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State Rep. John Boccieri (D-Poland) today called on the Ohio House of Representatives to subpoena Ohio EPA Director Craig Butler to answer questions relating to the state’s failure to protect the public for some six months after toxic drinking water was found in Sebring and Beloit, Ohio.

The lawmaker has repeatedly called on the director of the Ohio EPA to provide the public with answers to basic questions surrounding the renewal of water permits and sluggish communication that forced seniors, pregnant mothers and children to unknowingly drink water contaminated with copper and lead.

“We have received no answer to our repeated questions about steps taken by the EPA, which shares a moral and legal obligation to notify the public when such a crisis evolves, to remedy this crisis.” Boccieri wrote in the letter to Speaker of the House Cliff Rosenberger.

EPA Director Butler is Gov. John Kasich’s former policy advisor and was appointed by Gov. Kasich to the Ohio EPA after the former director resigned amid questions of improper political pressure on state water regulators.

A copy of the letter is attached with text available below: 

 
 
Annual recognition week to honor public school educators
January 28, 2016

State Rep. John Patterson (D-Jefferson) this week introduced House Bill 438, legislation to designate the week before Thanksgiving as “Ohio Public Education Appreciation Week.” Proposed as an occasion to celebrate public education and honor individuals that make a difference in ensuring every child receives a quality education, the annual period of recognition will coincide with the national American Education Week, which was initiated by the National Education Association in 1921. 

“A child’s education is an invaluable asset that they carry with them for their entire life. Now, more than ever, it is important to show our strong support for public education,” said Patterson, who is a retired public school teacher and coach. “Educators across our state are dealing with budget cuts and unprecedented scrutiny at the local and state level. We should use this opportunity to affirm our support of Ohio’s dedicated public educators and recognize the important role they have in our communities.”

 
 
Former assistant attorney general to represent Columbus area at statehouse
January 26, 2016
Kristin Boggs sworn in as state representative for 18th House District

The Ohio House Democratic Caucus today swore in former assistant attorney general Kristin Boggs as state representative for the 18th House District. Boggs – the daughter of former State Senate Minority Leader and Ohio Department of Agriculture Director Bob Boggs – will take over the seat most recently held by former Rep. Michael Stinziano, who left at the end of 2015 to serve on Columbus City Council. 

“I am looking forward to going to work for the people of the 18th House District, it will be an honor to serve the community. There are many important issues being debated at the statehouse, and I will strive to advance policies that keep central Ohio growing in the direction that our residents expect and deserve,” Boggs said. “Columbus enjoys a world class university system, a growing economy and thriving cultural community— I will work hard to make sure that all individuals and families have opportunity, equality, and success.” 

 
 
Feb. 17 would educate public on challenges faced by those with communication disorders
January 21, 2016

Reps. Michael Sheehy (D-Oregon) and John Patterson (D-Jefferson) introduced legislation this week to establish the “Annie Glenn Communication Disorders Awareness Day” in honor of  Mrs. Annie Glenn and to recognize all Ohioans who have struggled with a communication disorder. The legislation designates February 17, Annie Glenn’s birthday, as the official day of recognition. 

 
 
Outlines next legislative steps to fight modern-day slavery
January 14, 2016

State Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) hosted the Seventh Annual Human Trafficking Awareness Day today at the Ohio Statehouse, as lawmakers, law enforcement officials, advocates and survivors from across the state and nation gathered for a day of discussion on ways to raise awareness and fight back against human trafficking in Ohio. Fedor also outlined the next legislative steps in fighting modern-day slavery through reforming Ohio’s DNA collection methods, something she has proposed through House Bill 283.

 
 
"Open dialogue" sessions an opportunity to develop community-based solutions for Lorain students' success
January 8, 2016

Lorain City Schools officials and local lawmakers today announced plans calling for community stakeholders to participate in open dialogue sessions to develop a plan to improve educational achievement for students and take proactive measures to avoid further state control. 

“Community-based solutions that put our children’s future first can’t only come from Columbus,” said Representative Dan Ramos (D-Lorain). “That is why it is so important that local leaders, lawmakers, educators, parents and students come together to put forward a plan that works by giving all of our children an equal opportunity to earn an education that puts them on a trajectory toward success.” 

 
 

State Representative Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) will host the seventh annual Human Trafficking Awareness Day on Thursday, January 14 at the Ohio Statehouse Atrium from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The annual event features a resource fair and educational panels of advocacy professionals and human trafficking survivors.*

“The work we have done in Ohio to combat human trafficking has put criminals behind bars, raised public awareness and given victims hope,” said Fedor. “When we started this fight ten years ago, the odds seemed long. Laws prohibiting and defining human trafficking in Ohio didn’t even exist, and few understood - let alone recognized - the underground network of evil that ripped apart families and communities. I am pleased with our progress over the last decade and with our efforts to educate and mobilize lawmakers, law enforcement and the general public to develop comprehensive solutions that put an end to modern-day slavery.”  

 
 
Propose law change to add safeguards for waste storage in Ohio
January 7, 2016

State Reps. Sean O’Brien (D-Bazetta) and John Patterson (D-Jefferson) today announced new legislation to strengthen injection well regulations and procedures for the transportation and storage of liquid waste in Ohio. The bill’s sponsors say the focus of the bill is to ensure the safety of all who work and live near injection well sites while allowing Ohioans to capitalize on energy resources locked in shale formations throughout the state.

 
 
Say proposal will ensure fair reviews that build community trust
December 30, 2015

State Reps. Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights) and Christie Kuhns (D-Cincinnati) this week introduced a justice reform measure to ensure fair, independent investigations when a law enforcement officer uses deadly force. The legislative proposal follows the Cuyahoga County prosecutor’s grand jury investigation into the police-led deadly shooting of 12-year old Tamir Rice last November. The grand jury ultimately declined to bring charges against the officers involved.

“Communities must be able to believe that when an officer takes the life of a civilian, an independent and fair investigation will provide answers and facts that can be trusted,” said Boyd. “This bill will help restore faith in the justice system by cutting down on questions of bias or partiality during these types of investigations.”

The new legislation would require that at least two outside law enforcement officials conduct investigations into an officer’s use of deadly force. The outside investigators would be required to come from jurisdictions separate than that of the officer under investigation.

Upon completion of an investigation, a report will be submitted to the local prosecutor. If it is determined that no crime was committed, the report must be made available to the public.

“The introduction of our bill is a necessary action in creating greater public trust in our criminal justice system,” said Kuhns. “We need to maintain a system where fairness and justice are the top priorities.”

 
 
OLBC President Alicia Reece responds to Tamir Rice grand jury decision

Ohio Legislative Black Caucus President and State Rep. Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati) responded today to the news that a Cleveland grand jury has decided to not bring charges against police officers involved in the shooting death of 12-year old Tamir Rice that occurred last November. 

“Today’s decision is disappointing and disheartening for all those left searching for meaning and answers in the wake of such an unthinkable tragedy that claimed the life of an innocent young boy, Tamir Rice. The year-long grand jury process that brought us today’s decision underscores our state’s immediate need for action on social and criminal justice reforms, especially as they relate to making the grand jury process more transparent,” said Reece. “The Ohio Legislative Black Caucus will continue to push for this and other commonsense criminal justice reforms that provide solutions to help restore faith in the criminal justice system and trust between law enforcement and the public. My heart and prayers go out to Tamir Rice’s family and friends.”

 
 
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