Ohio House Democratic state lawmakers today voted against House Bill (HB) 228, the so-called Stand Your Ground bill, a Republican-sponsored effort to loosen gun safety standards by reducing firearm offenses, making it harder to prosecute gun violence cases and preempting local authority to enact commonsense safety protections for Ohio families.
“This free pass on gun violence makes us all less safe,” said House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton). “Instead of listening to the thousands of students, parents and families who’ve spoken out and marched for commonsense gun safety measures, we’re turning our backs on them with this divisive, tone-deaf bill that goes dangerously beyond our reasonable self-defense laws to make Ohio a ‘shoot first’ state.”
State Rep. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland) today released the following statement after being gaveled down and having her microphone cut while giving an impassioned speech on the consequences Stand Your Ground legislation has had on minority communities:
In response to a scheduled Ohio House committee hearing tomorrow on House Bill 53, legislation to make Ohio a so-called “Right to Work” state for first responders, teachers, nurses and other public employees, Democratic House Finance Committee lead Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire) issued the following statement:
“Right to work is wrong for Ohio because it puts our first responders last for safety gear, fair pay and healthcare protections for on-the-job injuries. States that have so-called “right to work” restrictions have more deaths on the job, lower wages and less healthcare.
“Ohioans shouldn’t be held hostage by an extreme and dangerous political agenda at their Statehouse. Elected officials need to put politics aside and refocus our efforts on reforms that will grow our economy, protect healthcare and give people the tools they need for a better life. Right to work is wrong for working families, wrong for the middle class and wrong for Ohio.”
State Rep. Tavia Galonski (D-Akron) today publicly released her October letter* to House Speaker Ryan Smith (D-Bidwell) asking for his support to move her legislation, House Bill 630, which would give career-ready Ohio high school seniors the opportunity to graduate in 2019 and 2020. Without legislative action, 51,893 Ohio high school seniors will not graduate this year, according to Ohio Department of Education data.
“As the State School Board and many in the legislature, under your leadership, move to bring Ohio standards in line with modern day needs and workforce demands, I ask for your support for House Bill 630 to meet Ohio seniors where they are in 2019 and 2020 by ensuring these career-ready students are not being held back by an outdated system,” Galonski wrote in her Oct. 24 letter to Speaker Smith.
Ohio House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) today released a letter* sent to Governor-elect Mike DeWine that applauds the incoming governor’s commitment to unifying the state and working with Democrats and Republicans to bring about meaningful change to benefits all Ohioans.
“I am compelled by your uniting words to find common ground on common sense policies that grow our economy, better our educational outcomes, and protect healthcare,” Strahorn wrote in the letter.
The House leader sees the final weeks of legislative session as an opportunity to give the incoming administration a head start on important issues like strengthening Ohio manufacturing, taking on the opioid crisis, and giving Ohio students the opportunity they need to succeed in the workforce.
State Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) today recognized the month of November as National Family Caregivers Month. The Family Caregiver Alliance defines a family caregiver as “any relative, partner, friend or neighbor who has a significant personal relationship with, and provides a broad range of assistance for, an older person or an adult with a chronic or disabling condition.” This year’s theme is “Supercharge Your Caregiving” to highlight how family members can utilize support tools to improve the quality of life for their loved one and make their job easier as a caregiver.
“It can be challenging caring for a relative while completing daily tasks. Luckily, with the advent of new technology to check vital signs, access online patient records, and connect with support groups, these challenges can be decreased.” said Sykes. “In the General Assembly, it is important we recognize the work of family givers and provide support to services such as respite care.”
State Rep. Dan Ramos (D-Lorain) last Thursday called on state leaders to follow the longstanding Ohio law that recognizes Election Day from noon to 5:30 p.m. as a legal state holiday in the Buckeye State. The legal holiday designation for Election Day was reaffirmed in 1953, but has been state law for 128 years, dating back to Gov. James Edwin Campbell’s signature of Senate Bill 174 in the 69th Ohio General Assembly.
“The fact is that part of Election Day has been a legal holiday in Ohio for 128 years. We simply have not been following the law,” wrote Ramos in a letter to Gov. John Kasich and Republican legislative leaders.* “I am requesting that you use the power of your office to follow Chapter 5.20 of the General Provisions of the Ohio Revised Code to close state offices not related to elections on Election Day at noon.”
State Reps. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire), Thomas West (D-Canton) and David Leland (D-Columbus) will deliver remarks in a mural dedication ceremony honoring the nation’s first professional African American baseball player, Moses Fleetwood Walker, on Sunday, October 7 at 1:30 p.m. in Steubenville. Legislation sponsored by the lawmakers naming October 7, Walker’s birthday, as “Moses Fleetwood Walker Day” in the state of Ohio was signed into law last year.
“Walker’s life story is a perfect example of how we must continue working together to create a world in which everyone has the opportunity to reach their God-given potential,” said Cera. “I’m glad that Jefferson County is memorializing such a gifted athlete and brave American.”
Walker began his professional baseball career with the Toledo Blue Stockings in 1883, but his career was cut short in 1889 when both the American Association and the National League unofficially banned African American players. It was not until 1947 when the Brooklyn Dodgers’ Jackie Robinson finally broke the color barrier.
“Honoring Moses Walker is more than just remembering a baseball player,” said Leland. “It is a reminder of who we are as a Nation, whose Constitution vows to protect everyone’s inalienable rights to ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’. It is also a cautionary tale, because sometimes, after we get something right, we lose our way. So as we honor Moses Fleetwood Walker, we remember that the battle for equality and justice is never finished.”
The mural was painted by artist Ruston Baker. An exhibit on Walker, housed in the Jefferson County Historical Association Museum, will be open to the public that day.
“Moses Walker is yet another hidden figure that is owed the respect for breaking color barriers during the era of Jim Crow and violent raci
State Rep. Kent Smith (D-Euclid) today responded to inaccurate report card grades given to East Cleveland schools by state education officials. The false information was uncovered by a WEWS investigative news report late Tuesday.
“The school district report cards are not just confusing and inaccurate, they are often times just plain wrong,” said Smith. “That is why there is bipartisan support to end the state takeover of local schools that relies on such a faulty measure.”
State Rep. Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) today expressed her support and applauded council members’ leadership in the passage of the human rights ordinance by Cuyahoga County Council. The ordinance passed by an 8-3 majority Tuesday evening, making Cuyahoga County the first county in Ohio to ban discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodation based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. It will also create a human rights commission that will investigate and rule on complaints.
“This is both a civil rights and an economic issue,” said Rep. Antonio. “I am hopeful that the passage of this important county ordinance will be instrumental in helping statewide efforts to ban discrimination against people in the LGBT community. Nondiscrimination policies have the potential to serve as an economic catalyst to drive innovation, spur investment and attract the best and brightest to Ohio. Above all, it is the right thing to do.”