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State Representatives Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) and Mike Curtin (D-Marble Cliff) are seeking to present their congressional redistricting reform proposal, HJR 2, to members of the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission. Yesterday, they sent the following letter to the Chairman and Vice Chairwoman of the Legislative and Executive Branch Committee:

 
 

The Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies recently released its “State of Poverty” report, which shows 1.8 million Ohioans, or 16 percent, living in poverty and nearly half of Ohio households living paycheck to paycheck. Ohio’s children and young adults are more likely to be living in poverty, with rates above 20 percent.

House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) issued the following statement in response to the report:

“The bitter truth is that prosperity in our state hasn’t been broad enough, leaving too many Ohioans living in poverty. Our state continues a troubling and dangerous ten-year trend, during which poverty in Ohio has continued to top national rates. Though some Ohioans are better off today than they were ten years ago, the opportunity for a higher quality of life has yet to reach almost two million Ohioans. Our economic approach needs to better reflect this reality with policies that strengthen Ohio’s families through fair tax policies, access to healthcare, good-paying middle class jobs and an affordable, world-class education system.”

 
 
Lawmaker and civil rights defender views events "not only as a celebration, but a rededication"
March 5, 2015

Ohio Legislative Black Caucus President and State Rep. Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati) is traveling to Selma, Alabama tomorrow, Friday, March 6 for events commemorating the 50th anniversary of the first historic march that ushered in a civil rights consciousness throughout the nation and ultimately led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

“From Selma to Ohio, we are beginning the next chapter in a new generation’s fight for our most basic and sacred rights,” said Reece. “Fifty years later, too many are left wondering where we go from Selma. I view this trip not only as a celebration of the civil rights movement, but as a rededication to our generation’s fight for fairness and justice on new frontlines like Ohio.”

 
 
Proposal mostly mirrors recent bipartisan plan to reform statehouse districts
February 26, 2015

State Representatives Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) and Mike Curtin (D-Marble Cliff) today introduced a congressional redistricting reform proposal to put before voters. 

 
 

Tuesday night, House lawmakers listened to Governor Kasich lay out his priorities and recap some past policies during his State of the State address in Wilmington.Here is what House lawmakers are saying about the Governor’s State of the State address:

"The trickle-down economic policies that the Governor proposes shift the responsibility of paying for schools, roads and bridges and community services to middle-class families and those that can least afford it. This kind of tax shifting does not create economic growth…We need to invest in what matters to every day Ohioans." – Rep. Denise Driehaus (D-Cincinnati)

“What his proposals actually do is shift the costs of running our state to the poor and middle class in order to provide yet another upper class tax cut, which as yet hasn't provided the growth in both jobs and income that we desperately need...” – Rep. Dan Ramos (D-Lorain)

“At this critical juncture, we must invest in Ohio's students and infrastructure in order to fully ramp up our employment capabilities as we prepare for global economic challenges. This budget makes it even more difficult to effectively educate our students.” – Rep. John Patterson (D-Jefferson)

“This [budget] proposal is a continuation of the ever increasing burden being placed on our local communities to provide the services their citizens expect with less and less support from the State, which inevitably leads to rising tax rates at the local level.”   -- Rep. John Rogers (D-Mentor-on-the-Lake)

“The Governor's remarks this evening were out of touch with the realities of everyday Ohioans. With 16 percent of Ohioans living in poverty and middle class families' wages stagnating, Governor Kasich wants to shift the burden of restoring our state's economy on to the shoulders of those

 
 
Discuss bringing jobs, justice and economic prosperity to African American communities
February 18, 2015
OLBC, community leaders gather for annual Day of Action, State of African Americans in Ohio

State Rep. and Ohio Legislative Black Caucus (OLBC) President Alicia Reece joined OLBC members, community leaders and citizens from around Ohio today for the OLBC’s Third Annual Day of Action. The event began with the State of African Americans in Ohio presentation followed by the unveiling of the OLBC’s 2015 policy agenda.

The Day of Action also included an interactive town hall meeting, a voting rights action meeting with clergy and civil rights leaders and an African American business action update.

“Next week, the governor will give his state of the state. We thought it was important to give the State of African Americans in Ohio— African Americans who are facing 15 percent unemployment and one-third of whom are living below the poverty line while confronting the harsh reality that 50 percent of our children live in poverty in our state,” said State Rep. and OLBC President Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati). “As we debate the proposed 70 billion dollar state budget, it is time to invest in the economic prosperity of African American citizens who have been left behind.”

John Crawford II, father of slain Beavercreek teen John Crawford III, also attended the day of action to show his support for the group that championed legislation in his fallen son’s name.

“Too many individuals know the problems and challenges our communities face, but it can seem hopeless without identifying solutions and putting a plan in place,” said State Rep. and OLBC Day of Action Chair Emilia Sykes (D-Akron). “The Day of Action brings people together from all over the state to discuss real change we can effect on a statewide level to make sure African Americans in Ohio have a fair shot at a higher quality of life.”

During the State of African Americans presentation, Rep. Reece unveiled the OLBC’s “Prosperity Plan” for 2015. The

 
 
Seeks law change to add history of violence as condition for court-ordered closure
January 30, 2015

State Rep. David Leland (D-Columbus) today announced that he will soon introduce legislation to help cities and local law enforcement officials shutter dangerous properties with a history of violence.

 
 

In response to a state released report today looking at statewide community school attendance, State Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) announced she will reintroduce a bill to establish a committee to study the effectiveness of community schools and community school regulations. 

“So many parents, teachers, kids and education advocates for so many years have been sounding the warning siren about our state’s wasteful spending on ineffective charter schools,” said Fedor. “Now, it looks like the political will in Columbus is finally starting to catch up with the reforms that are necessary to make sure our children get the best education in the best schools to prepare them for success.”

In the report, Auditor Dave Yost critiqued several aspects of current charter school laws and noted “unusually high” discrepancies between the number of students in school and the number reported to the state. At least seven charter schools that state reviewed had enrollment levels 34 percent to 93 percent less than what was reported to the state for funding purposes.

“At its worst this looks like systemic fraud and abuse from a group of charter schools, and at its best this is reflection of the state’s long-term failure to hold charter schools accountable,” Fedor added. “Either way, taxpayers and our children are being robbed. I’ll be pushing for a collective effort to fix this mess once and for all.”

Fedor, a former public school teacher, said she wants to see a state study commission in place, one that would review the effectiveness of charter school regulations and issue findings to the legislature and governor.

Fedor also said that when the state first embraced charter schools in 1997, the authorizing law came with the condition that a review would help guide what was being billed at the time as an “experiment” by charter proponents. 

Such

 
 

An aging bridge that was being prepared for controlled demolition unexpectedly collapsed on Monday, killing a construction worker and injuring a truck driver. The Hopple Street bridge collapsed around 10:30 p.m. when a section being prepped crumbled and fell onto I-75 below.

State Representative Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati) issued the following statement in response to the incident:

“Our hearts and prayers go out to the families who have been affected by this tragedy. We now need answers as to how this happened and what the state can do to prevent something so tragic from happening again. As the ranking member of the transportation finance committee, I am committed to ensuring a full investigation takes place to detail the cause of the collapse and to ensure we have every possible protocol in place to protect workers and the public.”