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Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) issued the below statement in response to today’s final passage of Senate Bill 135 providing funding to counties to purchase voting systems. The Senate concurred today in House amendments and now the bill goes to the Governor’s desk.

“Ohio has been in desperate need of voting system upgrades to meet the elections cybersecurity challenges we face today and to modernize our aging machinery. I am happy to see our boards of elections finally getting the resources they deserve after years of state budget cuts to local government funds. I was happy to support this bipartisan bill and will continue to ensure our counties are prepared for every elections challenge.”

 
 
GOP failure to add accountability, transparency cheats students and taxpayers
June 27, 2018

Ohio House Democrats today voted against Senate Bill (SB) 216, a Republican-led education reform bill, saying it gives a free pass to the Republican’s fatally flawed charter school design, which lacks accountability and transparency for Ohio taxpayers. Democrats offered an amendment on the floor that would have strengthened schools and held Ohio’s charter schools and elected officials accountable, but the House’s GOP majority rejected that effort.

“The same politicians, like Keith Faber, who stalled charter school reform efforts for one year to allow more cheating time, now are looking for a quick fix to cover for decades of profiting off their failing charter school scheme,” said State Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo), the lead Democrat of the House education committee. “Now, with this hijacked bill to provide political cover, the state can continue the GOP charter design as a revolving door of campaign cash and political influence. They have taken in millions in campaign donations from charter school operators who were receiving millions in taxpayer funds. It is still clearly not about the kids. It has to stop.”

 
 
Commit to strengthening working families and unions in Ohio
June 27, 2018

Ohio House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) today issued the following statement in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Janus v. AFSCME to strike down public sector union fair share, essentially bringing so-called “right to work” to public sector workplaces across America:

 
 
HB 126 connects families to resources and keeps kids out of foster care
June 27, 2018

The Ohio House of Representatives today unanimously passed House Bill (HB) 126, sponsored by state Reps. Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights) and Jeff Rezabek (R-Dayton). HB 126 would create a statewide system of kinship navigators that will help keep families together and provide needed assistance for Ohio’s most vulnerable populations. 

 
 
Anti-LGBT bill, HB 36, passes through the Ohio House
June 27, 2018

State Reps. Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) and Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights) today expressed disappointment with the passage of House Bill (HB) 36, which writes discrimination into Ohio law by allowing ministers not to solemnize marriages that are contrary to their personal beliefs.

 
 
Targets pharmacy benefit managers who artificially drive up drug costs for Ohio consumers
June 27, 2018

State Rep. Thomas West (D-Canton) today announced the unanimous House passage of House Bill (HB) 479, the Prescription Drug Co-Pay Integrity Act, his bipartisan legislation that would save consumers money by prohibiting gag rules that prevent pharmacists from informing consumers when they are overpaying for prescription drugs.

 
 
Findings conflict with AG anti-sexual harassment training provided to lawmakers, staff
June 26, 2018

State Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) today asked* Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine to turn over records related to a sexual harassment investigation of Rep. Bill Seitz conducted by Taft Stettinius & Hollister, the law firm where Seitz worked for 36 years. DeWine retained the law firm, which has made significant campaign contributions to the AG including one on December 1, 2017, to investigate claims made by a female House employee that Seitz’s public statements at a Republican going-away party had worsened an already hostile work environment at the Statehouse.

“The selection of Taft Stettinius & Hollister tainted the inquiry from day one,” Rep. Lepore-Hagan said. “The firm was clearly conflicted on two levels – Seitz had worked there for decades and the firm has contributed thousands of dollars to the AG. I refuse to believe that, in a city with hundreds of law firms, Taft Stettinius & Hollister was the only one qualified to conduct this investigation.”

 
 

State Rep. David Leland (D-Columbus) today applauded concerned citizens and gun safety organizations who contacted Ohio Republican lawmakers and asked them to cancel their planned vote on House Bill 228, so-called “Stand Your Ground” legislation, this week.

“By standing their ground and raising their voices, thousands of citizens’ calls and letters let the Statehouse Republicans know that voting to increase the potential for gun violence is completely unacceptable,” said Leland. “I applaud concerned citizens and gun safety groups for staying engaged and forcing Republican lawmakers to pull down a vote on this dangerous and divisive bill that would make Ohioans less safe.”

House Speaker Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell) last week indicated to reporters that Republican members of the House would bring the gun-safety loosening bill up for a full House vote Wednesday before the legislature recesses for summer.

“Until Republicans in the legislature get serious about Ohioans’ calls for commonsense gun safety reforms, we must all keep the pressure on them to do the right thing,” Leland added.

Numerous gun safety bills, some championed by Republican Gov. John Kasich, sit idle continue to sit idle in the Ohio legislature.

 
 

State Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo), the Democratic leader on the House Education Committee, today issued the following statement in response to House Republicans pulling down House Bill 707, online charter school regulation, from a vote in the House Education Committee next week:

 

“After submitting numerous Democratic amendments to hold politicians like Dave Yost and Keith Faber accountable for hundreds of millions of dollars in charter school fraud that hurt our children, House Republicans cancelled hearings on their decades-late ECOT regulation bill. Failing to move forward this late on needed regulations to online charter schools underscores the true intentions of this bill. It isn’t, and never was, really about the kids.

 
 
Sykes Pushes Reluctant Born To Launch Two Investigations into Racial Profiling at Statehouse Security Screenings
June 22, 2018

State Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) said she was disappointed by Ohio Department of Public Safety Director John Born’s unwillingness during a meeting Thursday to acknowledge his State Highway Patrol Troopers and contracted security agents acted inappropriately by singling out her and other Black Women at security checkpoints at the Ohio Statehouse in the past two years.

“I’m disappointed in Director Born. I had hoped he would address the issues of discrimination and profiling in a direct and sincere manner. Instead, he stuck to talking points about an “objective” security policy for his department that in truth is highly subjective and targets African-American lawmakers like myself for discriminatory stops and searches,” Sykes said.

Sykes said she pushed for and Born reluctantly agreed to launch two separate investigations into incidents dating back to 2016, but only after she questioned him repeatedly without getting any answers about bias within the OSHP.

“I explained to Director Born repeatedly that I followed the proper established “objective” procedure and showed my badge each time I tried to go through security, and when I questioned why my badge was not being recognized I was told “I looked too young to be a legislator.’ I also explained other people of color had been stopped for unacceptable reasons. Age, gender, skin color? Those are subjective, not objective, criteria,” Sykes said.

For more than two years, State Troopers and contracted security agents have allowed white male legislators to pass unquestioned through security checkpoints at the Ohio Statehouse and the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts while stopping and searching Black lawmakers although they followed procedures and showed identification badges.