Rep. Howse, OLBC Responds To "colored" Comment From State Senator
OLBC president calls on Sen. Huffman, others to have racial equity and implicit bias training
June 11, 2020
 
 

COLUMBUS— Ohio Legislative Black Caucus (OLBC) President State Rep. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland) today issued a statement in response to state Senator Steven Huffman’s (R-Tipp City) question Tuesday about whether “colored” people get COVID-19 from not washing their hands as much.


Historically, the world “colored” is associated with segregation and Jim Crow laws and is almost universally considered offensive in 2020. Additionally, the unfounded idea that “Black people are dirty” has long been used as a racist stereotype in the United States to justify centuries of white superiority and Black oppression.


“When we talk about the internalized racism that is deeply ingrained in our institutions and the obstacles Black Americans face in ever achieving meaningful change, this is exactly what we are talking about,” Rep. Howse said. “The fact that a well-educated legislator, a Vice Chair of the Health Committee and a practicing medical doctor would, in a public setting, nonchalantly use such antiquated terminology paired with a hurtful, racist stereotype all in one breath reflects how unconscious this problem of racism is for too many.


Because he is not alone in the way he talks and the biases he holds. Black Ohioans have spent the last several days teaching lessons to people just like him about racism and trying to verbalize the pain we are feeling right now so others can better understand the Black experience. We are tired of these conversations, but we must not stop. Because only together can we finally recognize our societal shortcomings and strive to create a better world for the next generation.


This is why OLBC is calling upon the Senate and House legislators and staff to immediately take racial equity and implicit bias training. This training can help to identify racial biases within the General Assembly and make it easier for us as a legislature to recognize the racist policies already in state law and seek to level the playing field so all Ohioans can live the American Dream right here at home and Ohio can finally realize its true promise.”


Huffman’s question was asked during a Senate committee hearing to consider declaring racism a public health crisis. The House version of the resolution, HCR 31, has zero Republican sponsors and to date, has not received a single hearing.


In recent weeks, Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) has voiced frustration about the lack of action from Governor Mike DeWine’s Minority Health Strike Force to respond appropriately to the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Ohio’s minority communities. She has echoed OLBC’s repeated calls to declare racism a public health crisis.   


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Editor’s note: Full video of Senator Huffman’s comments can be found here. The soundbite that is referenced in this release can be found around the 50:00 mark.

 
 
  

State Rep. Beth Liston (D-Dublin) issued a statement today following the passage of House Bill 624,Republican legislation that would require the release of certain COVID-19 related data, which Liston says will make it more difficult for health departments to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.


“Transparency is critical, but politicians should not undermine health professionals who are working to care for people in Ohio. This bill requires health departments to guess at information that isn’t available, which would create confusion and make it difficult to keep people healthy during this pandemic,” said Liston.


House Democrats criticized several aspects of the bill, saying it downplays the severity of COVID-19, misrepresenting the effect of the virus and comorbidities by requiring that the death was attributed solely by covid-19 or additional complication factors.


Additionally, Democrats noted the bill’s failure to address real gaps in the data, including the lack of race/ethnicity data made available to this point, as well as the bill’s failure to take into account existing health information privacy laws and release of that information to the public.

 
 
  
 
Rep. Boyd, Dem Lawmakers Urge Governor To Ban Use Of Tear Gas By Police Departments
Say tear gas has dangerous health effects, violates civil and human rights, and exacerbates the spread of COVID-19
June 09, 2020
 
 

COLUMBUS—Today, Rep. Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights) and fellow House Democratic lawmakers sent a letter to Gov. Mike DeWine urging him to ban the use of tear gas by all county, municipal and township police departments indefinitely. 


The demand follows the indiscriminate use of tear gas, pepper spray and mace by law enforcement on Ohioans peacefully protesting police brutality in dozens of towns and cities, large and small, this past week.


“Over the past few weeks we have seen peaceful protesters being subjected to militant police violence via Rubber bullets, baton beatings, and tear gassing mass gatherings of peaceful protesters. This isn’t the 1960’s or a war-torn country. This is 2020 in the United States of America. This is Ohio.


As the Ranking Minority Member on the House Committee on Health, I am extremely concerned about the use of tear gas or any other chemical agents, which are banned under the Geneva Protocol, on the general population and the dangerous impact these agents may have on public health. Over the last week, tear gassing was an egregious and even dangerous response to otherwise peaceful protests, during a pandemic ignited by a respiratory disease.


I urge the Governor to consider who we are as a state, and to immediately prohibit the use of tear gas by all county, municipal and township police departments.” said Rep. Boyd.


The letter outlines that the use of tear gas and other chemical agents should be banned because tear gas:



  • May have dangerous health effects on Ohioans;

  • Violates civil and human rights;

  • Exacerbates the spread of COVID-19.


House Democrats today also revealed their preliminary legislative plan to combat police brutality, which includes a proposed bill to prohibit the use of tear gas by law enforcement.


*Editor’s Note: A copy of the letter is attached.


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House Democrats Reveal Legislative Plans For Police Reforms
Proposed bills prohibit profiling, the use of quotas, call for independent investigation of officer-involved shootings and creation of databases to better track problematic behavior
June 09, 2020
 
 

COLUMBUS— Ohio House Democrats, led by Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron), are acting swiftly to respond to the thousands of concerned voices being raised in cities and towns throughout Ohio by announcing today their preliminary legislative plans to combat police brutality. The proposed bills would prohibit profiling, tear gas, and the use of quotas by all law enforcement agencies, as well as call for the independent investigation of officer-involved shootings and the creation of databases to better track problematic behavior and employment history of law enforcement officers.


“Like the countless protestors who have taken to the streets outside the statehouse screaming for justice, our caucus is also determined to seek justice inside these walls and realize the true Ohio Promise,” Leader Sykes said. “Racism did not just happen overnight and it will not be eradicated overnight. But as more and more join the fight, we need to all come together and channel the range of feelings we are experiencing right now – anger, sadness, frustration, shame, hopelessness – and enact meaningful change. Black Ohioans cannot do it alone anymore, we must move forward together.


We believe one of the first, and most immediate, steps we need to take is reforming how we police in this state. We call on our Republican colleagues and law enforcement agencies to work with us to address this very real and very pressing problem.


We also call on House Republican leadership to move quickly on HCR 31 and declare racism a public health emergency.  This resolution is more than a declaration—it has actionable steps to engage communities of color and actively work to dismantle racism by promoting equity in government and society. This resolution puts us on the path to securing the Ohio Promise not just for some of us, but for all of us—especially people of color. It is desperately needed right now and we applaud our colleagues in the Senate for recognizing the urgency and giving it a hearing this morning.”


House Democrats are currently considering the following bills to address police and civil justice reform:



  • A bill that would demilitarize the police by prohibiting Ohio police departments from benefitting from the federal 1099 program, which allows the DOD to offload excess and surplus military weapons & equipment to police departments at little to no cost;

  • A bill that would prohibit law enforcement agencies from profiling and requires annual racial or other biased-based police training;

  • A bill to prohibit the use of arrest or citation quotas by all law enforcement agencies;

  • A bill regarding de-escalation and mental health training;

  • A bill to require that all officer-involved shootings and other officer misconduct be independently investigated;

  • A bill to create a centralized excessive use of force database that would require all law enforcement agencies to report officer-involved shootings and injuries;

  • A bill that requires the Attorney General to maintain a database showing the employment history of police officers;

  • A bill to require police officers wear clearly visible and easily traceable identification at all times;

  • And a bill to prohibit the use of tear gas by law enforcement.


Additionally, House Democrats are calling on the United States Congress to pass the Congressional Black Caucus’ Justice in Policing Act – the first-ever bold, comprehensive approach to hold police accountable, end racial profiling, change the culture of law enforcement, empower our communities, and build trust between law enforcement and our communities by addressing systemic racism and bias to help save lives.


The Justice in Policing Act would, at the federal level:


1) Establish a national standard for the operation of police departments;


2) Mandate data collection on police encounters;


3) Reprogram existing funds to invest in transformative community-based policing programs; and


4) Streamline federal law to prosecute excessive force and establish independent prosecutors for police investigations.


It is supported by 166 U.S. Representatives and 35 U.S. Senators.


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House Dems: GOP Election Bill Sets Stage For Confusion And Chaos In November
Say bill does little to prepare for presidential election amid pandemic
June 05, 2020
 
 

COLUMBUS—Ohio House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) today blasted House Republican lawmakers who passed an elections bill that does little to prepare the state’s Boards of Elections to safely conduct a presidential election amid the worst global pandemic in more than a century.


House Bill (HB) 680 shortens the time for voters to request absentee ballots, eliminates the ability for the secretary of state to prepay return postage for ballot applications, and bars the Health Director and other officials from affecting the conduct of elections—even at the risk of public health.


“Chaos and confusion marred this year’s primary, and this bill does little to address the serious concerns of voters, poll workers, voting rights advocates and elections officials from both political parties on how we can conduct a safe, accessible election this November,” Leader Sykes said. “Instead of taking the necessary precautions to prepare us for November, this bill takes us back by making it even harder to vote by mail. We should be making it easier, not harder for Ohioans to exercise their voting rights. We must do better.”


The bill stands in stark contrast to the Democrats’ proposal, 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, which has already killed more than 2,000 Ohioans.


“We are now just three months away from when voting for the general election begins. HB 680 does not do enough to make people safe during this pandemic, and it doesn’t take the reasonable steps needed to make voting more accessible,” said Rep. Brigid Kelly (D-Cincinnati). “We should be working to make it easier, not harder, for Ohioans to make their voices heard.”


Democrats offered several amendments on the floor, including:



  • Removing the prohibition on officials from affecting the conduct of elections, which would limit the ability of Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton to determine if in-person voting is safe this November, which was sponsored by Rep. Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington).

  • Allowing the secretary of state to prepay return postage for ballot applications and absentee ballots, sponsored by Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland)

  • Removing confusion by allowing ballots to be postmarked by Election Day, rather than the day before Election Day, which was sponsored by Rep. Catherine Ingram (D-Cincinnati).

  • Mailing ballots to every voter for this November’s presidential election, sponsored by Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown).

  • Removing language that ends Early Voting at 6 p.m. the Friday before the election, sponsored by Rep. Paula Hicks-Hudson (D-Toledo).


Republicans rejected each of the Democratic amendments along party lines. 


“This country was founded on the principles of a government that is ‘for the people, of the people, and by the people’,” Rep. Russo said. “It is our job to safeguard these principles for all Ohioans, especially during a global pandemic.  Ohio’s most recent Primary Election highlighted that we must make absentee voting easier and more efficient. HB 680 does neither of these things—it simply maintains the status quo, which is woefully unprepared for our current public health crisis. In November, many Ohioans will still be forced to make the unconscionable choice between jeopardizing their health and safety and exercising their constitutional right to vote.”


“HB 680 fails to include commonsense solutions like prepaying postage that would make it easier for Ohioans to vote,” said Rep. Sweeney. “The state paid for postage back in March, because voting by mail was the only option for many. It is unacceptable that this legislation prevents the use of federal funds – that other states will use – on return postage, because there are people across Ohio, such as seniors and those with pre-existing conditions, who may really only have one option. During one of the most turbulent times in modern memory when November is no clearer than tomorrow, I am deeply disappointed that HB 680 neither makes voting easier nor learns from the March Primary Election.”


“This is not the time to create new barriers or reinstate old barriers to keep the great citizens of Ohio from exercising their right to vote as easily and fairly as possible,” said Rep. Ingram. “HB 680 is another partisan tactic to disenfranchise our most vulnerable voters.”


 


“Once again, the majority party in the legislature missed an incredible opportunity to ensure that the November General Election is not a repeat of the primary. All they needed to do was send a ballot to every eligible voter in Ohio so they would have the ability to decide whether to mail it in or vote in person—if voting in person is safe in November. Instead, they chose to make vote by mail much more complicated and confusing than it should be. If the coronavirus reflares later this year, voters will be left scrambling to acquire mail in ballots and, as happened in the primary, people will be disenfranchised,” said Rep. Lepore-Hagan.


"I am disappointed that we did not make improvements to our elections to make voters, poll workers, and election officials safe in this pandemic. This bill tried to take our access to voting away and then it gave some back. But we still have not expanded voter registration, we have not expanded mail voting, and we have not expanded in person voting. This is simply not good enough for Ohioans. We are going through a pandemic crisis, an economic crisis, and a kindness crisis. I will continue to fight for real solutions that protect voting rights,” said Rep. Hicks-Hudson.


After a party-line vote, HB 680 now moves to the Senate for consideration.


 

 
 
  

COLUMBUS – Yesterday, Ohio Democratic state legislators called on members of the Ohio Congressional Delegation to support and approve an increase in funding for local school systems in the next Covid-19 supplemental appropriations bill.


“Ohio is still short of pre-recession level funding for public schools when adjusted for inflation. The current crisis has all but assured that Ohio will not be able to adequately fund public education, failing 1.5 million public school students,” the members of the Ohio Senate and House Democratic Caucuses said in the letter.


The letter requests that Congress:



  • Increase funding in the Education Stabilization Fund by at least $100 billion for K-12 education to local districts;

  • Invest in digital infrastructure to improve virtual and remote learning access;

  • Provide additional funds to the states for Title I and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act students in the 2020-21 school year, so that schools may offer summer school and after-school programs;

  • Pass the Heroes Act in the U.S. Senate.


The letter follows Governor Mike DeWine’s May 5 announcement of $775 million in cuts to the state’s General Revenue spending – more than $300 million of which will be stripped from Ohio’s K-12 schools.


In the letter, the legislators highlight the potential risk of reduced services or increased class sizes that would result from funding cuts and point to areas of Ohio’s public education that could instead benefit from greater overall investment in public education, including students’ access to technology and counseling resources.


In addition to posing additional risks to teachers and students at a time when any return to in-person learning would require increased social distancing measures, these cuts would be especially detrimental to students who will need to catch up because of the challenges created by online education.


“Even before the pandemic, Ohio’s public schools were already doing their best with a limited budget,” the lawmakers said. “School districts need significant financial support from Congress to combat Ohio’s significant budget shortfall and the deleterious effect on education. Swift action and immediate investment will prevent the ruin of so many districts.”

 
 
  

 COLUMBUS—State Reps. Thomas West (D-Canton) and Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) today announced that they have sent a joint letter to Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM) Director Maureen Corcoran requesting that she establish a pathway for Ohio’s pharmacists to be reimbursed for the administration of COVID-19 tests.


Specifically, the letter asks that “ODM take this critical step and create billing codes for COVID-19 specimen collection and testing so that pharmacists who care for Ohioans impacted by this pandemic can be appropriately reimbursed.”


The lawmakers’ letter comes after Governor Mike DeWine spoke at his May 28 press conference about how critical pharmacists are in ensuring widespread access to COVID-19 testing. However, community pharmacists have brought attention to the fact that ODM still has not set up a system through which to reimburse them for the testing costs.


“Swift action from ODM is needed so that pharmacists can depend on reimbursement for providing testing and other critical care to Ohio patients,” said Rep. West. “As the Governor has said, Ohio’s pharmacists are a critical part of our continued response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We must ensure they have the support they need to do their jobs and help boost our testing rates.”


“If we are to truly understand the scope of this public health crisis and manage it effectively, we must administer COVID-19 tests at the rate deemed necessary by our health experts,” said Rep. Russo.  “The participation of Ohio’s pharmacists in the administration of COVID-19 testing is crucial to these efforts, and we must make sure they are appropriately compensated.  I urge ODM to quickly create a pathway for Ohio’s pharmacists to bill ODM for authorized medical services so that they may continue providing care to ill Ohioans during this ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”


Senate Bill (SB) 265 from the 132nd General Assembly provided the legal basis for pharmacists to be compensated for medical services. Additionally, the Ohio Board of Pharmacy recently issued guidance to clarify federal rules on how pharmacists should administer COVID-19 tests.


Recent data from the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) demonstrates that Ohio’s current testing capacity continues to lag behind Governor DeWine’s stated goals.


ODH figures show that Ohio averaged somewhere between 7,100 and 12,800 tests per day during the middle two weeks of May, far shy of the Governor’s desired 22,000 per day by May 27.


 

 

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COLUMBUS—Ohio House Democrats sent a letter to Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) urging him to consider additional security measures for members receiving threats of physical violence. The letter follows threats of violence made against House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) and her family in May. To date, the speaker has not publicly condemned the incident and has refused to make any additional security measures available to Leader Sykes.


“As Speaker and in recognition of your leadership role in the Ohio House of Representatives, you are granted additional security while in the statehouse,” Democrats wrote in the letter. “As members of the minority caucus, we feel strongly that our own leadership is similarly deserving of heightened security protection, especially given the recent threats and increasing animus in this political environment.”


“When we selected you as the Speaker, you committed to being a leader for all 99 elected representatives. While our caucuses may sometimes disagree on policy, we should always agree on the on the fact that we all have a right to express our positions without being threatened by physical violence.”


“Since the beginning of this General Assembly, multiple members in both caucuses have received and had to endure violent threats against them. While some would label the increasing vitriol in the political discourse or the blatant misinformation that is used by some to rile up their constituencies as ‘politics,’ recent events demonstrate the fallout from such comments.”

 

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The Ohio Legislative Black Caucus (OLBC) today introduced legislation that would declare racism a public health crisis, echoing similar calls in Cleveland and Franklin County. The resolution, if passed, would be the first of its kind passed at the state level.


“Black America woke this morning to a nightmare that seems to never end and a continued feeling of hopelessness that nothing will ever be better,” OLBC president Rep. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland) said. “What we are witnessing around the country is a community simply begging to be seen and heard. Racism is real and it is the biggest public health threat citizens of color face. At a time when COVID-19 is disproportionately hospitalizing and killing the black community because of racism, the time to act is now.”


The resolution follows protests across the state and around the country late last week and over the weekend following the death of George Floyd. Protests over his death have erupted throughout the country.


“To have real and meaningful change in our society, we need everyone to stand up and denounce racism, have the uncomfortable conversations to better understand one another and end it, once and for all. This state and this nation are witnessing a reckoning right now, and the current white, Republican leaders controlling all the power in Ohio need to listen, act and be on the right side of history. Black Ohioans deserve to be heard today, tomorrow and always,” said House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron).


“I am deeply troubled by the state of our nation. That is why now more than ever it is vitally important to declare racism as a public health crisis. It is unacceptable that 170 years after Black Laws were abolished in Ohio, race is still a social determinant of health. Ohio’s minorities need equality in both service and care,” said Sen. Hearcel Craig (D-Columbus).


“It is a shame that we live in a state that has some of the best health care institutions in the world and yet black Ohioans are still seeing health disparities. It’s time to declare racism a public health crisis and make sure all our residents receive the same quality health care and access to the same opportunities.,” said Sen. Sandra Williams (D-Cleveland).


“Racism has plagued this country since its founding and it must be dismantled. We see how racism has adverse consequences on the public health and well-being of Black people and people of color. Discriminatory policies and practices play out every day in healthcare, education, housing, employment, and criminal justice systems. This pandemic has only highlighted the inequities as it relates to the number of cases, testing, treatment, and deaths. Racism is the most dangerous pre-existing condition. As a Black woman and a legislator, not only am I obligated to call out racism in every form, but also to implement policies that will counteract the harm that racism has caused. This resolution declaring racism as a public health issue is a start. Every person, no matter their skin color, should have the opportunity to live the American Dream right here in Ohio, I want that for myself, my children, and every other Ohioan,” said Rep. Erica Crawley (D-Columbus).


The resolution calls for the following actions:



  • Establishing a glossary of terms and definitions concerning racism and health equity

  • Assert that racism is a public health crisis affecting our entire community

  • Incorporating educational efforts to address and dismantle racism, and expand understanding of racism and how racism affects individual and population health

  • Promoting community engagement, actively engaging citizens on issues of racism, and providing tools to engage actively and authentically with communities of color

  • Committing to review all portions of codified ordinances with a racial equity lens

  • Committing to conduct all human resources, vendor selection and grant management activities with a racial equity lens including reviewing all internal policies and practices such as hiring, promotions, leadership appointments and funding

  • Promoting racially equitable economic and workforce development practices

  • Promoting and encouraging all policies that prioritize the health of people of color, and support local, state, regional, and federal initiatives that advance efforts to dismantle systematic racism and mitigating exposure to adverse childhood experience and traumaTraining of all elected officials, staff, funders and grantees on workplace biases and how to mitigate them

  • Partnering and building alliances with local organizations that have a legacy and track record of confronting racism

  • Encouraging community partners and stakeholders in the education, employment, housing, and criminal justice and safety arenas to recognize racism as a public health crisis and to activate the above items

  • Securing adequate resources to successfully accomplish the above activities.

 

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Dems Introduce Bill To Combat Republican Attack On Voting
Dem HB 687 expands voting access, GOP HB 680 shrinks it
June 02, 2020
 
 

COLUMBUS— State Representatives Paula Hicks-Hudson (D-Toledo) and Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland) announced the introduction of House Bill 687, a bill to improve voting so Ohio can hold a safe and accessible presidential election this November as the global pandemic continues. The bill is a strong contrast with the GOP’s HB 680, introduced last week by Rep. Cindy Abrams, which would repeal voter access provisions like the hard-won last three days of early voting and the mailing of applications to all voters.


Highlights of the plan include:



  • Mailing a ballot to every voter return postage paid, skipping the application step

  • Counting ballots postmarked by Election Day

  • Protecting safe and accessible in-person voting opportunities

  • Greater access to voter registration


Rep. Paula Hicks-Hudson:


“We promised to introduce an election bill that would safeguard voters health and their constitutional right to vote. We have kept that promise by introducing House Bill 687.


Unlike HB 680, our bill does not cut the last three days of early voting and access to voting by mail. It is outrageous that while a deadly disease has killed more than 100,000 Americans, and is hitting minorities and the elderly harder than most, that anyone would propose taking away the very voting access that can help keep Ohioans safe. We must do better.


We listened. Our bill, House Bill 687, is the result of careful planning and input from stakeholders who know Ohio’s voters best. Expanding and improving absentee mail voting and keeping our hard-won final days of early voting right before Election Day are key to a successful election.”


Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney:


“Ohioans cannot afford a repeat of the chaos and uncertainty that surrounded the most recent election. We need a real plan that expands voter access and prepares for every eventuality. During one of the most turbulent times in modern memory when November is no clearer than tomorrow, House Bill 680 would roll back existing voter access provisions. While 680 is a shameless example of partisan opportunism, our plan is the culmination of months of talking with and listening to voter rights groups. I urge my colleagues to swiftly take up House Bill 687 and give it the same serious consideration as 680, which is offensive to our democracy and should offend every voting Ohioan.”


The Democrats’ bill, House Bill 687, includes the following provisions:


ACCESS TO VOTER REGISTRATION


1.       Matches the online voter registration form with what is required on a paper voter registration form by requiring either SSN4 or driver’s license/state ID number, not both, on the online form. Voter registration opportunities have been greatly reduced by BMV closures and event cancellations.


 


VOTER EDUCATION CAMPAIGN


2.      Requires the state to undertake a comprehensive voter education campaign using trusted messengers on social media, TV, radio and newspaper advertising designed to reach voters across Ohio where they consume information. Providing voters with accurate information should not be partisan battle.


PROTECT IN-PERSON VOTING


3.      Provides that counties may have more than one Early Vote location instead of only one crowded Early Vote site.


4.      Guarantees adequate safe voting locations for Election Day by limiting the consolidation of precincts into a single location.


5.      Provides for safety protocols at in-person voting locations such as physical distancing, proper sanitizing, and use of masks in accordance with public health officials’ recommendations.


6.      Allows 17-year-old high school juniors to be poll workers. Current law allows 17-year-old seniors to serve and election officials requested the change to aid in poll worker recruitment.


EXPAND MAIL VOTING BALLOT DELIVERY


7.      Require the sending of a ballot to every registered voter, return postage prepaid. Skip the confusing application step that caused delays and deprived people of their voting rights in the primary.


In the alternative, if ballot applications continue to be required:


8.      Maintains the mailing of ballot applications to every registered voter under continuing law, but includes pre-paid return postage. Current law prohibits prepaying return postage.


9.      Allows voters to apply online for mail ballots. House Democrats passed this reform over 10 years ago as part of House Bill 260 in the 128th General Assembly.


10.   Provides for prepaid return postage on any ballot application or ballot that is mailed to a voter.


11.    Allows Boards to contact voters by email or telephone to correct absentee ballot application issues.


 


CASTING MAIL BALLOT


12.   Requires counting of ballots that are postmarked by Election Day or dated or otherwise marked with postal insignia by Election Day. Current law requires postmarking by the day before the election which is a source of great confusion and misinformation.


13.   Allows counties to have multiple secure drop-boxes in the community where voters can drop off their mail ballots in person.


14.   Allows voters to have a trusted helper deliver their ballots to their boards of election. Current law only permits certain family members to return ballots for someone but excludes grandchildren, cousins, roommates, and friends of the voter’s choosing.


15.  Requires a visual inspection of postal facilities by bipartisan designees of each board of elections to eliminate failures to timely deliver ballots to the boards.


 


FIXING BALLOT PROBLEMS


16.   Extends the provisional ballot and absentee ballot error correction period from 7 days to 7 business days and allow any defect in the provisional ballot to be cured just the same as absentee ballot defects may be correcte


17.   Eliminates technical reasons to reject ballots such as transposed digits, providing the current year instead of birth year, tearing off a perforated stub from a ballot, and other insignificant errors.


18.   Allows voters who are mailed a ballot but need or wish to vote in person instead to vote a regular ballot in person, not a provisional ballot, so long as the person hasn’t submitted their mail ballot to the board already.


19.   Nothing in the bill will take away a voter’s right to at least cast a provisional ballot in person and have that ballot counted.


 


EQUIPMENT


20.  Funds capital expenses such as needed mail sorters, letter openers, ballot scanners, etc. with federal HAVA and CARES Act appropriations.


 


EMERGENCY PLANS


21.   Codifies the requirement that county boards maintain updated Election Administration Plans with emergency and contingency provisions.


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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.