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House Democratic lawmakers today criticized the passage of House Bill (HB) 114, saying legislation that changes the state’s advanced energy standards to unenforceable “goals” will harm consumers and jeopardize thousands of manufacturing and development jobs in Ohio’s advanced energy industry and other industries that increasingly want and rely on advanced energy sources. 

“If Ohio’s economy is on the ‘verge of a recession,’ as the governor has claimed, rolling back state renewable energy standards will threaten future job growth and could harm consumers, workers and the environment,” said House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton). “Advanced energy technologies are helping create the manufacturing jobs of the future, and we would be wise to invest now to become a leader of this emerging industry instead of falling behind the rest of the nation.” 

 
 
State Equal Pay Hotline would allow for anonymous reports of wage discrimination, information sharing
March 28, 2017

State Reps. Kent Smith (D-Euclid) and Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights) recently introduced House Bill (HB) 138, legislation to fight pay discrimination in Ohio by establishing a toll-free equal pay hotline, an easily accessible, anonymous resource for workers to report wage discrimination and gather more information to find out if they could be victims of pay discrimination.

“While the federal Equal Pay Act was enacted over fifty years ago, Ohio has done little more to protect worker’s paychecks from unprecedented and illegal discrimination,” said Smith. “By providing the tools necessary to help ensure folks are receiving equal pay for equal work, we can attract more top talent and create a stronger economy for all Ohioans.”

 
 
Johnson pens parting letter to Kasich on failure to do more for statewide overdose emergency

With Ohio leading the nation in heroin and opioid overdose deaths, departing state Rep. Greta Johnson (D-Akron) penned a letter today to Gov. John Kasich expressing her disappointment that the state hasn’t been willing to devote more resources to fighting the statewide opioid overdose emergency. 

Johnson has called on the governor numerous times in the last year to declare the Buckeye State’s opioid crisis a statewide emergency, freeing up emergency funding for first responders, treatment and law enforcement.

Sunday marks Johnson’s final day at the Ohio House as she prepares to begin her new role as deputy law director for Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro.

The full text of the letter is below and attached:

March 23, 2017

Dear Gov. John Kasich,

It has been an honor to serve the people of the 35th District as their representative.  As I look toward the end of my time in that office, I can't help but feel like the state has let the people of the 35th down.  Everywhere I go in Summit County, the number one issue of concern is the statewide opioid epidemic. Folks continue to ask what the state is doing about it.  And, I continue to say, not enough.

I have called upon you, the speaker and the senate president to call this epidemic what it is: a statewide emergency.  I have never heard back directly from your office, but I read that you've stated that you can't do that.

You can't do that despite the fact that you declared last summer's GOP convention in Cleveland an emergency so that law enforcement agencies could be reimbursed by the state. You previously declared an emergency when animals escaped from a private zoo in Eastern Ohio. Neither of those situations caused damage to property or harm to citizens, yet, you somehow had the authority to declare an emergency, and release emergency funding from a $53-million-dollar emergency fund.  

Your Eme

 
 
Say Trumpcare will eliminate coverage for Ohio families
March 23, 2017
Democratic leaders urge Congress to preserve affordable healthcare

As the nation marks the seventh anniversary of the passage of the Affordable Care Act today, Ohio House Democratic lawmakers today spoke out against the GOP’s current efforts to decimate the landmark healthcare reform law that has expanded coverage to roughly 20 million Americans and reduced the country’s uninsured rate to an all-time low.

“After seven years of hearing partisan attacks against the Affordable Health Care Act and promises of a better way forward, it’s clear today that the American people have been misled,” said House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton). “Not only does Trumpcare threaten economic growth and increase costs for families, seniors and individuals, but it will have life-or-death consequences, forcing families to choose between paying for medical coverage and keeping a roof over their heads or saving for their future.”

 
 
Bill aims to reduce state's abysmal child food hardship rate through summer lunch programs
March 15, 2017
Bipartisan legislation to fight child hunger passes Ohio House

State Reps. Kent Smith (D-Euclid) and Sarah LaTourette (R-Chesterland) today applauded the passage of House Bill (HB) 80, their bipartisan legislation to combat child hunger in Ohio. HB 80 would allow outside organizations to use schools as summer meal sites to ensure hungry children have access to a nutritious lunch even when school is out of session.

“It is unacceptable that over a half million Ohio children go hungry when they are not in school,” said Smith. “By allowing schools to partner with qualified organizations in the summer to provide healthy meals to students in need at no cost to the school district, we can help reduce child hunger in our state.” 

 
 
Lawmakers say HB 2 strips employees of protections from harassment, bullying
March 14, 2017

Democratic members of the House Economic Development, Commerce and Labor Committee today objected to the anticipated committee passage of House Bill (HB) 2 along party lines, saying the GOP-led “No Rights at Work” bill will strip Ohio employees of critical protections from workplace discrimination. The legislation was scheduled for a vote last week, until it was pulled down at the last minute. The bill will receive a fifth hearing this afternoon, but is not yet scheduled for a vote. 

“Harassment and discrimination will increase in the workplace if employees lose their right to hold supervisors accountable for misbehaving and bullying,” said Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown), the highest ranking Democrat on the committee. “I believe workers deserve to feel safe and welcome when they go to work every day to provide for their families.” 

 
 
House Dems say GOP efforts put children, families and disabled Americans in danger
March 13, 2017

With the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimating that 24 million fewer Americans would be able to access healthcare over a decade should TrumpCare be enacted, Ohio House Democratic lawmakers today spoke out against the GOP’s effort to decimate the Affordable Care Act signed by President Obama. 

“Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is not assured to every American if we can’t see a doctor when we’re sick, or if money decides whether or not we receive lifesaving care,” said Minority Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton). “TrumpCare would pull the rug out from under the feet of millions of Americans – including nearly one million Ohioans – who have healthcare coverage under the Affordable Care Act. More adults will die prematurely and more children will suffer.” 

 
 
Lawmaker says public input is fundamental to get education right in Ohio
March 13, 2017

After holding a series of town halls and forums on Ohio’s proposed education model under the new federal ESSA standards, State Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) today applauded the state for reversing course on a tight deadline for submission to the federal government— something Fedor says kept public input out of the Ohio plan.

“After tens of thousands of stakeholders asked for their voice to be heard, today we are one step closer to making this reality. I applaud the decision by Superintendent DeMaria to utilize the US Department of Education’s September 18, 2017 deadline for the technical submission of Ohio’s Every Student Succeeds Act state plan. The Draft Plan should be redrafted and developed with ongoing meaningful consultation and stakeholder feedback. By utilizing the September 18th deadline, Ohioans across the stakeholder spectrum will be able to engage deeply in the process of working transparently to draft a plan that supports a North Star vision for the education of our state’s children. This is a great first step toward working on a plan that will truly work for all of Ohio’s children. 

 
 
"Moses Fleetwood Walker Day" expected to pass lower chamber today, head to Ohio Senate
March 8, 2017
Ohio on track to recognize first African American professional baseball player

State Reps. David Leland (D-Columbus) – aka “Mr. Baseball” – and Thomas West (D-Canton) applauded the Ohio House’s anticipated passage of House Bill (HB) 59 today, their legislation to honor Moses Fleetwood Walker, the nation’s first professional African American baseball player. The bill designates Walker’s birthday of October 7 as “Moses Fleetwood Walker Day” in the state of Ohio.

“In the face of unrelenting discrimination, Moses Fleetwood Walker persevered and overcame, and his story as the first African American professional baseball player still inspires even today,” said Leland, who also serves on the board of trustees for the Columbus Clippers, the Cleveland Indians’ Triple-A farm team. “It is also a reminder that sometimes after we get something right…we lose our way, and that the fight for equality and justice for all never ends.”

 
 
Lawmaker celebrates women's achievements, encourages future female leaders
March 8, 2017
Rep. Antonio seeks to empower more women on International Women's Day

State Rep. Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood), elected as Minority Whip of the 132nd General Assembly, released the following statement in honor of International Women’s Day:

“On this observance of International Women’s Day, we celebrate the achievements and advancements of women across the world while still recognizing the challenges women continue to face. I am hopeful for our future because of the strong young women and girls we have raised. I believe that a brighter future is certainly female.