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The Ohio Controlling Board on Monday approved the release of 9.9 million dollars from the Healthy Lake Erie Fund to Lucas, Lorain, and Ashtabula Counties for projects related to the management of dredge material. The funding comes in support of state officials’ goal to end all open-lake dumping of dredge materials by 2020 to mitigate the devastating environmental impact of the practice.

“The prohibition of open lake dumping of dredged material weighs heavily upon our local communities,” said Rep. John Patterson (D-Jefferson). “These funds will allow us to replace the lower coal docks with a new Conneaut Creek Dredge Facility. The ability to process and strategically use dredged materials is a critical step toward the future; not only for the harbor, but for the health of our great lake and the culture we have built around it.”

 
 

Ohio House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) today appointed state Rep. Adam Miller (D-Columbus) Caucus Chair for the Ohio House Democrats, a position charged with building and strengthening legislative relationships both in Columbus and throughout the state.

“Rep. Miller knows how to work hard and bring people together. That’s what he’s done throughout his time in the military and in public service,” said Strahorn. “He exemplifies the kind of leadership we need to chair our caucus over the next two years as we fight for the issues that matter most to working families—issues like healthcare access, good schools and better-paying jobs.”

 
 

State Rep. David Leland (D-Columbus) released the following statement today in response to new, fast-tracked legislation, House Joint Resolution 19, that would limit citizens’ access to Democracy in Ohio by placing new, arbitrary restrictions on the constitutional ballot initiative process in Ohio: 

“Ohio Republican leadership want to rig our Ohio democracy against voters. The citizen initiative has been the only backstop to rigged, gerrymandered districts and the extreme political agenda at the Ohio Statehouse. In the last several years, the General Assembly has only acted on major issues like redistricting reform and medical marijuana when faced with the threat of a citizen-led ballot initiative.

“It’s strange, but the whole concept of popular democracy seems foreign to them. Leadership only holds their positions of power because gerrymandering subverts the will of the people. Now they want to severely restrict one of the only avenues left for the majority of people to be heard.”

 
 

State Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland) released the following statement today in response to new, fast-tracked legislation, House Joint Resolution 19, that would limit citizens’ access to Democracy in Ohio by placing new, arbitrary restrictions on the constitutional ballot initiative process in Ohio: 

“This dangerous new restriction on democracy would silence citizens’ voices and further tilt the balance of power to corporate, out of state special interests who have the power and money to change our constitution under this misguided plan."

“When politicians in Columbus fail to act or do their jobs, citizens should have the right to hold them accountable through reasonable access to the ballot. Instead, these new restrictions would take that power out of the hands of concerned citizens and sell it to the highest out-of-state bidders.”

 
 
Say pending Supreme Court appeal of HB 70, Youngstown Plan disaster highlights need to stop state takeovers
November 28, 2018

State Reps. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown), Kent Smith (D-Euclid), and Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) today joined Community Leadership Coalition on Education (CLCE) members during their legislative advocacy day urging the passage of House Bill (HB) 626, legislation to halt state takeover of public schools. CLCE is a group of advocates from Youngstown, Lorain, East Cleveland, and other communities around Ohio whose local school districts are or may soon be subject to state takeover as implemented under HB 70.

“HB 70 neutered the duly-elected school board members and gave an autocratic, unaccountable, appointed CEO total control over every facet of the system,” said Lepore-Hagan. “The Youngstown Plan has been a failure and a disaster, but it seems Gov. Kasich and the anti-public school zealots who created this debacle don’t use objective criteria to evaluate what has happened.”

 
 

The Ohio House Democratic Caucus today announced its leadership team for the 133rd General Assembly. In an all-caucus vote, Democrats re-elected state Rep. Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) as Minority Leader.

“The dedication to improving the lives of everyday Ohioans our leadership team, members and staff have shown over the past two years is remarkable, and our state is better for it,” said Strahorn. “Over the next two years, it is critical that we continue working together to grow opportunity from the middle out so that every Ohioan has a fighting chance to get ahead.”

 
 
Say they will keep fighting for Lordstown workers, jobs
November 26, 2018

Mahoning Valley state Reps. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown), John Boccieri (D-Poland), Mike O’Brien (D-Warren) and Glenn Holmes (D-McDonald) today responded to General Motors’ (GM) announced 14,700 layoffs nationwide in the coming months, with plans to end production of the GM Cruze at their Lordstown, Ohio plant March 1, 2019:

“I am angered and dismayed by GM’s decision to abandon its commitment to Mahoning Valley workers after more than 50 years,” said state Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown). “This closure will have far-reaching effects, both in the Valley and across Ohio, as thousands of working families deal with the real consequences of corporate giants who put profits before people. I remain committed to working with local, state and federal officials, as well the UAW and the local business community to ensure every worker affected by this closure has the resources and services they need.”

The Lordstown Complex, which has produced vehicles since 1966, is likely the latest victim in GM’s corporate restructuring which will end production at five plants and eliminate 15 percent of the company’s total workforce.

 
 
Applauds concerned students, teachers and families for speaking out
November 26, 2018

State Rep. Tavia Galonski (D-Akron) today applauded the Ohio Department of Education’s anticipated recommendation to the Ohio legislature to extend alternative graduation pathways to Ohio high school seniors until a permanent plan can be put in place for the class of 2022.

“Ohio students deserve an equal opportunity to succeed, and that starts with fair graduation standards that promote learning and recognize students’ skills,” said Galonski, who has been actively working with students, families and teachers on the revisiting the requirements. “Because students came together, spoke out, and made their voices heard, their futures look much brighter today. I congratulate them and applaud the administration and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle for doing the right thing and giving our students the attention they deserve.”

According to Ohio Department of Education staff, the department is expected to release a formal request to lawmakers outlining alternative graduation pathways for this year through 2021. Galonski said she anticipates the measure will be included as an amendment to pending legislation in the Senate Education Committee Wednesday.

 
 
Keep taxpayers in the dark on JobsOhio's secret dealings with symbolic, duplicative bill
November 15, 2018

State Rep. Kent Smith (D-Euclid) today responded to the Ohio House Republicans’ rejection of a Democratic amendment to increase transparency and accountability of JobsOhio, a nonprofit corporation funded by Ohio taxpayers that remains shrouded in secrecy and unbound by Ohio transparency laws.

“HB 40 would create something that already exists, it’s called the state budget and it’s available online. Instead of throwing taxpayer money around to duplicate current systems, let’s use this opportunity to increase transparency and accountability at JobsOhio, a nonprofit corporation funded by taxpayers and shrouded in secrecy,” said Smith.

Smith offered the amendment during debate on House Bill (HB) 40, a Republican-sponsored bill to create a new Ohio State Government Expenditure Database on the state treasurer’s website. The legislation specifically carves out JobsOhio to prevent public scrutiny instead of holding it to the same standard as every other state agency.

“With dozens of JobsOhio employees making six figures and Ohio’s jobs numbers lagging behind the rest of the country over the past five years, JobsOhio needs more oversight not less,” Smith said. “But time and again, the GOP has allowed JobsOhio to operate in the cloak of darkness, and that must end.”

 
 
Victims of rape and incest left with no protections against unlawful pregnancies
November 15, 2018

The Republican-controlled Ohio House today passed House Bill (HB) 258, legislation that would prohibit an abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which could be as early as six weeks of pregnancy— long before most women even know they are pregnant.