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Layout justice reform agenda to guide state, community efforts
May 21, 2015

Ohio Legislative Black Caucus (OLBC) President and State Rep. Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati) joined OLBC members today to call for justice reform and to urge the governor to release an action report on executive efforts toward reform in Ohio. The justice reform agenda* developed by the OLBC aims to guide state and community efforts in dialogue and action between communities of color and the state justice system.

“Public outcry and civil unrest following the police-led deaths of unarmed African American men has started a new public dialogue surrounding police-community relations and the need for justice reform immediately in Ohio and throughout the nation,” said Rep. Reece. “We need to take hold of a moment in time when Americans and Ohioans are crying out for meaningful justice reform that keeps us safe, treats citizens fairly and restores faith in our justice system. Now is the time to take action for real justice reform.” 

 
 
Say event serves as a reminder of duty to fight for men and women in uniform
May 21, 2015

State lawmakers today held a joint session of the Ohio House and Senate to honor military members and their families at the annual Ohio Military Medal of Distinction Ceremony and Wreath Laying at the Ohio Statehouse. This year’s ceremony posthumously honors six servicemen from across Ohio who gave their lives in service of their country. The annual ceremony is held in celebration of Memorial Day and honors the courage, dedication and sacrifice of Ohio’s service members.

“It is a tremendous honor to take part in paying tribute to the brave soldiers who gave their lives defending our freedom,” said Columbus Rep. Hearcel Craig, the top Democratic member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. “This ceremony sends an important message to service members everywhere that we are forever grateful for their valor, courage and service to our state and nation. Elected officials must also use this observance to further our sense of duty to fight for good-paying jobs and access to healthcare services for our returning soldiers.”

The Ohio Military Medal of Distinction was created in 2009 to honor fallen service members killed after Sept. 10, 2001, while fighting in combat zones or engaging in U.S. military operations. Both chambers of the Ohio legislature meet annually to recognize these individuals and their families and to pay tribute to their ultimate sacrifice.

“Throughout our nation’s history of defending freedom and fighting tyranny and injustice, Ohioans have always answered the call to serve their country and state,” said Democratic House Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton). “Their service and sacrifice is a reminder to us all that we owe our brave men and women so much more than what can be offered through a ceremony or special recognition. That is why we must continue fighting for our men and women in uniform to have the opportunity for a better life when they return home. We must heed t

 
 

State Reps. Christie Kuhns (D-Cincinnati) and Jonathan Dever (R-Madeira) today announced the introduction of House Resolution 107,  legislation urging the Congress of the United States to renew funding for Save the Dream Ohio to help homeowners in the state avoid foreclosure. 

“This program has been instrumental in helping save Ohio’s homes and the dreams of so many families,” said Rep. Kuhns. “While our communities continue to recover from the impacts of the housing crisis, a sustained effort is needed to continue to protect the economic integrity of neighborhoods. The Save the Dream Program has been a successful effort in this regard, and without federal action we stand to lose some of the ground we have gained in responding to the crisis.” 

 
 

The Ohio House favorably passed Rep. Denise Driehaus’ (D-Cincinnati) bipartisan legislation, House Bill 70, today. Based on Cincinnati’s Community Learning Centers (CLCs), the model would allow any Ohio school to work with parents and community members to provide supplemental services for students such as on-site healthcare, dental care, tutoring, recreation and mental health services. 

“To make sure our children succeed, we must address the academic and non-academic needs of students and families,” said Rep. Driehaus. “Through developing local partnerships and gathering community input, the CLC model allows schools to transform their buildings beyond their traditional purpose to become a true focal point for the community.”     

 
 
Lawmaker says measure will ease pressure on overloaded courts, streamline rehabilitation
May 19, 2015
Johnson's bipartisan, cost-saving sentencing reform gets House nod

State Rep. Greta Johnson (D-Akron) today commended the passage of House Bill 123. The bi-partisan bill, sponsored by Rep. Johnson and former Ohio Supreme Court Justice, State Rep. Bob Cupp (R-Lima) makes important changes to pre-sentence investigation report (PSI) requirements regarding community control sanctions. The bill also aligns certain state laws regarding the use of an alibi defense with corresponding state criminal rules.

“Without the requirement for a PSI prior to the imposition of community control, cases that would and should easily resolve with a term of probation will no longer be eating up valuable time, docket space and financial resources in the community,” said Rep. Johnson. “This streamlines rehabilitation in many cases.”

The bill gives the court the authority to impose a community control sentence, such as a term in a halfway house or probation, if the two adverse parties agree it is the best outcome for the case.

 
 

State Rep. Kent Smith (D-Euclid) today announced over $662,000 in state funding for the East Cleveland City Schools District through the state’s Classroom Facilities Assistance Program.

 
 

State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) today released the statement below in support of a new lawsuit against Ohio voting restrictions. Rep. Clyde vigorously and vocally opposed the restrictions when they were enacted during the last General Assembly.  

"I fully support this challenge to the GOP voting restrictions that my colleagues and I vigorously opposed when they were passed during the last two years. We warned Republicans that Senate Bill 238’s cuts to early voting would create unequal early voting capacity among counties. We warned early voting restrictions would disproportionately harm certain groups of voters such as women, minorities, and low-income voters. We warned that cutting same day registration was unnecessary to solve any problem in Ohio and would hurt first-time voters, like students.

 
 

State Representative Fred Stahorn (D-Dayton) met today with a group of local government officials to discuss interest in alternative fueled vehicles.  Also attending the meeting was a representative from Clean Fuels Ohio, a statewide non-profit that works exclusively with alternative transportation fuel. 

The purpose of the meeting was to have Clean Fuels Ohio present the business case for alternative fueled vehicles and describe potential funding sources.  Jason Phillips, Policy Director, attended the meeting on behalf of Clean Fuels Ohio.  According to Phillips, because the price of alternative fuels are usually lower than traditional fuels, the return on the investment is usually around 3-5 years depending on how much fuel the vehicle uses.  Representative Strahorn has been a proponent of alternative fuels for businesses and has voted in support of legislation offering financial incentives for businesses converting to compressed natural gas (CNG) and propane.

 
 

State Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire) today applauded the passage of House Bill 74, which reduces the amount of time elementary and secondary students will have to spend on standardized testing. The Belmont County legislator co-sponsored and voted in favor of the bill, which passed the House with a bi-partisan vote of 92-1.

“Instead of testing just to be testing, we need to focus on helping our children earn the skills they need to succeed and compete for jobs of the future,” said Rep. Cera. “I believe this bill gets us closer to that, and it ensures students and teachers are not sacrificing valuable time in the class room.”

 
 

State Rep. John Patterson (D-Jefferson) today applauded the passage of House Bill 74, which reduces the amount of time elementary and secondary students will have to spend on standardized testing. The former Jefferson educator voted in favor of the bill, which passed the House with a bi-partisan vote of 92-1.

“A well-rounded education that prepares students for college and life after graduation requires more time in the classroom, not more time taking standardized tests,” said Rep. Patterson. “This legislation helps ensure that our children are spending the necessary time learning the skills and gaining the knowledge necessary to succeed.”