, economic recession and civil unrest makes now the right time to get out and listen to what everyday Ohioans have to say.


Each town hall event will be free and open to the public, with member availability for media following each event.


The tour kicks off tonight, Tuesday, June 30 at 6:30 p.m. with a Facebook live event hosted by Rep. Phil Robinson (D-Solon).


For the latest information on the Ohio Promise Virtual Town Hall Tour, dates and more, visit http://ohiohousedemocrats.org/ohio-promise-tour-2020/.  


Current dates for the Ohio Promise Virtual Town Hall Tour include:



  • Tuesday, June 30 at 6:30 p.m. hosted by Rep. Phil Robinson (D-Solon);

  • Tuesday, July 7 at 6 p.m. hosted by Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron);

  • Thursday, July 9 at 7 p.m. hosted by Rep. Mary Lightbody (D-Westerville);

  • Friday, July 10 at 7 p.m. hosted by Cincinnati-area Democratic Reps. Catherine Ingram (D-Cincinnati), Brigid Kelly (D-Cincinnati), Jessica Miranda (D-Forest Park), Rep. Sedrick Denson (D-Cincinnati);

  • Tuesday, July 14 at 11:30 a.m. hosted by Reps. David Leland (D-Columbus), Mary Lightbody (D-Westerville), Beth Liston (D-Dublin) and Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington)

  • Wednesday, July 15 at 6:30 p.m. hosted by Rep. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland);

  • Thursday, July 16 at 7 p.m. hosted by Rep. Joe Miller (D-Amherst);

  • Monday, July 20 at 6:30 p.m. hosted by Rep. Robinson (D-Solon);

  • Monday, July 20 at 5 p.m. hosted by Rep. Thomas West (D-Canton);

  • Monday, July 20 at 5:30 p.m. with Toledo-area Reps. Paula Hicks-Hudson (D-Toledo), Rep. Michael Sheehy (D-Oregon) and Lisa Sobecki (D-Toledo);

  • Tuesday, July 21 at 6:30 p.m. hosted by Rep. Kent Smith (D-Euclid);

  • Wednesday, July 22 at noon hosted by Reps. Richard Brown (D-Canal Winchester), Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington), Erica Crawley (D-Columbus) and Mary Lightbody (D-Westerville);

  • Wednesday, July 22 at 6 p.m. hosted by Rep. Tavia Galonski (D-Akron);

  • Wednesday, July 29 at 6 p.m. hosted by Rep. Galonski (D-Akron);

  • Thursday, July 30 at 6:30 p.m. hosted by Reps. Jeff Crossman (D-Parma) and Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland);

  • Wednesday, August 5 at 6 p.m. hosted by Reps. Galonski (D-Akron) and Sobecki (D-Toledo);

  • Wednesday, August 12 at 6 p.m. hosted by Columbus-area Reps. Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus), Erica Crawley (D-Columbus), David Leland (D-Columbus) and Beth Liston (D-Dublin);

  • Thursday, August 13 at 7 p.m. hosted by Rep. Juanita Brent (D-Cleveland);

  • Wednesday, August 19 at 6 p.m. hosted by Reps. Galonski (D-Akron) and Crossman (D-Parma);

  • Sunday, August 23 at 6:30 p.m. hosted by Rep. Robinson (D-Solon);

  • Monday, September 7 at 6:30 p.m. hosted by Rep. Robinson (D-Solon).

 
 
  

House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) issued a statement following today’s U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling to strike down a Louisiana law that would have restricted abortion rights in the state, a defeat for conservative lawmakers across the country who have spent years attacking women’s reproductive rights.


“Conservatives baited the Supreme Court to take on abortion rights and lost. This decision is a major victory for reproductive rights, but we know this isn’t the end. Lawmakers across the country, including here in Ohio, continue to pass extreme legislation to chip away at women’s fundamental rights. House Democrats stand against these brazen attacks on women and our constitution, and we will continue to work together to ensure reproductive healthcare is accessible and affordable for all Ohioans.”

 
 
  
 
Reps. Lepore-Hagan, Galonski File Legislation To Ban Police Chokeholds
Say ban would increase accountability of law enforcement and save lives
June 26, 2020
 
 

State Reps. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) and Tavia Galonski (D-Akron) today filed legislation that will criminalize the harmful use of chokeholds by police officers or peace officers in Ohio.


“Chokeholds can cause serious injury or even death. The NYPD ban on chokeholds didn’t prevent the death of Eric Garner. We cannot leave this up to cities and individual departments any more. The state must act,” said Lepore-Hagan. “We need greater law enforcement accountability in Ohio.”


Modeled after the Eric Garner Anti-Chokehold Act, which passed the New York State Assembly in June 2020 with bipartisan support, this legislation bans any law enforcement officer from knowingly causing serious physical harm by using pressure to the throat or neck, or by blocking the nose or mouth. A violation makes the law enforcement officer guilty of strangulation, and subject to a felony of the third degree.


“A chokehold is a maneuver which has shown time and time again to have lethal consequences. All too often it has become a death sentence for citizens who have not even received due process of law,” said Galonski. “Law enforcement professionals are able to restrain a suspect without using potentially lethal means. That is how we ensure proper service, protection, and due process of law.”


A recent NPR review of bans on neck restraints in some of the nation's largest police departments found them largely ineffective and subject to lax enforcement.


Filed today with 22 joint sponsors, all from the Ohio House Democratic Caucus, the legislation will receive an official bill number during the next nonvoting legislative session.

 
 
  
 
Dems Urge House To Return To Session, Say Too Much Left Undone Amid Unprecedented Crises
Announce virtual town hall tour to hear from Ohioans as GOP skips town
June 24, 2020
 
 

Democratic Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) today joined Dem lawmakers to urge House Republican leaders to call the chamber back into session to address several critical issues facing the state, including health and the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic, systemic racism and police brutality, questions surrounding the November election, and looming state budget shortfalls.


“At a time when Ohio needs leaders most, Republicans decided to skip town for a summer break. We’re facing unprecedented health and economic crises, massive unemployment, a budget shortfall, and unanswered calls for racial justice. A lot of these ideas, especially for police reform—they’re not new. We need to get to work to get them passed,” said Leader Sykes. “We’re urging Republican leaders to call us back into session so we can do the job taxpayers sent us here to do. These crises aren’t taking a recess and neither should we.”


The House is not expected to return to session for the remainder of the summer.


Democrats highlighted several coronavirus-related bills they say need immediate attention, including efforts to halt evictions and prohibit utility shutoffs. As July 1 quickly approaches, many Ohioans are worried about their ability to pay rent and utilities, and face eviction or utility shutoffs if the legislature does not act.   


“If missing a shift at work to go to the doctor means you will be evicted, or have your utilities shut off – people wait until they absolutely have to to seek care, and that can have devastating effects on health,” said Rep. Beth Liston (D-Dublin). “We need to be at the Statehouse fast-tracking commonsense legislation to allow Ohioans to get back on their feet and have the protections they need to get through this unprecedented crisis.”


House Democrats have introduced several bills to protect Ohio workers’ health and financial security since the onset of the pandemic:



  • HB 571 (Boggs) – Allows for workers compensation coverage for COVID-19 for first responders;

  • HB 573 (Sobecki, Boggs) – Allows for workers compensation coverage for COVID-19 for individuals required to work outside of the home;

  • HB 593 (Boyd, Boggs) – Provides paid leave to quarantined workers;

  • HB 605 (Kelly, Patton) – Allows for workers compensation coverage for COVID-19 for grocery store and food processing workers;

  • HB 633 (Boggs) – Allows for workers compensation coverage for COVID-19 for workers in nursing homes, residential care facilities and health care facilities;


Democratic lawmakers were also able to secure a significant bipartisan win for Ohio’s workers when Gov. Mike DeWine implemented key provisions of the Worker Protection Act, sponsored by Reps. Leland and Sobecki, in an executive order last week. The new order dictates that unemployed Ohioans who are over 65 or considered “high risk” will remain eligible for unemployment even if asked to return to work by their employer.


“This is a bipartisan win for Ohio’s workers,” said Rep. David Leland (D-Columbus). “Protecting vulnerable Ohioans isn’t a partisan issue – it’s just the right thing to do. No one should have to choose between their life and their livelihood.”


Additionally, Democrats discussed the need for immediate action on police reforms, racial justice and promoting priorities they say would build up Black families, including passage of a resolution to declare racism as a public health crisis and a number of police reform bills the caucus plans to introduce in the coming days.


Democrats are currently drafting legislation that would incorporate the Eight Can’t Wait use-of-force campaign proposals into Ohio law, and several other measures, including:



  • Prohibiting law enforcement from targeting people based on race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, gender identity or sexual orientation;

  • Prohibiting the use of quotas (arrests, stops, citations) by law enforcement;

  • Requiring all officer-involved shootings and other officer misconduct be independently investigated;

  • Requiring the AG to create a database tracking all officer-involved shootings and other excessive uses of force;

  • Requiring the AG to create a database tracking officers who have been fired or who have resigned rather than being fired;

  • Requiring visible and easily traceable police identification;

  • Prohibiting the use of tear gas;

  • Creating Crisis Intervention Teams to respond to mental health situations;

  • Banning chokeholds;

  • Requiring mental health training;

  • And requiring more conditions on juvenile interrogations.


“Racism is a public health crisis, and until we acknowledge the systemic racism present in our state and nation, we will never be able to engage in real, meaningful change,” said Ohio Legislative Black Caucus President Rep. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland). “Racism doesn’t take a recess, and neither should the Ohio House. From our resolution declaring racism a public health crisis, to working on police reform and keeping our constituents safe from the ongoing pandemic, there is a lot of work to tackle this summer to ensure that everyone, regardless of their race, can achieve the Ohio Promise.”


Other unfinished business highlighted by House Democrats includes a plan for the November election following the chaos and confusion of the primary earlier this year. Dems introduced  HB 687, which would expand online registration, make it easier for Ohioans to vote by mail, and protect safe, accessible in-person voting opportunities amid the coronavirus pandemic.


“HB 680 doesn’t do enough to ensure a safe, accessible election, and with balloting set to begin in a few short months, we need to act now,” Rep. Terrence Upchurch (D-Cleveland) said. “We’re faced with unprecedented crises. The last thing we should do is take a summer recess. I’m urging my colleagues across the aisle to join our call to get to work on these pressing needs for all Ohioans.”


Democrats Wednesday also announced the Ohio Promise Virtual Town Hall Tour, a follow-up to more than 25 in-person events Democratic lawmakers held in the summer of 2019. The digital events will allow constituents to hear from lawmakers, ask questions and offer input on ways to address the issues facing their communities.


“The issues facing Ohioans are big, there’s no doubt about it,” Leader Sykes said. “And while we’re urging the Speaker and Republican leadership to call us back to the Statehouse, we still want to hear directly from our constituents so that we can bring their concerns with us to inform our work on these critical issues.”   

 
 
  
 
Rep. Howse Announces Bill To Improve Prenatal And Maternal Health Outcomes Signed Into Law
Democratic priority bill helps address racial disparities in infant mortality rates
June 22, 2020
 
 

COLUMBUS—Rep. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland) today announced that House Bill (HB) 11, her bill to improve prenatal and maternal health outcomes, was signed into law by Gov. Mike DeWine on Friday. 


“House Bill 11 demonstrates our commitment to fixing a broken healthcare system which has been proven to cause disparities in Black maternal health outcomes,” said Rep. Howse, co-founder of the Ohio Black Maternal Health Caucus. “Enacting this bill is a milestone, but there is still more work to be done. We will continue to fight for our mothers, babies and future generations to be healthy and thrive in the state of Ohio!”


HB 11 will require the Ohio Department of Health to establish a grant program for the provision of group-based prenatal health care services to pregnant Medicaid recipients residing in areas of the state with high preterm birth rates. 


Additionally, the bill will require Medicaid coverage of tobacco cessation medications and services.


According to a report by the Ohio Department of Health in 2018, Black infants die in Ohio at more than two-and-a-half times the rate of white infants. HB 11 becomes law as Ohio House Democratic lawmakers continue to call for meaningful action to address racial health disparities, including the passage of HCR 31 to declare racism a public health crisis.  

 
 
  

COLUMBUSState Rep. Lisa Sobecki (D-Toledo) today signed onto a concurrent resolution urging Congress to designate June 19th a paid federal holiday. This date is to be known as Juneteenth Independence day in recognition of June 19, 1865, when news of the end of slavery reached the southwestern states two months after the end of the American Civil War.  


“The time for our country to recognize Juneteenth as a Federal holiday is now,” said Rep. Sobecki. “While our country continues to struggle with system racism, officially recognizing Juneteenth is an important step to take.”


This resolution comes on the heels of civil unrest across the nation in support of racial equity and justice for African American communities. Federal acknowledgement of this notable date is one way to ensure minority communities can annually commemorate their history.

 
 
  
 
Gov. DeWine Implements Key Provisions Of The Worker Protection Act
"This is a bipartisan win for Ohio's workers."
June 19, 2020
 
 

COLUMBUS— Yesterday, Governor DeWine announced the signing of executive order 2020-24D, which provided protections for unemployed Ohioans who are over 65 or considered “high risk” and asked to return to work by their prior employer. Where previously they would have been disqualified from receiving benefits for refusing an offer of suitable work, now these Ohioans will remain eligible for unemployment.


State Reps. David Leland (D-Columbus) and Lisa Sobecki (D-Toledo) introduced the Worker Protection Act, HB 672, in late May to similarly protect at-risk workers from being forced to choose between going back to work in unsafe environments or losing their unemployment benefits. The bill had 35 Democratic co-sponsors.


“This is a bipartisan win for Ohio’s workers,” said Rep. Leland. “Protecting vulnerable Ohioans isn’t a partisan issue – it’s just the right thing to do. No one should have to choose between their life and their livelihood.”


Under the new order, you could continue to receive benefits if you meet one of the following:



  • You have a medical professional’s recommendation that you not return to work because you fall into a category that is considered “high risk” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention;

  • You are 65 years or older;

  • You have evidence of a health or safety violation by your employer, such as not practicing social distancing, wearing protective equipment or taking proper cleaning precautions. This evidence could be a finding from your local health department or photographs;

  • You have been told to quarantine by a doctor or local health official for a set period of time because of exposure to COVID-19;

  • You have to stay home to take care of a relative diagnosed with COVID-19.


“We were happy that Governor DeWine took into consideration some of the concerns important to Ohioans we addressed in HB 672, and we look forward to continuing to work with the Governor to address future concerns during this pandemic,” said Rep. Sobecki.

Other states, including North Carolina, Colorado, and Texas, have specified that individuals at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 will not be forced to choose between returning to a work environment where they could be exposed and losing access to their unemployment benefits.

In early May, the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services (ODJFS) created a web portal for employers to report employees who did not return to work so that ODJFS could determine whether to deny any future unemployment claims they filed.


 

 
 
  

COLUMBUS — State Rep. Juanita Brent (D-Cleveland) today introduced a concurrent resolution urging Congress to designate June 19th a paid federal holiday. This date is to be known as Juneteenth Independence day in recognition of June 19, 1865 when news of the end of slavery reached the southwestern states two months after the end of the American Civil War.  


“This country was built off of the free labor of enslaved African Americans from the construction of the White House, to bridges and roads. As we prepare to observe Juneteenth this year, it is vital that people can properly celebrate America’s history,” Rep. Brent said. “This holiday has long been recognized by 45 states and the District of Columbia. It is time for the nation to collectively observe the significance of the emancipation of our enslaved ancestors.”


This resolution comes on the heels of civil unrest across the nation in support of racial equity and justice for African American communities. Federal acknowledgement of this notable date is one way to ensure minority communities can annually commemorate their history.


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Dems Tell LaRose To Pay Return Postage For Voting Materials
Election Working Group presses for responsible use of CARES Act funds
June 18, 2020
 
 

State Representatives Paula Hicks-Hudson (D-Toledo), Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown), Catherine D. Ingram (D-Cincinnati) and Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland) today sent a letter to Secretary of State Frank LaRose urging him to include return postage on absentee ballot application forms that will be mailed to all voters and on absentee ballots that are ultimately mailed to voters who request them. State law prohibits board of elections from making such an expenditure, but the secretary is not similarly barred. The federal CARES Act included funding to the states for unanticipated increased expenses due to COVID-19. The Controlling Board approved on Monday the state’s use of federal CARES Act funding for this year’s election.


See the letter below:


June 17, 2020


Dear Secretary LaRose,


We write to ask that you include return postage on the absentee ballot applications that we authorized you to send to every registered voter in last year’s state budget bill, HB 166, and to use federal CARES Act funding for this purpose. We also ask that your office use federal CARES Act funding to include return postage on the absentee ballots themselves. This is not just a matter of an extra step or the cost of a stamp, although we should always strive to remove even small obstacles from Ohioans’ path to the ballot. This is a matter of health and survival.


Prior to this year and the unprecedented dangers of COVID-19, voting by mail was a convenient option for those who desired to vote that way. Now, it is a matter of protecting one’s health and life. Now, going to the Post Office or the store and picking up stamps is not just an easy errand people run. Now, people are limiting their trips and disinfecting everything they bring into their homes. That’s why we must make absentee voting by mail as appealing and easy to use as possible. That’s why we urge you to ensure that all ballot application forms and ballots are sent with the return postage pre-paid.


The federal CARES Act provides for the expenditure of federal funds granted to Ohio for this purpose. And the payment of return postage for applications and ballots is permitted under state law as well. In your most recent Task Force meeting, you called for suggestions on how to make the application form user-friendly. Including return postage is the single most important thing you can do to maximize Ohioans’ use of this safe voting opportunity.


We would also welcome the opportunity to review the draft ballot application form and other new ballot paperwork that your office may be developing so that we may give feedback on whether our constituents like the forms and how it might be improved. Good design of voting materials should be an interactive process with diverse input.


Secretary LaRose, recall the history that finally spurred Ohio to make the changes that gave us this decade plus of expanded early and mail voting. The election of 2004 was a tragic event in our state. People waited three hours, four hours, eight hours to cast their votes. There weren’t cell phone videos of it then, but many of us were there, helping people in out of the rain and cold, helping them find chairs to rest and weave through church basements for the chance to vote on one of the five machines set up for thousands of people. This scene repeated itself throughout our state. Many people left the lines because they could not wait any longer. They had to tend to jobs, school, children. We must not repeat this awful treatment of Ohioans. We must do everything in our power to not be like Georgia last week or Ohio in 2004.


We owe Ohio voters an extra duty to ease voting this November after the chaotic and disenfranchising primary election with historically low turnout and historically high rejection of ballots. Improving Mail Voting with common sense will take pressure off of Early Voting and Election Day voting. Please let us know soon that you will include return postage with Ohio voters’ ballot applications and ballots as the law allows. Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.


Sincerely,


Paula Hicks-Hudson, State Representative, District 44, Chair, House Democratic Caucus COVID-19 Elections Working Group 


Michele Lepore-Hagan, State Representative, District 58


Catherine D. Ingram, State Representative, District 32


Bride Rose Sweeney, State Representative, District 14

 
 
  
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Featured Posts

House Dems Announce Ohio Promise Virtual Town Hall Tour

 

House Democrats, led by Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron), today announced the kickoff to the Ohio Promise Virtual Town Hall Tour, a series of virtual town halls this summer where local lawmakers will discuss statewide issues like COVID-19, jobs and the economy, racial justice and police reforms. 



 
 

Leader Sykes Statement On Supreme Court Decision To Uphold Abortion Rights

 

House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) issued a statement following today’s U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling to strike down a Louisiana law that would have restricted abortion rights in the state, a defeat for conservative lawmakers across the country who have spent years attacking women’s reproductive rights. 



 
 

Reps. Lepore-Hagan, Galonski File Legislation To Ban Police Chokeholds

 

State Reps. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) and Tavia Galonski (D-Akron) today filed legislation that will criminalize the harmful use of chokeholds by police officers or peace officers in Ohio.

 



 
 

Dems Urge House To Return To Session, Say Too Much Left Undone Amid Unprecedented Crises

 

Democratic Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) today joined Dem lawmakers to urge House Republican leaders to call the chamber back into session to address several critical issues facing the state, including health and the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic, systemic racism and police brutality, questions surrounding the November election, and looming state budget shortfalls.