State Rep. and Ohio Legislative Black Caucus (OLBC) President Alicia Reece joined OLBC members, community leaders and citizens from around Ohio today for the OLBC’s Third Annual Day of Action. The event began with the State of African Americans in Ohio presentation followed by the unveiling of the OLBC’s 2015 policy agenda.
The Day of Action also included an interactive town hall meeting, a voting rights action meeting with clergy and civil rights leaders and an African American business action update.
“Next week, the governor will give his state of the state. We thought it was important to give the State of African Americans in Ohio— African Americans who are facing 15 percent unemployment and one-third of whom are living below the poverty line while confronting the harsh reality that 50 percent of our children live in poverty in our state,” said State Rep. and OLBC President Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati). “As we debate the proposed 70 billion dollar state budget, it is time to invest in the economic prosperity of African American citizens who have been left behind.”
John Crawford II, father of slain Beavercreek teen John Crawford III, also attended the day of action to show his support for the group that championed legislation in his fallen son’s name.
“Too many individuals know the problems and challenges our communities face, but it can seem hopeless without identifying solutions and putting a plan in place,” said State Rep. and OLBC Day of Action Chair Emilia Sykes (D-Akron). “The Day of Action brings people together from all over the state to discuss real change we can effect on a statewide level to make sure African Americans in Ohio have a fair shot at a higher quality of life.”
During the State of African Americans presentation, Rep. Reece unveiled the OLBC’s “Prosperity Plan” for 2015. The
State Rep. David Leland (D-Columbus) today announced that he will soon introduce legislation to help cities and local law enforcement officials shutter dangerous properties with a history of violence.
In response to a state released report today looking at statewide community school attendance, State Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) announced she will reintroduce a bill to establish a committee to study the effectiveness of community schools and community school regulations.
“So many parents, teachers, kids and education advocates for so many years have been sounding the warning siren about our state’s wasteful spending on ineffective charter schools,” said Fedor. “Now, it looks like the political will in Columbus is finally starting to catch up with the reforms that are necessary to make sure our children get the best education in the best schools to prepare them for success.”
In the report, Auditor Dave Yost critiqued several aspects of current charter school laws and noted “unusually high” discrepancies between the number of students in school and the number reported to the state. At least seven charter schools that state reviewed had enrollment levels 34 percent to 93 percent less than what was reported to the state for funding purposes.
“At its worst this looks like systemic fraud and abuse from a group of charter schools, and at its best this is reflection of the state’s long-term failure to hold charter schools accountable,” Fedor added. “Either way, taxpayers and our children are being robbed. I’ll be pushing for a collective effort to fix this mess once and for all.”
Fedor, a former public school teacher, said she wants to see a state study commission in place, one that would review the effectiveness of charter school regulations and issue findings to the legislature and governor.
Fedor also said that when the state first embraced charter schools in 1997, the authorizing law came with the condition that a review would help guide what was being billed at the time as an “experiment” by charter proponents.
An aging bridge that was being prepared for controlled demolition unexpectedly collapsed on Monday, killing a construction worker and injuring a truck driver. The Hopple Street bridge collapsed around 10:30 p.m. when a section being prepped crumbled and fell onto I-75 below.
State Representative Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati) issued the following statement in response to the incident:
“Our hearts and prayers go out to the families who have been affected by this tragedy. We now need answers as to how this happened and what the state can do to prevent something so tragic from happening again. As the ranking member of the transportation finance committee, I am committed to ensuring a full investigation takes place to detail the cause of the collapse and to ensure we have every possible protocol in place to protect workers and the public.”
State Rep. Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood) today issued the following statement in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to rule on marriage equality:
“I join all fair minded Ohioans in applauding today's decision by the Supreme Court of The United States to hear all cases from the 6th Circuit Court, which includes Ohio’s case. I am ever hopeful of a time in our future when all couples will have the right to marry so that families like mine have the opportunity to experience the full depth and breadth of constitutional equality.”
"I called this campaign my ‘Back to the Future’ effort to once again serve my community that has been so important to me and my family," said Rep. Leland. “There is much to be done, and I look forward to working with Democrats and Republicans to help make Ohio an even better place to live, work and raise a family."
“I am excited and humbled to begin a new journey representing the 26th House District,” said Rep. Craig. “I will continue working hard for the people of Columbus at the Statehouse to create high-quality jobs, strengthen our neighborhoods and grow our local economy.”
“I am honored that voters have entrusted me with this responsibility,” said Rep. Boyd. “I believe my public service experience and my background in advocacy for children and working families will serve our district well. I look forward to fighting for good jobs and quality services for our neighbors and community members. We have to focus on improving the quality of life for all Ohioans.”
Kent Smith (D- Euclid) was officially sworn in to the Ohio House of Representatives Monday as State Representative for the 8th House District. Rep. Smith, elected to his first term in the House in November, will serve the citizens of eastern and northern parts of Cuyahoga County, including parts of the city of Cleveland and its eastern suburbs.
“I am excited and honored to represent the hardworking people of the 8th district,” said Rep. Smith. “I embrace the opportunity to improve lives in the 8th district by attracting quality jobs, improving our schools and strengthening our communities.”
Rep. Smith served on the Euclid Board of Education from 2002-2013, where he won the “Award of Achievement” from the Ohio School Boards Association four times. In his twelve years on the school board, Rep. Smith never missed a meeting. Rep. Smith was also elected the local leader of the Euclid Democratic Party in 2006 and reelected to that position in 2010 and 2014.
In 2006, Rep. Smith earned a Graduate Certificate in Urban Economic Development during his Ph.D. coursework in the Economic Development program at Cleveland State University. His Masters thesis dealt with the emerging threat of predatory lending. He used this expertise to co-author the first Predatory Lending Report by Policy Matters Ohio in 2002.
Rep. Smith is a 2013 graduate of the Climate Reality Project Leadership Corps. He has worked for the Cuyahoga County Prosecutors Office and also for four Northeast Ohio non-profit organizations.
“I am thankful to the people of our district who put their faith in me to stand up and fight for our community,” Rep. Lepore-Hagan said. “We need to be focused on bringing quality jobs to our area while making investments in our communities and schools to drive economic growth and strategically prepare us for a better future and a higher quality of life. I am eager to roll up my sleeves and get to work.”