Democratic state lawmakers today unveiled an ambitious economic agenda focused on laying a foundation for economic stability and paving a path to the middle class for the next generation of working people in the state
State Reps. John Boccieri (D-Poland), Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) and Glenn Holmes (D-McDonald) last week wrote a letter to Gov. John Kasich urging him to preserve the revenue local governments and public transit systems receive from the Medicaid Managed Care Organization (MCO) tax. The federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) have given Ohio a deadline of June 30, 2017 to remedy its MCO tax structure so that it complies with CMS policy, but any changes may threaten the millions of dollars local communities currently receive from the tax.
“Our concerns need to be heard on this issue and I want to work with the governor to include a fix to the MCO tax revenue in the upcoming state budget,” said Boccieri. “If local revenue sharing isn’t preserved, the legislature will cripple our communities with another unbearable budget hit.”
As Americans reflect today on the impact and legacy of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., it’s important we remember one often understated piece of that historic legacy: the reverend’s resolute advocacy for economic justice.
Dr. King professed that economic opportunity is the foundation on which disenfranchised groups may achieve social and political empowerment. He understood that without a job or an income, a worker “has neither life nor liberty nor the possibility for the pursuit of happiness.”
State Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) today commented on the enactment of House Bill 463, legislation signed into law this week by Gov. John Kasich that will help communities fight blight by establishing an expedited foreclosure process for abandoned and vacant homes.
“Abandoned homes stuck in the lengthy foreclosure process can depress neighborhood property values and attract vandalism and crime,” said Lepore-Hagan. “Modernizing Ohio’s foreclosure laws helps stabilize neighborhoods and prevent urban decay by giving communities a tool to speed up the foreclosure process.”
In what proved to be an unpredictable year for government and politics across the nation, Ohio House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) says his caucus found both challenges and successes in the Buckeye State.
From helping to stop sweeping unemployment insurance cuts – at the beginning of 2016 and again at the end of legislative session in Dec. – to fighting back against GOP-led, eleventh-hour lawmaking that brought to the governor’s desk government shutdown legislation; sweeping intrusions on a woman’s sovereignty to make her own healthcare decisions; and a toppling of several self-government principles in Ohio, Democratic lawmakers have faced a busy, and at times contentious, legislative session in 2016.
This year also saw members from both parties come together, something Strahorn believes was productive, to successfully take on issues like medical marijuana, charter-school reforms and infant mortality. That approach, the Leader says, was also helpful in tempering tax shifting proposals, attacks on working people and cuts to school funding.
“It is easy for a party that controls every aspect of state government to get sidetracked with initiatives that are heavy on politics and light on good public policy, but by keeping communication open and standing up for fundamental American values when they are threatened, we have been effective in influencing legislation and having a credible voice in policy debates,” said Strahorn.
State Reps. Michael P. Sheehy (D-Oregon) today sent a letter to Governor Kasich urging him to veto House Bill (HB) 554, legislation that dramatically changes the state’s energy efficiency standards to unenforceable “goals” for the next three years.
“This legislation will undermine the economic and job growth of advanced energy businesses like First Solar in northwest Ohio,” said Sheehy. “Other leading businesses across the nation – and the globe – are turning to renewable energy sources to power their state-of-the-art 21st century facilities. Leading companies such as Apple, Coca-Cola Enterprises and General Motors have all publicly pledged to produce one-hundred percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources.”
Ohio House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) today applauded Gov. John Kasich’s veto of House Bill 493, legislation that would ban abortions in the state once a fetal heartbeat is detected, as early as five to six weeks. The House leader also commended today’s Montgomery County Common Pleas Court Decision against the Ohio Department of Health (ODH), effectively keeping the Women’s Med Center of Dayton open.
“At a time when people feel uncertain about the future of their healthcare, Ohio should be doing everything it can to increase access to care, not limit it with roadblocks that have been found to be unconstitutional,” said Strahorn. “Despite today’s mostly positive news, too many women across our state still face barriers to care and politicians who want to intrude on healthcare decisions best left to women in consultation with their families, faith and physicians.”
In an early Friday morning House session, the Republican-controlled House rubber stamped a sweeping bill that could shut down state government by giving the legislature new power to dissolve executive-branch state agencies. The bill, Senate Bill 329, would force some 25 state agencies every four years to spend extra money and resources to defend against elimination based on a number of factors, including the potential for privatization, and a regulations evaluation against other states.
“Not only is this sweeping transference of power an extreme and troubling departure from the American democratic foundation of checks and balances, but it puts Ohioans in danger by potentially shutting down essential services overnight,” said House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton). “This would create chaos within our state and could lead to outsourcing primary functions of the state like education, public safety, public health and workers’ compensation. It is nothing more than a power grab under the cover of night and guise of review.”
State Reps. John Rogers (D-Mentor-on-the-Lake) and Bob Cupp (R-Allen County) today announced the Senate passage of House Bill 436, legislation to address an inconsistency in state law with regard to OVI license suspension and offender vehicle mobilization.
HB 436 previously passed unanimously in the Ohio House in March and in the Senate Transportation Commerce and Labor Committee last week.
“This bill is the product of consultation with some of my friends in the judicial branch, including Mentor Municipal Court Judge Trebets,” said Rogers. “They came to me explaining this issue, which I recognized to be an issue from my many years as a prosecutor.”
House Democratic lawmakers today heralded the passage of Senate Bill 27, legislation to ensure firefighters disabled by cancer as a result of their hazardous line of work are eligible for benefits from the workers’ compensation fund and the Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund.
“The first responders who keep us safe shouldn’t face medical uncertainty or financial instability after years of selfless sacrifice,” said Assistant Democratic Leader Nicholas J. Celebrezze (D-Parma). “That’s why this reform ensures our everyday heroes don’t have to go it alone.”
Research conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has found that firefighters show higher rates of certain types of cancer than the general U.S. population as a result of occupational exposure. The study also found that the chance of a lunch cancer diagnosis or death for a firefighter increases with the amount of time spent at fires, while the chance of leukemia death increases with the number of fire runs.