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State Rep. Thomas West (D-Canton) today announced that Canton, Ohio has been selected to host the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus’ 50th anniversary celebration this fall. African American state lawmakers from all across Ohio will convene in Stark County for the two-day event on October 1-2 to recognize the important milestone and chart a course for the future for the historic legislative organization. 

“I am thrilled to host my OLBC colleagues here in Canton and show off all that is great about our community,” said state Rep. Thomas West, the co-chairman for the event. “Exciting projects like the Pro Football Hall of Fame development, its African American apprenticeship program and significant events like the OLBC 50th Anniversary are all evidence of Canton’s positive momentum. We encourage all elected officials on the local, state and national level to join us for this wonderful evening of fun and enlightenment. This event is a once in a lifetime occasion, which is why we have invited the governor as well as leaders from both the House of Representatives and Senate to attend and share this experience with our community.”

 
 
Legislation would separate deadly firearms from convicted abusers at judge's discretion
July 14, 2017

State Reps. Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood) and Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights) yesterday introduced legislation to better protect victims of domestic violence from their abuser by requiring those convicted of a domestic violence crime or served a civil protection order (CPO) to temporarily turn over their firearms to law enforcement.

“Separating deadly weapons from a domestic abuser weakens their power over the victim. By stopping gun violence before it starts, we can stop burying innocent people who should have been legally protected under a CPO,” said Antonio. “It’s common sense: domestic abusers should not have access to guns.”

 
 
Lawmaker warns of Ohio's yearly participation in controversial multi-state data-sharing program led by Kris Kobach
July 13, 2017
Clyde calls for more safeguarding of Ohio voters' personal information

Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) today called for further action against ongoing efforts by the president’s “Election Integrity Commission” to obtain American voters’ data. She called on Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted to stop sharing Ohio voters’ personal information through any channel with Kansas Secretary of State and Commission leader Kris Kobach.

“Ohio must stop putting our voters’ personal information at risk,” said Rep Clyde. “Our Secretary of State must stop sharing Ohio voter data, including the last four digits of Social Security numbers (SSN4), with Secretary Kris Kobach’s Interstate Crosscheck program, a pre-cursor to the president’s so-called Election Integrity Commission. And Secretary Husted must assure Ohioans that voter data he has already shared with Kobach will not be used for the president’s sham voter fraud commission.”

 
 
Cera objects to $15 M state budget cash-grab from impacted Eastern Ohio communities
July 10, 2017
State raids severance tax fund to pay off unrelated Grand Lake St. Marys lawsuit settlement

Over objections from state Controlling Board member Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire), the Republican-controlled panel tasked with oversight of state spending approved a Kasich Administration request today to pay off a Grand Lake St. Marys landowners’ lawsuit against the state using severance tax revenue from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources oil & gas fund. Republicans slipped the maneuver into the state budget at the eleventh hour with no debate or notice.

“Lawmakers should be held accountable for resorting to one-time cash-grabs and shell games to prop up unstable budgets and poor job growth,” Cera said. “This sheds new light on the dangerous and dishonest financial tricks lawmakers will play to bolster political talking points. This funding should be used to put people back to work in Eastern Ohio at good-paying jobs that can sustain a family and let us plan for our future.”

The cash-grab to pay off the almost decade-old lawsuit makes use of some $15 million in severance tax funds that are normally required to be used for related oil and gas drilling needs in impacted communities. Republicans state lawmakers already transferred $10 million from the fund to prop up the state budget shortfall early in June.

“This multi-million-dollar cash grab by the state shows where Columbus politicians’ priorities are – not with hardworking taxpayers and property owners in Eastern Ohio,” Cera added. “After almost ten years to plan for a lawsuit settlement in the western part of Ohio, state officials failed to responsibly plan for the future and instead are robbing our area of what’s rightfully ours.”

The settlement comes on the heels of the state budget vote. Cera tried to amend the budget to dedicate at least $10 million in severance tax money for infrastructure repairs and related services in Eastern Ohio communities. His efforts were defeated along party lines.

 
 
Legislation would allow concealed carry holders to knowingly bring deadly weapons to schools, airports
July 6, 2017

In a political effort to hamstring Ohio House Democratic lawmakers in a pro-gun, anti-gun debate today on the House floor, Republicans brought forward House Bill (HB) 233 for a vote, legislation that allows concealed carry permit holders to knowingly bring guns or deadly weapons into daycares, schools, airports, bars and other restricted spaces, so long as the permit holder leaves when asked to do so. Individuals who refuse to leave or return to the same business while carrying a prohibited weapon within 30 days will be subject to a fourth degree misdemeanor.

“This isn’t just a solution looking for a problem, but it is creating a whole new set of public safety problems by overturning Ohio laws designed to keep us safe and secure,” said House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton). “This will trample private property rights of business owners and create confusion in secure locations like airports, police stations, schools and daycares. As a gun owner and strong second amendment supporter, I think Ohioans deserve to feel safe and secure, free from the fear of intimidation or tragedies this bill could create,” added Strahorn.

 
 

Today, the Republican-controlled Ohio House of Representatives overrode eleven items Governor John Kasich vetoed in the recently passed state budget, House Bill (HB) 49. Under the House’s overrides, Medicaid expansion will have to be reauthorized through the state Controlling Board and new taxes on working people could be put in place as a condition of healthcare coverage – if the Senate takes up the House overrides.

“After six years and almost two-billion dollars in Republican cuts to local communities, it’s our responsibility to take an all-of-the-above strategy to rebuild and restore our economic engines – our local communities,” said House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton). “While Ohio’s economy teeters on the verge of recession, we need to put our communities and local taxpayers in the best position possible to plan for their future and invest in job creation and community development.”

 
 

On July 4th 1776, our founders signed a declaration founded in ideals of freedom, fairness and equality. These ideals formed the fabric of our society, together weaving the greatest American ideal: the “American Dream”.

In 2017, the promise of the “American Dream” feels out of reach for many people who are working harder than ever just to get by. As corporations and politicians have shipped good-paying middle-class jobs overseas, owning a home, a reliable car and starting a family has become a pipe dream, especially to our young Americans.

 
 
Ohio House Dems urge Kasich to veto Medicaid Expansion freeze

Ohio House Democratic lawmakers today sent a letter to Governor Kasich urging him to line-item veto the Medicaid expansion freeze in the state operating budget, House Bill (HB) 49, that will end healthcare coverage for over half-a-million people.

“The people of Ohio deserve representatives in Columbus who will stand up and fight for them,” said state Rep. Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron). “Passing the Medicaid expansion freeze and kicking people off of Medicaid is unacceptable, harmful, and cruel and unusual punishment.”

If approved by the federal government, the GOP freeze to Ohio’s Medicaid expansion will phase out medical coverage for over half-a-million Ohioans, leaving families with minimal healthcare options. 

“We need to provide healthcare for Ohio’s families, all of Ohio’s families.” Sykes said. “Without access to healthcare, lives will be lost and costs will rise. Ohio cannot afford to pay for the increased costs that will come by taking away people’s healthcare.”

*Editor’s note: A copy of the letter sent to Gov. Kasich is pasted below. 

 
 
HB 27 will cut worker benefits, destabilize Ohio families
June 28, 2017

The Ohio House voted today on the Republican-led charge to restrict worker’s access to healthcare and benefits through the state’s $581 million Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) budget bill, House Bill 27.

GOP lawmakers undertook a significant rewrite of what is typically a noncontroversial budget bill to include benefit restrictions on firefighters with cancer. The $581 million measure also cuts in half the amount of time all workers currently have to file a claim, something Democrats say could economically destabilizes thousands of Ohio families.

“The brave men and women who run into burning buildings while everyone else runs away deserve better than new barriers to care when they are seriously injured or get sick on the job,” said House Minority Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton). “Retreating from firefighters who contract cancer from their dangerous line of work and closing the door early on workers seeking treatment for workplace injuries seriously undermines the economic stability of working families across the state.”  

 
 

COLUMBUS— Amid a more than $1 billion financial shortfall, Ohio’s legislative Republicans pushed state budget negotiations closer to the brink Tuesday and today with eleventh hour horse-trading over a Medicaid lockout and complex money maneuvers, leaving Gov. John Kasich less than 48 hours to review the state budget, House Bill 49, before the start of the new fiscal year.

 

“This budget not only threatens the economic well-being of working families, but attacks the health of hundreds of thousands of vulnerable Ohioans,” said Rep. Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati). “At a time when Ohio leads the nation in opioid deaths, too many babies are dying before their first birthday in our state, and many families have love ones fighting some type of cancer or other serious health condition, blocking access to Medicaid for those who need it most literally puts the lives of Ohioans on the line.”