State lawmakers moved to pass a last-minute cash infusion for counties and local transit authorities today, on the heels of a new state auditor report showing worsening financial stability for local communities across the state.


"Last minute lawmaking won't make up for the seven years and over two-billion dollars in cuts to local programs and services that taxpayers and businesses rely on," said Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire). "Now, as many communities across the state are facing deteriorating financial conditions, it's too little, too late from Columbus."


The last-minute amendment to House Bill 69, unrelated legislation, would divide $50 million between 88 counties and eight regional transit authorities with the potential for an additional $30 million at a later date if the state's budget is running a surplus. The amendment fails to identify where specifically the money comes from.


The effort reflects a broader acknowledgement of new budgetary problems for local communities created by the state earlier this year when the governor and lawmakers failed to find a long term fix for the state's Medicaid managed care sales tax, which generated some $200 million per year for local communities. By instituting a new fee on care providers that goes directly to the state, the governor and Republican lawmakers did, however, ensure no state funds were lost due to tightening federal restrictions on the nearly decade-old Ohio Medicaid tax.

 
 
  

State Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) today called on Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine to respect the 8th District of Ohio Court of Appeals’ recent decision declaring a 2016 state law outlawing local hiring standards, House Bill 180, unconstitutional.*


“Local hiring standards represent a commitment by cities to combat underemployment and reinvest in local communities. Workers benefit from public construction projects that often include jobs with apprenticeships – clear career paths and quality on-the-job training that pay dividends beyond the duration of a single project,” Sykes wrote in a letter to DeWine.


The City of Cleveland sued the state in 2016 after the Republican-passed bill directly conflicted with the city’s Fannie Lewis law, a local ordinance requiring public construction be completed with at least 20 percent local labor. Akron similarly uses local hiring standards on more than $1 billion in public works projects.


“Ohioans deserve a fair shot at good-paying local jobs because they have a stake in rebuilding the communities where they live and raise their families,” Sykes continued. “By putting money back in the hands of Ohio workers, local hiring ordinances like Cleveland’s Fannie Lewis Law are strengthening local businesses and giving workers the opportunity to get ahead. Without local hiring ordinances, investments would be more likely to flow to out of state companies and workers with no stake in the health and success of our regional economies.”


Sykes said she plans to introduce legislation in the new year that will strengthen Ohio communities’ ability to make decisions about local hiring standards.

 

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House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) today announced changes to the caucus’ leadership team, following Democratic Whip Rep. Nickie J. Antonio’s (D-Lakewood) recently announced campaign for the Ohio Senate. Internal caucus rules require members seeking elected office outside the Ohio House to forgo any official leadership post or duties.


 “I feel confident that our work as a caucus and leadership team during the last three years has better positioned us to influence the discussion at the Statehouse,” said Rep. Antonio. “I have been honored to be a part of that, and I look forward to continuing to serve my constituents and the caucus in every way possible.”


House Democrats nominated and elected state Rep. Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) to replace Antonio as Democratic whip. Sykes had been serving on leadership as assistant whip for the past year.


“As we head into the New Year, I am eager to continue our work of standing up for a strong middle class and pushing pro-family policies that let people plan for their future,” said Rep. Sykes.


State Rep. Brigid Kelly (D-Cincinnati) was elected as assistant whip to round out the four-person House Democratic leadership team.


“I am honored to play a bigger role in advancing our caucus’ pro-job and pro-worker priorities into 2018 and beyond,” said Kelly. “It’s a great feeling to be a part of a caucus and team who puts working families first.”


Kelly, a freshman lawmaker from the Cincinnati area, brings experience as a local elected official and representative for members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) to the caucus’ leadership team.


“After years of slow growth, drug addiction and limited opportunity, it is important to the people we represent that we head into 2018 with an intense focus and drive to get our state back on track,” said Leader Strahorn. “Having the right people in place at the right time means we’re closer to the day when all Ohioans feel they have an equal opportunity to get ahead.”


The full Democratic leadership team is as follows:


-         Leader Fred Strahorn (Dayton)


-         Assistant Leader Nicholas J. Celebrezze (Parma)


-         Whip Emilia Strong Sykes (Akron)


-         Assistant Whip Brigid Kelly (Cincinnati)


 

 
 
  
 
Fedor, Kennedy Kent File Healthcare Freedom For All Ohioans Legislation
Bill will ensure healthcare coverage for all regardless of income, current health
December 08, 2017
 
 
State Reps. Teresa Fedor & Bernadine Kennedy Kent fling health freedom bill

State Representatives Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) and Bernadine Kennedy Kent (D-Columbus) recently filed the Ohio Health Security Act, House Bill 440, which will establish a single-payer health care plan in Ohio. Medical, dental, mental health, and vision services will be covered under the act and payments to healthcare providers for all eligible services will be made from a single fund, the Ohio Health Care Fund.


“We need to be guided by the facts,” according to Fedor, “Sixty-two percent of bankruptcies in the US are linked to healthcare costs and seventy-eight percent of those families had health insurance.”


Under the plan, every Ohioan may receive full health care coverage, regardless of income or employment status, and may freely choose their own health care providers for services such as outpatient services to prescription drugs, medical supplies and medical transportation without costly co-payments or deductibles. There will also be no exclusions for pre-existing conditions.


According to Kennedy Kent, the two representatives are “putting together a concrete plan to make care affordable and flexible to work for you and your family.” The new plan will offer flexibility and affordability.


“Taxpayers deserve a plan that gives them a real choice and the freedom to pick a plan that works for them,” said Kennedy Kent.


The new health care plan will be administered by the Ohio Health Care Agency, which will operate under the direction of the Ohio Health Care Board. The board will consist of two elected representatives from seven regions across the state and the director of the Ohio Health Care Agency. The board will:


-          Negotiate or set prices for health care services provided.


-          Establish standards to demonstrate proof of residency.


-          Provide each participating individual with identification that can be used by providers to establish eligibility for services.


-          Seek all necessary waivers, exemptions, agreements, or legislation to allow various federal and state health care payments to be made to the Ohio Health Care Agency.


Versions of the bill have been introduced in the past but never before have received so much support, according to the lawmakers. The bill, which will be heard in committee in the coming weeks, has 18 cosponsors in addition to Reps. Fedor and Kennedy Kent. State Reps. Antonio, Boggs, Boyd, Cera, Galonski, Holmes, Howse, Ingram, Kelly, Leland, Lepore-Hagan, Miller, Patterson, Ramos, Reece, Sheehy, Sykes, and West have all signed on as co-sponsors to the bill.


The AFL-CIO, the American Public Health Association, the National Farmers Union, and Republicans for Single Payer in addition to dozens of other groups have also endorsed single-payer healthcare.


“Health is a human right,” Fedor said. “It is past time for Ohio to pass a law ensuring that people have access to affordable and sensible healthcare.”


Coverage from the Ohio Health Care Plan will be available two years after the passage of this legislation.

 
 
  

The Ohio Ethics Commission today confirmed in a letter* to state Reps. John Boccieri (D-Poland) and Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) that Youngstown City Schools CEO Kris Mohip is bound by state ethics laws and must file an annual financial disclosure statement with the commission. The letter comes in response to the lawmakers’ inquiry as to whether Mohip must follow ethics laws after news reports found he steered business to a partner company of his former employer. Mohip ended his status as a paid consultant with the partner company the same day the Vindicator confronted him about the seemingly cozy relationship.


Correspondence with state officials revealed that the Youngstown CEO has 'Carte Blanche' authority to manage the district, however the lawmakers say running government like a business becomes complicated with respect to appropriate checks-and-balances.


“I am thankful the Ohio Ethics Commission answered our questions and provided clarity that – even with the privatization of our public schools – a school district CEO still must be fiscally, legally and ethically accountable to the school district and taxpayers,” said Boccieri.


The ethics commission declined to provide an advisory opinion on whether or not Mohip hypothetically broke the law, instead noting an official complaint needs to be made to determine whether to open a confidential investigation. Under Ohio law, anyone may confidentially bring a complaint before the Ohio Ethics Commission for review.


“Our community deserves a system that puts the needs and best interests of our children over the business interests of one person,” said Lepore-Hagan. “Ultimately, we want to ensure that the structure we have in place isn’t fatally flawed, putting our kids at an even greater disadvantage.”


Though the CEO can unilaterally approve contracts and make financial decisions regarding the district, House Bill 70 – the 2015 law that established a state takeover process for failing school districts – gives the academic distress commission say over the CEO’s employment with the district.


With the academic distress commission providing oversight of the CEO under the law, Valley legislators believe the responsibility to ask for a deeper investigation as to whether ethical standards were crossed rests upon the Academic Distress Commission.

 
 
  
 
Ohio Democrats Introduce Resolution Urging Congress, President To Protect Net Neutrality
Resolution comes as Federal Communications Commission prepares to rescind existing consumer protections
December 06, 2017
 
 

State Reps. Thomas West (D-Canton) and Dan Ramos (D-Lorain) today announced the introduction of House Concurrent Resolution (HCR) 18, which urges Congress, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and the president to uphold existing net neutrality rules. Net Neutrality is the principle that internet service providers (ISPs) must treat all data equally. Under net neutrality, no user, platform or website can be accessed faster or slower than another.


“Without Net Neutrality, your Internet Service Provider could arbitrarily block whatever websites it didn't want you to access,” said West. “Eliminating Net Neutrality also means that your ISP could purposefully slow down access to certain websites or services and force you to pay extra to access certain websites or services. The elimination of Net Neutrality would allow for price gouging by ISPs and would stifle the incredible innovation that the internet promotes – the sort of innovation that has added trillions of dollars to our economy and created millions of jobs.”


Numerous leaders in the tech sector, as well as the FCC’s own Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, have expressed vehement opposition to the proposed changes to Net Neutrality. While Congress has the authority to enact legislation protecting Net Neutrality, they have yet to take actions to do so.


“Net Neutrality protects the free market,” said Ramos. “Without Net Neutrality, ISPs could force companies to pay huge fees or risk having their website slowed down dramatically. A tiny number of massive companies would be able to bend the rules in their favor, hurting other emerging markets and limiting competition that relies on a level playing field.”


HCR 18 was referred to the House Federalism and Interstate Relations Committee and currently awaits its initial hearings.

 
 
  

Minority Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) and state Rep. Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) yesterday announced their legislation that urges Congress to award Annie and John Glenn with a Congressional Gold Medal for their lifetime of public service unanimously passed the House Federalism and Interstate Relations Committee.


“John and Annie Glenn represent what is best about America. They inspired generations with hope, teaching us to reach beyond ourselves for something greater,” said Strahorn. “There is no duo that deserves this honor more than John and Annie Glenn.”


John Glenn graduated from the Naval Aviation Cadet Program and joined the Marine Corps in 1943. During that same year, John married his lifelong friend and high school sweetheart, Annie Castor.


“John and Annie Glenn’s story is one of public service and mutual dedication to helping better their community and country,” said Antonio. “They have been such incredible inspirations to all Ohioans, and its due time that they receive this important recognition.”


John Glenn led 59 missions with the Marine Fighter Squadron 155 during WWII, and led 63 missions with the Marine Fighter Squadron 311 during the Korean War. He was later selected by NASA as one of the Mercury Seven test pilots and became the first American to orbit the Earth in 1962 while flying the Friendship 7. John Glenn later decided to run for public office and was elected to the US Senate in 1974, where he served for 24 years.


Annie Glenn completed her undergraduate career at Muskingum College with a Bachelor of Science after studying music and education. Born with a severe speech disorder, Annie Glenn completed an intensive speech therapy program in 1973 and dedicated her life to helping others with communications disorders.


The bill now moves to the House for a floor vote. 

 
 
  
 
GOP Rewards Employers Who Break Law, Threatens Worker Safety
House Bill 380 creates loopholes for corporations who actively hire undocumented workers
December 05, 2017
 
 

House Democrats today voted in opposition to House Bill (HB) 380, a Republican-sponsored bill to deny workers’ compensation benefits to undocumented workers who get injured or killed on the job. The House passed the bill on a largely party-line vote.


“Corporations that break the law and hire undocumented workers should have to take responsibility for workplace injuries—regardless of an employee’s immigration status,” said House Minority Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton). “Under HB 380, employers who rig the system will get off scot-free and taxpayers will be left with the bill.”


Employers would not be liable for damages under HB 380 as long as the employee seeking damages is an undocumented worker or a non-citizen dependent of an undocumented worker killed on the job. The bill also creates the legal presumption that the employer did not hire a person knowing they were undocumented, placing the burden of proof onto the worker to prove the employer willfully made the hire knowing the applicant was unauthorized to work in the U.S.


“HB 380 is a cheap political stunt that will increase the number of undocumented workers hired in Ohio because employer’s workers’ compensation costs are determined by the number of claims filed,” said Rep. David Leland (D-Columbus). “Since undocumented workers will no longer be able to file a claim when injured on the job, this bill will encourage employers to hire non-citizens. Who picks up the bill when employers and workers’ compensation won’t? The rest of us.”


“HB 380 incentivizes illegal employers who put profit first to look the other way when hiring undocumented workers,” said Rep. Tavia Galonski (D-Akron). “Ohioans want accountability if they get injured on the job. HB 380 lets big corporations off the hook when employees get injured, creating instability and uncertainty for all Ohio workers.”


“HB 380 is a distraction from the real tragedy that allows illegal employers in Ohio to exploit workers with a lapse in paperwork who are injured or die on the job, as well as the illegal employers who are not being held accountable for unsafe working conditions.” said Rep. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland).


“Ohio taxpayers should not be forced to pick up the tab for corporations that illegally hire undocumented workers,” said Rep. Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood). “This bill creates unsafe conditions for us all.”


“I have continued to state that the effects of this bill can be perceived as racist. This change to workers comp will negatively affect the lives of thousands of Latinos in this state who are already the victims of prejudice and discrimination, at a growing rate,” said Rep. Dan Ramos (D-Lorain). “Not one person came to testify in support because of its potentially negative effects on the workplace. Regardless of intent, this bill is perceived by my community as racist.  I will not continue to defend the actions of this body to the Latino community if it continues to pass legislation perceived as such.”


HB 380 now moves to the Senate for consideration.

 
 
  
 
Sheehy To Host Healthcare Town Hall, Encourage Public To Sign Up For Coverage
Public Health staff will be on site to help people navigate healthcare exchange
November 21, 2017
 
 
State Rep. Michael P. Sheehy

State Rep. Michael Sheehy (D-Toledo) and Toledo Department of Public Health Commissioner Eric Zgodzinski will join public health officials Saturday, December 9 from 3:00-5:00 p.m. at the Maumee Branch Library to discuss healthcare issues, open enrollment and the Affordable Care Act. Public Health staff will be ready to help people navigate the healthcare exchange and sign up for coverage before the Dec. 15 deadline.


This event is free and open to the public. Anyone interested in signing up for healthcare should bring income information documenting their annual earnings, their social security number and personal information of any dependents, including social security numbers. All information will remain private and confidential.


WHO:               State Rep. Michael Sheehy


                          Toledo-Lucas County Health Commissioner Eric Zgodzinski


WHAT:           Healthcare Town Hall, Healthcare Exchange Sign Up Drive


WHERE:        Toledo Lucas County Public Library


                         Maumee Branch


                         501 River Rd


Maumee, Ohio 43537


WHEN:            Saturday, Dec. 9


3:00-5:00 p.m.

 
 
  

Freedom is never a given. Its pursuit is not always easy. It often demands the sacrifice of those willing to give of themselves for a greater cause. It’s these values that most exemplify our nation’s veterans, many of whom sacrificed so much to secure the freedoms we too often take for granted. 


Veterans Day began as Armistice Day, a holiday marking the one-year anniversary of the end of World War I. It quickly became a celebration of all our veterans who gave of themselves to defend our freedom and way of life. Because of their selflessness and determination, we are able to enjoy many of the freedoms we cherish today.


The House last month unanimously passed House Bill 194, legislation to create special license plates recognizing military service. The legislation, sponsored by state Rep. Hearcel Craig (D-Columbus), a military veteran, is a testament to House Dems’ long-standing commitment to honoring Ohio’s military veterans. We understand that truly honoring our veterans isn’t just about offering them thanks, it’s about advocating on their behalf, fighting for their benefits and affording them the opportunity to succeed when they return home.


This year, as we gather to give thanks for the blessings in our lives – our health, our families, our freedom – let’s also give thanks for our veterans whose continued sacrifices impact our everyday lives. Join the Ohio House Dems in celebrating and honoring our military veterans, their families and the freedoms they fought for this Veterans Day.

 
 
  
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Ohio House Dems Stand With Ohio Workers, Speak Out Against GOP Anti-worker Bills

 

Ohio House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) and Democratic House members from across the state today issued statements in support of the Working People’s Day of Action planned for Saturday, February 24 at the Ohio Statehouse. The Ohio march comes on the heels of the introduction of six Republican-sponsored constitutional amendments to implement so-called “right to work” legislation and other workplace restrictions in the Buckeye State. 



 
 

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.”