State Reps. Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) and Tavia Galonski (D-Akron) today both penned letters to Gov. Kasich renewing calls for him to declare a state of emergency to combat Ohio’s worst-in-the-nation opioid epidemic. While President Trump this week declared the opioid crisis an emergency on the national level, Gov. Kasich has repeatedly rebuffed Democratic calls to join six other states in declaring a statewide emergency. Ohio continues to lead the nation in opioid overdose deaths.

“The governor continues to wrongly claim that he can’t declare an emergency to free up desperately needed funds to combat this illness that is devastating our state—though we’ve seen him do it as recently as last year to pay for extra security at the Republican Convention in Cleveland,” said Rep. Sykes. “We need real leadership on this issue that’s crushing Ohio families and our state’s bottom line. Summit County has been taking the lead on this issue in Northeast Ohio, but we can’t do it alone. Only a bold, comprehensive statewide plan can get Ohio back on the path to health and prosperity.”

“Our opioid crisis is crushing our bottom line. What companies want to move into a community overrun with overdoses? How can our kids focus on schoolwork knowing there is trouble at home? The opioid epidemic has far-reaching consequences that will only begin to be alleviated when we make real investments in treatment and prevention,” Galonski wrote in her letter.


Read Rep. Sykes’ letter below:


Dear Gov. Kasich,


Without bold leadership and decisive action, Ohio’s opioid addiction—already the worst in the country—will continue to hold us back. Our state’s drug addiction has real costs, from the economic impact on Ohio businesses and workers to the social costs to families and communities. In fact, opioid addiction and abuse is taking a $6.6 billion to $8.8 billion a year economic toll on Ohio, according to new research from the Ohio State University.

In welcome news, President Trump this week declared the opioid crisis a national emergency. This seemingly simple act has underscored the gravity of the situation nationally and brought awareness to a crisis ravaging our communities. Though words are nice, we need action. I applaud your action to uphold Medicaid expansion– one of our primary tools to fight opioid addiction – in the face of extremism, grandstanding and politics from your colleagues in the Republican Party.

However, Summit County’s continued leadership on this issue should send a clear message to your administration that it’s time to do more. We can, and must, do more to free up resources, improve communication and jolt public consciousness with a statewide emergency declaration, just as six other states have already done.

Our current efforts are just a fraction of what it will take to get Ohio on a pathway out of addiction and toward prosperity.

Without a comprehensive statewide strategy that recognizes Ohio’s opioid epidemic as the public emergency that it is, we run the risk of failing even more Ohioans and continuing to fall further behind the nation in economic growth and prosperity. Healthy, safe communities are the foundation for stability, growth and development, but as we’ve seen over the last six years, we continue to tread water in Ohio.

This is our wakeup call. We can’t afford to be a leader in all the wrong things anymore. With your help, and with the authority to declare a statewide emergency to free up desperately needed resources, we can begin to let Ohio lead again.




Emilia Strong Sykes

State Representative

34th Ohio House District

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