COLUMBUS—State Representative Al Landis (R-Dover) today announced that he will join Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine in hosting “TUSC Talk: An Evening to Discuss Heroin and Other Opiates in our Community.” The event will give individuals and families an opportunity to learn more about what’s being done at the state level to combat Ohio’s opiate abuse epidemic while discussing how it is impacting communities.
The event details are as follows:
“TUSC Talk: An Evening to Discuss Heroin and Other Opiates in our Community”
DATE: Thursday, April 20, 2017
TIME: 6:00 p.m.
WHERE: Joseph Welty Middle School, Auditorium (315 4th Street NW, New Philadelphia, Ohio 44663)
“This is an opportunity for our community to hear directly from our Attorney General on the opioid crisis in Ohio and here in our very own neighborhoods,” said Rep. Landis. “Who should attend? Anyone interested in learning more about heroin and other drugs, as well as those who want to find a way to get involved! We encourage everyone to attend this important event.”
There will also be a resource fair, Naloxone kits, and the Hidden in Plain Sight display available to the public from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
This event is free and open to the public. Please call Rep. Landis’ office at (614) 466-8035 with any questions about the forum.
During a press conference this afternoon at the Statehouse, Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) and several House Republican leaders joined former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason and Reverend David Hoffman to discuss budget provisions regarding funding for the Bureau of Children with Medical Handicaps (BCMH).
In 2016, BCMH provided healthcare treatment for nearly 40,000 children with medical handicaps. The program also helps families meet the steep financial burdens that often accompany those treatments. Today, House Republicans announced plans to remove proposed changes to the way the program is funded that were included in the executive state budget plan, in order to address these issues more thoroughly in the future. This will allow the legislature to devote more time and attention to a program that has such an important impact on thousands of families across Ohio.
“We feel it is important to ensure predictability and certainty for the families who are faced with trials and tribulations in their lives, such as cystic fibrosis,” Rosenberger said. “So our plan is to keep the current law in BCMH where it is. The reason we are making this change is so that we can continue to support individuals throughout Ohio that face these kinds of challenges.”
Boomer Esiason played 14 years in the National Football League, most as quarterback of the Cincinnati Bengals. He now co-chairs the Boomer Esiason Foundation, which brings together leaders in the medical and business communities to raise money, awareness and support for individuals with cystic fibrosis. During the press conference, he shared his experience of having a son who was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis 23 years ago.
“There is nothing more earth-shattering as a parent than to learn the news that your son or daughter is dealing with something so significant that it could end their life,” Esiason said. “There are families that are in need, middle-class families with hardworking parents, that need to make sure they have the certainty of care that they receive every single day. In terms of compassion, I believe that you really want to help those who are, not only less fortunate, but who are innocent victims of disease that need a hand up so they can have the same opportunities as everyone else.”
Reverend David Hoffman is a pastor at the Epworth United Methodist Church in Marion. He serves on several state and national boards that aim to improve the lives of individuals suffering from cystic fibrosis and special healthcare needs, as well as on the BCMH Parents’ Advisory Board. Hoffman is the father of 16-year-old twin daughters, Andrea and Alyson, both of whom have cystic fibrosis. Andrea and Alyson attend Pleasant Local Schools in Marion County and are active in track, cross country and soccer. They are preparing to run their third half marathon this October.
“Cystic fibrosis is a complex and costly disease,” Rev. Hoffman said. “We know as a family we can’t do this alone, and we rely on many others to help us in this fight, and the state legislature is part of the team. BCMH is that vital safety net that helps us make ends meet and keeps us afloat and working.”
House Finance Chair Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell) praised Boomer Esiason’s efforts to raise awareness and resources for such an important cause. “I admire people who are in a position to have the spotlight and use it for what they’re passionate about and really making a difference,” he said. “This effort is about doing what is best for Ohio families, and as we continue onward through the budget process, this will be a major priority and I think we are certainly moving in the right direction.”
State Representative Mark Romanchuk (R-Ontario) chairs the Finance Subcommittee on Health & Human Services and was among the leaders in the House working on the BCMH issue. “After listening to all the people who came before our subcommittee to testify, it became clear to us that this is something that we were not going to deal with in the budget,” he said. “In terms of sustaining the program, we intend to look at it more thoroughly outside the tight time constraints of the budget process.”
Full coverage of the press conference can be found here.
PARMA—State Representative Marlene Anielski (R-Walton Hills) recently hosted an evening forum where parents could hear from and speak with representatives of local institutions of higher learning. The forum, which included presentations from the Ohio Department of Higher Education, the Department of Education, the Cuyahoga County Public Library, and Rep. Anielski, highlighted different programs, pathways, and opportunities that are available to students thinking about college or trade schools.
“I decided to host the education forum to make sure local parents had all of the information they needed for their children between grades 7 and 12,” said Rep. Anielski. “Having a knowledge of the programs available in their area could help their students get a leg up in their transition to college or a vocational school.”
Representatives were also available from Cuyahoga Valley Career Center, Cleveland State University, and Cuyahoga Community College. Together, the presenters and attendees discussed a variety of different topics, including College Credit Plus, two-plus-two programs, dual enrollment, dual admission, safer school initiatives, homeland security, human trafficking, drug prevention and suicide prevention.
The following websites have additional information: SaferSchools.Ohio.gov, StartTalking.Ohio.gov, SuicidePrevention.Ohio.gov, Education.Ohio.gov, OhioHigherEd.org, and CuyahogaLibrary.org.
COLUMBUS— State Reps. Ron Young (R-Leroy Twp.) and Thomas E. West (D-Canton) today introduced House Bill 177, bipartisan legislation to expand access to 501(c)(3) fitness facilities by exempting nonprofit gym memberships from the sales tax. Ohio is currently one of only five states to tax nonprofit gym memberships.
“The YMCA is responsible for untold numbers of public service programs throughout the state as a nonprofit organization contributing much to the fabric of Ohio,” said Young. “The collection of state sales taxes for memberships provided by these nonprofit recreation centers is not a productive activity by the state.”
HB 177 aims to increase access to nonprofit gyms like the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) and Jewish Community Center (JCC) by reducing the cost of membership. Many nonprofit gyms not only provide gym facilities, but also preventative health and family care programs.
“By expanding access to organizations like the YMCA, this bill will help connect Ohioans with the critical preventative health services that they need,” said West, who previously served on the Board of Directors for the YMCA of Central Stark County. “Many nonprofit gyms offer childcare, before and after school activities, swimming lessons, physical fitness courses, diabetes testing and education, food assistance programs and so much more. Passing legislation to increase access to these programs is the right thing to do.”
Similar legislation was introduced in the 131st General Assembly by former State Rep. Jim Buchy (R-Greenville), and passed 92-2 through the House of Representatives with 57 co-sponsors.
COLUMBUS—As part of the ongoing effort to curb the nationwide scourge of opioid addiction, State Representative Theresa Gavarone (R-Bowling Green) will be attending a conference in New York, New York aimed at finding solutions to the problem.
The conference, titled “Addressing the Opioid Crisis in America: Strategies that WORK!,” will bring together legislators from across the country to examine the various approaches states are taking to respond to the opioid and heroin epidemic that has been so rampant in Ohio and other states. It also seeks to assist legislative participants in determining which public policies is best for particular situations.
“Sadly, the opioid addiction problem has affected far too many families, not only in Ohio, but across the nation,” Gavarone said. “By bringing together leading voices on this issue from a wide range of backgrounds, states will hopefully be equipped with more ideas and approaches for how to prevent this epidemic from spreading any further.”
The conference, which runs from April 6-8, will introduce cover topics ranging from helping law enforcement deal with the growing problem to expanding treatment options for the addicted.
The drug epidemic is an existential threat to our state. Opioid abuse has infiltrated our communities and has driven them to extreme lengths to combat this problem. Shockingly, several Ohio communities have been forced to rent mobile units to assist their local morgues with overpopulation issues. These disturbing reports reinforce my conviction that we must act now to fight this insidious threat to the people of Ohio.
Recent data validates anecdotes like these that we have been hearing for years. The Kaiser Foundation released a report showing that Ohio has the most total opioid deaths in the country. From the Ohio River to Lake Erie, families from all walks of life have been hurt by these dangerously addictive substances. Drug addiction does not discriminate based on level of educational attainment, race or religion. Concerned citizens from all across Ohio are recognizing this and are diligently attending town halls, church meetings and community gatherings looking to help.
A number of policies have been enacted to fight back against opioid abuse. They include measures to hinder doctor shopping and establish drug courts, but more needs to be done. Prevention efforts must be improved to deter new opioid abusers. Treatment options must be expanded to give Ohioans a path to a healthier life. The complicated nature of this issue requires reforms directed at providing holistic support spanning from prevention to reentering the workforce. These steps will breathe life into our communities, while also giving hope to individuals struggling with substance abuse.
The group that is most affected by this scourge is often the one that is most overlooked. Children who have witnessed or experienced the horrors of drug addiction are often left with trauma that stunts their development and leaves lifelong scars. Funding for Child Protective Services should be increased in response to the increased caseloads that our counties are experiencing. Essential services such as child psychiatry need to be made available to help the most vulnerable among us. Without these meaningful steps I fear that we will lose many more to drug addiction and deprive many from the chance at success.
I am confident that our state will overcome these challenges, but it will not be done without cost or hard work. Our state is in tight fiscal times, but I believe it is crucial to make these investments to restore our state. To folks looking to be involved in the local level, consider becoming a foster parent to children displaced by this epidemic, mentor at-risk youth or volunteer at a local treatment center. If we work together we can bring healing to our communities and help improve the quality of life for all Ohioans affected by opioid abuse.
COLUMBUS—State Representatives Rick Carfagna (R-Genoa Township) and Scott Ryan (R-Newark) applauded the Ohio House’s passage of legislation that would allow certain advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) to have an individual involuntarily hospitalized for a mental health evaluation in the event of an emergency and if they are a danger to themselves or others. The bill works to provide faster and more efficient care during these mental health emergencies.
House Bill 111 allows an APRN with a psychiatric sub-specialty to have an individual hospitalized if the nurse reasonably suspects that the individual could be a risk to self or others. A mental health professional must perform an evaluation within 24 hours of a patient’s admittance to the care facility, and at the end of this 24-hour period, the individual must be released unless it is recommended following a full mental health exam or a court order that they should be detained.
“I’m extremely grateful to Speaker Cliff Rosenberger and the entire Ohio House membership for their affirmative vote on HB 111 and for understanding the importance of this legislation,” Carfagna said. “I’m eager to see the Ohio Senate take up this bill, and hope they’ll likewise work quickly to empower these highly-trained nurses to intervene in mental health emergencies."
In Ohio, there are approximately 700 APRNs with a psychiatric subspecialty, according to committee testimony. To become qualified, an RN must receive a graduate degree in a nursing specialty or related field. The nurse must then sit for a national certification examination, and obtain a Certificate of Authority from Ohio. This certificate must be reviewed biennially with a continuing education requirement.
This bill passed the House with strong bipartisan support last general assembly when it was sponsored by former State Rep. Margaret Ann Ruhl. However, it did not receive a full Senate vote. Following last week’s House passage, it now returns to the Senate for further consideration.
COLUMBUS—State Representatives Steven Arndt (R-Port Clinton) and Tom Patton (R-Strongsville) applauded the Ohio House’s passage of legislation they jointly sponsored that designates June as “Ohio Goes Boating Month,” which aims to highlight Ohio’s thriving boating and tourism industry.
In an effort to bring attention to the region’s many lakes and beaches, legislators introduced House Bill 84 to underscore the importance of the state’s boating industry, which accounts for $3.6 billion in economic impact for Ohio. According to committee testimony, the western basin of Lake Erie has the third largest concentration of boats in the U.S.
The bill also strives to increase awareness for ensuring that Lake Erie, and all of Ohio’s waterways, remain clean, protected and healthy.
“As everyone on the lake knows, without a healthy Lake Erie, we have no jobs, no tourism and no economy,” Rep. Arndt said. “This bill not only identifies a key pastime that many Ohioans enjoy by boating on our great lake, but also the need to preserve the gem that makes Ohio shine bright, so that our state and region can continue to grow.”
House Bill 84 promotes the many activities available to Ohioans in regards to the boating industry, including fun and recreation at state parks, marinas and yacht clubs. Boating activities such as kayaking, canoeing, sailing, paddle boarding and power boating are all activities that can be enjoyed by Ohioans young and old, encouraging constituents to stay in the region for vacations instead of traveling, which boosts the local economy in communities along Ohio’s shoreline.
The bill now goes to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.
COLUMBUS—State Representatives Rick Carfagna (R-Genoa Township) and Mike Duffey (R-Worthington) have introduced legislation that works to define computer science standards in Ohio’s school systems, which would help students to be better prepared for the challenges in today’s science and technology fields.
As highlighted in a press conference today at the Ohio Statehouse, House Bill 170 mainly aims to define computer science in the Ohio Revised Code and ensures that it is part of Ohio’s K-12 education curriculum. Sponsors of the bill worked with various organizations in crafting the language, including Code.org, the Computer Science Teachers Association, Apple, Microsoft, Project Lead The Way, UTeach CS (at University of Texas-Austin), and College Board.
In Ohio, research for the bill included discussions with Cleveland State University’s Computer Science Department and their efforts with the Cleveland Municipal School District’s current pilot program, TEALS through Microsoft.
“This bill accomplishes several things,” Carfagna said. “It allows students and school districts the flexibility of having computer science courses count towards mathematics or science graduation requirements, and for schools or districts that are under-resourced and looking to implement these course offerings we’re establishing a need-based grant program to help them purchase the necessary technology resources.”
Beyond defining computer science, the bill also requires the State Board of Education to adopt K-12 standards for computer science by July 1, 2018, while also developing credit flexibility in coordination with math and science courses. For teachers, the bill will provide more professional development opportunities related to computer science during the calendar year.
“Increasingly, automation is eliminating jobs in Ohio’s most historically reliant industries such as automotive manufacturing,” said Rep. Duffey. “As a result, we need to encourage students to pursue career paths that are more likely to exist and provide a living wage well into the future. Computer Science is a broad field, but it is underrepresented in Ohio, in part because we have mandates for graduation requirements such as Algebra 2. What we are doing now is providing flexibility to Ohio students and school districts to increase their offering of Computer Science and in doing so, better preparing Ohio’s workforce for the jobs that realistically will exist. By building a culture much more supportive of Computer Science, Ohio will also increase the likelihood that we will attract some of the fastest growing companies in the world or create one ourselves as an Ohio startup.”
Today’s press conference can be viewed at this link: https://www.ohiochannel.org/video/press-conference-new-computer-science-legislation.
COLUMBUS—The Ohio House today passed legislation that would prohibit a person younger than 18 from purchasing any product containing dextromethorphan, an ingredient commonly found in cough and cold medicines.
Ohio is one of several states where children and teenagers have been known to consume cough syrup at far greater rates than the recommended dosage. House Bill 73, sponsored by State Representatives Jeff Rezabek (R-Clayton) and Kyle Koehler (R-Springfield), would require stores to request an ID from individuals buying the medication to ensure they are not under the age of 18.
Many leading retailers across the state already require an ID when purchasing products containing dextromethorphan per company policy.
“The battle against the drug epidemic in the state of Ohio has to be fought on many different fronts,” Koehler stated. “I am pleased to step into this fight with Representative Rezabek to ensure that we are helping protect minors from abusing easy to obtain medicine.”
Koehler and Rezabek also point to Ohio’s severe drug epidemic and see House Bill 73 as another tool to help prevent unassuming youth from getting caught up in the spiral of abuse.
“I am proud to see the House pass this common sense piece of legislation that serves as a next step in our efforts to combat the drug epidemic in Ohio,” said Rezabek, who introduced nearly identical legislation last General Assembly that received House approval. “I want to thank my joint sponsor Representative Koehler for his hard work on this bill and I look forward to working with the Senate to move this bill forward.”
Dextromethorphan is found in common cough and cold medicines. Used in high doses, an individual can experience side effects such as nausea, vomiting, impaired physical coordination, double or blurred vision and rapid heartbeat.
Under the proposed legislation, those violating the law could be charged with a minor misdemeanor. House Bill 73 also provides retailers with civil immunity in certain situations.
The bill now goes to the Senate for further consideration.
Speaker of the Ohio House Clifford A. Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) today announced that State Representative Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell) will continue to serve as Chairman of the House Finance Committee for the 132nd General Assembly, after previously serving as chair in the 131st General Assembly.
State Representative Tom Patton (R-Strongsville) today applauded Governor Kasich’s signing of Senate Bill 27, legislation that creates presumptive eligibility for workers’ compensation for firefighters diagnosed with cancer. Rep. Patton sponsored the legislation during the 131st General Assembly as a member of the Ohio Senate.
State Representative Jonathan Dever (R-Madeira) today announced that the Local Government Innovation Council will begin accepting applications for the second round of the Local Government Safety Capital Grant Program. Initiated by the Ohio House of Representatives and included in the state operating budget for fiscal years 2016 and 2017, these grants can help to fund public safety projects in local communities throughout Ohio, including those in the 28th House District.
State Representative Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell) today announced that preliminary terms between the Finance Fund and Campbell’s Market have been agreed upon to bring a grocery store to Vinton County.