State Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) today joined Democratic colleagues to outline several key priorities as lawmakers return to the Statehouse this week to take up emergency measures to address the public health and economic crises facing the state amid the COVID-19 pandemic.


“We are asking Ohioans to take extraordinary steps and make enormous sacrifices to stem the tide of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Rep. Lepore-Hagan said. “And they are responding with dignity, grace, and courage under extremely difficult circumstances.  Now, it’s time for us to provide them with the support they have earned and deserve.”


“In my district and across Ohio, thousands of small businesses that were forced to close are teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. If those businesses fail, hundreds of thousands of men and women will have no jobs to return to when the pandemic passes,” Lepore-Hagan said. “We’re in the midst of one of the rainiest days in our state’s history. People are about to drown. It’s time to use the taxpayer dollars that are just sitting in the rainy day fund to make sure Ohioans can weather the storm”


Rep. Lepore-Hagan wants to use the rainy day fund to underwrite short-term no-interest loans to small business owners unable to pay rent, utility bills, taxes, health insurance and workers’ comp premiums, employee wages, and other expenses.


“Helping small businesses survive this emergency is going to be less expensive than dealing with the fallout from the massive business failures it could cause,” Lepore-Hagan added. “If an owner is forced to close up shop because he or she can’t pay their bills during the crisis that business is going to be gone forever. We simply cannot afford to let that happen.”


House Democrats have identified several other key priorities they say will benefit working people, families and Ohio businesses, both in the short-term and long-term, including:



  • Expanding unemployment benefits and paid sick leave to more Ohioans;

  • Providing tax relief to families and small businesses;

  • Making COVID-19 medical expenses free, expanding telehealth access and allowing for longer supplies of medications to be prescribed;

  • Waiving required testing for K-12 students and halting expansion of EdChoice;

  • Protecting Medicaid and TANF benefits from interruption;

  • Enabling government bodies to meet remotely;

  • Extending absentee voting for Ohio Primary to April 28;

  • Prohibiting evictions and foreclosures to ensure Ohioans can stay in their homes;

  • Preventing gas, water and electricity service interruptions for Ohio households;

  • Allowing appropriate insurance coverage for businesses and individuals.


Democrats are evaluating all possible revenue streams for these proposals, including tapping into the state’s rainy day fund, which is near-capacity, as well as General Revenue funds and federal assistance. 


In addition, Democrats plan to discuss utilizing state emergency dollars during a meeting of the state Controlling Board Monday, and intend to work with JobsOhio to identify ways in which that agency can assist in the support of state and local economies.

 
 
 
  
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