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State Reps. John Boccieri (D-Poland) and Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) today applauded the House passage of House Bill 415, legislation that would send half of any state surplus revenue to a new Local Government Road Improvement Fund to fix potholes and fund local road improvements. 

“There is absolutely no reason Ohio needs to add more to the $2.5 billion dollars in the Rainy Day Fund with the condition of our roads,” said Boccieri. “Finally, the legislature is listening to our citizens."

Excess state revenues can develop every two years, at the end of the state’s fiscal year, if the state budgeted for more than was spent. In recent years, surplus revenue has gone to fund the state’s emergency fund, the Rainy Day Fund.

“This bill is a common-sense measure to fix our roads and bridges. It helps local communities and helps create jobs,” said Lepore-Hagan.

Under the legislation, the Office of Budget and Management would tally the length of center lane miles in each county, calculating a dollar amount to be shared by local communities in all 88 counties. The funding is then distributed through counties to townships and municipalities for road repairs.

The bill passed by a vote of 73-13 and now heads to the Senate for consideration.

 
 
Bill will allow residents to petition for slower speeds, stop signs on neighborhood streets
February 23, 2018

State Reps. David Leland (D-Columbus) and Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus) today announced legislation that would allow local residents to request for increased roadway safety standards. House Bill (HB) 436 would allow residents or a recognized neighborhood association to petition for a stop sign or lower speed limits on their street.

“Local communities are in the perfect position to know if a stop sign or lower speed limit is in the best interests of their residents,” said Leland. “This bill cuts bureaucratic red tape and unnecessary expenses, and gives Ohioans the flexibility they need to keep our neighborhoods safe.”

 
 
Voice solidarity with Columbus Working People's Day of Action on Feb. 24
February 23, 2018

Ohio House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) and Democratic House members from across the state today issued statements in support of the Working People’s Day of Action planned for Saturday, February 24 at the Ohio Statehouse. The Ohio march comes on the heels of the introduction of six Republican-sponsored constitutional amendments to implement so-called “right to work” legislation and other workplace restrictions in the Buckeye State. 

 
 

House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) and Rep. David Leland (D-Columbus), the top Democrat on the House Federalism and Interstate Relations Committee, today asked Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) to reconsider legislation that loosens multiple gun laws and penalties, House Bill 228.

The House Federalism and Interstate Relations Committee is debating the sweeping changes under House Bill 228 instead of the House Criminal Justice Committee, a panel the lawmakers say is better equipped to deal with such radical changes to criminal laws around firearms.

“This complex bill is replete with repercussions that not only impact the law enforcement community but the public safety of the entire state,” the lawmakers wrote. “The eyes of the nation are on Ohio and we have the opportunity to show thoughtful and responsible deliberation on a bill that stands to dramatically impact criminal charging as well as penalties with regard to firearms. The Ohio Legislature has a responsibility to our communities to get this right.” *

The bill would change the burden of proof in a self-defense claim when a firearm is involved, reduce criminal penalties for illegal or improper use of handguns, and prohibit local communities from enacting their own gun safety laws.

*A copy of the letter is attached.

 
 
Ohio to join 48 states in protecting victims of dating violence under HB 1
February 20, 2018

The Ohio Senate is expected to pass state Rep. Emilia Sykes’ (D-Akron) House Bill (HB) 1 today, bipartisan legislation to modernize Ohio’s domestic violence laws. Co-authored with state Rep. Nathan Manning (R-N. Ridgeville), HB 1 will allow victims of dating violence to obtain civil protective orders against their attacker, a protection currently allowed in every state except Ohio and Georgia.

“I am pleased that the Senate will take action today to protect people who are victims of dating violence,” Sykes said. “Unfortunately, Ohio is one of the last states to recognize dating relationships when requesting a protection order. Thankfully it is never too late to save a life.”*

The National Dating Violence Hotline defines intimate partner violence, which includes dating violence, as a repetitive pattern of behaviors – including physical or sexual violence, threats, intimidation, emotional abuse and economic deprivation – used to maintain power and control over an intimate partner.

Current Ohio law only recognizes domestic violence as violence occurring between spouses, those cohabiting, persons who have a child in common, or family members. The senate amendments add dating relationships to the existing domestic violence statute, giving victims rights including information from the attorney general’s office and access to battered women’s shelters.

The House will likely approve Senate changes to the bill in the coming weeks. The legislation then will head to the Gov. Kasich’s desk for his anticipated signature.

 
 
Lawmakers say new restrictions will hurt economy, increase healthcare costs
February 16, 2018

State Reps. Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood) and Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) today expressed disappointment regarding proposed Medicaid restrictions released this afternoon by the Kasich Administration.

The Administration is seeking the restrictions in a waiver request to the federal government that stems from Republican attempts to undercut the state’s Medicaid expansion in the previous state budget. Though the Administration claims no more than 36,036 Ohioans are in jeopardy of losing healthcare coverage under the new restrictions, the actual number of people impacted could be significantly higher if the economy slows down, or more people have trouble finding work. 

 
 

State Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire) today responded to this morning’s well pad emergency near Powhatan Point in Belmont County, Ohio.

Cera noted that state officials from ODNR assured him that the agency is working with the OEPA and local emergency officials to minimize the impact on local residents and the environment surrounding the spill and fire.

“ODNR has reached out and are working with local officials for the safety of our residents and the protection of our natural resources. It is my understanding that XTO officials are setting up a hotline to help address questions and concerns regarding temporary housing, etc. I will continue to monitor the situation and work with all parties to ensure that the creek is restored to the way it was before this incident took place.” 

 
 
House bill will designate May Maternal Mortality Awareness Month
February 12, 2018
As pregnancy related deaths rise in Ohio, Sykes looks to raise maternal mortality awareness

State Rep. Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) today announced legislation that would designate the month of May in Ohio “Maternal Mortality Awareness Month” to recognize the Ohio mothers who die each year from pregnancy related complications.

The number of Ohio mothers who die from pregnancy related complications has increased threefold from a decade ago. The average death rate in 2016, according to the Ohio Department of Health, is 85 women per 100,000 live births.

“Ohio has the opportunity to be a leader in maternal mortality awareness,” said Sykes. “By designating a month for awareness, we will bring light to the various causes of maternal mortality, develop new ideas and protocols to limit and eliminate pregnancy related death, and show the women of Ohio that the state supports their health and well-being during and after pregnancy.”

 
 
Fedor, Steinem issue statements on politically forced closure of Toledo women's health provider

State Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) and Toledo native and feminist icon Gloria Steinem today issued the following statements on the politically motivated closure of Toledo’s Capitol Care Network, a healthcare facility that provides abortion care:

"I was born and grew up mostly in Toledo. Later, when I needed an abortion -- as has one in three American women at some time in our lives -- I was in London, where it was safe and legal. This taught me why medical procedures should not be decided by politicians.

“We must not allow a political regulatory scheme to close Toledo’s remaining abortion clinic. Its absence would not diminish the number of abortions but would increase the injury and death of women in my home city and state. Democracy begins with each person's control of his or her own body. Without reproductive freedom, there is no democracy for America women.

“I strongly urge ProMedica and St. Luke's Hospital to safeguard women's health by signing the transfer agreement needed to keep safe, legal abortion services available in Greater Toledo.  Ohio hospitals must not allow themselves to be used by politicians to hurt women’s health.”—Gloria Steinem

 

“The Ohio Supreme Court ruled against the reproductive rights and health of Ohio women by upholding a regulatory scheme designed to close Toledo’s only remaining abortion clinic. I know that if this clinic closes, women in northwest Ohio will suffer. I urge ProMedica and St. Luke's Hospital to safeguard women's health by signing the transfer agreement needed to keep abortion services safe and legal in the Toledo area. We can’t let politicians use Ohio hospitals to eliminate a safe, constitutional medical procedure.” —Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo)

 
 
Bipartisan redistricting reform clears last legislative hurdle before voters have final say in May

Following months of negotiation, the Ohio House today passed Senate Joint Resolution 5, bipartisan legislation that puts a constitutional amendment before voters in May to restrict congressional gerrymandering in the state. 

“After months of negotiation, thousands of Ohioans speaking out, and several false starts, we’re closer to stopping congressional gerrymandering today than we have ever been before. Though imperfect, this latest plan represents one of the most fundamental tenets of our American democracy – compromise,” said House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton). “We support this plan today, with the hope and expectation that it will help impart that same spirit and guiding principle of cooperation on Washington in the near future.”

Democratic House expressed concerns over several parts of the proposed plan that they see as loopholes that, in extreme cases, could still allow partisan congressional district rigging. Ultimately, most Democrats still supported the final language in the resolution.