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The Ohio Legislative Black Caucus (OLBC) and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) announced today $2.7 million in funding to expand the 2015 youth employment program to include 14- and 15-year-olds. This will give additional teens the opportunity to gain work experience and earn a paycheck.

“Youth employment programs provide paid work experience to low-income teens,” said ODJFS Director Cynthia C. Dungey. “Through these programs, young men and women gain confidence, explore careers and build their resumes.”

“We are pleased to partner on this funded initiative. This employment initiative is one of the key elements of OLBC’s action agenda. Investing in our 14- and 15-years old while giving them work experience is critical at a time when our state is filled with teen suicide, poverty and crime reduction efforts,” said Ohio State Representative Alicia Reece, who held a press conference in Hamilton County announcing the initiative with clergy and community leaders today.

ODJFS will provide additional funding to well-established programs in Cuyahoga, Franklin, Hamilton and Montgomery counties. These programs have a proven history of serving 14- and 15-year-olds.

“I’m proud to see a partnership with business owners and community leaders to mentor and train fourteen and fifteen year-olds during summer work employment, which is critical to youth development,” said Rep. Christi Kuhns of Cincinnati. 

 
 
Seeks to end unfair practice of excluding certain voters from mass mailing
June 5, 2015

Today State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) introduced legislation that will require absentee ballot applications to be sent to all Ohio voters whenever such a mass mailing is ordered by the Secretary of State. 

In the 2014 election cycle, 1.1 million registered voters were left out of the mass mailing of ballot applications by the Secretary of State. A similar number were excluded in 2012. Plaintiffs in the recently filed litigation, Ohio Organizing Collaborative v. Husted, allege that the exclusionary practice violates the First, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution as well as the Voting Rights Act. 

“By requiring absentee ballot applications to be sent to all registered voters, this bill will make voting fairer and more accessible for all Ohioans,” says Rep. Clyde. “Secretary Husted should not be excluding over one million voters from this important voter outreach measure. It’s not fair, it’s not right and it’s not legal. It is also a huge waste of taxpayer dollars to keep having to defend such illegal practices in court.” 

 
 
Original budget proposal stripped access to healthcare for low-income mothers-to-be
June 5, 2015

State Representatives Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) and Dan Ramos (D-Lorain) released the following statements today in reaction to news that the Kasich administration has reversed course and will restore Medicaid coverage in the budget for low-income pregnant women.

“I am glad to know that the administration is finally waking up to the fact that Ohio’s infant mortality rate is indeed a public health crisis. I don’t know why the state ever pursued such misguided public policy in the first place, but I am pleased that the governor has done an about-face and now supports access to healthcare for expectant mothers,” said Sykes. “Restoring coverage for low-income pregnant women will help ensure babies are born happy and healthy and survive to see their first birthday.”

 
 

State Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) applauded the state’s move to ‘ban-the-box’ on applications for Ohio civil service jobs. Beginning June 1, Ohioans who apply for civil service jobs will no longer be asked about prior felony convictions on job applications, making Ohio the twelfth state to ‘ban-the-box’ on state employment forms.

 
 

Rep. Michael Stinziano will hold community hours this month across the district to hear the issues and concerns of constituents.

 
 

The state’s administrative rule review panel today failed to reject cuts to home care worker pay rates despite hearing from witnesses that the decreases will harm their businesses, make it harder to hire qualified nurses and will end up sending more Ohioans to nursing homes.

“These cuts will make it harder for the men and women who care for our elderly and disabled Ohioans,” said Rep. Debbie Phillips, the Albany Democratic lawmaker who serves on the panel. “This means lower wages for working Ohioans, and it will make it even harder for patients to be able to stay in their homes. This moves us in the wrong direction, and make no sense when Gov. Kasich keeps saying we want to help mom and dad stay in their home.”

In today’s meeting, the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) approved the Kasich Administration’s amendments to rules setting reimbursement rates and billing procedures for home care workers under Medicaid’s Ohio Home Care Waiver Program.

“As the need for in-home care increases, the state has to get serious about strengthening our network of care by retaining and attracting the highly qualified professionals who care for our elderly, disabled and young Ohioans,” said Rep. Greta Johnson (D-Akron). “Unfortunately, today’s cuts move us further away from that care-focused approach to one where our elderly, disabled and young Ohioans are viewed as numbers on a spreadsheet instead of people who deserve quality care.”

In his first state budget, Gov. Kasich cut funding for in-home senior care providers and agencies by close to $200 million. 

 
 

President of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus (OLBC) State Rep. Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati) today released the following statement applauding the state’s decision to ‘ban-the-box’ on applications for Ohio civil service jobs beginning today:

“Banning the box gives a fair shot to men and women who have distanced themselves from past mistakes and want to contribute to society as productive, tax-paying citizens.

“Too many Ohioans who want to work are denied the opportunity based upon mistakes they made ten or twenty years ago. By propping up artificial road blocks against individuals who have worked hard to reform themselves, Ohio marginalizes a significant chunk of the workforce.

“The state’s policy change is an endorsement of the idea that men and women do not have to be defined by their past mistakes, but can move past them to take hold of the economic opportunity and security a job provides.”  

 
 
Discussion and advocacy focuses on economic opportunity and fairness for women
May 27, 2015
*Fifth Annual Women's Lobby Day empowers women to engage decision makers*

The Ohio House Democratic Women’s Caucus (OHDWC) today gathered with women from across the state to discuss and lobby for policy solutions to challenges Ohio women face. In its fifth year of existence, the event featured guest speakers, a lobbying seminar and policy briefings from women legislators. The group focused its efforts on equal pay, workplace discrimination, infant mortality and domestic violence.

“Every day in the legislature, important decisions are being made that affect women’s access to healthcare and economic opportunity,” said OHDWC Chair Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo). “By bringing together women from across the state we can engage in thoughtful dialogue on how to overcome the challenges women and working families face in Ohio, and we can empower Ohio’s women to engage with decision makers.”

Several women lawmakers took the opportunity to address participants about legislation they have introduced that would positively affect women and working families in Ohio.

The Women’s Lobby Day coincides with the release of a new report that shows Ohio continues to lag behind much of the nation in terms of gender equality. The Status of Women in the States report, released by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, ranked Ohio 27th in access to healthcare, 30th in poverty and opportunity measures, and 39th in health and well-being. Ohio didn’t receive a grade higher than C in any category defined by the report.

The mission of the Ohio House Democratic Women's Caucus is to develop and pass policies and legislation that improve the lives of Ohio women and their families; to identify and support emerging women leaders by serving as mentors; to educate and empower women and increase women's involvement in public life and

 
 
Amendment to study gender pay inequality stifled in committee
May 27, 2015

State Reps. Denise Driehaus (D-Cincinnati), Kent Smith (D-Euclid) and Hearcel Craig (D-Columbus) expressed disappointment with today’s House Committee on Economic Development proceedings, after the panel dismissed a Democratic proposal requiring the state to study gender pay inequality and publicly report the findings.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, women on average make 78 cents for every dollar a man earns.

“It is disappointing that a majority of men and women want changes to achieve gender equality in the workplace, but Ohio’s legislature cannot seem to even have an honest debate about studying pay inequality,” said Rep. Driehaus.

The Democratic amendment was not allowed discussion and was ruled out of order for House Bill 103, a bill that creates “Ohio Womens' Week for Policy and Entrepreneurship” and establishes an “Ohio Womens' Policy and Entrepreneurship Committee.”

“Ohio cannot afford to be left behind in the national conversation about equal pay for equal work,” said Rep. Craig. “Our state’s women and families deserve policies that push us to be better and contribute to a higher quality of life in our state.”

 
 

Rep. Michael Stinziano (D-Columbus) and Rep. Mike Duffey (R-Worthington) championed the passage of a bill from the Ohio House of Representatives today that would allow patrons to enjoy beer and wine while at certain markets.