Ohio House Democratic Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) today applauded this week’s passage of a series of bipartisan priority bills, including criminal justice reforms, funding to protect Ohio waterways and a proposal to keep moms and babies healthy. Sykes joined Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) to announce the bills at a Statehouse press conference last month. Their joint-announcement followed the Democrats’ unveiling of Ohio Promise, their blueprint for Ohio’s future focused on working together to restore Ohio’s promise of better lives and brighter futures for working people and families.
House Bill 1, joint-sponsored by Rep. Paula Hicks-Hudson (D-Toledo), would focus on treatment over convictions for low-level, non-violent offenders and allow some offenders to seal records, giving them a second chance to get ahead.
“HB 1 fulfills our promise of working together to reform our broken criminal justice system,” said Leader Sykes. “Focusing on treatment rather than convictions for low-level, non-violent offenders will give every Ohioan a real chance at the American dream.”
State Rep. David Leland’s (D-Columbus) bipartisan House Bill 5 would create a student loan repayment program to incentivize young lawyers to work as public defenders in underserved areas of the state.
“Everyone should have the opportunity for a better life and a brighter future—regardless of their income,” said Sykes. “Creating the Public Defender Loan Repayment program will ensure that every Ohioan has access to the legal counsel they need.”
In addition, the House passed a bipartisan bill, House Bill 7, to protect Ohio waterways, a proposal joint-sponsored by Rep. John Patterson (D-Jefferson).
“Millions of people along both sides of Lake Erie depend upon our great lake for their drinking water,” added Sykes. “This bill a bold step to address the challenges of water quality across our state and restore our promise as a great place to live, raise a family, or start a business.”
Finally, House lawmakers overwhelmingly approved Rep. Stephanie Howse’s (D-Cleveland) House Bill 11, legislation to promote healthier moms and babies by investing in smoking cessation, dental visits and health and lead education.
“Right now in Ohio, more babies will fail to reach their first birthday than in almost any other state—and that rate is worse among Black babies,” said Sykes. “Connecting Ohio women with prenatal care is critical to reduce infant mortality and give every Ohioan a real shot at a better life and a brighter future.”
Previous bipartisan priority bills to clear the House include:
- House Bill 2: Create Tech Cred jobs training program
- House Bill 4: Streamline job training certificates and credential programs for Ohio workers
- House Bill 8: Foster Caregiver training
- House Bill 10: Creation of Governor’s Office of Drug Policy
- House Bill 12: Create Children’s Behavioral Health Network
- House Bill 14: Create Kinship Navigator program