Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) issued the below statement in response to Secretary Husted’s orders to resume his voter purging after the November 2018 election.


“Secretary Husted’s overly-aggressive purging of infrequent voters hurts the integrity of our elections and is a waste of state resources. Although the Supreme Court recently ruled that this process is permissible under federal law, the court did not hold that the process is required or that it is good policy.


“These directives ordering county officials to resume targeting infrequent voters for purging will cost taxpayers over $330,000 in unnecessary mailing expenses. In addition, the timing of the purge mailing is troublesome. Voters in the 12th Congressional District could receive the mailing on the day of the August 7th special election. There also will be a general election less than 100 days later. Many voters get confused by these postcards and how they relate to their eligibility to vote and causing confusion just before an election is not good policy.


“Another provision from the orders is Husted’s elimination of a ballot protection rule that’s been in place since 2016. The rule required ballots cast by voters who were purged but still eligible to vote to be counted. Roughly 7,500 voters had their ballots counted under this rule in 2016 and now Husted is going back to tossing those voters’ ballots. This will exacerbate our already huge problem of throwing out too many voters’ ballots. Ohio is one of the worst states in the country at throwing out votes after eight years of Husted’s desperate pursuit of new reasons to toss ballots.


“This sloppy and costly purge process uses flimsy guesswork to take away people’s fundamental right to vote. The Secretary of State should stop this harmful and discriminatory use-it-or-lose-it voter purge.”

 
 
  
 
Ohio Legislature Continues Effort To Punish Cities
Bill Would Penalize Cities that Charge Higher Water or Sewer Rates Outside of its Territory and Labels Cities that seek Annexation with the extension of services as 'Predators'
July 09, 2018
 
 

State Rep. John Boccieri (D-Poland) criticized some of his colleagues today for going out of their way to punish cities for extending vital services. House Bill 602 sponsored by Rep. Michael Duffey (R-Dublin) penalizes municipal corporations who extend water or sewer service to communities outside its territory at a higher charge. The penalties in the bill cover a range of consequences including a 20-percent reduction, to outright forfeiture of all Local Government Fund (LGF) distributions from the State of Ohio. The bill makes the municipality ineligible for state water and sewer development assistance. 


“My colleagues are finding new and innovative ways to cripple the economic engines of our state,” Rep. Boccieri said. “Ohio has sixteen metro areas that constitute eighty-one percent of the state’s population, eighty-four percent of the state’s jobs and eighty-seven percent of the state’s economic output. Many water and sewer lines are extended for economic development and financed through a rate system that is included within the development package.”


The legislation labels a city a “predatory municipal corporation” if it engages in the following:


-Annexation of outside territory as a condition of furnishing water or sewer services.


-Any “unreasonable requests” by a city for furnishing water or sewer services.


-Withdrawal of water or sewer service from a township or neighboring city for failure to comply with certain conditions by the “predatory city.”


“This legislation is not well thought-out,” Boccieri added. “If the state is going to punish cities for chagrining a fair rate to finance the extension of all that infrastructure, then I see communities not being able to pay for the water and sewer lines, or worse yet – not extending these vital services at all. This law would hurt townships who are looking for water and sewer lines for economic development purposes.”


As a consequence of being labeled a “predatory municipal corporation” the forgone revenue from the LGF is redistributed to the affected areas outside of the city. The bill also states these cities become ineligible for any state sewer and water system development assistance awarded by the Ohio EPA, Ohio Public Works Commissioner, Ohio Water Development Authority and the Development Services Agency. This prohibition applies to any form of assistance, including loans and grants, but doesn’t impact any funds stemming from the Federal Government.

 
 
  

State Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire) will honor Bellaire High  School’s Cole LaRoche with a Statehouse Resolution Monday, July 9 at 6:00 p.m. for his achievement as the 2018 statewide track and field champion in the shot put throw.


“It’s important that we take every opportunity we can to support and honor the achievements of students and student athletes like Cole,” said Cera. “They are the future leaders of our community and state.”


With a top throw of 55-feet and 11-inches, LaRoche is Bellaire’s first male state track and field champion since 1990.


Cera will present the Resolution at Bellaire’s School Board meeting.


 

 
 
  

State Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) today announces House Bill (HB) 1, her bipartisan legislation to modernize Ohio’s domestic violence laws, will officially become law tomorrow, Friday, July 6. HB 1 will allow victims of dating violence to obtain civil protective orders against their attacker, a protection currently allowed in every state except Ohio and Georgia.


“I am thrilled that House Bill 1 will become law tomorrow,” Sykes said. “By working together with advocates, survivors and fellow lawmakers, we have closed this outdated loophole in Ohio that will not only help victims to live without fear of their abuser, but also save lives.”


“After a long and arduous process, I am excited to see House Bill 1 finally go into effect on Friday. More importantly, I am relieved to know that victims of dating violence in my community will now have a better course of action to aid in protecting them from their abusers,” Mickey Valdez of the Victim Assistance Program said. “I am honored to have been asked by Rep. Sykes to join her on this quest to improve the lives of all Ohioans.”


The National Dating Violence Hotline defines intimate partner violence, which includes dating violence, as a repetitive pattern of behaviors – including physical or sexual violence, threats, intimidation, emotional abuse and economic deprivation – used to maintain power and control over an intimate partner.


“Victims of dating violence had few protections under the law prior to the passing of House Bill 1. I want to thank House Minority Whip Emilia Sykes for making House Bill 1 a priority,” said Judge Ron Cable.


Prior to HB 1’s passage, Ohio law did not allow victims of dating violence to obtain civil protection orders because these relationships did not fit the definition of domestic violence. HB 1 now includes individuals in dating relationships under Ohio’s definition of domestic violence for the purpose of obtaining a civil protection order, gaining access to battered women’s shelters, and mention in the Attorney General’s victim’s bill of rights.


If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse you can find help locally at Victim Assistance Program of Summit County at 330-376-0040 or at https://victimassistanceprogram.org/ or statewide at Action Ohio at 1-800-799-7233 or via the web http://www.actionohio.org/

 
 
  

Regional lawmakers state Reps. John Boccieri (D-Poland), Glenn Holmes (D-Girard), Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown), Michael O’Brien (D-Warren), Sen. Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) and Sen. Sean O’Brien (D- Bazetta) today sent a letter* to Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors Company (GM), expressing disappointment and concern in light of the recent layoffs of second shift employees at its Lordstown Assembly plant.


“The Valley wants to continue to support GM. As this great American company evolves to meet the demands of the future, the workers at Lordstown want to evolve with the company they have devoted themselves to,” wrote the lawmakers. “There is a will to double down and train the current workforce for the jobs of tomorrow. Our workers and our communities want to continue to be a partner in a mutually beneficial relationship with GM.”


The second shift cut comes after the company cut the plant’s third shift in January 2017. In addition to the elimination of the two shifts, hundreds of workers across the supply chain have been laid off. A total of 2,700 well-paying jobs have been lost. U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown has been an outspoken advocate for Ohio GM jobs, calling on the company to invest in Ohio and to invest in Lordstown.


“We have people in our districts who want to go back to work and continue making a living for their families with pride and dignity. We hope GM will continue to invest in the Mahoning Valley, just as our state and our communities have invested in your company,” the lawmakers continued. “We urge you to reconsider your decision to reduce opportunities in Lordstown and throughout Ohio and instead utilize the current Lordstown location and collaborate with our creative and committed Valley workers to create a vision for the GM of tomorrow.”


The Lordstown plant has been an integral part of the Youngstown area for 52 years, with unwavering support from the Valley community.

 
 
  
 
West Continues Fight For Quality, Affordable Healthcare For All Ohioans
Looks for ways to cut prescription drug costs, delay Medicaid changes that threaten patient care
June 29, 2018
 
 

State Rep. Thomas West (D-Canton) today responded to reports that a number of Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) have been charging Ohio taxpayers three to six times as much as the industry standard to process prescription drugs for Ohio Medicaid recipients. For prescriptions that should cost between 95 cents and $1.90, PBMs CVS Caremark and Optum Rx have been charging Ohio taxpayers $5.60 and $6.50 per script, respectively.


“Taxpayers are being swindled by corporate PBMs who try to bully, intimidate and claw-back money from hardworking people,” said West. “We cannot continue to give handouts to these corporations who put profits over sick, disabled and low-income Ohioans. We need to continue to look into ways to ensure the people of Ohio get a fair deal for their prescription drugs.”


The Ohio House Wednesday passed House Bill 479, Rep. West’s bipartisan bill to crack down on PBMs by prohibiting gag rules that prevent pharmacists from informing consumers when they are overpaying for prescription drugs—a move that could put millions back into the pockets of Ohio consumers.


“We passed House Bill 479 to put money back in the pockets of hardworking Ohioans and keep independent pharmacies from being run out of business by unscrupulous PBMs,” added West. “I urge my Senate colleagues to take up this legislation immediately so we can put hard-earned money back into the hands of working families.”


West also recently called for the delayed implementation of the second phase of the state’s planned Behavioral Health Redesign, following recent survey results that shows more than 60 percent of healthcare providers have been shortchanged by Medicaid since the implementation of the redesign plan in January. Drastic cuts have forced a number of providers to lay off employees, eliminate services and deny patient claims.


“This botched rollout has been a headache for providers and patients alike. We cannot continue to follow a plan that threatens healthcare access and forces providers to eliminate staff and cut essential services,” said West. “In my district right now, the Crisis Center and the Domestic Violence Project have told me they’ve already had to cut services. At a time when opioids continue to ravage our neighborhoods, we need to do everything we can to expand access to quality, affordable healthcare, not endanger it.”


Across the state, more than 50 percent of providers have had to tap into cash reserves to cover expenses. Denied claims for patients have more than doubled since the implementation of Phase I in January 2018. Phase II of the plan is scheduled to take effect July 1.


“It all comes down to people,” said West. “When prescription drugs prices soar and healthcare access is cut off, people suffer. We need to get back to a system that values people over profits. That’s what this fight is all about.”

 
 
  

Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) issued the below statement in response to today’s final passage of Senate Bill 135 providing funding to counties to purchase voting systems. The Senate concurred today in House amendments and now the bill goes to the Governor’s desk.


“Ohio has been in desperate need of voting system upgrades to meet the elections cybersecurity challenges we face today and to modernize our aging machinery. I am happy to see our boards of elections finally getting the resources they deserve after years of state budget cuts to local government funds. I was happy to support this bipartisan bill and will continue to ensure our counties are prepared for every elections challenge.”


Rep. Clyde serves as Ranking Member on the House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee, which hears elections and voting rights bills. She is a lawyer and former election official and was named 2016 Legislator of the Year by the Ohio Association of Election Officials for her voting work.

 
 
  
 
GOP Bill Gives Free Pass To Ohio's Out-of-control Charter Schools, Elected Officials
GOP failure to add accountability, transparency cheats students and taxpayers
June 27, 2018
 
 

Ohio House Democrats today voted against Senate Bill (SB) 216, a Republican-led education reform bill, saying it gives a free pass to the Republican’s fatally flawed charter school design, which lacks accountability and transparency for Ohio taxpayers. Democrats offered an amendment on the floor that would have strengthened schools and held Ohio’s charter schools and elected officials accountable, but the House’s GOP majority rejected that effort.


“The same politicians, like Keith Faber, who stalled charter school reform efforts for one year to allow more cheating time, now are looking for a quick fix to cover for decades of profiting off their failing charter school scheme,” said State Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo), the lead Democrat of the House education committee. “Now, with this hijacked bill to provide political cover, the state can continue the GOP charter design as a revolving door of campaign cash and political influence. They have taken in millions in campaign donations from charter school operators who were receiving millions in taxpayer funds. It is still clearly not about the kids. It has to stop.”


State Rep. Tavia Galonski (D-Akron) offered the amendment to hire a special prosecutor to investigate the ongoing scandal involving the now-defunct Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT), an online charter school that was revealed to have cheated the state out of an estimated $1 billion in a student attendance scam.


“This is a politically motivated bill to give the same GOP politicians who used ECOT and charter school sponsors to bankroll their campaigns a free pass on taking responsibility for the mess they created,” said Galonski. “Until we hold charter schools—and the politicians who let them run wild—accountable, it’s the students and taxpayers who will continue to suffer.”


A 2017 report found that a school whistleblower came forward to tell how ECOT officials manipulated student data to increase state payments. State Auditor Dave Yost and Attorney General Mike DeWine declined to open an investigation at that time. Both Yost and DeWine have financial ties to ECOT and its founder Bill Lager, a top Republican financier. Republicans rejected Galonski’s amendment.


SB 216 now moves to the Ohio Senate for review before going to the governor’s desk.

 
 
  
 
West's Bipartisan Bill To Lower Cost Of Prescription Drugs Passes Ohio House
Targets pharmacy benefit managers who artificially drive up drug costs for Ohio consumers
June 27, 2018
 
 

State Rep. Thomas West (D-Canton) today announced the unanimous House passage of House Bill (HB) 479, the Prescription Drug Co-Pay Integrity Act, his bipartisan legislation that would save consumers money by prohibiting gag rules that prevent pharmacists from informing consumers when they are overpaying for prescription drugs.


“Today is a happy day here in Ohio because lower prescription drug prices are on their way,” said Rep. West. “The Prescription Drug Co-Pay Integrity Act will increase transparency and cut costs for millions of Ohioans who utilize pharmacies to purchase the prescription drugs they need every day. This new legislation is representative of both Democratic and Republican perspectives that culminated in commonsense consumer protections for all Ohioans. When we work together, we get things done.”


HB 479 would increase transparency by prohibiting gag orders on pharmacists preventing them from telling patients when a prescription drug is cheaper out of pocket versus using their insurance co-pay. The bill also addresses the issue of claw-backs by prohibiting Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) from retroactively adjusting a pharmacy’s reimbursement rate, which forces some pharmacies to lose money when filling patient prescriptions.


HB 479’s passage comes on the heels of reports that found CVS Caremark billed the state roughly 12 percent more for drugs than what it paid pharmacies for medications dispensed to Ohioans on Medicaid.


After passing the House, HB 479 now moves to the Senate for consideration.

 
 
  
 
Ohio House Passes Boyd-sponsored Bill To Invest $5 Million In Kinship Care
HB 126 connects families to resources and keeps kids out of foster care
June 27, 2018
 
 

The Ohio House of Representatives today unanimously passed House Bill (HB) 126, sponsored by state Reps. Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights) and Jeff Rezabek (R-Dayton). HB 126 would create a statewide system of kinship navigators that will help keep families together and provide needed assistance for Ohio’s most vulnerable populations.


“In this climate of addiction crisis, it is necessary to create a system where all kinship caregivers in Ohio have equitable access to vital services, as they step up to care for these children who are facing some of the most traumatic, unpredictable and stressful moments of their lives,” said Rep. Janine Boyd. “We can do and must do better for our most vulnerable populations.”   


Kinship caregivers are family members other than a parent who are taking care of a child. More often than not, the parents of these children are facing incarceration, addiction and substance abuse, and even death.


Navigators will assist kinship caregivers who are seeking information regarding, or assistance obtaining, services and benefits available at the state and local levels that address the needs of those caregivers residing in each county. Kinship navigators will connect families to resources like publicly funded childcare, respite care, training for special needs children, legal services, as well as access to a toll-free number for additional assistance needed to keep kids with their families and out of foster care.


Under HB 126, the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services will have one year to create a system of navigator regions. There may be as few as five and up to 12 navigator regions. In order to have balanced regions, the Department of Jobs and Family Services will adhere to a few criteria: population, estimated number of kinship caregiver, available expertise and anything else that creates an equitable and effective regional system of kinship navigators.


The House appropriated $5 million to start this program, and it is anticipated that the state will be able to apply for recently available federal Title IV E funds, which would match Ohio’s investment.


HB 126 will now go to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.

 
 
  
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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. 



 
 

Ashford's Bipartisan Predatory Lending Reform Bill To Become Law

 

State Rep. Michael Ashford (D-Toledo), a joint sponsor of House Bill 123, today issued the following statement in response to Gov. Kasich’s signing of the bill to crack down on predatory short-term lenders in Ohio:



 
 

With Fair Season In Full Swing, Amusement Ride Safety Protections Linger At Ohio Statehouse

 

As summer heats up and families flock to fairs and festivals, including the Ohio State Fair which opened this week, beefed up safety standards for amusement rides sit dormant in the Ohio House.

After last year’s Fireball amusement ride failure at the Ohio State Fair tragically claimed the life of Tyler Jarrell and sent seven others to the hospital with serious injuries, state Rep. John Patterson’s (D-Jefferson) attention turned to ensuring such a tragedy never takes place in Ohio again.