Along party lines, the Ohio Senate’s Public Utilities Committee today rejected Gov. John Kasich’s appointment of M. Howard Petricoff, a Democrat, to the Public Utility Commission of Ohio (PUCO). Petricoff’s appointment to the PUCO more closely followed historical interpretations of Ohio law that prevents PUCO from having more than three commissioners affiliated with or belonging to the same political party.
“The Senate’s rejection of Mr. Petricoff is a case in point as to why reform is needed in the way Ohio’s public utility law has been interpreted in recent years,” said David Leland (D-Columbus). “In Mr. Petricoff, it seems we have a qualified and experienced choice that would bring balance and diversity in philosophy to the work of the commission, but recent party-line appointments have empowered lawmakers to put political party above all else. Balance and competing perspectives are fundamental to ensuring sound public policy that weighs the interests of business with the health and checkbooks of Ohio consumers.”
State Rep. Michael Sheehy (D-Oregon) today hailed recent calls to action at both the state and federal level for more comprehensive efforts to improve the health of Lake Erie, saying cooperation and unity were key to ensuring the region’s greatest natural resource is adequately protected and preserved for future generations.
On Tuesday, U.S. Reps. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) and Debbie Dingell (D-MI) made a joint plea for the U.S. EPA to step in and designate the open water of Lake Erie’s western basin as impaired under the federal Clean Water Act. The same day, Sheehy offered sponsor testimony on House Resolution (HR) 214, legislation encouraging support for the 2016 agreement between Ontario, Michigan, and Ohio that established a goal of a 40 percent phosphorus reduction in the lake by 2025.
House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) took issue with the decision today by the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) to revoke the operating license for the Women’s Medical Center of Dayton.
“I believe women have the constitutional right to make their own personal healthcare decisions in consultation with their physician and their families,” said Strahorn. “Not only does this decision jeopardize that fundamental freedom and right, but it stands on shaky legal ground by using questionable policies that have been drawn into constitutional question by Ohio courts and the U.S. Supreme Court.”
House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) today issued the following statement in response to the violent attack at Ohio State’s campus that harmed nine individuals:
“I am deeply saddened by the violent attacks at Ohio State’s main campus today. Now, more than ever, we must support one another as we strive to respond to and comprehend such a tragic and senseless attack.
“No student should have to fear for their safety. Our schools and universities should be safe spaces where students can learn in the classroom and from each other, while growing as individuals and expressing themselves freely. As an elected official, I am committed to ensuring students, faculty, staff and their families feel safe and secure on campus.
State Rep. and Caucus Dean Jack Cera (D-Bellaire) today announced the Ohio House Democratic Caucus has selected their new leadership team for the 132nd General Assembly. State Rep. Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) was re-elected to the highest minority leadership position, House Democratic leader, in a caucus-wide vote this evening.
“Words cannot express my level of appreciation and respect for the talent, dedication and work that our leadership team, members and staff have shared with Ohioans over the last two years. We are truly grateful and better because of their efforts,” said Strahorn. “I also would like to thank Rep. Jack Cera for his continued leadership within our caucus. I look forward to growing and developing our caucus over the next two years.”
Rep. Cera will continue to play a key role in the leadership of the caucus, while Leader Strahorn will be joined on leadership by Assistant Democratic Leader Nicholas J. Celebrezze (D-Parma), Democratic Whip Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood) and Assistant Democratic Whip Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron).
“Our success will only be possible because of the high caliber members and staff that will dedicate their public service to the pursuit of a stronger Ohio during the next two years. I am humbled by their continued trust and support,” said Celebrezze, who served as assistant leader in the 131st General Assembly.
In addition to Rep. Celebrezze, Rep. Antonio was also re-elected to her respective leadership position.
“I am honored to continue our work together as a caucus, united by the promise of freedom and allied by the fight for equality. We are unified in our belief in our state and our hope for the future,” said Antonio.
The caucus is bringing on state Rep. Emilia Strong Sykes, an Akron lawmaker in her first term, as assistant Democratic whip.
“I feel honored to serve my colleagues, constituents an
In advance of Veterans Day, State Rep. Greta Johnson (D-Akron) today introduced legislation to honor Ohio’s dedicated veterans by creating a specialty license plate for those who served in multiple military zones or operations.
“I have many constituents, friends and neighbors who humbly and selflessly served our nation during more than one military conflict,” says Johnson, member of the House Armed Services, Veterans Affairs, and Public Safety Committee. “Ohio license plates have long served as proud displays of honor, memorializing the sacrifices of the brave men and women in our military. Making this simple change to Ohio law is a small gesture to more fully honor American patriots who have given so much.”
State Rep. John Boccieri (D-Poland) today expressed his support for House Bill 609, legislation sponsored by state Reps. Niraj Antani and Mike Duffey that would lift the prohibition on taking a photograph of a marked ballot and sharing it publicly. Taking voting selfies would currently be considered a felony of the fifth degree, which Boccieri noted is far too serious a consequence for such an expression of free speech.
“I sincerely hope that this bill will be passed and enacted because I think people should be allowed to share pictures of their ballots freely. The current penalty for this is incredibly overblown,” Boccieri said. “For example, my opponent this year shared a picture of his ballot on his Facebook page and I honestly don’t think him, or anyone, should be faced with felony charges for posting their vote online.”
State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent), with Kent State student Hana Barkowitz, today called on Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted to step into the age of smartphones and make voter ID paperless.
“Many young people, like me, are dependent on their smartphones,” said Kent State student Hana Barkowitz. “Ohioans can use their smartphones to get into concerts and presidential rallies, and they can even show proof of car insurance on their phones. Ohio should get smart and allow paperless voter ID.”
A study from the Pew Research Center found that 15 percent of young Americans and 13 percent of low income Americans are heavily dependent on their smartphones for access to the internet. Compared to 1 percent of American households earning $75,000 or more per year.
“It’s important that we make it easy to vote for all Ohioans - that includes students, low income voters and other voters who rely heavily on their smartphones,” said Rep. Clyde. “Husted still has a chance to get smart and allow paperless voter ID on Tuesday.”
State Rep. Nickie Antonio(D-Lakewood) today issued the following statement responding to Gov. John Kasich’s decision to send state highway patrol to help tamp down the growing controversy surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline:
“If the governor wants to truly be responsive to an emergency, he need not look beyond his home state. Communities across Ohio are in desperate need of additional resources to combat the growing opioid crisis that has already claimed an historic number of Ohio lives. First responders, treatment providers and local law enforcement have been stretched perilously thin by the opioid and heroin crisis, but so far the governor has refused to free up critical additional state resources by recognizing the crisis for the statewide emergency that it is.
State Rep. Nickie Antonio(D-Lakewood) today received The Center for Community Solutions Award for Public Service in Honor of John A. Begala for her efforts to address Ohio’s opioid addiction crisis and her work on the Joint Medicaid Oversight Committee to improve the rate of spending and quality of Medicaid care.
“I am extremely honored to accept this award from The Center for Community Solutions, an organization known for their dedicated efforts to improve the quality of life for all Ohioans,” said Antonio. “I will continue to work diligently to expand treatment opportunities for those struggling with addiction, ensure local law enforcement have adequate resources, and increase prevention programs to combat the ongoing opioid crisis in Ohio.”