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Clergy and civil rights groups lobby Governor, legislators to stop the bill
October 3, 2013

State Representative and President of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus (OLBC) Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati) was joined by OLBC members and statewide community leaders for a Day of Action against a proposed Stand Your Ground law in Ohio. The group held a press conference to address the dangers of Stand Your Ground; delivered petitions and municipal resolutions opposing the bill to Governor Kasich, Senate President Faber and House Speaker Batchelder; lobbied state legislators; and hosted a faith rally. 

Internal procedures should show conflict-of-interest determinations, lawmakers renew call for JobsOhio Accountability Act
September 27, 2013
Potential Conflicts of Interest at JobsOhio Raise Red Flag

On Wednesday, a disturbing news report came out highlighting what Democratic lawmakers have believed for some time; JobsOhio is not even following its own lax ethics laws. According to JobsOhio’s own conflict of interest policy, recently renewed with the Development Services Agency (DSA) and on file with the controlling board, JobsOhio’s directors and officers are required to disclose any conflict or potential conflict to fellow board members for formal consideration of whether or not a conflict exists.

The Ohio Ethics Commission (OEC) announced Wednesday that potential conflicts of interest do exist at the controversial state economic development entity. Yet records show that the JobsOhio board has not disclosed any potential conflicts.

State Rep. John Patrick Carney (D-Columbus) filed a public records request in August with DSA to obtain documentation of the initiated conflict of interest policy. No such records were ever returned, and JobsOhio later publicized their belief that no potential conflicts of interest existed to ever trigger the ethics policy.

“It is one thing to have relatively low ethics standards at JobsOhio, but when they can’t even follow their own internal policies it’s a giant red flag,” said Rep. Carney. “This is proof positive for Governor Kasich and the GOP that it’s time for accountability and transparency at JobsOhio. JobsOhio has had numerous chances to do the right thing, but they just won’t play by the rules—even when they write the rules apparently.”

House Democrats have made numerous calls for transparency and accountability at the state’s controversial economic development entity, but Gov. Kasich and legislative Republicans have only passed legislation to further secrecy at JobsOhio. The JobsOhio

Raise concerns over GOP effort to limit public discussion on pending law changes
September 25, 2013
House Democrats Push to Restore Common-sense Healthcare Policies for Women

On Tuesday, Representatives Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) and John Patrick Carney (D-Columbus) revealed findings of the women’s heath informal hearing held on Sept. 18 and further exposed the attacks on women’s healthcare in Gov. Kasich’s budget with Stephanie Kight, President & CEO of Planned Parenthood of Ohio. Reps. Clyde and Carney announced that they will introduce legislation to repeal the controversial and dangerous attacks on women in the state budget. The lawmakers also denounced House Republicans for attempting to suppress all discussion about Ohio women’s health.

In addition to unilaterally preventing Ohio Government Television from broadcasting last week’s event, House Republicans refused Democratic requests to use Statehouse facilities today.

“We’re focused on moving healthcare for Ohio women forward, and I think that the GOP attempts to silence us underscore their contempt for a broader discussion about their dangerous decrees for Ohio women,” said Rep. Clyde. “Hiding these harmful provisions in the state budget at the 11th hour, in the dark of night and with no public input is demeaning and degrading to the dignity of Ohio women. But, trying to limit publicly elected officials from speaking out against bad public policy has no place in our representative democracy. Freedom and liberty are fundamental to the health of our nation and to Ohio’s women.”

Legislative group to discuss school funding issues
September 25, 2013
Cincinnati Lawmaker continues push for Voter Bill of Rights
September 23, 2013

State Representative and President of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati) discussed Ohioans’ battle with voter suppression and disenfranchisement during her testimony before the Presidential Commission on Election Administration today.

“Ohioans have had to fight to have their provisional ballots counted and have faced voter suppression tactics, including attempts to shorten early voting periods and implement stricter voter ID laws,” said Rep. Reece. “We expect leadership from our statewide elected officials, especially from those tasked with overseeing the fundamental American right to vote. Unfortunately, the actions of Ohio’s elected officials are clearly aimed at restricting voter participation.”

Youngstown lawmaker's proposal to require lobbyist salary disclosure
September 23, 2013

State Representative Robert F. Hagan (D-Youngstown) announced today that he will be introducing legislation to require that lobbyists report their annual salaries. The effort would render a more complete picture of the financial influence of special interests at our state’s capitol. The legislative proposal follows Common Cause Ohio’s recent “Troublesome Gap in Transparency” report that detailed oil and gas industry donations of two millions dollars to Ohio politicians in the past two years

“Two million dollars is a pretty effective means to making some new friends, but it doesn’t represent the millions more that the industry is likely spending,” said Rep. Hagan. “I just want to make sure that the public has a full understanding of the vast resources being spent to promote a specific agenda.”  

Public access to government dictated by GOP ideology
September 18, 2013
Joint Resolution would call for US Constitutional Convention on fair trade and labor practices
September 4, 2013
Reps. Foley and Hagan Plan Balanced Trade Amendment

State Reps. Mike Foley (D-Cleveland) and Robert F. Hagan (D-Youngstown) plan to it introduce a joint resolution that would call for a constitutional convention to discuss adding a balanced trade amendment to the United States Constitution. 

“With a global economy becoming more and more important, it’s crucial that we recognize the importance of labor and trade practices-- not just in the products we make --but also in those coming to the country,” Rep. Foley said. “It’s important to remember the significant role fair labor and trade practices plays in the strengthening of countries, especially as we celebrate our own working class on Labor Day.”

The lawmakers cited other statehouse conversations regarding amending the U.S. Constitution as the motivation to offer their own suggestion. This amendment would call for fair trade, labor, and environmental standards for imports. If adopted, it would create a tariff for any imported product that has not followed fair labor, environmental and trade practices.

The whole fabric of society rests upon labor
August 30, 2013

As Labor Day approaches, I find it encouraging to take a moment to reflect on the true significance of this holiday. While many of us know it as a day to hold cookouts, attend parades or a baseball game, there is an enriching history behind the holiday that is often neglected.

Labor Day is a creation of union members who worked hard to push for better working conditions, fair wages, reasonable hours, vacation time and much more. Today, all Ohio workers and Americans—union and non-union alike—benefit from the gains achieved through collective bargaining. 

Labor Day is a day designed to pay tribute to ourselves for the work each of us has contributed to the benefit of society. Whether you are a doctor, lawyer, caregiver, server, bus driver or volunteer, we all can reflect on the contributions working Ohioans have made to our state.

Even as radical attacks on our labor force seem ever-present from conservative interests and lawmakers across the country, I vow to never stop fighting for creating equitable working conditions and a living wage for all Ohioans.

In Solidarity,

Tracy Maxwell Heard

Rep. Phillips seeks full account of Elmaraghy ouster
August 29, 2013
Kasich Administration's Culture of Political Favoritism Targets OHEPA Regulator

State Representative Debbie Phillips (D-Albany) today sent a letter* to the Kasich Administration demanding a full account of the events that led to the removal of George Elmaraghy, the Chief of the Division of Surface Water, at the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Rep. Phillips specifically requested that correspondence between the Gov. Kasich’s office, the Ohio EPA and coal industry officials regarding Mr. Elmaraghy be made available under Ohio’s public records law.

Elmaraghy asserts that Gov. Kasich and EPA Director Nally forced him to resign early last week due to growing pressure from coal companies seeking special permits-- permits that could violate state and federal laws. Elmaraghy’s official email account was disabled late last week, even though the long-time regulator wouldn’t be off the payroll until Sept. 13th.

“Governor Kasich and his administration need to make decisions based on what’s best for the people of Ohio, rather than paying back campaign donors,” said Rep. Phillips. “It seems pretty clear that Mr. Elmaraghy is the latest casualty of the Kasich Administration’s culture of political favoritism.”

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