Democratic lawmakers today announced new legislation to eliminate the sales tax on feminine hygiene products such as tampons, pads, menstrual cups and sanitary belts. The sales tax on essential women’s healthcare items, also known as the “Pink Tax,” disproportionately affects women who already face economic hurdles given Ohio’s gender-based wage gap.
“Women only earn 77 percent compared to their male counterparts in Ohio, but are forced to spend a significant amount of their wages on these essential healthcare products,” said Representative Emilia Sykes (D-Akron). “The “Pink Tax” is an additional burden placed on women that intensifies the gender wage gap and makes preventative healthcare for women more expensive.”
The average woman has her period for multiple days a month, every month, over the course of 30 to 40-years. Tampons alone cost women an average of $1,773 over a lifetime, according to a recent breakdown of essential feminine hygiene costs. Lawmakers say levying a sales tax on feminine hygiene products places an additional financial burden on Ohioans already at an economic disadvantage.
“Essential feminine hygiene products are a necessity, not a luxury,” said Representative Greta Johnson (D-Akron). “Women have to fight to earn equal pay for equal work and the ‘Pink Tax’ is yet another hurdle that we must overcome.”
Without proper feminine hygiene products such as tampons and pads, women are at risk of developing health complications such as vaginal infection, disease, and even infertility. The medicine prescribed to treat these problems is tax exempt, but the products that can prevent them are not.
“No one should face extra economic challenges simply because of their gender,” Rep. Kevin L. Boyce (D-Columbus). &ld
Senate Bill 63, which codifies the state’s online voter registration system already in place, was scheduled for a vote committee today in the Senate, before last minute changes ensured the bill would not be voted on today. This delay virtually guarantees that passage of legislation to codify online voter registration in Ohio will not happen before the 2015 general election.
State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) issued the following statement today in response to the delays in accepting new online voter registrations:
“Ohio’s online registration system is already built and in place, but it only accepts registration updates, not new registrations. Treating new voter registrations differently than voter registration updates is not authorized in Ohio law. We have only one set of requirements for both new registrations and registration updates. I have been urging Secretary Husted to switch on full online voter registration-- which he is permitted to do --for the past 18 months. With the legislature moving at such a slow pace, I again urge him to stop pretending there is any barrier to allowing online voter registration for all Ohioans.
Online registration would undoubtedly encourage more people to register for the first time and participate in elections. I urge Secretary Husted to switch on full online voter registration as soon as possible so that any difficulties with the larger influx of users may be worked out well in advance of the next major election. The many benefits of switching on full online voter registration will include immediate cost savings to our counties and easier access to the ballot box.”
In the last 18 months, the number of states, including the District of Columbia, that allow or have passed online voter registration has risen to 29. Ohio’s system is already in place, making it possible the state could be the 30th to adopt this important practice.
State Reps. Kent Smith (D-Euclid) and Sarah LaTourette (R-Bainbridge) today announced a bi-partisan effort to create jobs and drive economic growth by making Ohio a destination for the recording industry. The Ohio Sound Recording Investor Tax Credit, also known as OhioSounds, will work to attract more of the almost $7 billion in annual music industry revenue to the state.
“Ohio is the birthplace of legendary musicians, unforgettable songs and ‘Rock N’ Roll’,” said Rep. Smith. “OhioSounds honors our proud legacy and works to cultivate a winning model moving forward. Ohio can become a destination for musicians, producers and industry leaders who will create jobs and strengthen our local economies. The OhioSounds tax credit will solidify our commitment to Ohio’s musical heritage and create new music that will provide the soundtrack to our lives.”
“Much like the Ohio film tax credit, this legislation seeks to incentivize investment in Ohio and create jobs in a dynamic industry,” Representative LaTourette stated. “Northeast Ohio has seen quite an investment in response to the film tax credit, with major motion pictures filmed on the streets of Cleveland and throughout our region. Given our history as the birthplace of Rock n’ Roll, it just makes sense to extend that incentive to the music industry and embrace our heritage as musical innovators.”
Ranking Democratic member on the House Education Committee, State Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) today issued the following statement in response to findings of a review launched by The Ohio Council of Community Schools after allegations the Ohio Virtual Academy failed to withdraw hundreds of chronically truant students to pad its rolls.
“The detailed information my office received demands a thorough investigation and I do not feel an objective review was conducted. As the sponsor of Ohio Virtual Academy and recipient of three percent of its operating budget, the Ohio Council of Community Schools has a conflict of interest. I do not have confidence in a report conducted by its sponsor. I eagerly await the results of Ohio Auditor of State Dave Yost’s inspection.”
This afternoon, Auditor Dave Yost held a press conference addressing a three-year audit review of inflated attendance at a Kids County Inc. of Dayton sponsored charter school. The auditor says officials at the now-closed school rigged attendance data by some 50 percent, defrauding the state’s taxpayers of $1.1 million.
State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) sent a letter today to Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted urging him to implement online voter registration without further delay and to support House Bill 181 to provide automatic voter registration for any Ohioan who wants it.
The Ohio Legislative Black Caucus (OLBC) and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) announced today $2.7 million in funding to expand the 2015 youth employment program to include 14- and 15-year-olds. This will give additional teens the opportunity to gain work experience and earn a paycheck.
“Youth employment programs provide paid work experience to low-income teens,” said ODJFS Director Cynthia C. Dungey. “Through these programs, young men and women gain confidence, explore careers and build their resumes.”
“We are pleased to partner on this funded initiative. This employment initiative is one of the key elements of OLBC’s action agenda. Investing in our 14- and 15-years old while giving them work experience is critical at a time when our state is filled with teen suicide, poverty and crime reduction efforts,” said Ohio State Representative Alicia Reece, who held a press conference in Hamilton County announcing the initiative with clergy and community leaders today.
ODJFS will provide additional funding to well-established programs in Cuyahoga, Franklin, Hamilton and Montgomery counties. These programs have a proven history of serving 14- and 15-year-olds.
“I’m proud to see a partnership with business owners and community leaders to mentor and train fourteen and fifteen year-olds during summer work employment, which is critical to youth development,” said Rep. Christi Kuhns of Cincinnati.
Today State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) introduced legislation that will require absentee ballot applications to be sent to all Ohio voters whenever such a mass mailing is ordered by the Secretary of State.
In the 2014 election cycle, 1.1 million registered voters were left out of the mass mailing of ballot applications by the Secretary of State. A similar number were excluded in 2012. Plaintiffs in the recently filed litigation, Ohio Organizing Collaborative v. Husted, allege that the exclusionary practice violates the First, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution as well as the Voting Rights Act.
“By requiring absentee ballot applications to be sent to all registered voters, this bill will make voting fairer and more accessible for all Ohioans,” says Rep. Clyde. “Secretary Husted should not be excluding over one million voters from this important voter outreach measure. It’s not fair, it’s not right and it’s not legal. It is also a huge waste of taxpayer dollars to keep having to defend such illegal practices in court.”
State Representatives Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) and Dan Ramos (D-Lorain) released the following statements today in reaction to news that the Kasich administration has reversed course and will restore Medicaid coverage in the budget for low-income pregnant women.
“I am glad to know that the administration is finally waking up to the fact that Ohio’s infant mortality rate is indeed a public health crisis. I don’t know why the state ever pursued such misguided public policy in the first place, but I am pleased that the governor has done an about-face and now supports access to healthcare for expectant mothers,” said Sykes. “Restoring coverage for low-income pregnant women will help ensure babies are born happy and healthy and survive to see their first birthday.”
State Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) applauded the state’s move to ‘ban-the-box’ on applications for Ohio civil service jobs. Beginning June 1, Ohioans who apply for civil service jobs will no longer be asked about prior felony convictions on job applications, making Ohio the twelfth state to ‘ban-the-box’ on state employment forms.
Rep. Michael Stinziano will hold community hours this month across the district to hear the issues and concerns of constituents.