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OhioSounds tax incentive would attract recording industry projects, create jobs
June 16, 2015

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.  

 
 
Online voter registration already in use, but not for all Ohioans
June 10, 2015

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. 

 
 
Seeks to end unfair practice of excluding certain voters from mass mailing
June 5, 2015

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.” 

 
 
Original budget proposal stripped access to healthcare for low-income mothers-to-be
June 5, 2015

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.

 
 

The state’s administrative rule review panel today failed to reject cuts to home care worker pay rates despite hearing from witnesses that the decreases will harm their businesses, make it harder to hire qualified nurses and will end up sending more Ohioans to nursing homes.

“These cuts will make it harder for the men and women who care for our elderly and disabled Ohioans,” said Rep. Debbie Phillips, the Albany Democratic lawmaker who serves on the panel. “This means lower wages for working Ohioans, and it will make it even harder for patients to be able to stay in their homes. This moves us in the wrong direction, and make no sense when Gov. Kasich keeps saying we want to help mom and dad stay in their home.”

In today’s meeting, the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) approved the Kasich Administration’s amendments to rules setting reimbursement rates and billing procedures for home care workers under Medicaid’s Ohio Home Care Waiver Program.

“As the need for in-home care increases, the state has to get serious about strengthening our network of care by retaining and attracting the highly qualified professionals who care for our elderly, disabled and young Ohioans,” said Rep. Greta Johnson (D-Akron). “Unfortunately, today’s cuts move us further away from that care-focused approach to one where our elderly, disabled and young Ohioans are viewed as numbers on a spreadsheet instead of people who deserve quality care.”

In his first state budget, Gov. Kasich cut funding for in-home senior care providers and agencies by close to $200 million. 

 
 

President of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus (OLBC) State Rep. Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati) today released the following statement applauding the state’s decision to ‘ban-the-box’ on applications for Ohio civil service jobs beginning today:

“Banning the box gives a fair shot to men and women who have distanced themselves from past mistakes and want to contribute to society as productive, tax-paying citizens.

“Too many Ohioans who want to work are denied the opportunity based upon mistakes they made ten or twenty years ago. By propping up artificial road blocks against individuals who have worked hard to reform themselves, Ohio marginalizes a significant chunk of the workforce.

“The state’s policy change is an endorsement of the idea that men and women do not have to be defined by their past mistakes, but can move past them to take hold of the economic opportunity and security a job provides.”  

 
 
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