COLUMBUS—State Representative Gary Scherer (R-Circleville) has been named Legislator of the Year by the Ohio Association of County Boards (OAACB) of Developmental Disabilities. OACB names recipients each year for several different awards. The Legislator of the Year award is given to an elected or appointed official who, having been nominated by the Board of Trustees, has exhibited high accomplishments in legislative leadership for people with developmental disabilities.


“It is an honor to be given this award from the Ohio Association of County Boards (OAACB) of Developmental Disabilities,” said Scherer. “I am pleased to support our county boards and their employees. The work they do is so critically important to enriching the lives of people living with developmental disabilities and their families.”


Rep. Scherer sponsored House Bill 572 alongside Rep. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland), bipartisan legislation allowing county developmental disabilities board employees who perform full-time services in a school to be eligible for a full year of service with the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) if they are employed throughout the academic year, which is only nine months.


While these employees have been granted a full year of credit previously, it was determined that this was not a practice that was explicitly allowed in Ohio law. Rep. Scherer introduced the legislation with Rep. Howse in order to rectify the reversal of a 30-year policy.


Rep. Scherer is in his third term in the Ohio House, and he serves on the Finance Committee and as Vice Chair of the Ways and Means Committee.

 
 
  

COLUMBUS—Speaker of the Ohio House Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell) applauded the nearly $56 million in funding today approved by the Ohio Controlling Board to combat the opioid epidemic.


The State Opioid Response (SOR) Grant, implemented by the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (MHAS) and awarded by the federal government, supplements the more than $180 million in new money appropriated through 2017’s state operating budget and initiated by the Ohio House to aggressively respond to drug addiction in the state. The SOR project also advances the work established by the 21st Century CURES State Target Response Initiative.


According to documents from OhioMHAS, the Ohio SOR plan includes diverse strategies that stem from work with various support systems and aims to fill gaps in service by:


• Expanding prevention efforts related to naloxone distribution
• Providing improved training to professionals responding to the opioid epidemic
• Deploying targeted awareness messaging in Ohio communities
• Expanding access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT)
• Expanding the use of certified peer supporters and access to recovery housing, particularly for families
• Developing employment opportunities for people in recovery


“Today’s approval of funding that will be dispersed to Ohio’s communities and mental health professionals goes to support those who are on the front lines of fighting the drug epidemic,” Speaker Smith said. “Whether it has been through new money allocated in last year’s budget, or commonsense policy initiatives led by the legislature, fighting this scourge remains a number-one priority for members of the Ohio House.”


Projections submitted to the board estimate that treatment and recovery support services would be provided to 9,000 addicted individuals, a total of 18,000 people over the span of the 2-year project.


 

 
 
  
 
Legislation Cracking Down On Counterfeiting Signed By Governor
HB 405 part of effort to combat illicit drug trade in Ohio
October 23, 2018
 
 

COLUMBUS—State Representative Rick Perales (R-Beavercreek) today announced that legislation he sponsored that specifically creates the criminal offense of counterfeiting in the Ohio Revised Code has been signed by Governor John Kasich.


House Bill 405 generally classifies counterfeiting as a fourth-degree felony, with the potential for harsher penalties based on the overall counterfeit value or the number of debit or credit cards involved.


“House Bill 405 will give Ohio’s law enforcement entities the tools necessary to support our colleagues in the U.S. Secret Service by holding counterfeiters accountable, and safeguarding Ohio’s economy and citizens who may be adversely impacted by this corrupt activity,” Perales said. “Ohio has opened a new offensive against the opioid epidemic. This legislation sets a national standard for others to emulate. I thank Governor Kasich for his support in taking action against the crisis impacting Ohioans everywhere.”


Especially in recent years, counterfeiting has become a major component of the underground economy fueling the heroin and opioid epidemic. During House committee testimony, U.S. Secret Service Agent Kevin Dye estimated that more than 85 percent of counterfeiting investigations in Dayton, Ohio are tied to illicit drug activity.


Today, in recognition of the bill signing, Rep. Perales was joined by State Senator Kevin Bacon (R-Westerville); Mayor Bob Stone (Beavercreek); Bob Cornwell, Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association; Steve Hall and Lou Tobin, Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association; Resident Agent in Charge Kevin Dye; and Special Agent Yvonne DiCristoforo.


“This new law will protect Ohio citizens and empower state and local law enforcement officers to combat counterfeiters who victimize our communities,” Dye said. “We thank the Ohio Legislature and our partners for their support of House Bill 405.”


Current law in Ohio does not specifically address counterfeiting, which instead is typically charged as forgery, criminal simulation or theft. None of these existing offenses, however, were created to directly handle counterfeiting of currency or credit cards, precluding state law enforcement from holding criminals accountable.


House Bill 405 is supported by the Fraternal Order of Police, the Association of Chiefs of Police, the Buckeye Sheriffs’ Association and the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association.


To view the press conference, watch here: http://www.ohiochannel.org/video/press-conference-rep-perales-discusses-h-b-no-405

 
 
  
 
Rep. Scherer Leads On Legislation Improving Ohio's Young Driver Licensing System
House Bill 293 seeks to make Ohio's roads safer, provide new drivers more opportunity for experience
October 18, 2018
 
 


COLUMBUS—State Representative Gary Scherer (R-Circleville), alongside State Representative Michael Sheehy (D-Oregon), today participated in a press conference to discuss their jointly-sponsored legislation, House Bill 293, a bill lengthening Ohio’s temporary instruction permit time from six to 12 months and instituting nighttime driving protections for new licensees at 10:00 PM.


With car crashes the main cause of death in American teenagers, House Bill 293 revises and updates Ohio’s young driver licensing system in order to make Ohio’s roads safer. The bill works to ensure that young drivers, under the new 12-month temporary permit time, would gain experience in all seasons and driving conditions, giving them time to obtain thorough experience and adequate preparation for their permanent license.


“As a parent and grandparent, I know how important the safety of our children is,” said Scherer. “I am hopeful that we can get this bill to the Governor’s desk in this General Assembly.”


In anticipation of Teen Driver Safety Week (October 21 – 27), Reps. Scherer and Sheehy were joined by AAA, Susan Hans, president of the Ohio PTA, and several parents who have experienced the loss of a teen driver in their families.


House Bill 293 has been passed out of the Ohio House Transportation and Public Safety Committee and awaits a hearing on the House floor. The bill is supported by AAA, the Ohio PTA, and a number of other organizations.


To watch the press conference, please use this link to view the Ohio Channel’s coverage of the event: http://www.ohiochannel.org/video/press-conference-modernizing-teen-driver-licensure.

 
 
  

COLUMBUS—State Representative Sarah LaTourette (R-Chesterland) has been named one of 24 members of the Aspen Institute’s Rodel Fellowship in Public Leadership Class of 2018. The Rodel Fellowship is an invitation-only program made up of elected officials across the country who have been identified as intellectuals committed to civil discourse and thoughtfulness in their public service.


“It is such an honor to have been nominated and accepted as a part of the Rodel Fellowship Class of ’18,” said LaTourette. “I am humbled to be surrounded by so many bright, emerging leaders who have been proven to solve problems in their respective states and communities.”


This 24-month fellowship program includes three weekend-long seminars where the fellows meet in a nonpartisan fashion to discuss important domestic issues, historical texts, and leadership.


State Senator Frank LaRose (R-Hudson) is also included in the membership of the 2018 class.

 
 
  

COLUMBUS—State Representative Theresa Gavarone (R-Bowling Green) this week presented a resolution to Special Olympics USA athlete Maggie Hunt, honoring and congratulating her for her medals at the 2018 games in Seattle. As a first-time USA games competitor, Hunt earned a bronze medal in the 100 meters, a gold in the 4x100 relay and a gold in the 400 meters. Also on hand to present a resolution was State Senator Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green).


Hunt, a resident of Perrysburg, has participated in Special Olympics since she was 8 years old, and practices three times a week at the Bowling Green State University Rec Center.


“Maggie is an inspiring individual and is really motivated to succeed whether it be on the track, in the swimming pool or at her job,” Gavarone said. “I am excited to see what she accomplishes next!”


Hunt was selected after participating in qualifying state games at the Ohio State University and landing in the top three. In addition to practicing, she holds positions with the BGSU grounds crew and Carranor Hunt Club.


 

 
 
  
 
State Rep. Carfagna Encourages De-stigmatization Of Children's Mental Illness
Participates in Nationwide Children's Hospital's "On Our Sleeves" Movement
October 11, 2018
 
 

COLUMBUS—State Representative Rick Carfagna (R-Genoa Township) yesterday participated in Nationwide Children Hospital’s kick off for On Our Sleeves, a movement designed to raise awareness, break the stigma and conduct groundbreaking research for children’s mental health.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the second leading cause of death among persons aged 15 to 24 years, and the third among persons aged 10 to 14 years. Rep. Carfagna joined Nationwide Children’s Hospital, alongside other state legislators, in front of the Ohio Statehouse on World Mental Health Day to help launch the initiative and start the important conversation surrounding the stigma of mental health issues, especially those that manifest in children. On Our Sleeves was so titled because children “don’t wear their thoughts on their sleeves.” Similar events took place at Easton and the hospital’s campus.


“There’s no question that in order to combat Ohio’s drug epidemic, addressing mental illness needs to be a component for long-term success,” said Carfagna. “The fact is that one in five children are living with a mental illness and less than half of them get the treatment they need. Breaking the stigma of mental illness and highlighting the need for attention to this issue will go a long way toward improving behavioral health in Ohio.”


For more information about On Our Sleeves visit: www.NationwideChildrens.org.

 
 
  

COLUMBUS – State Representative Marlene Anielski (R-Walton Hills) was honored at the Buckeye Art Therapy Association’s (BATA) 37th Annual Symposium for her work to advance the licensure of art therapists in the state of Ohio with Sub. House Bill 557. After receiving the award last year for her work on Sub. H.B. 557, BATA renamed the award “The Marlene B. Anielski Legislator of the Year Award.”


“It is humbling to be recognized by a group of professionals whose work accomplishes so much in the sphere of mental health treatment,” said Rep. Anielski. “The passage of Sub. House Bill 557 will ensure the availability of art therapy by professionally licensed and trained therapists to all Ohioans.”


“In 2017, we were very excited to award Representative Anielski with the BATA ‘Legislator of the Year Award’ for Outstanding Mental Health Champion, and now because of her continued leadership efforts to fight for art therapy licensure, we honor her by naming the award after her. We will now use the name ‘State Representative Marlene Anielski Legislator of the Year Award’ as we move forward in honoring future Outstanding Mental Health Champions in our community,” said Molly Kometiani, former President of BATA. “Representative Anielski is well-deserving of this accolade as she has tirelessly advocated for House Bill 557, art therapy licensure and regulation. She has been the robust force behind our movement. We could have not have progressed through the House Health Committee without her support, and this is the farthest BATA has advanced in our licensure pursuit in the past 30 years.”


The conference was attended by several hundred students and therapists from around the state for two consecutive days of guest-speakers, developmental workshops, and breakout sessions for BATA members to share their wisdom and experiences with each other. Art therapists assess a person’s response to the use of art media, images, and the creative art process to then identify their developmental needs, abilities, personality, interests, concerns, and conflicts.


Art therapy has been a distinct and independent profession since the 1940’s and has been represented on the national level by the American Art Therapy Association since its foundation in 1969. For additional information, please visit the Buckeye Art Therapists Association website at http://buckeyearttherapy.org/.


 

 
 
  

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and as the 15th leading cause of death worldwide, it is of vital importance to raise awareness for this issue and provide resources to those in need. Approximately one person succumbs to suicide every 40 seconds—a statistic that is simply mind-blowing—and it’s evident that more needs to be done.


This awareness month helps to spread resources to the public, so that those who are struggling might come across a helpline in a time of need, or so a parent or friend can send information to a loved one who could use it. Additionally, these types of campaigns help reduce the stigma associated with mental illness and suicide by making it clear that it is a prevalent issue in our society dealt with by people from all walks of life.


To bolster this awareness month, World Suicide Prevention Day occurs on September 10th. Many light candles near a window that evening in a show of support for those who grapple with suicidal tendencies. The day exists as an effort to prevent suicides by getting the proper help to the individuals who need it.


Suicide is a problem that isn’t restricted to just one month of the year, it affects the lives of so many each and every day. In November, Ohio Survivors of Suicide Loss Day occurs on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, a special day to reach out to the families and friends who still grieve for those they lost to suicide.


If you or someone you know is in need of immediate assistance, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-273-8255. You can find more information about mental health and the education and programs available from the Ohio affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness at namiohio.org.

 
 
  


PARMA—Local members of the Walton Hills community came out to the Parma-Snow Branch of the Cuyahoga County Library to attend the 15th Military Resource Fair. The fair, organized by State Representative Marlene Anielski (R-Walton Hills), sought to connect military personnel with the services available to them through federal, state, county, local businesses and organizations.


The FREE military fair consisted of over 50 sponsors, vendors and representatives of organizations that provided assistance and employment opportunities. The fair furnished FREE items, including breakfast, lunch, haircuts, health screenings, veteran ID Cards, and consumer products to our military personnel and their families.


“It was a pleasure to have many military personnel and their families from Walton Hills come out to the fair,” said Rep. Anielski. “The attendees had the opportunity to meet and discuss their unique situations with professionals to aid in obtaining their earned benefits.”


Thanks to Congressman Renacci for attending and his support for Ohio’s military. Thanks to all of our military attendees and those currently serving for their dedication and sacrifice to preserving and defending our country. Thanks as well to all of the sponsors and vendors who made the resource fair a success for about 500 attendees.

 
 
  
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Representative Hambley Appointed To Co-Chair Of Newly Created Economic Development Committee

 
Columbus - 

State Representative Steve Hambley (R-Brunswick) this week was appointed by Ohio House Speaker Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell) to serve as Co-Chair of the Regional Economic Development Alliance Study Committee.



 
 

Local Legislators Announce State Effort To Support Military Members, Veterans, And Their Families

 
Columbus - 

State Representatives Jim Butler (R-Oakwood) and Rick Perales (R-Beavercreek) and Senator Bob Hackett (R-London) held a press conference today to highlight legislation that supports military members, veterans, and their families in Ohio.  



 
 

Legislation Increasing Collection Of Opioid-Related Data Clears Ohio House

 

COLUMBUS—State Representative Theresa Gavarone (R-Bowling Green) today announced House passage of the Opioid Data and Communication Expansion Act, legislation she sponsored to increase data collection related to the opioid crisis. The bill was approved among several others after the House returned to work this week upon the election of a new Speaker.



 
 

Ohio House Approves Payday Lending Reform Legislation

 

COLUMBUS—The Ohio House of Representatives today passed bipartisan legislation that reforms the state’s payday lending industry and is aimed at lowering interest rates on loans and helping borrowers avoid endless debt cycles.