In Democrats’ continued push for real bipartisan congressional redistricting reform, Senate Democratic Leader Kenny Yuko (D- Richmond Heights) and House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) today released the following joint statement calling for continued negotiations:


“Democrats in the Ohio General Assembly are committed to ending gerrymandering once and for all. That’s why we agreed to join the redistricting working group in the first place, because bipartisanship should be the foundation of the redistricting process.


“Democrats are committed to requiring strong bipartisanship and stopping communities from being split apart to favor one party over another.


“Unfortunately, the Republican plan would only change the way a majority party could manipulate districts in the future. In fact, the GOP proposals would continue the problem of unfair congressional districts by writing gerrymandering into our state constitution.


“We want the citizens of Ohio to know that Democrats in the legislature remain dedicated to achieving meaningful reform. There is still time to negotiate and reach an agreement.”

 
 
  
 
Antonio: Time's Up For Sexual Harassers In Positions Of Power At State Capitol
Cleveland-area lawmaker responds to reports of public victim shaming, mocking by elected officials
January 25, 2018
 
 

State Rep. Nickie J. Antonio today responded to reports of victims of sexual harassment being publicly shamed and mocked by male legislators in front of some 100 legislators, lobbyists and staff Tuesday night at a staff going-away celebration on capitol square.


“Politicians who think it’s alright to publicly degrade, humiliate and make light of victims who have been sexually harassed and preyed upon by elected officials are part of the problem in America.


“Elected officials, Democratic and Republican, who were sitting in the crowd that night should come forward and demand better, but sadly most of them won’t in an effort to protect the establishment men entrenched in positions of political power across our state.


“Until we demand better of our elected officials and hold them accountable for treating taxpayers like commodities and the Statehouse like a playground, we won’t make progress on important issues like job creation, school funding and equal pay. Time’s up for sexual harassers at the Statehouse.”


State Rep. Nickie Antonio is the former House Democratic whip and past chair of the Ohio House Democratic Women’s Caucus. She and her spouse Jean Kosmac are the mothers of two adult daughters. 

 
 
  
 
OLBC Concerned GOP Redistricting Plan Falls Short Of Real Reform For Ohio Voters
Urges colleagues to support measures to eliminate partisan mapmaking
January 25, 2018
 
 

As state lawmakers debate Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 5, a Republican-led proposal to change the way Ohio draws its legislative districts, the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus today urged state lawmakers to consider amending the bill to address concerns many voting rights and redistricting reform experts have regarding SJR 5.


“Gerrymandering has turned the idea of the ballot box being America’s great equalizer on its head, allowing politicians to choose their voters rather than having voters choose their politicians,” said OLBC President and state Rep. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland). “SJR 5 only makes what’s wrong with current law worse. SJR 5 keeps the authority to redraw districts within the state legislature and eliminates key controls that seek to end rigged districts and give Ohio voters fair representation.”


Democrats and redistricting reform advocates have argued this plan allows for political manipulation of the redistricting process.


“Our goal isn’t to limit ways a map can be gerrymandered,” said State Sen. Vern Sykes (D-Akron). “Our goal is to end gerrymandering all together, and SJR 5 doesn’t accomplish that.” Sen. Sykes is a member of the Congressional Redistricting Workgroup, a bipartisan group of lawmakers charged with finding ways to reform Ohio’s congressional redistricting process. “Ohioans spoke loud and clear in 2015 when they overwhelmingly supported common sense reforms to the way we draw state districts and we want to replicate that effort.”


Ohio voters submitted and overwhelmingly approved Issue 1, a 2015 ballot initiative to remove the state legislature from drawing its own seats, and instead placing that authority in the hands of the Ohio Redistricting Commission.


SJR 5 keeps the congressional map-drawing authority with legislators in the General Assembly. The plan would be approved with a three-fifths majority of lawmakers, including one third of the minority party. Should the body fail to approve the plan, the Ohio Redistricting Commission would create either a 10-year map with minority consent or a four-year map without. A four-year map could become a 10-year map if approved by the General Assembly.


If approved by the General Assembly, SJR 5 would head to a ballot to be considered by Ohio voters later this year.

 
 
  
 
Boccieri Pans GOP Redistricting Plan
Proposal would take citizen input out of the process
January 24, 2018
 
 

State Rep. John Boccieri (D-Poland) today panned the congressional redistricting proposal introduced this week by Sen. Matt Huffman (R-Lima). Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 5 removes public input from the redistricting process by eliminating the option of a citizen referendum, and retains a partisan advantage for the party in control of the state legislature.


“Taking the public out of the equation creates a rigged system that’s worse that what we currently have in place,” Boccieri said. “We should have the people picking their elected officials, not politicians picking who they want to represent."


SJR 5 tasks the General Assembly with drawing a map for congressional districts. The plan must be approved with a three-fifths majority of lawmakers, including one third of the minority party. Should the body fail to approve the plan, the job is transferred to the existing Ohio Redistricting Commission. The Commission’s plan must garner support from at least two minority party commission members. If two minority members consent, the map is valid for 10 years. If not, the map is only valid for four years before the process restarts. However, a four-year map could become a 10-year map with approval from the General Assembly.


“To suggest that a partisan group is the best choice to draw political maps is just insane. We’ve seen in cases across the country that partisan groups draw these districts to their advantage,” said Boccieri.


In addition to likely being unsuccessful in preventing gerrymandering, the resolution does not require the Governor’s signature because it is not a bill, eliminating yet another check on the fairness of the maps.


Some Democrat lawmakers have voiced concern about the closed-door nature of negotiations on the final version of SJR 5. Initially, a bipartisan working group met to hash out the proposal and the group hosted public meetings to vet ideas. However, the final language of the resolution did not earn approval from minority members of the working group.


SJR 5 is slated to be voted out of Senate committee next week and come up for a floor vote shortly thereafter. House Republican leadership has noted that changes are likely to come before the proposal passes the House.


Should SJR 5 pass the General Assembly, it would appear before Ohio voters later this year. 

 
 
  
 
Ohio House Passes Measure Urging Selection Of Camp Ravenna As Missile Defense System
Base is among three in the country under consideration
January 24, 2018
 
 

State Reps. John Boccieri (D-Poland), Mike O’Brien (D-Warren), Glenn W. Holmes (D-Girard) and Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) today applauded the Ohio House for unanimously passing Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR) 8, which calls on the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (USMDA) to select Camp Ravenna Joint Military Training Center as the preferred site for a future east coast Missile Defense system. MDA, a sub-agency of the Department of Defense (DOD), announced its consideration of Camp Ravenna among two other locations for a potential future deployment of additional ground-based interceptors for homeland defense.


“Camp Ravenna is uniquely positioned to be a strong site for selection because of its geographical location and surrounding military, technological and transportation assets,” said Boccieri. “Not only would our area benefit from the economic impact, but the impacts to our regional security cannot be delayed with a growing missile threat from North Korea.”


Among heightening homeland security tensions, MDA has decided to add another ground-based interceptor site to complement the existing one serving the west coast. Ravenna is a secure base with no conflicting missions, and its partnerships with the Youngstown Air Reserve Station (YARS) and Cleveland’s NASA Glenn Center make it an appealing choice for USMDA. In addition, studies have shown that relocating to Ravenna would not cause any adverse environmental or other impacts.


“Today’s decision by the Ohio House of Representatives sends a strong message that Northeast Ohio has an important role to play in providing for our national security,” said Holmes. “I am grateful for the years of hard work put in by our community leaders to promote Ohio’s qualities as a strategic asset.”


“This is another example of how Northeast Ohio has the ability to attract projects of national importance,” said Lepore-Hagan. “The MDA choosing Camp Ravenna as a finalist for an east coast defense site shows that our region has the world-class amenities to support this important mission.”


The selection of Camp Ravenna for the east coast Missile Defense system would also shield the base from further consideration for closure, as the U.S. military’s Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC) has been looking for ways to streamline its operations and optimize efficiency and cost effectiveness.


The other locations under consideration for the site are Fort Custer Training Center in Michigan and Fort Drum in New York.


SCR 9 now heads to the Governor’s desk for his expected signature. 

 
 
  

Ohio House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) issued the following statement today in response to a Republican push for so-called “right to work” restrictions on working people in Ohio:


“Instead of restrictions to make working people poorer and less safe on the job, we should prioritize commonsense ideas that grow our economy and create good-paying jobs that give working families the opportunity to get ahead. The Republican package of so-called “right to work” legislation is wrong for working families and wrong for Ohio.”

 
 
  
 
In Wake Of ECOT's Closure, Galonski Calls For Legislative Action On Student Record Transfers
HB 418 would expedite the process of transferring student records
January 22, 2018
 
 

State Rep. Tavia Galonski (D-Akron) today responded to Educational Service Center of Lake Erie West’s announcement of suspending operations at Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) and urges the House Education and Career Readiness Committee to begin hearings on House Bill (HB) 418, which establishes a statutory requirement for schools to transfer student records upon request.


“Although I do not support ECOT’s fraudulent reporting methods or its significant misappropriation of taxpayer dollars, I cannot help but be heartbroken for the thousands of students impacted by this decision,” said Galonski. “Ohio’s children deserve an equal opportunity to receive a quality education, and now it is our job to make sure that these students are taken care of.”


Legislation recently referred to the House Education and Career Readiness Committee would expedite the process of transferring student records. House Bill (HB) 418, introduced by Rep. Catherine Ingram (D-Cincinnati), would require public and private schools to turn over student transfer records to the student’s new school within five days of the request.


“Given the urgent situation these ECOT students and families are in, I am hopeful that Chairman Brenner will see the timeliness of HB 418 and quickly push it through committee,” Galonski said.


The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) has been court-ordered to pay back $80 million in overpayments to the state due to misreporting their active enrollment numbers. Unable to make the payment, the charter school’s sponsor, the Educational Service Center of Lake Erie West, unanimously voted on Thursday to close the school.  


The Ohio Department of Education has also updated its resources in order to assist students and teachers through the transitioning process. Students and their families can view a list of pertinent frequently asked questions and a county specific list of schools where students can enroll on the Department of Education’s website at http://education.ohio.gov/.     


Galonski represents Ohio’s 35th district, which is comprised of parts of Akron and Barberton.  

 
 
  
State Rep. Kent Smith

Ohio House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) today announced state Rep. Kent Smith (D-Euclid) has been named policy chair for the House Democratic Caucus in 2018.


Smith, first elected to serve the 8th House District in 2014, will help shape the policy agenda for the caucus in 2018, working with members and organizations to research and draft legislation that furthers the caucus priorities of middle-class job growth, economic stability for working families and increased opportunities for working people to get ahead in the Buckeye State.


“Kent is smart, thorough, and will work hard to maintain a deep understanding of how the policies coming out of the Statehouse impact people’s quality of life,” said Strahorn. “Whether you’re a single parent working two jobs, the head of a family of five or a business owner looking to expand, we want you to be able to meet your basic needs and have enough left over to plan for a brighter future. Kent gets that.”


Smith graduated from Miami University and earned his Master of Science in Urban Studies from Cleveland State University in 2001. His Master’s Degree thesis, written in 2001, was about the emerging threat of Predatory Lending and the SubPrime Market. He also co-authored the first Predatory Lending Report by Policy Matters Ohio in 2002.  Following his Master’s Degree studies, he was a PhD student at Cleveland State University in Economic Development.


“The work that we have been doing at the Statehouse to increase wages, grow our economy and let families better plan for the future is fundamental to the progress and economic stability of our state,” said Smith. “We need to take a different approach in Ohio.  The current policies have not led to income growth for Ohio's working families.  I look forward to working with my Democratic colleagues to create economic opportunities for everyday Ohioans."


Smith formerly worked for the Cuyahoga County Prosecutors Office and several Northeast Ohio non-profit organizations. He joined the Ohio House of Representatives after serving Euclid Ohio as a Member of the Euclid Board of Education from 2002 to 2013.

 
 
  

In response to reports that ECOT’s sponsor is officially cutting ties with the online charter school, state Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo), the lead Democrat on the House Education Committee, issued the following statement:


“What a relief! Finally, Education officials are standing up for our children and taxpayers. The unchecked charter school experiment has gone on long enough. With lessons learned, we must review the real successes and failures of this experiment. It is time for real oversight and real penalties for charter schools that are not living up to their charters. It’s clear, charter schools must be held to the same standards and requirements that are placed on Ohio’s public schools. Let’s create a real oversight effort immediately.”

 
 
  
 
Dem Lawmakers Introduce Legislation To Improve Lake Erie Water Quality
HB 460 encourages more landowners to protect agriculture from waste run-off
January 16, 2018
 
 

State Reps. John Patterson (D-Jefferson) and Michael Sheehy (D-Oregon) recently announced the introduction of House Bill (HB) 460, legislation to exempt riparian buffers from property taxes in an effort to encourage more landowners in the western basin of Lake Erie to install these agricultural barriers, known for filtering nutrients that cause harmful algal blooms.


“Extensive research has proven that riparian buffers are effective filters for nutrients, including nitrogen, phosphorus, calcium, potassium, sulfur and magnesium,” said Patterson. “Excessive levels of nitrogen and phosphorus are of particular concern in the nation’s streams and lakes due to their ability to cause harmful algal blooms. Understanding the tight profit margins associated with farming, removing land from agricultural production is not financially possible for most farmers in Ohio. By removing the tax burden, we hope HB 460 will enable landowners to help address Lake Erie water quality issues.”


Consisting of non-invasive, perennial vegetation, HB 460 defines riparian buffers as strips of land between 35 and 100 feet in width that border a permanent body of water or wetlands. To ensure the legislation will not negatively affect local governments and schools, HB 460 requires the state to reimburse local taxing units for any resulting revenue losses.


“Hidden within this piece of tax legislation lies a real opportunity to do some good for our Great Lake,” said Sheehy. “It’s no secret that Ohio’s northern coast is under threat from harmful, man-made pollutants— a threat which, unfortunately, environmental regulation alone cannot solve. With this legislation, we begin the process of rebuilding Lake Erie’s complex system of biodiversity and interdependence right here in Columbus. Of course, all over the Great Lakes region, you’ll see a fierce pride in our natural surroundings. In that spirit, Rep. Patterson and I join a national effort to protect our water resources for generations to come.”


HB 460 was introduced earlier this week and is currently awaiting committee assignment.

 
 
  
<< Older Posts Newer Posts >>
Featured Posts

Bipartisan Redistricting Reform Clears Last Legislative Hurdle Before Voters Have Final Say In May

 

Following months of negotiation, the Ohio House today passed Senate Joint Resolution 5, bipartisan legislation that puts a constitutional amendment before voters in May to restrict congressional gerrymandering in the state. 

“After months of negotiation, thousands of Ohioans speaking out, and several false starts, we’re closer to stopping congressional gerrymandering today than we have ever been before. Though imperfect, this latest plan represents one of the most fundamental tenets of our American democracy – compromise,” said House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton). “We support this plan today, with the hope and expectation that it will help impart that same spirit and guiding principle of cooperation on Washington in the near future.”

Democratic House expressed concerns over several parts of the proposed plan that they see as loopholes that, in extreme cases, could still allow partisan congressional district rigging. Ultimately, most Democrats still supported the final language in the resolution.



 
 

Dem Lawmakers Unveil Paid Family Leave Bill

 

State Reps. Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights) and Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus) today announced 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. While federal law provides some workers the ability to take leave, it does not provide those workers with any guarantees that they will have compensation while on leave.



 
 

Democratic Legislative Leaders Continue Push For Bipartisan Redistricting Reform

 

In Democrats’ continued push for real bipartisan congressional redistricting reform, Senate Democratic Leader Kenny Yuko (D- Richmond Heights) and House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) today released the following joint statement calling for continued negotiations:

“Democrats in the Ohio General Assembly are committed to ending gerrymandering once and for all. That’s why we agreed to join the redistricting working group in the first place, because bipartisanship should be the foundation of the redistricting process.

“Democrats are committed to requiring strong bipartisanship and stopping communities from being split apart to favor one party over another.

“Unfortunately, the Republican plan would only change the way a majority party could manipulate districts in the future. In fact, the GOP proposals would continue the problem of unfair congressional districts by writing gerrymandering into our state constitution.

“We want the citizens of Ohio to know that Democrats in the legislature remain dedicated to achieving meaningful reform. There is still time to negotiate and reach an agreement.”



 
 

Ohio House Passes Measure Urging Selection Of Camp Ravenna As Missile Defense System

 

State Reps. John Boccieri (D-Poland), Mike O’Brien (D-Warren), Glenn W. Holmes (D-Girard) and Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) today applauded the Ohio House for unanimously passing Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR) 8, which calls on the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (USMDA) to select Camp Ravenna Joint Military Training Center as the preferred site for a future east coast Missile Defense system. MDA, a sub-agency of the Department of Defense (DOD), announced its consideration of Camp Ravenna among two other locations for a potential future deployment of additional ground-based interceptors for homeland defense.