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Democratic members say budget isn't a responsible plan for the future, doesn't work for middle-class Ohioans
April 23, 2015

Wednesday, State Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) and Ohio House Democratic Caucus members stood in opposition to the state’s two-year budget proposal, House Bill 64. Democratic legislators said the bill failed to lay out a real plan for the future of the state and instead advanced partisan attacks on working Ohioans and policies that rig the tax system to help the richest one-percent and special interests.

Democrats offered several alternative proposals* that would have put more money in the pockets of middle class Ohioans, stopped attacks on working Ohioans, ensured equal pay for women, reduced the state’s sales tax and maintained access to healthcare for pregnant working mothers and women needing cancer treatment. The Democratic proposals were shot down along party lines.

“I am very disappointed that the Ohio House has decided against working families by passing this budget,” said Rep. Sykes. “I'm especially disappointed that an amendment I offered that would reduce Ohio's abysmal infant mortality rate was tabled. People say, ‘Show me your budget and I'll show you your priorities.’ The Ohio House showed us that working families, pregnant women, babies and an educated work force are not our priorities."

 
 
Says policies should build opportunity for middle-class Ohioans, not attack working Ohioans
April 22, 2015

Today, State Rep. and highest ranking Democrat on the state budget panel Denise Driehaus (D-Cincinnati) stood in opposition to the state’s two-year, $131.6 billion budget proposal, House Bill 64. Democratic members said a bill of that magnitude should have been a strategic and targeted blueprint to grow the state’s economy for the future, but instead became a vehicle for tax cuts that favor the richest one-percent and last-minute attacks on working Ohioans.

“This budget doesn’t work to provide a real plan for the future of Ohio,” said Driehaus. “Not only does this budget fail to lay out a plan for growing and strengthening our middle class and Ohio’s economy for the future, it attacks working and middle class Ohioans.”

 
 

State Rep. Kent Smith (D-Euclid) today announced a proposal to promote music industry growth in Ohio. The proposed Ohio Sound Recording Investor Tax Credit, or "OhioSounds," would provide incentives for music production, studio construction and recording within the state. Smith submitted the proposal for consideration in the state budget.

“OhioSounds would solidify the state’s commitment to our musical legacy and help encourage further creative endeavors from Ohio musicians while driving economic growth in a competitive industry and making Ohio a destination for musicians and producers,” said Rep. Smith. “This will not only inspire the next generation of The Black Keys or Bootsy Collins, but will provide a substantial economic return for communities across the state.”

Current data lists music industry revenues at nearly $7 billion annually. Rep. Smith wants to see some of that investment come to Ohio.

Rep. Smith’s proposal would provide tax credits for 25 percent of the related sound recording production costs for music projects created in Ohio. It would also refund 25 percent of music studio construction and recording infrastructure costs. To qualify for OhioSounds, production costs must exceed $5,000 per project, with a maximum incentive set at $50,000. If OhioSounds becomes law, the total amount of initial incentives would be capped at $3 million.

“We have the ability to attract talent not only from Ohio, but across the globe to create music, pioneer new technologies and contribute to our local economies. It’s a win-win,” said Smith. “We have the opportunity for people to be exposed to and fall in love with more Ohio talent. I think its a solid gold opportunity— maybe even platinum.”

 

 
 
Provision included after bi-partisan efforts
April 14, 2015

Mahoning Valley lawmakers applauded today’s announcement that the latest version of the state budget includes a provision that may help keep the doors open and the lights on at the Youngstown Developmental Center. 

The latest version of the budget bill would establish a 13-member closure review commission anytime the Governor orders the closure of a state developmental center—a provision that closely mirrors a bi-partisan amendment submitted by Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan and Rep. Michael Henne (R-Clayton), whose district includes the Montgomery Developmental Center. 

“Since the decision was made to close the Youngstown Developmental Center, the response has been clear and unequivocal: the workers, residents and their families, and indeed the entire community want and need this facility to remain open,” said Rep. Lepore-Hagan. “The YDC provides a tremendous service for the most vulnerable population. I am thrilled that we were able to work in a bi-partisan fashion to work toward a review commission.” 

Under the new budget language, the review commission would consider at least 10 specified criteria and factors before making a recommendation, and the Governor could not close a facility without the commission’s recommendation.

“I am pleased the proposal for a review commission has been included in the latest amendments to the state budget,” said Leader Joe Schiavoni. "The residents, their families and the employees of the Youngstown Developmental Center deserve a fair and open process in deciding the future of the facility. While this looks promising for the future of the Developmental Center, the legislation still has a long way to go and I will be working hard to make sure it stays in the budget.”

Senate Democratic Leader Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) and Sen. Capri S. Cafaro (D-Hubbard) introduced a Senate bill that would establish a procedure similar to

 
 
Resolution would recognize April 14 as "Equal Pay Day"
April 14, 2015

State Rep. Teresa Fedor today offered a resolution recognizing April 14th as Equal Pay Day in Ohio.  This date points out the inequality that exists in Ohio’s workforce and symbolizes how long, on average, a woman must work into a new year to match her male counterpart’s previous year’s earnings.  

 
 
National Action Network hosts annual national convention
April 7, 2015

State Rep. and Ohio Legislative Black Caucus President Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati) will attend the National Action Network (NAN) convention in New York today where she will join other elected officials and civil rights activists for four days of panel discussions, workshops and events.

“I am proud to work with so many dedicated individuals through the National Action Network to bring together civil rights leaders in the pursuit of a new era of equal opportunity for all,” said Rep. Reece. “Whether it’s equal opportunity at the ballot box or in the justice system, the board room or the classroom, we are building a movement that recognizes our nation has much work remaining to build a more perfect union.”

National Action Network Founder and President Rev. Al Sharpton will kick off the annual convention with a ribbon cutting on Wednesday followed by a 2016 Presidential Election panel that morning. Panels and workshops will continue in the following days, addressing topics like, women in business, police brutality, crime, homophobia housing and healthcare.

Samaria Rice, mother of slain Ohio youth Tamir Rice, will speak on a victim-centered panel on justice and police, while other panels will include people like, presidential advisor Robert Gibbs, Dr. Ben Carson, actor Anthony Anderson, former RNC Chair Michael Steele, Senator Bernie Sanders and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.

Reece will present a “Woman of Power” award to a featured guest during Wednesday’s “When Women Win, We All Win” luncheon.

 
 

State Reps. Greta Johnson (D-Akron) and Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) today applauded the Governor’s veto of a student voter suppression provision in House Bill 53, the state transportation budget.

 
 
Says "cooler heads prevailed, state can focus on jobs"
April 1, 2015

Leading Democrat of the House transportation budget committee, Ohio Legislative Black Caucus President and State Rep. Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati) today applauded Gov. Kasich for using his veto authority to strike a line in the state’s transportation budget that would have made it harder for college students to vote in Ohio. The provision, inserted into the bill late by Senate Republicans, would have forced students from other states to get a driver’s license and register their vehicles in Ohio within 30 days of registering to vote.

“Thanks to the work of my Democratic colleagues, the governor, voting advocates and students around this state, cooler heads have prevailed and the controversial restriction that would have made it harder for students to vote has been removed from the this bill,” said Reece. “Instead of getting caught up in a legal fight over ballot access, we can continue to focus on jobs and economic development in our state. It’s the right thing to do.”

Reece and the Ohio House Democratic Caucus asked the governor to veto the voting restriction last week. Reece also penned a letter to the governor on her own last week, a copy of which can be seen below.

You can hear Reece’s comments during the House floor debate by clicking the video. 

 
 

Today, Gov. Kasich signed the state’s $7 billion transportation budget bill, while striking a provision of the bill that would have made it harder for students to vote. Representative Dan Ramos (D-Lorain) was one of 13 Democrats who voted against the Senate changes to the transportation budget after voting for it weeks before.

“Weeks ago I voted for the House version of HB53: an effective, bi-partisan bill. Unfortunately, what came out of the Senate was undermining our fundamental freedom and most basic right in a democracy—the right to vote,” said Rep. Dan Ramos. “Our priority is to encourage talented students to stay in our state after graduation, and this sent the wrong message to those students.”

The vetoed budget provision would have required students who registered to vote in Ohio to surrender their driver’s license if it were from another state, and forced them to obtain an Ohio driver’s license and register their vehicle with the state. Failure to do so within 30 days resulted in a criminal offense. 

 
 

State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) released the following statement in response to Governor Kasich’s line item veto of the harmful voting provision in the transportation budget: