State Reps. John Boccieri (D-Poland) and Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) today expressed support for Mahoning County Board of Elections Director Joyce Kale-Pesta’s decision to move polling locations out of a number of local schools for safety reasons. The Mahoning Valley’s lawmakers also indicated they would support a statewide effort to move polling locations from school grounds to other public spaces in an effort to promote the safety of Ohio students.
“Each year, hundreds of schools across Ohio open their doors on Election Day and give broad access to people not working at the school facilities – which unfortunately has the potential to put students at risk,” said Rep. Lepore-Hagan.
Pennsylvania state lawmakers are currently debating legislation to begin moving polling locations away from school grounds in order to protect students. The legislation comes on the heels of a 2017 incident that saw a state trooper shot just a few miles away from a Northampton County, Pennsylvania elementary school. While students at the school were on lockdown as authorities searched for the shooter, a portion of the school remained open and accessible to voters.
“It is really sad that the in the wake of so many school shootings, students will not witness Democracy in action. But it makes sense to keep this threat away from our children,” Rep. Boccieri said.
Similar safety incidents and concerns have spurred officials in
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State Rep. Thomas West (D-Canton) today applauded the Ohio Department of Insurance’s order to prohibit Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBM) from imposing gag rules to prevent pharmacists from informing consumers when they are overpaying for prescription drugs.
“I applaud the Department of Insurance’s decision to put hard-earned money back in the hands of consumers by prohibiting PBM gag orders on local pharmacists that effectively jack up the price of prescription drugs,” said Rep. West. “While we welcome this long overdue order, we must take the next step and pass HB 479 to ensure that Ohio consumers are protected under the law and not simply at the whim of whomever controls the governor’s office.”
West recently introduced House Bill (HB) 479, a bipartisan plan that would strengthen consumer protections and work to reduce the cost of prescription drugs in the Buckeye State.
Lawmakers referred HB 479 to the House Government and Oversight Committee, where it has received one hearing.
State Representatives Brigid Kelly (D-Cincinnati) and Kent Smith (D- Euclid) today announced legislation to strengthen Ohio’s outdated overtime pay rules. Policy Matters Ohio’s Hannah Halbert, who urged action on the nation’s outdated overtime pay rules, joined them. The event also highlighted how the Trump administration—as well as special interests and Republican officials, including Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine—are obstructing a rule that would ensure that workers are paid fairly for the hours they work.
State Reps. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) and Kent Smith (D-Euclid) today announced legislation to fund sewer and water capital improvements through general obligation bonds. Under this proposal, municipal corporations, counties, townships and other government entities would be eligible to receive state bonds for capital projects to ensure clean drinking water, promote public health and alleviate environmental concerns.
Ohio House Democrats today celebrated welcome news for the state’s imperiled northern coastline, following a statement by Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman released Wednesday guaranteeing full funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). The initiative, a $300 million program once-targeted to lose 90 percent of it’s funding in President Trump’s proposed 2019 budget, was one of many federal environmental projects under threat this year.
State Reps. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) and Tavia Galonski (D-Akron) yesterday hosted the 2nd annual Human Trafficking Youth Prevention Summitat the Ohio Statehouse. The Youth Prevention Summit brings students, teachers, public officials and advocates together from across the state to empower students through education, awareness, discuss policy proposals and participate in skill-building workshops.
Additionally, several student participants joined the two lawmakers for a press conferenceto detail Ohio’s anti-trafficking legislative efforts and allow students to share their advocacy experiences.
Today State Reps. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) and Michael Sheehy (D-Oregon) introduced a resolution urging the Director of the United States Environmental Protection Agency to add Lake Erie’s Western Basin to the list of impaired waters. The move follows a State of the State address that left the two Toledo-area representatives disappointed with the lack of urgency surrounding the continued water quality crisis in Northwest Ohio.
“To seriously address harmful algal blooms in our state requires a firm commitment to reform and to exploring all avenues for action,” said Rep. Fedor. “I was hopeful that Ohio and federal governments would treat the ongoing crisis with more resolve and that last week’s State of the State address would outline some real policy initiatives. It is past time to put Lake Erie and the lives we have built here first.”
This resolution recognizes that Lake Erie’s Western Basin is facing a water quality crisis, plagued by pollution, algal blooms, and fish kills. Both Rep. Fedor and Rep. Sheehy were serving Toledo in the Ohio House of Representatives in 2014 when an algal bloom left 500,000 Toledoans without safe drinking water. Lake Erie’s Western Basin still requires massive doses of chlorine to be considered safefor consumption, continually impacting much of the region.
“The algae problem is far too critical to continue the weak actions taken by the current state and federal administrations,” said Rep. Sheehy. “If swift and decisive action is not taken now, Ohioans along the coast will continue to lose income, wildlife, and many more resources from Lake Erie.”
Unlike Ohio, Michigan did include the open waters in its jurisdiction on its list of impaired waters that it submitted to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, which approved that list. The United States EPA already has declared Michigan’sportion of Lake Erie impair
On the heels of their House resolution calling for the Lake Erie’s open waters to be declared “impaired,” state Reps. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) and Michael Sheehy (D-Oregon) today issued the following statements in response to the Kasich Administration’s about-face on issuing the declaration – which could mean tighter pollution standards and more resources to protect the Great Lake:
“Today, the governor listened to the needs, fears, and wishes of this legislative body and the people of our great state on the issue of Lake Erie. I want to thank him for finally standing up and calling for Lake Erie to be declared impaired. I look forward to working closely with his office, the people of Toledo, the communities all along Lake Erie, and all Ohioans on cleaning up Lake Erie, returning it to its former glory, and ensuring that it is safe and healthy for years to come.” —state Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo)
“This decision certainly comes as welcome news following years of economic damage in Northwest Ohio. We are thankful for the Governor’s political courage, and that he is joining us in defense of Ohio’s single greatest natural resource against the big-money special interest groups fighting against a solution.” —state Rep. Michael Sheehy (D-Oregon)
State Rep. John Boccieri (D-Poland) today criticized the passage of House Bill 410, legislation that slashes state funding to local communities who use photo enforcement of traffic laws. The bill also gives city and county courts exclusive jurisdiction over civil actions stemming from local traffic law violations.
“We should focus on common sense ways to fix photo enforcement complaints, not punish local communities by slashing their state funding,” said Boccieri. “We need to make sure taxpayers are treated fairly while preserving their ability to self govern and make their own decisions locally, without heavy-handed threats from Columbus.”
The bill comes as the state has cut more than $2 billion from local communities over the last several years.
Boccieri has made strides to protect taxpayers from uneven and confusing traffic law by sponsoring House Bill 219. House Bill 219 sets a commonsense standard for speed limits by requiring all speed limit zones to become effective beginning at the speed limit sign.
“I support this component of the bill, but local communities should answer to local taxpayers on the enforcement of traffic laws in our community.”
The bill passed the House 65-19 and now heads to the Senate for consideration.
House Minority Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) today reported the passage of House Bill (HB) 529, the state’s $2.6 billion biennial capital budget. The capital budget is primarily used to invest in the upkeep of state facilities, colleges and university campuses, and state lands, but also includes a number of community projects.
HB 529 invests more than $480 million for technology and facility upgrades at Ohio’s colleges and universities, allowing them to retool to meet the demands of 21st century higher education and job training. Sinclair Community College will receive $10.33 million for campus renovations and upgrades.
“A competitive workforce begins with educating our students and training workers with the skills they need in this new and changing economy,” said Strahorn. “For years, Sinclair has been a leader in education and job training in Southwest Ohio, and these investments will allow the next generation of students, business leaders and entrepreneurs to make an impact in their communities.”
In addition to more than $1 billion in statewide funding for K-12 and higher education capital projects, HB 529 invests $350 million in statewide infrastructure projects through the Public Works Commission and $147 million throughout the state in local community projects.
“Whether it’s rebuilding crumbling roads and bridges or upgrading our cultural centers, investing in Ohio communities makes us more competitive, creating jobs and spurring growth in our local and regional economies,” added Strahorn. “Projects like the Arcade Innovation Hub are changing the game, using the tremendous community resources we already have right here in Southwest Ohio, including our universities and business leaders, to encourage entrepreneurs and students to take their ideas to the next level.”
Notable Montgomery County community projects funded under HB 529 include: