Reps. Galonski, Smith Introduce Bill To End The Statute Of Limitations For Rape
Lawmakers say bill gives victims better opportunity for justice
May 01, 2018
 
 

State Reps. Tavia Galonski (D-Akron) and Kent Smith (D-Euclid) today introduced legislation to eliminate Ohio’s current 25-year statute of limitations for rape. More than half of U.S. states do not have limits on when victims can file rape claims.


“Victims of rape, no matter how far removed from their trauma, deserve to be heard and have an opportunity for justice,” said Rep. Galonski. “Technology has changed, and our laws should reflect that.”


Statutes of limitations have historically protected against convictions rooted in deteriorated evidence. Advocates for eliminating Ohio’s 25-year limit, however, argue that recent advances in DNA testing technology have eliminated many of these concerns.


“This legislation will help Ohio victims turn the page from a difficult chapter in their life,” said Rep. Smith. “Justice delayed is always better than justice denied.”


According to the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence, 1 in 5 women have been the victim of rape in their lifetime, which amounts to approximately 743,000 women in Ohio.


The proposed legislation is currently awaiting a bill number and committee assignment, where it receive its initial hearings.

 
 
  
 
Smith, Fedor Push For Moratorium On Controversial State Takeovers Of Local Schools
Introduce bill to prevent new academic distress commissions
April 27, 2018
 
 

State Reps. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) and Kent Smith (D-Euclid) today introduced legislation to block the state from taking over additional local school districts and privatizing local school boards. The proposed moratorium follows the controversial state takeovers of Youngstown City Schools and Lorain City Schools, where the heavy-handed approach has failed to produce any meaningful improvement or results.


“Ohio needs to invest in our kids and families, not wrestle control away from democratically elected leaders,” said Rep. Smith. “Local leaders have known what is best for their kids for a long time. It is state government that needs to change its approach.”


Under the proposed moratorium, state report card grades given prior to or under the moratorium would not ultimately affect a school’s chance for state takeover and school board privatization in the future. The ban on state takeovers, or so-called “academic distress commissions,” would last three years, through 2021.


“The takeovers in Youngstown and Lorain have had atrocious results but there are models out there that work,” said Rep. Fedor. “This moratorium will give us time to find the ways that will actually improve schools for our students and communities.”


Following the passage of amended House Bill 70 in the 131st General Assembly, the structure of academic distress commissions was changed to fast track a state takeover of local school districts when they receive three consecutive failing state report card grades. Under the new law, the schools are put under a state-run academic distress commission instead of a publicly elected board and have a CEO installed to run the school.


The lawmakers believe their ban would give lawmakers more time to find a real solution rather trapping more districts and students in another failing model for public education. 

 
 
  
 
Reps. Fedor, West Introduce Resolution Calling For Universal Preschool
Lawmakers say universal preschool sets students up for lifetime of success, reduces incarceration rates
April 26, 2018
 
 

State Reps. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) and Thomas West (D-Canton) today introduced a joint resolution to establish universal preschool in Ohio. The proposal would amend the Ohio Constitution to require free, universal preschool for all four and five-year-olds who reside in the Buckeye State.


“If we want to build a healthier, freer and better educated Ohio, we need to fund preschools—not prisons. This is how we get results. From addiction to incarceration, preschool is the answer,” said Rep. Fedor. “Our state spends more than $1 billion on prisons each year. We could send more than 300,000 students to a quality preschool with that sort of money.”


Ohio’s state budget for 2018-2019 allocates $66.7 million for early childhood education. The state spent $1.3 billion on prisons in 2015 alone.


Research suggests that access to early childhood education results in fewer arrests and incarcerations. In addition, universal preschool also has an impact on socioeconomic status, young adult and adult education achievements, health behavior and dropout rates.


“Early investments in early education will return a lifetime of riches for our state,” said Rep. West. “As we put more money into our children on the front-end, we will be saving millions on the back-end.”


If both the Ohio House and Senate pass the resolution with a three-fifths majority, the proposal would go before voters. If approved at the ballot, the language would become part of the Ohio Constitution.


Upon numbering and referral, the proposed resolution will move to a House committee for its initial hearings.

 
 
  
 
Fedor Calls For Criminal Probe Of ECOT
Whistleblower accuses Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow of deliberate scheme to pad attendance
April 25, 2018
 
 

State Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) is calling for a criminal probe into the actions of the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT), an online charter school accused of putting in place a scheme to falsely inflate its attendance in order to overbill Ohio taxpayers for more money. Rep. Fedor, a former educator, has long been an advocate of charter school reform and transparency.


“ECOT owes Ohio taxpayers at least $80 million. The best way to make sure the money is repaid is to have the proper authorities launch a criminal investigation,” said Rep. Fedor. “By not properly examining the whistleblower’s allegations nearly a year ago, Auditor Yost failed the people who elected him.”


A persistent whistleblower repeatedly tried to warn state officials that ECOT put in place a scheme to pad its attendance and collect more public money, according to a report by the Associated Press (AP). His warnings were ignored.


Almost a year ago, the whistleblower met with employees of Auditor David Yost, who was paid $11,400 in campaign donations from ECOT’s founder*. After no movement from Auditor Yost, the whistleblower sent an email to the head of Ohio State Board of Education, who also did nothing. The whistleblower then emailed the Ohio Department of Education’s top lawyer. Only after the AP story was published did the Department say it is looking into the explosive claims.


* Yost also spoke at ECOT graduation ceremonies in 2014 and 2015 and awarded them an Auditor of State Award for exemplary record-keeping in 2016.

 
 
  
Rep. Cera and Judge Yoss

Monroe County Court Judge Jason A. Yoss today traveled to Columbus to shadow state Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire) as part of the Judicial-Legislative Exchange hosted by the Ohio Judicial Conference.


“I am delighted to meet with Rep. Cera to discuss concerns we have in Monroe County and to hear his plans for helping the district. It was also good to reminisce about old times when I served as a Page for the House of Representatives at the Ohio Statehouse,” said Judge Yoss.


The Ohio Judicial Conference helps create uniformity in the application of the law, rules and practice through the state. Ultimately, the OJC helps determine the judicial impact that bills and resolutions have on the state.

 
 
  
 
Bipartisan Proposal Would Strengthen Local Maple Businesses, Preserve Forests
Patterson introduces bipartisan bill to encourage sustainable maple industry growth
April 24, 2018
 
 

State Rep. John Patterson (D-Jefferson) recently introduced bipartisan legislation with Rep. Sarah LaTourette (R-Chesterland) to give a boost to local maple producers and businesses while putting recognized best practices in place for sustainable forest management throughout the state.


“Maple syrup products generate over $5 million annually for our state’s economy, and a lot of that comes from right here, in our community,” said Patterson, who serves as a ranking member on the Ohio House Agriculture and Rural Development Committee. “By strengthening local maple businesses and producers, we’re also strengthening our woodlands through sustainable practices that ensure a strong industry and strong local businesses for generations to come.”


The proposed law change, House Bill 606, exempts local producers and businesses from paying taxes on land used for maple syrup and sap production, and reimburses local schools and communities for any loss in local revenue. Under the bill, small businesses and producers who drill 30 taps on at least 12 trees per acre would also need to adopt a forest management plan in place to qualify for the tax exemption.


“I’m pleased to sponsor House Bill 606 with Rep. Patterson, what we believe to be a modest proposal to assist Ohio’s maple producers who practice a craft so rich in cultural significance to our great State,” said Rep. Sarah LaTourette.


“In our corner of the state, we know the important role a safe and healthy habitat play in economic development and our overall quality of life,” Patterson added. “Whether we’re welcoming tourists to share in our community’s natural beauty or we’re spending time fishing, hunting or just enjoying the outdoors, a vibrant environment is at the forefront of what we love about the region we call home.”


The legislation will soon be assigned to a House committee where it will receive public hearings.

 
 
  

State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) today announced her new plan to close secret money loopholes, increase transparency and strengthen the ban on foreign money in Ohio elections with new legislation, the Ohio Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections Act, or DISCLOSE ACT.


“Too often, wealthy individuals, corporations and other entities can keep their influence secret by using innocuous-sounding companies and organizations while the names of the real players are hidden from the public. This lack of transparency is corrupting our democratic system by putting some politicians in the pockets of secretive special interests,” said Rep. Clyde. “That’s why I’m sponsoring the Ohio DISCLOSE Act to strengthen disclosure requirements and ban foreign money from campaigns in Ohio.”


Rep. Clyde’s bill would do the following:



  • Close secret money loopholes by requiring 501(c)(4)s and LLCs to report their political contributors.

  • Increase transparency by requiring meaningful disclosure in campaign finance reports that reveals the real sources of funds.

  • Prohibit political spending by foreign individuals and domestic corporations with foreign owners and decisions makers.


Clyde’s legislation has received the endorsement of End Citizens United, a grassroots group dedicated to ending secret money in politics and fixing the rigged political system by promoting campaign finance reform champions.


"The secret money flooding our elections every cycle is a grave danger to the health of our democracy and a government that works for the people,” said Tiffany Muller, president of End Citizens United. “Ohioans deserve full transparency and disclosure of election spending, and we must no longer permit special interests to hide in the shadows. End Citizens United fully supports Rep. Clyde's proposal to ban secret money and foreign contributions in Ohio elections."


Rep. Clyde’s proposal has also been endorsed by Common Cause Ohio, a grassroots non-profit organization dedicated to open, honest, and accountable government.


"Ohioans should be able to 'follow the money.' Bringing full transparency to Ohio's elections will allow voters to consider the source of information and make more informed decisions. Common Cause Ohio is proud to support Rep. Clyde's proposal to bring sunshine to Ohio elections and ban secret money," said Catherine Turcer, executive director of Common Cause Ohio.

 
 
  

Following former Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger's abrupt resignation amid questions of possible FBI inquiries into matters he may have been involved with, two House lawmakers are saying the House and taxpayers deserve more answers, and soon. 


State Reps. David Leland and Kristin Boggs are asking two outside parties to indepently investigate the nature and extent of potential corruption at the Ohio House to ensure lawmakers can continue the People's work without getting caught up in pay-to-play lawmaking.


"Allegations of corruption targeted at the Ohio Speaker have never before resulted in a Speaker’s resignation. This is the first time in Ohio’s history that the Speaker of the Ohio House has resigned in such disgrace, and his resignation leads us to believe that illicit forces have been corrupting, and may continue to corrupt, the work of the Statehouse," the lawmakers wrote in their letter.


Click the link to read the whole letter to the Franklin County Prosectuor. The same letter was sent to the Joint Legislative Ethics Commission.


 

 

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Ohio Legislative Black Caucus Hosts Annual Day Of Action
Launches legislative agenda
April 18, 2018
 
 

The Ohio Legislative Black Caucus (OLBC) today is holding their annual Day of Action. This year’s theme “Reclaiming our Government” focuses on four areas in which citizens can be empowered to take control of their communities and address disparities through engaging with the legislature.*


OLBC President and state Rep. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland) has ramped up the group’s focus on rooting out disparities within Ohio’s black community during her second year as president.


“Our Day of Action is focused on getting an understanding of the barriers that have led to systematic disengagement within our government,” said Howse. “We want to offer pathways for how African Americans in Ohio can increase advocacy on pressing issues that matter to our community.”


According to the Ohio Poverty Report released in February of 2018, the areas that had the highest poverty rates were counties with metropolitan areas, where a bulk of the black population resides. Counties with poverty rates higher than the state average of 15.4 percent include Allen (Lima), Clark (Springfield), Cuyahoga (Cleveland-Elyria), Franklin (Columbus), Hamilton (Cincinnati), Lucas (Toledo), Mahoning (Youngstown), Montgomery (Dayton), Richland (Mansfield) and Trumbull (Warren).


In 2016, while Ohio’s graduation rates rose to a little over 83 percent, only about 67 percent of black high school students graduate, ranking Ohio forty-fifth in the nation for black graduation according to the National Center for Education Statistics.


The OLBC is hopeful that this year’s Day of Action will create even more opportunities for collaboration to engage and advance communities around Ohio. In its 2018 legislative agenda, the OLBC takes aim at education, criminal justice, voting rights, and health and family care.

 
 
  
 
On Tax Day, House Dems Push Tax Reform That Puts Families First
Say package offers solutions that allow working families to get ahead
April 17, 2018
 
 

Marking National Tax Day, House Democratic lawmakers today detailed a state tax reform package they say will make life better for families in the Buckeye State. After seven years of Republican tax policies benefitting the wealthiest one-percent, Democratic lawmakers say the tax responsibility has been unfairly shifted to middle-class and working families.


“For too long we’ve seen tax schemes worked up to benefit the wealthy at the expense of hardworking Ohioans,” said Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire). “Our plan works to fix this by offering real, commonsense solutions that allow working families to get ahead.”


Proposals include House Bill 333, a bill to end Ohio’s marriage penalty, as well as a plan to expand Ohio’s tax credit for families who adopt. Democrats also outlined a blueprint to stop forcing families to pay for state inaction on the state’s worst-in-the-nation opioid epidemic.


“Ending Ohio’s marriage penalty and expanding tax credits for families looking to adopt are commonsense ways to support hardworking families,” said Rep. Rich Brown (D-Canal Winchester). “Also, by creating a tax credit to help our families that struggle with addiction, we help Ohioans get back on their feet to support their families and strengthen our communities.”


In addition, Democrats are looking at new legislation to reduce the cost of essential everyday products by eliminating certain items from the state sales tax, including feminine hygiene products, diapers, over-the-counter medicine, child safety seats and other goods.


“Republicans have continued to nickel and dime hardworking people by shifting taxes from the wealthy to middle-class and working people, especially women and young parents,” said Rep. Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland). “By eliminating certain essential products from the state sales tax, we increase consumer purchasing power and make it easier for families to afford life’s necessities.”


Since 2011, state lawmakers have continually shifted taxes from the wealthiest one-percent to middle and working class Ohioans, most notably through more expensive property taxes, a one-billion-dollar per-year sales tax hike, a sales tax expansion and more local tax levies to fund schools and communities who have shouldered over $3 billion in state budget cuts, collectively.


“Shifting taxes away from the wealthy and onto the backs of middle-class and working Ohioans was supposed to create jobs and strengthen our economy—neither of which happened,” said Rep. John Rogers (D-Mentor-on-the-Lake). “Our economy is barely moving and families are feeling the squeeze. Family First tax reform puts money back into the hands of those that need it—working families—so they can focus on what really matters.”


Rogers also introduced bipartisan legislation, House Bill 186, to allow families to deduct up to $2000 per year from state income taxes for qualifying higher education expenses like tuition, fees, books and supplies. Ohio ranks first in the nation in the total burden of student loan debt.  


An outline of the lawmakers’ proposals is attached.

 
 
  
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Clyde Statement On U.S. Supreme Court Decisions In Gerrymandering Cases

 

State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) issued the following statement in response to the U.S. Supreme Court decisions in Gill v. Whitford, a Wisconsin case challenging the state’s legislative districts, and Benisek v. Lamone, a Maryland case challenging congressional districts. The court decided each case on procedural grounds without reaching the merits of plaintiffs’ partisan gerrymandering claims.



 
 

FBI Investigation Pushes Divided House GOP Forward On Overdue Payday Lending Reform

 

After a year of evading promised reforms of an out-of-control payday lending industry, a divided House Republican Caucus pushed through House Bill (HB) 123 amid an ongoing FBI investigation into potential Republican pay-to-play tactics on their once-lauded reform legislation.



 
 

After Some Two Months, Ohio House Expected To Resume Session Under Narrowly-elected Speaker

 

After nearly two months of a Republican-led legislative impasse, the Ohio House is expected to resume legislative activity following today’s narrow, marathon election of new House Speaker Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell). Chaos and dysfunction have plagued the legislature since the abrupt resignation of former Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville), after he announced he was under FBI inquiry in April. Federal agents have since raided Rosenberger’s home, his state office and storage shed, as rumors of pay-to-play tactics on payday lending reform legislation continue to churn.



 
 

Leader Strahorn Responds To Schuring's Decision To Muddy The Waters In Speaker's Race

 

Ohio House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) issued the below statement today following Speaker Pro Tempore Kirk Schuring (R-Canton) throwing in another wrinkle to the GOP’s ongoing leadership battle by suggesting a change to the House rules that would let him assume control of the chamber. The House nears its 50th day without a speaker following the departure of Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville), who resigned amid an FBI investigation on April 12.