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Area schools to get safety funds based on Patterson's new bipartisan law
September 21, 2018

State Rep. John Patterson (D-Jefferson) today announced over 1,700 schools throughout the state will share in some $12 million in school safety grants made possible through the Jefferson lawmaker’s bipartisan legislation, House Bill 318. The state grants require local schools and county board to work with local law enforcement to determine the best use of the funds.

“The ability to foster safe, healthy, and supportive environments in schools is crucial to the wellbeing and education of our children,” said Patterson, “When we invest training, safety equipment, and critical educational and mental health resources, we invest in their future.”

 
 
Propose performance audit of JobsOhio to ensure competitive economic development
September 20, 2018
Lawmakers look for results from state economic development arm

As the nation continues to recover from the global economic recession of 2009, the Buckeye State has largely been left behind in the recovery, a fact that two lawmakers said in part prompted their new proposed state law change to require an annual performance audit of the state’s economic development entity, JobsOhio.

Though JobsOhio is a nonprofit organization that uses public money for economic development and job creation, it is exempt from public performance audits, unlike similar organizations that use taxpayer funds.

State Reps. Kent Smith (D-Euclid) and Thomas West (D-Canton) hope to change that with legislation announced today that would hold JobsOhio to the same standards and level of transparency that taxpayers have come to expect from organizations that receive public money.

 
 

State Rep. Kent Smith (D-Euclid) today responded to the release of Ohio’s School Report Cards, which gave East Cleveland City Schools its third consecutive “F,” setting the stage for a state takeover under the legislature’s hastily-passed, party-line amendment to House Bill 70 in 2016.

“Today's release of the state report card is further evidence that the biggest hindrance to student performance in Ohio's public schools is not the district leadership of East Cleveland but the politicians of Columbus who take campaign contributions from the charter school industry with one hand as they give public school dollars to charter school operators with the other hand,” said Smith, a member of the House Education Committee.

East Cleveland Schools have lost over $5 million to failing, for-profit charter schools like ECOT while the state has cut the schools by millions of dollars in previous state budgets.

The district is also considered to be the poorest community in the state and the fourth poorest in the nation, with 100 percent of students being considered economically disadvantaged according to ODE data. 

“In spite of these substantial challenges East Cleveland City Schools have made tremendous progress, due in part to the extremely talented core of teachers, most of whom have a master’s degree and average 15 years of classroom experience,” said Smith.

 
 

Today the State of Ohio released the 2018 annual Ohio School Report Cards. State Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo), the House Democratic Caucus education lead, believes we need a new state report card system to assess student performance and other measures for school districts.

“Local control and the local perspective is needed to adequately determine the success or growth opportunities for Ohio’s students and educators,” said Rep. Fedor. “Ohio has many different communities. There is no one size fits all approach. We need to be more responsive and responsible in issuing grade cards.”

According to the Ohio Association of Comprehensive and Compact Career Technical Schools (Ohio CCS), Ohio has 91 Career Technical Planning Districts and three career-technical delivery models at the secondary education level focusing on workforce development. The “Prepared for Success” component of the CTE Report Card, however, only includes credentials related to “Ohio’s In-Demand Occupations.” Institutions successfully preparing students for careers will be penalized with low component grades, even if students obtain the knowledge and skills necessary to enter the workforce.

“The current report cards unfairly punish schools, students, and Ohio’s economy,” said Fedor.

Pointing to the role poverty can play in academic performance, Rep. Fedor said the Ohio School Report Cards A-F measurement doesn’t accurately reflect whether administrators and educators are working hard to address the complex challenges within their buildings.

 
 

State Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Akron), state Rep. Tavia Galonski (D-Akron) and state Sen. Vernon Sykes (D-Akron) today sent a letter to Attorney General Mike DeWine urging him to join other attorneys general across the nation in denouncing the Texas lawsuit that seeks to terminate the Affordable Care Act nationwide.

“The Affordable Care Act has been instrumental in Ohio’s ability to expand Medicaid and provide private insurance options to over 157,000 Ohioans, which dramatically reduced the amount of people without insurance in Ohio,” Rep. Sykes said. “The Attorney General must act to protect Ohioans’ healthcare.”

 
 

House Minority Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) today released a statement in honor of the Labor Day holiday:

"As Americans we believe in the value of hard work, and know that punching a time clock, laying brick, or standing behind a cash register shouldn’t mean you can’t afford to plan for you and your family’s future.

But when a wealthy CEO can make millions on Wall Street by betting against American people, and a working mom with kids can’t afford to take a family vacation once a year, something’s wrong.

 

 

 

 

 
 
Approach would strengthen state and local partnership to fight opioid crisis
August 30, 2018
As opioid crisis deepens, officials look to create Ohio Office of Drug Policy for unified, strategic statewide plan

As Ohio’s opioid addiction crisis deepens and shows little sign of letting up, state Rep. Richard Brown (D-Canal Winchester) and local officials from Central Ohio and Dayton today announced new legislation to create a unified cabinet-level Office of Drug Policy to serve as a coordinated, comprehensive entity for community officials, law enforcement officers, social workers and local communities to seek out best practices, available grants, state rules, new education programs, and more anti-drug abuse resources.

“We read it in the news. We see it in our neighborhoods. We hear about it at work and at home. And, sadly too many Ohio families are forced to face the grim reality every day that Ohio is the face of the nation’s opioid epidemic,” said Rep. Richard Brown (D-Canal Winchester). “It is clear more can be done to take on this crisis in a strategic and unified way. That’s why I’m proud to introduce this legislation today and look forward to working with members of both political parties who want to ensure addiction no longer holds our state back from living up to our full promise and potential.”

A historic number of Ohioans – 5,232 a year or 14 every day—are dying of unintentional overdose, a 39% spike in the last year. Ohio’s rates are three times the national average. According to a congressional study, Ohio’s current efforts won’t be enough to slow the historic number of deaths from opioids.

“We need more than a piecemeal, ad-hoc approach. What works in Dayton may or may not work in Columbus or Canal Winchester, but we frankly just don’t know without a strategic partnership from the state,” said Nan Whaley, Mayor of Dayton. “A coordi

 
 

State Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire) today issued the following statement in response to FirstEnergy Solutions’ announced plans Wednesday night to close the W.H. Sammis power plant in Stratton, Ohio:

“The economic impact of First Energy in Eastern Ohio is critical to the stability of families, small businesses and our local community. The working men and women of Eastern Ohio have powered and help build this nation over many generations, making it even more important that state and federal officials come together to work toward a fair solution that puts our people and businesses first.

“After talking to First Energy, it’s clear we need an all hands on deck approach from JobsOhio, PUCO, local leaders, PJM and Trump and Kasich Administration officials to solve what will turn into a regional economic crisis if we fail to work together. After recently meeting with leaders at the Sammis plant, I will focus every effort of my state office on opening lines of communication with Governor Kasich and President Trump to seek a resolution for the continued economic competitiveness and stability of our community, businesses and workers.”

 
 

State Rep. Dan Ramos (D-Lorain) today responded to a new report that shows Hurricane Maria is responsible for the deaths of 2,975 American citizens in Puerto Rico, becoming one of the deadliest natural disasters in modern U.S. history.

“It is an absolute travesty that Maria’s actual death count is now 46 times higher than originally reported,” said Ramos. “As an American, and as a Puerto Rican descendant, I am heartbroken by our federal government’s inaction and overall mismanagement following last September’s historic hurricane. Unless we take action to provide emergency relief, this unprecedented devastation to the island will be remembered as one of the most deadly natural disaster for American citizens.”

 
 

Marking the 55th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s historic March on Washington, State Rep. Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati) today reflected on the challenges that lie ahead for civil rights, and acknowledges the importance of preserving Dr. King’s legacy.

“While the progress attained by Dr. King and so many others has faced multiple threats in recent years, it is our duty to counter these obstacles with the unity and action that has long defined our nation,” said Reece. “As we come together to honor the significance of this day, we must continue to move forward in the never-ending fight for equality and justice to realize the full potential and promise of the American Dream.”