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Lawmaker says restricting healthcare will hurt Ohioans, slow economic growth
May 3, 2018
State request to restrict healthcare access is more politics as usual

The Kasich Administration today filed a waiver request with the federal government, stemming from Republican attempts to undercut Ohio’s Medicaid expansion in the previous state budget. The administration says 36,036 Ohioans are in jeopardy of losing healthcare under the new restrictions, but the actual number of people impacted – if the waiver is approved – could be significantly higher if the economy slows down or more people have trouble finding work.

“Keeping people sick or taking away their health insurance won’t create more opportunity in our state or make our economy more competitive,” said state Rep. Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood). “This is nothing more than a punitive partisan, one-sided attempt to take away healthcare from people in need of temporary assistance. People want an opportunity for a better life for themselves and their families. Taking away healthcare is not the way to move Ohio forward, it is not a prescription for success”

The proposed restrictions would mean people who are sick, lack transportation, experience a family emergency or simply can’t find work would lose Medicaid coverage without notice if they do not work 80 hours in a given month.

A review of past work requirement proposals in entitlement programs found that these policies do not reduce poverty and often leave participants languishing in low-wage, temporary jobs.

Antonio is the minority leader for the House Health Committee and serves on the state’s Joint Medicaid Oversight Committee.

 
 

State Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) today celebrated 2018 National Small Business Week, which runs from April 29 – May 3. National Small Business Week annually recognizes entrepreneurship and celebrates small businesses across the United States. Events are celebrated locally in addition to a kick-off in the nation’s capital.

“Small Business Week is a time to celebrate locally owned businesses that are the backbone of our communities,” Sykes said. “Together we can grow small businesses through policies at the state level and offer support locally to new and longstanding businesses in Akron.”

Sykes is encouraging area small businesses or people looking to start one to look into the following state resources that can help them grow, create jobs and give back to the community:

-Ohio Department of Administrative Services: http://www.das.ohio.gov/for-Business-Public/for-the-Business-Community.

-JobsOhio Regional Network Contacts: https://jobs-ohio.com/jobsohio-network/.

-Secretary of the State Website for Client Service Center: https://www.sos.state.oh.us/businesses/.

Sykes, who serves as the House Minority Whip, represents Ohio’s 34th House district, which includes Akron and parts of Cuyahoga Falls and Bath Township.

 
 
Lawmaker cites Yost's conflicts of interest, calls for criminal investigation
May 2, 2018

State Rep. Tavia Galonski (D-Akron) today called on Ohio Auditor Dave Yost to recuse himself from all matters related to the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) due to conflicts of interest and to refer potential data-rigging at ECOT for review by an independent criminal prosecutor.

“According to statements made by your office this week, you received a whistleblower tip in May 2017 detailing first-hand knowledge of potential criminal fraud at the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT). According to these same statements, your office did not immediately refer these allegations to a prosecutor or outside law enforcement agency,” Rep. Galonski wrote in a letter to Yost. “Your decisions may have jeopardized Ohio’s ability to get justice. Fraud investigations demand quick action to collect evidence.”

The letter came after news broke last week that Yost’s office met multiple times last year with a former ECOT technology employee who blew the whistle with allegations the e-charter intentionally manipulated student attendance data, yet Yost failed to refer the matter for criminal investigation at that time.

Since then, the letter notes, ECOT has closed, witnesses have moved to new jobs, emails, texts and documents have presumably been lost, and money has likely been shuffled to new accounts. 

“Simply put, valuable evidence has most likely been lost while you have conducted an ‘investigation’ that you should not have been directing to begin with,” Rep. Galonski wrote.

A copy of the full letter is attached and pasted below.

 
 
Say effort to remove trash and clean up neighborhoods will improve communities, increase property values
May 2, 2018

State Reps. Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus) and Adam Miller (D-Columbus) today introduced legislation to clean up blighted properties in urban communities across Ohio. The bill comes as many communities struggle with the state’s ongoing opioid crisis, underemployment and an abundance of foreclosed and abandoned properties. The Columbus-area lawmakers say their plan would combat neighborhood blight and increase local property values.

 
 
Lawmakers say bill gives victims better opportunity for justice
May 1, 2018

State Reps. Tavia Galonski (D-Akron) and Kent Smith (D-Euclid) today introduced legislation to eliminate Ohio’s current 25-year statute of limitations for rape. More than half of U.S. states do not have limits on when victims can file rape claims.

 
 
Introduce bill to prevent new academic distress commissions
April 27, 2018

State Reps. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) and Kent Smith (D-Euclid) today introduced legislation to block the state from taking over additional local school districts and privatizing local school boards. The proposed moratorium follows the controversial state takeovers of Youngstown City Schools and Lorain City Schools, where the heavy-handed approach has failed to produce any meaningful improvement or results.

 
 
Lawmakers say universal preschool sets students up for lifetime of success, reduces incarceration rates
April 26, 2018

State Reps. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) and Thomas West (D-Canton) today introduced a joint resolution to establish universal preschool in Ohio. The proposal would amend the Ohio Constitution to require free, universal preschool for all four and five-year-olds who reside in the Buckeye State.

 
 
Whistleblower accuses Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow of deliberate scheme to pad attendance
April 25, 2018

State Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) is calling for a criminal probe into the actions of the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT), an online charter school accused of putting in place a scheme to falsely inflate its attendance in order to overbill Ohio taxpayers for more money. Rep. Fedor, a former educator, has long been an advocate of charter school reform and transparency.

“ECOT owes Ohio taxpayers at least $80 million. The best way to make sure the money is repaid is to have the proper authorities launch a criminal investigation,” said Rep. Fedor. “By not properly examining the whistleblower’s allegations nearly a year ago, Auditor Yost failed the people who elected him.”

A persistent whistleblower repeatedly tried to warn state officials that ECOT put in place a scheme to pad its attendance and collect more public money, according to a report by the Associated Press (AP). His warnings were ignored.

Almost a year ago, the whistleblower met with employees of Auditor David Yost, who was paid $11,400 in campaign donations from ECOT’s founder*. After no movement from Auditor Yost, the whistleblower sent an email to the head of Ohio State Board of Education, who also did nothing. The whistleblower then emailed the Ohio Department of Education’s top lawyer. Only after the AP story was published did the Department say it is looking into the explosive claims.

* Yost also spoke at ECOT graduation ceremonies in 2014 and 2015 and awarded them an Auditor of State Award for exemplary record-keeping in 2016.

 
 
Cera welcomes Judge Yoss for day at the Ohio Statehouse

Monroe County Court Judge Jason A. Yoss today traveled to Columbus to shadow state Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire) as part of the Judicial-Legislative Exchange hosted by the Ohio Judicial Conference.

“I am delighted to meet with Rep. Cera to discuss concerns we have in Monroe County and to hear his plans for helping the district. It was also good to reminisce about old times when I served as a Page for the House of Representatives at the Ohio Statehouse,” said Judge Yoss.

The Ohio Judicial Conference helps create uniformity in the application of the law, rules and practice through the state. Ultimately, the OJC helps determine the judicial impact that bills and resolutions have on the state.

 
 
Patterson introduces bipartisan bill to encourage sustainable maple industry growth
April 24, 2018

State Rep. John Patterson (D-Jefferson) recently introduced bipartisan legislation with Rep. Sarah LaTourette (R-Chesterland) to give a boost to local maple producers and businesses while putting recognized best practices in place for sustainable forest management throughout the state.

“Maple syrup products generate over $5 million annually for our state’s economy, and a lot of that comes from right here, in our community,” said Patterson, who serves as a ranking member on the Ohio House Agriculture and Rural Development Committee. “By strengthening local maple businesses and producers, we’re also strengthening our woodlands through sustainable practices that ensure a strong industry and strong local businesses for generations to come.”

The proposed law change, House Bill 606, exempts local producers and businesses from paying taxes on land used for maple syrup and sap production, and reimburses local schools and communities for any loss in local revenue. Under the bill, small businesses and producers who drill 30 taps on at least 12 trees per acre would also need to adopt a forest management plan in place to qualify for the tax exemption.

“I’m pleased to sponsor House Bill 606 with Rep. Patterson, what we believe to be a modest proposal to assist Ohio’s maple producers who practice a craft so rich in cultural significance to our great State,” said Rep. Sarah LaTourette.

“In our corner of the state, we know the important role a safe and healthy habitat play in economic development and our overall quality of life,” Patterson added. “Whether we’re welcoming tourists to share in our community’s natural beauty or we’re spending time fishing, hunting or just enjoying the outdoors, a vibrant environment is at the forefront of what we love about the region we call home.”

The legislation will soon be assigned to a House committee w