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State Rep. Nick Celebrezze (D-Parma) announced today that he has been appointed to the Ohio Commission on Fatherhood, just days after welcoming a healthy baby boy into the family. The Parma lawmaker and his wife, Doctor Niki Celebrezze, celebrated the arrival of Luka James Celebrezze on Monday evening.

“Engaged and active fathers are the foundation of strong families,” said Rep. Celebrezze. “I’m looking forward to both growing in my role as a father and also helping to strengthen other Ohio families through my work on the commission.”

 
 

State Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) today announced the Ohio House unanimously passed a resolution declaring the state’s infant mortality epidemic a public health crisis. Ohio leads the nation in African American infant deaths and is third highest in infant deaths in the nation.

“The actions of the House today remind this body, the legislature and the governor that it is time to get serious about reducing infant mortality in our state by using resources to drive our efforts and actions to give credence to our words,” said Sykes. “We missed an opportunity to do that in the state budget when access to healthcare coverage for low-income, pregnant mothers was suddenly taken away. I remain hopeful the House won’t make the same mistake twice.”

 
 

State Rep. Greta Johnson (D-Akron) today applauded the House’s passage of legislation to extend the statute of limitations for rape, while saying the legislators could still do more to bring justice to victims of rape and sexual battery.

House Bill 6 will extend the statute of limitations for rape from 20 to 25 years for all cases. It will also extend the statute another five years for cases in which there is a DNA match. Today Rep. Johnson, a former assistant county prosecutor, spoke on the House floor about ways in which the bill could be improved, such as by eliminating the statute of limitations for rape entirely.

“This bill is a positive step forward, but removing the statute of limitations would go even further in helping victims. Having the courage and ability to speak out against such an atrocious act as rape should not be limited by a legislative timeline,” said Rep. Johnson. “I believe that we can and should eliminate the statute of limitations for rape in its entirety.”

 

 
 
Legislator seeks to expand voting access to all eligible Ohioans
May 8, 2015

State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) today announced the formal introduction of House Bill 181, the Registration Modernization Act, which will modernize voter registration in Ohio and potentially add over 1 million people to the voting rolls. The bill was referred to the House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee of which Rep. Clyde is the ranking minority member.

“I am proud to offer HB 181, the Registration Modernization Act, to make the first step to the ballot box much easier for all Ohioans,” said Rep. Clyde. “There is a wide gap between the haves and have-nots in this country and voting access should not fall into that gap. We can move toward greater equality and a healthier democracy by welcoming and empowering every Ohioan to vote.”

The Registration Modernization Act will do the following:

-          Automatically register to vote all Ohioans with a drivers’ license or state ID.

-          Automatically register to vote all Ohioans who interact with Jobs and Family Services offices and other agencies designated by the federal Motor Voter law.

-          Automatically register to vote all graduating Ohio high school students who are eligible to vote.

-          Allow every person 21 days to opt out of voter registration in person or by mail.

-          Provide online voter registration for all eligible Ohioans, not just those with a photo ID.

-          Potentially add over 1 million eligible Ohioans to the voting rolls and update thousands more.

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Bill will allow Ohio schools to create their own wrap-around services
May 5, 2015

The Ohio House Education Committee today favorably passed Rep. Denise Driehaus’ (D-Cincinnati) bipartisan legislation, House Bill 70, unanimously. Based on Cincinnati’s Community Learning Centers (CLC), 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.

“I am thrilled by the bipartisan support for this legislation,” said Rep. Driehaus. “This was an important step in the process of allowing our schools to transform their buildings beyond the traditional place of providing only education. Many other states have come to visit Cincinnati’s model and now all of Ohio will have the opportunity to be on the forefront of twenty-first century education.”

HB 70 brings families, residents, students, educators and business leaders together to review the strengths and needs of their individual communities to decide how best to support students and their families. Together, the group decides which services are important for children in the neighborhood. Public-private partnerships are a key element to the CLCs. The partners use their own dollars to provide services so that no additional education funding is necessary.

 
 

Ranking Democratic member on the House Education Committee, State Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) today issued the following statement in response to reported allegations that an online charter school, Ohio Virtual Academy (OHVA), has been collecting taxpayer money for hundreds of students who should have been withdrawn for truancy many months ago:

“The detailed information my office received demands a thorough investigation. OHVA has a long history of poor academic performance, and now we are seeing a pattern of poor fiscal performance. We must put in place the reforms needed to ensure it does not happen again– for Ohio’s taxpayers and for our children.”

Today, Fedor sent a letter to the House Education Committee detailing the attendance rigging allegations.

 
 
Kasich signs Driehaus-Blessing effort that allows open container districts in certain cities
April 30, 2015

Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed House Bill 47 today, which was introduced by Reps. Denise Driehaus and Lou Blessing III.  The law will allow certain cities to create Outdoor Refreshment Districts, where the public can enjoy an alcoholic beverage outside, within a specified area of an Ohio community.

"This law will help create economic opportunity for our communities while growing local Ohio businesses. These districts will become destination spots which will create excitement and provide a critical mass of customers for the restaurants, bars and shops in the district and nearby,”  Driehaus said. 

The new law will allow cities with a population of over 35,000 to apply for Outdoor Refreshment District areas within their cities. Specifically, it will allow cities with a population between 35,000 and 50,000 to create one Outdoor Refreshment District, while cities with over 50,000 will have the opportunity to create two. After two years, cities with populations of less than 35,000 will be permitted to create a district if they meet certain requirements.

 
 
Community-Police Relations Task Force presents recommendations to reform justice system
April 29, 2015

Ohio Legislative Black Caucus President (OLBC) and State Rep. Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati) released the following statement after joining Gov. John Kasich and her colleagues on the state’s 24-member Community-Police Relations Task Force today to present their recommendations on strengthening Ohio’s justice system:

“I am proud of our recommendations we put forth and believe they are the first step in restoring faith and trust in our justice system. I am also pleased that the governor used our work in Cincinnati as a model for a collaborative approach in implementing these recommendations at a statewide level.

“We need to hold this effort and public officials in our state accountable to ensure that the first step we took today is not the last, but the beginning of real and lasting reform. I am hopeful the legislature takes our findings seriously as well and works with us on justice reform bills to give our work the permanence and funding needed to make our communities open for people of all backgrounds to lead happy and productive lives free from fear.

“In addition to reforms in our justice system, we must also take seriously the need for economic reforms that level the playing field for all people—regardless of race—to have a fair shot at prosperity in our state. I look forward to seeing a report on our progress before summer begins.”

While serving as city councilwoman, Rep. Reece played an integral role in brokering Cincinnati’s 2002 police-community relations collaborative agreement following the city’s 2001 race riots sparked by the police shooting of 19-year-old Timothy Thomas. 

 
 
Says legislation would also make it easier to access treatment, services
April 28, 2015

State Rep. Greta Johnson (D-Akron) today applauded the House Judiciary panel’s passage of House Bill 123, the lawmaker’s bipartisan bill to eliminate some costly pre-sentence investigation reports (PSI) in an effort to clean up Ohio’s judicial system.

“This legislation benefits taxpayers and connects offenders with immediate access to the treatment and services they so desperately need,” said Rep. Johnson. “We have a real shot at saving hundreds of dollars per case in administrative costs while increasing community safety and overall efficiency of the judicial system. I am pleased that the Ohio Supreme Court and the House of Representatives recognize this as an unnecessary burden on local communities and their dwindling funds.”

 
 
Lawmaker congratulates university on their leadership
April 28, 2015

At a ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony this afternoon, State Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) and several leaders of the community celebrated the opening of a Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute within the College of Social Justice and Human Service at the University of Toledo.

“I’m honored to be part of the formal dedication of the University of Toledo’s Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute,” said Rep. Fedor. “UT’s Human Trafficking Institute will build on the landmark research and prestigious work of UT Professor Dr. Celia Williamson, and it will have a profound impact, not just locally, but worldwide. As the only one of its kind, the work of this institute will go a long way toward rescuing and restoring victims, as well as aiding in the prosecution of the criminals.”