State Rep. Kent Smith (D-Euclid) today responded to inaccurate report card grades given to East Cleveland schools by state education officials. The false information was uncovered by a WEWS investigative news report late Tuesday.


“The school district report cards are not just confusing and inaccurate, they are often times just plain wrong,” said Smith. “That is why there is bipartisan support to end the state takeover of local schools that relies on such a faulty measure.”


When contacted by East Cleveland Schools to correct the false information on the report card, state officials refused to more accurately reflect the school’s and student’s progress, indicating it would not have changed the final outcome. The state plans to take over the local school district and install a state-appointed CEO to make most decisions.


“While East Cleveland has clearly demonstrated academic improvement in the face of extraordinary circumstances, the state of Ohio and their ‘Columbus Knows Best’ attitude will displace local elected leaders and community stakeholders who know their community best with an unaccountable bureaucrat,” added Smith. “In Youngstown and Lorain, these state takeovers have not led to better academic results for our children and our communities. Now we realize that might be based on bad data.”


East Cleveland will be the third school district taken over by the state since 2015.

 
 
  

State Rep. Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) today expressed her support and applauded council members’ leadership in the passage of the human rights ordinance by Cuyahoga County Council. The ordinance passed by an 8-3 majority Tuesday evening, making Cuyahoga County the first county in Ohio to ban discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodation based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. It will also create a human rights commission that will investigate and rule on complaints.


“This is both a civil rights and an economic issue,” said Rep. Antonio. “I am hopeful that the passage of this important county ordinance will be instrumental in helping statewide efforts to ban discrimination against people in the LGBT community. Nondiscrimination policies have the potential to serve as an economic catalyst to drive innovation, spur investment and attract the best and brightest to Ohio. Above all, it is the right thing to do.”


Ohio remains one of 28 states without clear, inclusive, non-discrimination protections for the LGBT community. Nearly two dozen Ohio cities have already passed non-discrimination ordinances, and over 80 percent of the top employers in Ohio have corporate policies that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.  


“Members of the LGBT community are no different from our neighbors. We work, we worship, we pay taxes, we send our children to schools and we even represent our communities,” said Rep. Antonio. “Cuyahoga County passing this ordinance tells people that our region is open for business to everyone.”


Rep. Antonio testified in support of this ordinance in July of this year. At the beginning of the 132nd Ohio General Assembly, Antonio introduced House Bill (HB) 160, which would ban discrimination against all LGBT Ohioans. Antonio’s legislation received two hearings and support from more than 400 leading Ohio businesses, including the Chamber of Commerce and the Ohio Manufacturing Association. Still, the bill has yet to advance through the GOP-controlled Ohio House of Representatives.


Follow the link below from 24:10 – 38:45 to watch Rep. Antonio testify in support of the ordinance.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ybjOkMJ9wU

 
 
  
 
Patterson's School Safety Legislation Brings $12 Million Statewide For Local Safety Improvements
Area schools to get safety funds based on Patterson's new bipartisan law
September 21, 2018
 
 

State Rep. John Patterson (D-Jefferson) today announced over 1,700 schools throughout the state will share in some $12 million in school safety grants made possible through the Jefferson lawmaker’s bipartisan legislation, House Bill 318. The state grants require local schools and county board to work with local law enforcement to determine the best use of the funds.


“The ability to foster safe, healthy, and supportive environments in schools is crucial to the wellbeing and education of our children,” said Patterson, “When we invest training, safety equipment, and critical educational and mental health resources, we invest in their future.”


Locally, schools in House District 99 received a combined $111,259.30 to make local school buildings safer under Patterson’s bill.


Each school received a letter this week detailing how to access their awards between Oct. 1 and June, 30, 2019.


*A list of local awards is pasted below.


Schools to Receive Funding Include:


Ashtabula Area Schools : $19,520.75
Ashtabula County Career and Technical Campus : $ 2,500.00
Assumption School : $2,500.00
Buckeye Local Schools :  $9,814.05
Berkshire Local Schools: $6,842.15
Cardinal Local Schools: $5,367.50
Chardon Local Schools: $ 15,588.35
Conneaut Area City Schools: $9,085.20
Geneva Area City Schools: $12,955.45
Grand Valley Local Schools: $ 6,203.70
Grand River Academy: $2,500.00
Jefferson Local Schools: $9,226.45
Pymatuning Valley Local Schools: $6,655.70
Saint John School: $2,500.00


 

 
 
  
 
Lawmakers Look For Results From State Economic Development Arm
Propose performance audit of JobsOhio to ensure competitive economic development
September 20, 2018
 
 

As the nation continues to recover from the global economic recession of 2009, the Buckeye State has largely been left behind in the recovery, a fact that two lawmakers said in part prompted their new proposed state law change to require an annual performance audit of the state’s economic development entity, JobsOhio.


Though JobsOhio is a nonprofit organization that uses public money for economic development and job creation, it is exempt from public performance audits, unlike similar organizations that use taxpayer funds.


State Reps. Kent Smith (D-Euclid) and Thomas West (D-Canton) hope to change that with legislation announced today that would hold JobsOhio to the same standards and level of transparency that taxpayers have come to expect from organizations that receive public money.


“According to the Center for Community Solutions, Ohio’s median household income is below the national average, while our poverty rate is above the national average,” said Rep. Smith. “After five years of work, JobsOhio has not led Ohioans to a brighter future. A performance audit of JobsOhio will evaluate their operations based on the three ‘E’s;’ economy, efficiency, and effectiveness. This analysis will be helpful as the citizens of Ohio and the next Governor decide for themselves whether or not they are getting a healthy return on their JobsOhio investment.”


Ohio has trailed average job growth nationally for more than five consecutive years, with middle-income workers seeing the sixth worst decline in their share of income over the past decade.


“Not only should organizations who do the public’s work be accountable for their results, but it’s good government to know how we can do better as a state and be more economically competitive,” said West. “If something’s not working, if there our inefficiencies, we have a responsibility to fix it so people can have a fair shot at a better life in Ohio.”


Not only do two out of five Ohio households struggle to afford basic necessities, but almost 70 percent of Ohio jobs pay poverty wages.


Since its inception in 2011, Gov. John Kasich has touted JobsOhio and its potential to bring Ohio to the forefront of job creation in the United States.


 

 
 
  
 
 
 

State Rep. Kent Smith (D-Euclid) today responded to the release of Ohio’s School Report Cards, which gave East Cleveland City Schools its third consecutive “F,” setting the stage for a state takeover under the legislature’s hastily-passed, party-line amendment to House Bill 70 in 2016.


“Today's release of the state report card is further evidence that the biggest hindrance to student performance in Ohio's public schools is not the district leadership of East Cleveland but the politicians of Columbus who take campaign contributions from the charter school industry with one hand as they give public school dollars to charter school operators with the other hand,” said Smith, a member of the House Education Committee.


East Cleveland Schools have lost over $5 million to failing, for-profit charter schools like ECOT while the state has cut the schools by millions of dollars in previous state budgets.


The district is also considered to be the poorest community in the state and the fourth poorest in the nation, with 100 percent of students being considered economically disadvantaged according to ODE data. 


“In spite of these substantial challenges East Cleveland City Schools have made tremendous progress, due in part to the extremely talented core of teachers, most of whom have a master’s degree and average 15 years of classroom experience,” said Smith.


Smith said, according to the latest report card, East Cleveland saw improvement in 15 of 21 state performance measures. The five year graduation rate is 75 percent, which is only ten percentage points below the Ohio average. The district also earned a C on their K-3 literacy rate, which means they were successful in getting struggling readers back on track.


“Have they been successful on all fronts? No,” Smith said. “But considering the challenges they are taking on every day, they should be lauded for their heroic efforts – not subjected to an out-of-town bureaucrat who has zero knowledge of the community and no accountability to the East Cleveland voters.”


Smith said a mid-school year state takeover could have a drastic impact on student achievement, injecting more chaos and uncertainty into an already challenging classroom setting.


“Every Ohio child can change the world. Every East Cleveland child has infinite potential, but Columbus and the next Governor needs to get serious about investing in our future workforce,” added Smith. “Statehouse Republicans need to abandon their ‘Columbus-Knows-Best Education’ model, and they need to stop shortchanging kids as it continues to empower unsuccessful, unproven, unaccountable bureaucrats instead of local leaders who know their communities best.”


House Bill 626, legislation Smith introduced that would stop the state takeover of public schools, picked up bipartisan support and is awaiting a hearing in the Republican-controlled House Education and Career Readiness Committee.

 
 
  

Today the State of Ohio released the 2018 annual Ohio School Report Cards. State Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo), the House Democratic Caucus education lead, believes we need a new state report card system to assess student performance and other measures for school districts.


“Local control and the local perspective is needed to adequately determine the success or growth opportunities for Ohio’s students and educators,” said Rep. Fedor. “Ohio has many different communities. There is no one size fits all approach. We need to be more responsive and responsible in issuing grade cards.”


According to the Ohio Association of Comprehensive and Compact Career Technical Schools (Ohio CCS), Ohio has 91 Career Technical Planning Districts and three career-technical delivery models at the secondary education level focusing on workforce development. The “Prepared for Success” component of the CTE Report Card, however, only includes credentials related to “Ohio’s In-Demand Occupations.” Institutions successfully preparing students for careers will be penalized with low component grades, even if students obtain the knowledge and skills necessary to enter the workforce.


“The current report cards unfairly punish schools, students, and Ohio’s economy,” said Fedor.


Pointing to the role poverty can play in academic performance, Rep. Fedor said the Ohio School Report Cards A-F measurement doesn’t accurately reflect whether administrators and educators are working hard to address the complex challenges within their buildings.


“This GOP scam is just another way to slowly privatize our public school system. Applying a state-based standard to community specific issues opens the door for more school take overs and conversions to charter schools,” added Fedor. “We need to let our school districts have a stronger voice in evaluating their performance based on the specific needs of their school.”


Rep. Fedor is a former educator and an outspoken proponent of public education.

 
 
  

State Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Akron), state Rep. Tavia Galonski (D-Akron) and state Sen. Vernon Sykes (D-Akron) today sent a letter to Attorney General Mike DeWine urging him to join other attorneys general across the nation in denouncing the Texas lawsuit that seeks to terminate the Affordable Care Act nationwide.


“The Affordable Care Act has been instrumental in Ohio’s ability to expand Medicaid and provide private insurance options to over 157,000 Ohioans, which dramatically reduced the amount of people without insurance in Ohio,” Rep. Sykes said. “The Attorney General must act to protect Ohioans’ healthcare.”


“If the lawsuit is successful, thousands of Ohio families will lose the foundation and security of affordable healthcare,” said Rep. Galonski. “It is unconscionable to heap that kind of worry onto hardworking people.”


“It is imperative the people of Ohio know their elected leaders will stand up and fight for their interests,” said Sen. Sykes. “Those with pre-existing conditions should not be refused health insurance just because they had the misfortune of a prior illness. We are calling on Attorney General Mike DeWine to publicly pick a side between everyday Ohioans who need this coverage and out-of-state ideologues trying to take it away. It shouldn’t be a difficult choice.”


Since the Affordable Care Act’s inception in 2010, nearly 20 million people have received insurance coverage nationwide, reducing the uninsured rate in Ohio to 6.5% in 2016. If successful, the Texas lawsuit would eliminate Medicaid expansion, end premium tax credits, allow insurance companies to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions, remove seniors’ prescription drug discounts, and strip funding from the public health system, which includes funds to combat the opioid epidemic.

 
 
  

"As Americans we believe in the value of hard work, and know that punching a time clock, laying brick, or standing behind a cash register shouldn’t mean you can’t afford to plan for you and your family’s future.


But when a wealthy CEO can make millions on Wall Street by betting against American people, and a working mom with kids can’t afford to take a family vacation once a year, something’s wrong.


Indeed, our fundamental belief in the power of everyday people seems overshadowed by too many extreme politicians and corporate special interests who have forgotten the value of hard work and how their own paths to success were paved – not just by their individual God-given talents, but by the hard work of countless men and women who pay taxes, play by the rules and make America the greatest nation in the world.


From the standard work week to a basic minimum wage and safe working conditions, working people joining together to speak out with one voice built the largest middle class the world has ever seen. Thanks to the hard work of labor unions and American workers, millions of Ohioans go to work each day knowing they will come home to their families.


That’s why Labor Day is the quintessential American celebration. No matter our nation’s struggles or setbacks, this one day each year stands as a bold reminder of the spirit, ingenuity and pride of the working families who built this country and the countless workers who continue to tirelessly contribute to our success.


Together, we can continue to build a country rich with opportunity that rewards hard work and respects the dignity of the American Worker.  It starts with setting aside politics and putting people first."


 


 

 
 
  
 
As Opioid Crisis Deepens, Officials Look To Create Ohio Office Of Drug Policy For Unified, Strategic Statewide Plan
Approach would strengthen state and local partnership to fight opioid crisis
August 30, 2018
 
 

As Ohio’s opioid addiction crisis deepens and shows little sign of letting up, state Rep. Richard Brown (D-Canal Winchester) and local officials from Central Ohio and Dayton today announced new legislation to create a unified cabinet-level Office of Drug Policy to serve as a coordinated, comprehensive entity for community officials, law enforcement officers, social workers and local communities to seek out best practices, available grants, state rules, new education programs, and more anti-drug abuse resources.


“We read it in the news. We see it in our neighborhoods. We hear about it at work and at home. And, sadly too many Ohio families are forced to face the grim reality every day that Ohio is the face of the nation’s opioid epidemic,” said Rep. Richard Brown (D-Canal Winchester). “It is clear more can be done to take on this crisis in a strategic and unified way. That’s why I’m proud to introduce this legislation today and look forward to working with members of both political parties who want to ensure addiction no longer holds our state back from living up to our full promise and potential.”


A historic number of Ohioans – 5,232 a year or 14 every day—are dying of unintentional overdose, a 39% spike in the last year. Ohio’s rates are three times the national average. According to a congressional study, Ohio’s current efforts won’t be enough to slow the historic number of deaths from opioids.


“We need more than a piecemeal, ad-hoc approach. What works in Dayton may or may not work in Columbus or Canal Winchester, but we frankly just don’t know without a strategic partnership from the state,” said Nan Whaley, Mayor of Dayton. “A coordinated Office of Drug Policy would offer more hands-on guidance to local communities by serving as the state partner with regional opioid taskforces, counties, cities and community providers.”


The legislation introduced today, modeled after suggestions from the bipartisan Ohio Mayors Alliance, will:


-Coordinate anti-drug efforts from across state and local governments.


-Act as a source of information on innovative new programs communities are adopting and better publishing best practices.


-Help to facilitate cooperation between local governments.


-Seek new sources of funds, through private and public means, for drug prevention and treatment.


-Review existing agency rules to remove barriers to treatment.


-Establish a telephone hotline for community leaders to be able to contact with questions and information.


-Require quarterly public reports of opioid addiction progress and challenges to the General Assembly.


-Require the Governor to appoint a Director of Drug Policy to oversee the new department.


This new office would be in regular contact with local leaders to help share information and resolve issues, unlike the “Opiate Action Team” which offers more generalized data and tips online without the assurance of a quick response. Gov. Kasich’s recent executive order to create an “Opioid Action Team” is only a temporary solution and lacks the long term focus to make cross-coordination a priority, like communities and many local mayors have been asking for.


“It is clear that more needs to be done, and can be done, to help us put best practices in place, draw down on critical resources, and equip first responders and communities with better tools to take on this crisis,” said Kim Maggard, Mayor of Whitehall. “The families that this historic statewide drug emergency is tearing apart cannot afford to wait another day for lifesaving state action.”


Local communities have been doing everything they can to prevent and treat drug abuse, but many are not equipped or adequately funded to fight the opioid crisis alone after losing over $2 billion in state cuts since 2011. Additionally, Ohio has already lost $3.8 billion in economic productivity due to the opioid crisis.


“By creating a central statewide Office of Drug Policy, we can better connect individuals with proven plans to curb drug abuse and prevent overdoses in each and every community,” said Jean Ann Hilbert, Groveport Councilwoman. “I look forward to working with Rep. Brown and my colleagues here today to help pass this potentially lifesaving legislation.”


Supporters of the proposed Office of Drug Policy present at the news conference this morning include Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, Whitehall Mayor Kim Maggard, Whitehall Fire Chief Preston Moore and Groveport Councilwoman Jean Ann Hilbert.

 
 
  

State Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire) today issued the following statement in response to FirstEnergy Solutions’ announced plans Wednesday night to close the W.H. Sammis power plant in Stratton, Ohio:


“The economic impact of First Energy in Eastern Ohio is critical to the stability of families, small businesses and our local community. The working men and women of Eastern Ohio have powered and help build this nation over many generations, making it even more important that state and federal officials come together to work toward a fair solution that puts our people and businesses first.


“After talking to First Energy, it’s clear we need an all hands on deck approach from JobsOhio, PUCO, local leaders, PJM and Trump and Kasich Administration officials to solve what will turn into a regional economic crisis if we fail to work together. After recently meeting with leaders at the Sammis plant, I will focus every effort of my state office on opening lines of communication with Governor Kasich and President Trump to seek a resolution for the continued economic competitiveness and stability of our community, businesses and workers.”

 
 
  
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House Passes Strictest Abortion Ban In The Nation During First Week Back At Work

 

The Republican-controlled Ohio House today passed House Bill (HB) 258, legislation that would prohibit an abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which could be as early as six weeks of pregnancy— long before most women even know they are pregnant. 



 
 

Howse Responds To Ohio House Meltdown Over Stand Your Ground "debate" On Race

 

State Rep. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland) today released the following statement after being gaveled down and having her microphone cut while giving an impassioned speech on the consequences Stand Your Ground legislation has had on minority communities:



 
 

Clyde Commemorates 53rd Anniversary Of VRA With Voting Facts For Tomorrow's Special Congressional Election

 

State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) today issued a statement commemorating the 53rd anniversary of the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 and putting out information on frequently asked voting questions in advance of tomorrow’s August 7 special congressional election in central Ohio.



 
 

Clyde Statement On Court Order Reinstating Voting Rights For Purged Voters

 

State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) today issued a statement following a recent federal court order requiring Secretary Husted to issue a directive reinstating the “APRI exception.” The court-ordered directive will require purged voters’ ballots to be counted in the upcoming central Ohio congressional race that will occur next Tuesday, August 7.