State Rep. Joe Miller (D-Amherst) today announced he will soon introduce bipartisan legislation with Rep. Don Jones (R-Freeport) to repeal portions of House bill 70, the 2015 bill that brought on state takeovers of local schools in Lorain and throughout the state.


“Placing these districts under state control has been a disaster,” said Miller. “In each case, the Academic Distress Commission has been unable to work effectively alongside the district’s teachers, school leaders and community at large. After three years, we haven’t seen any evidence that state takeovers improve academic achievement. It’s time for us to restore local control and give struggling schools the support they need to succeed.”


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


“I am happy to introduce this bipartisan bill with my colleague, Rep. Miller,” said Jones. “We need more local control- not less. Academic Distress Commissions have not only taken away school and community pride, but have proven to be unsuccessful in their mission. I’m looking forward to working on this legislation and hope for its eventual passage to ensure all of our children are receiving a top-flight education.”


Rep. Miller and Rep. Jones are currently seeking co-sponsors for the bill from legislators across the state. The legislation is expected to be formally introduced next week.

 
 
  

State Rep. Mary Lightbody (D-Westerville) today released a statement following the House passage of House Bill 62, the two-year state transportation budget:


“Though there were significant Democratic improvements to the state transportation budget, I don’t believe supporting a tax increase today can make up for the Statehouse failures of the past. We owe it to our fellow citizens to work together to find permanent solutions to permanent problems that have held back communities like ours for too long. I will continue to push for long term solutions that bring home steady and sustainable funding for our community.”

 
 
  
 
Dems Improve State Transportation Budget, Support Its Passage
Win historic investments in public transportation, local community support
March 07, 2019
 
 

House Democratic lawmakers today voted in favor of House Bill (HB) 62, the state’s bipartisan, two-year budget that largely funds road and bridge improvements and public transportation throughout the state.


“I am proud of our Democratic wins that secure historic investments in public transportation and local community funding,” said Minority Leader Emilia Sykes (D-Akron). “Good government rarely means one party gets everything they want, but by working together we shaped a stronger blueprint to improve lives, grow our economy and help restore our state’s promise to taxpayers.”


Key Democratic amendments accepted into the final version of HB 62 include:


-$200 million for public transportation throughout the state over two years – an over 200-percent increase.


-12.5-percent increase for the local community share of new gas tax revenue – a five percentage point rate increase.


-Allow a four-percentage point increase in Public Works Commission funding for local communities’ capital projects – a 200-percent overall increase in the amount of funding.


-$4.2 million overall increase in Roadwork Development Fund.


-$10 million for local community infrastructure impacted by oil and gas exploration heavy equipment.


-Restore local Emergency Management Association oversight.


-Remove language restricting gas tax revenue to roads and bridges only.


-Restore additional consumer notice of towed vehicles.


-Remove front license plate requirement.


“This transportation budget we helped shape will have a profound impact on working people, families and small businesses who will see a real return on their investment with better roads, safer bridges and improved transit options to get them where they need to go,” said Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire), the highest-ranking Democrat on the House budget panel.


Democratic amendments would ease some of the burden on local communities, who currently face an estimated $1.5 billion shortfall for road and bridge repairs.


“This compromise is a real win for working people and the communities they live in,” said Assistant Minority Leader Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus). “We’ve created a bipartisan framework that invests in local communities, expands transit options and truly moves our state forward.”


Ohio has the 14th highest transit ridership of any state in the country, but currently ranks near the bottom in state funding for public transportation. A 2015 ODOT study found that significant investments are needed to meet the state’s growing public transit demands. 


“The overarching goal for us in the General Assembly should be to strengthen Ohio’s economy. I voted yes on Ohio’s transportation budget because it puts more people to work and it gets more people to work,” said Minority Whip Kent Smith (D-Euclid).


“This bill will not only fix Ohio’s crumbling roads and bridges, it will also move Ohio forward with historic public transit investments. Of the 50 states, Ohio is 7th in population and 14th in ridership, but we have only funded public transit at 38th,” added Smith. “However, today, March 7, we changed that as the Ohio House voted to increase our funding of public transit by a total of $200 million dollars over the life of this budget. I was proud to vote yes for this historic investment.”


Other provisions in the bill include increasing the frequency of ODOT and transit authority audits and regulating lightweight electric scooters.


“The work we put into this bill will benefit the lives of working people, from repaving the roads they drive on to improving the bus routes that get them to and from work, school or the doctor,” said Assistant Whip Paula Hicks-Hudson (D-Toledo). “It’s an important step in the right direction, and a big win for everyday Ohioans.”


After clearing the House, HB 62 heads to the state Senate for consideration.


Here is what other Democrats are saying about HB 62:


“I was proud to vote yes for Ohio. Yes to an historic $200 million for public transit.  Yes to the return of stolen local money.  This transportation budget is a solid win for Ohio families,” said Rep. Tavia Galonski (D-Akron).


“We worked really hard to make sure this transportation budget focused on the people. More money back to local governments for the people! More money for Public Transportation for the people! Did we get all we needed? No, but this is far better than where it could be,” said Rep. Catherine Ingram (D-Cincinnati). “I’ll continue to push fuel quality testing in the Senate, and that would be an even bigger win for the people.”


“Today I voted in favor of the proposed transportation budget, HB 62. While the bill isn't perfect, I am proud of the work done by our caucus to move Ohio forward by securing increased funding for local governments and public transit,” said Rep Joe Miller (D-Amherst). “Ultimately, this is more than an investment in infrastructure—it’s an investment in the people of Ohio. We will put Ohioans to work, and help them get to work safely.”


“While this bill is not perfect, my Democratic colleagues and I made historic gains, especially as members of the super minority, by making meaningful investments in people and our local communities. Today, Democrats showed that we do have a seat at the table, and I am proud to have played a part,” said Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland).


“For too long, our state’s infrastructure and transit needs have been neglected. Finally, I am proud to support a bipartisan compromise that will increase state funding to public transit by 200 percent, give more money to local governments, and create infrastructure jobs across the state,” said Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown). “Investing in Ohio’s infrastructure keeps our families safe and our economy competitive, and it will pay off for years to come.”


“I am encouraged by this bill and the diligent work that went into it,” said Rep. Thomas West (D-Canton). “I am glad to see the investment in public transit – allowing more Ohioans to access better employment opportunities, access to healthcare and other crucial services, ultimately strengthening our local economies. The time is now to fix our crumbling infrastructure and empower local communities with the resources they need to improve safety on our roads and bridges. I look forward to continuing to work on restoring funds to local governments and investing in our people.”


“Earlier this week, the governor outlined the dangers of inaction on the state’s infrastructure crisis. Our inclusion of $200 million in the budget for public transportation over the next two years is a historic, bipartisan answer to the governor’s call to action—one that will provide enormous benefits to working people throughout Ohio,” said Rep. David Leland (D-Columbus). “Investing in public transit reduces poverty, creates job opportunities and has the potential to reduce Ohio’s infant mortality rates. Better connecting those who are ready to work with available jobs makes Ohio even more attractive to new businesses.”


“I’m pleased that we were able to negotiate $200 million for public transit over the next two years, which is crucial to my district as our population continues to grow,” said Rep. Allisson Russo (R-Upper Arlington). “I was also a strong advocate for increasing the share of funding that would go directly to local governments, helping to ease the strain that repeated local government funding cuts have placed on municipalities and townships across Ohio over the last 8 years. It is imperative that these gains are fully maintained as the transportation budget moves through the Senate.”


“Through many discussions, committee hearings, and listening to the feedback from my neighbors, I am happy this legislative body was able to work in a real bipartisan way to address the needs of our roads so that Ohioans can travel safely,” said Rep. Erica C. Crawley (D-Columbus). “It was vitally important we increased the local government share of the gas tax revenue and funding for public transit, which so many Ohioans rely upon.”

 
 
  

The Ohio House Budget committee’s lead Democrat, state Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire), tonight voted in favor of House Bill (HB) 62 during the panel’s final hearing on the bill before its anticipated full-House floor vote tomorrow.


“The transportation budget we helped shape today is more of a blueprint for our future than anything we’ve seen yet,” said Cera. “Through our work, Ohioans will see a real return on investment in their local communities while our economy will be better positioned to grow and expand.”


Key Democratic amendments accepted into the final version of the budget bill include:


-$200 million for public transportation throughout the state over two years.


-Five-percent increase for the local community share of new gas tax revenue.


-Allow a four-percent increase in Public Works Commission funding for local communities’ capital projects.


“The work we’ve put into this will pay off for years to come,” Cera added. “We took responsibility, did the right thing, and as a result, people across our state will have better lives. I’m proud of that. We’ll be watching our changes closely in the Senate.”

 
 
  

House Democratic lawmakers today applauded the unanimous passage of House Concurrent Resolution (HCR) 6, legislation urging GM to allocate a new product to its Lordstown, Ohio production facility, which is scheduled to close this week.


“As the last Chevy Cruze makes its way off the line, we remain committed to the workers, suppliers and families in the Mahoning Valley faced with real uncertainty about their futures,” said Minority Leader Emilia Sykes (D-Akron). “The legislature is working together with GM, state and private partners to keep good-paying, middle-class jobs in the Valley.”


The last Chevy Cruze will roll off the assembly line early Thursday as long-time employees finished their final shifts. More than 1,400 workers and hundreds more suppliers will be affected by the closure of the plant, which has employed Mahoning Valley workers for more than 50 years.


“GM and Ohio have had a good relationship for generations, and I remain hopeful that relationship can continue into the future,” said Rep. Glenn Holmes (D-Girard), the lead sponsor of HCR 6. “Democrats and Republicans alike are united in our support of all the workers, families, and small businesses that stand to be affected, and will continue to pursue solutions that keep people working.”


The plant has produced more than 16 million vehicles since 1966, and 1,400 UAW employees earn more than $250 million in wages annually at the facility. 


“Workers across the Valley who rely on GM for work or to support their small business are feeling a lot of uncertainty this week,” said Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown). “We continue to stand with our workers and explore ways to keep them and their good-paying jobs in the Mahoning Valley.”


HCR 6 noted that GM has received more than $60 million in tax credits from Ohio over the past decade. GM Lordstown is just the first of five North American plants closing by the end of the year.


“I’m heartened by the response of this legislature to rally around these workers, and am committed to working together to find real solutions to keep our working people in good-paying jobs,” said Rep. Mike O’Brien (D-Warren).

 
 
  
 
Lepore-Hagan Stands With Workers On Eve Of GM Lordstown Shutdown
Says governor missed opportunity to address uncertainty during State of the State address
March 05, 2019
 
 

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.


“State lawmakers, both Democrats and Republicans, are standing united in support of our true blue workers across the Mahoning Valley who will be impacted by the closure of GM Lordstown.


“I am disappointed, however, that the governor missed the opportunity in his first State of the State to address the uncertainty facing workers, families and small businesses across the region. I hope that in the coming days and weeks, the governor will join us to secure the future of Lordstown by investing in workers and focusing on ways we can work together to bring more good-paying jobs to the Valley.”

 
 
  
 
Dems Say Real State Of The State Shows Too Many Ohioans Still Stuck
Commit to working together for better jobs, brighter futures
March 05, 2019
 
 

Ohio House Democratic lawmakers today responded to Gov. DeWine’s first State of the State Address. Democrats reaffirmed their commitment to working with the governor to deliver real results, but noted that the state has more to do to turn around years of below average quality-of-life standards that have kept too many people from getting ahead.


“We share the governor’s commitment to children and families while also recognizing the reality is that too many Ohioans feel like they’re stuck,” said House Democratic Leader Emilia Sykes (D-Akron). “People don’t want just to get by, but get ahead. Democrats are committed to renewing Ohio’s promise of better jobs and brighter futures by investing in Ohio and building an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top.”


Ohio’s job growth has trailed the national average much of the past six years, and its current 4.6 percent unemployment rate ranks 6th worst in the nation. In the past decade, middle class Ohioans have seen the sixth worst decline in wages as share of total income among U.S. states. In addition, Ohio incomes have dropped more than six percent in recent decades, which ranks worse than all but three other states.


“Right now in Ohio, too many struggle to get by and too few have the opportunity to get ahead,” said Assistant Minority Leader Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus). “Getting Ohio back on the right track begins with good-paying jobs and investing in our future to ensure that people have the tools they need for a better life.”


Despite some improvements in the state’s fight against the opioid epidemic, Ohio still ranks nearly last in overdose deaths per capita. Ongoing issues with infant mortality and access to health care for women, infants and children, among other factors, rank the Buckeye State 39th in the nation in overall health.


“Too many Ohioans worry that an accident or illness will derail their plans for the future,” said Minority Whip Kent Smith (D-Euclid). “We need to come together to protect healthcare access so that working people can hold a job, start a business or plan for retirement with the security of knowing they’ll have access to quality, affordable care when they need it.”


After the last eight years of total Republican control of state government, Ohio has dropped from fifth to 23rd in education, and ranks first in student debt and near last in college affordability. Though the state has seen an uptick in high school graduation rates in recent years, rates for minority students remain among the worst in the country.


“It used to be that Ohio led the nation in education, but our kids are starting to fall behind,” said Assistant Minority Whip Paula Hicks-Hudson (D-Toledo). “To compete and grow a world-class workforce, we need to invest in our public schools. The next generation of business leaders, entrepreneurs and innovators are counting on us to get this right.”


 


Here is what other Democratic lawmakers are saying:


“We must recognize that there are too many people in Ohio concerned and struggling to stay healthy and protected,” said state Rep. Tavia Galonski (D-Akron). “It’s our responsibility to secure affordable healthcare access to give all Ohioans the opportunity to achieve their goals and plan for their futures.”


“Investing in our children is a step in the right direction to ensure a better and brighter future for everyone, as I see the daily struggles of Ohioans trying to make ends meet,” said state Rep. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland). “Our constituents want their elected officials to come together to relieve their stress of living paycheck to paycheck. There is still more work to be done to ensure that working families can get ahead.”


“I look forward to working together to improve the health and wellness of children and families in our state,” said state Rep. Beth Liston (D-Dublin).


“I was pleased to see Governor DeWine affirm his commitment to cleaning up Lake Erie, and I am hopeful we will see renewed interest in addressing environmental health across Ohio,” said state Rep. Casey Weinstein (D-Hudson). “Ohio currently ranks 40th in overall health, 46th in air pollution, and the Cleveland-Akron area ranks 9th in air pollution nationally. We must work together to ensure all of our children have access to the clean air and clean water they deserve.”


“I applaud Governor DeWine for highlighting some of the struggles middle-class families face across our state each and every day,” said state Rep. Lisa Sobecki (D-Toledo). “Education and equal opportunity are important priorities for many Ohio families. I urge the Governor to follow through on his promises to address these issues and help middle-class families succeed and get ahead.”


“I was heartened to hear Governor DeWine commit to desperately-needed investments in public health. For too long, we have reacted to public health crises rather than proactively addressing the health and wellness needs of Ohioans,” said state Rep. Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington). “But a healthy Ohio requires investment beyond the four walls of your doctor’s office. We need concrete, targeted investments in our schools, our local government services and affordable housing in our communities.”


“I appreciate the Governor’s focus on working together to help move Ohio forward. Too many Ohioans feel disconnected from their elected officials,” said state Rep. Randi Clites (D- Ravenna). “The Governor recognized the need to be a defender of the defenseless, and I hope that his proposed budget includes supportive services for our children, those with special health care needs and Ohio’s aging population.”


“I agree with Governor DeWine that we have not been investing properly in Ohio’s future. As one of the youngest lawmakers in Ohio, I have witnessed first-hand the impact of this shortcoming by watching my friends and coworkers leave this great state for better opportunities elsewhere,” said state Rep. Bride Sweeney (D-Cleveland). I look forward to working with the Governor on welcoming new people, new ideas and having a forward-looking perspective toward the future.”


“The governor’s message today was a mixed bag. On one hand, I’m encouraged by his expressed commitment to investing in substantial road and bridge repairs and working with local governments, all of which is overdue. On the other hand, I’m disheartened because he didn’t address Ohio’s desperate school funding situation at all,” said state Rep. Jeff Crossman (D-Parma). “Teachers deserve more than a mention in the governor’s speech. I think Ohioans are tired of the same talk from Columbus. Our state is ready for real progress, and it’s time to deliver real results.”


“I appreciate Governor DeWine’s speech highlighting several areas of concern within our great state. However, I was disappointed at the lack of attention paid to school funding,” said state Rep. Jessica Miranda (D-Forest Park). “As Ohio ranks 41st in education, the Governor should have put a brighter spotlight on this issue. Education is our greatest equalizer, and as we work to improve the life of Ohioans, education must be adequately funded.”


“As an educator, I appreciated Governor DeWine taking a moment to thank the teachers of Ohio and recognize the challenges they face,” said state Rep. Joe Miller (D-Lorain). “However, now begins the hard work of bringing real solutions to the classroom by empowering teachers, school boards and our local community. That begins with repealing HB70 and restoring local control over our most precious resource: our children.”


“I would like to thank Governor DeWine for his remarks and appreciate his focus on children and jobs.” said state Rep. Erica C. Crawley (D-Columbus). “However, we need to ensure the policies we put in place support children from cradle to career. When it comes to job opportunities and supporting families, the Working Families First tax credit bill is a step towards putting more money into the pockets of hardworking Ohioans.”


“I was encouraged by most of what Governor DeWine said today, and I believe we have a good starting framework of mutual goals that we can accomplish through bipartisanship,” said state Rep. Phil Robinson (D-Solon). “I’m also happy to hear that early childhood education is one of the Governor’s top priorities, because Ohio ranks only 41st in education in the nation and has the 6th worst graduation rate for black students. We are in desperate need of leadership and legislation to solve Ohio’s education crisis, return the $1 billion in funding cut during the Great Recession and invest in our children’s early education and in their futures.”

 
 
  

State Rep. Glenn Holmes (D-Girard) today announced House Concurrent Resolution (HCR) 6, his bipartisan legislation urging General Motors to keep open its Lordstown, Ohio production facility, passed the House Commerce and Labor Committee unanimously.


“For many families, GM has meant more than a paycheck—it’s a source of community pride. That’s why it’s so important for us to work together to find common ground to see this partnership through so that the next generation of workers can continue that legacy,” said Rep. Holmes. “I am encouraged by the outpouring of bipartisan support we’ve seen for this important legislation.”


HCR 6 calls for GM to award its Lordstown plant a new vehicle for production, and explains that the state and its workers are ready and willing to come to a solution that puts Ohioans back to work.  


“Ohio is the manufacturing hub of the United States, and we have been blessed with an incredible, dedicated workforce,” said Holmes. “The partnership between GM and Ohio has been profitable for both entities for more than 60 years, and still can be into the future.”


Facility production is scheduled to end Wednesday, March 5, according to GM. More than 1,300 employees will be affected.


HCR 6 now moves to the House floor for a vote.


 

 
 
  
 
Dems To Push State Transportation Reforms That Move Ohio Forward
To back budget improvements that invest in local communities, people
March 01, 2019
 
 

Ohio House Democratic lawmakers today announced they will push for a better state transportation budget that brings more taxpayers dollars home to local communities throughout the state.


The priorities members are considering for House Bill (HB) 62, the state’s two-year transportation budget, include lowering the Republican proposed gas tax hike, phasing in any gas tax increases, increasing local public transit, and directing more resources to local communities instead of state agencies in Columbus.


“A strong transportation plan means a stronger economic future for the people of our state,” said House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes (D-Akron). “It’s clear Republicans are planning to raise the gas tax, so we need to be strategic about directing more resources back home for working people, small businesses and families. Taxpayers want their money to work for them, not some state agency in Columbus.”


Democratic lawmakers have been cautious about Republican plans to raise gas taxes, saying working people, small businesses and families have already felt squeezed over the last decade due to unfair state tax changes that make them pay more so millionaires and billionaires pay less.


State budget cuts have also forced local communities to put off needed infrastructure improvements and in some cases have forced communities to ask residents for tax increases to fund essential services.


“We have the responsibility to ensure our roads and bridges are in good shape, but we also need to balance that need with the bottom-line realities facing Ohio’s working families,” said Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire), the Ranking Democrat on the House panel hearing testimony on HB 62. “We need a better transportation plan that will work for our communities and actual people – not just a state department’s budget or bottom line.”


HB 62 currently sits before the House Finance Committee and could be voted on as soon as next Wednesday.

 
 
  

State Rep. Jeff Crossman (D-Parma) today issued a statement following reports that teachers at the Summit Academy Parma reached a deal with school administrators to end the ongoing teacher strike at the school.


“I was extremely pleased to learn that the students of Summit Academy Parma will be back in their classrooms with their teachers on Monday. At the outset, it was important to remember that we must all strive to do what is best for our students, and I commend both parties for reaching a resolution to this unfortunate dispute,” said Crossman.   


“I am hopeful that the compromise reached will enable educators to better serve their students while maintaining the viability of a school that addresses specific needs for these students.  


“I am also optimistic that, with continued, productive dialogue, future disputes will be resolved without the need to strike and that the parties will continue to strive for a better classroom experience for both students and those dedicated to their education.” 

 
 
  
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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.