As Labor Day approaches, I find it encouraging to take a moment to reflect on the true significance of this holiday. While many of us know it as a day to hold cookouts, attend parades or a baseball game, there is an enriching history behind the holiday that is often neglected.
Labor Day is a creation of union members who worked hard to push for better working conditions, fair wages, reasonable hours, vacation time and much more. Today, all Ohio workers and Americans—union and non-union alike—benefit from the gains achieved through collective bargaining.
Labor Day is a day designed to pay tribute to ourselves for the work each of us has contributed to the benefit of society. Whether you are a doctor, lawyer, caregiver, server, bus driver or volunteer, we all can reflect on the contributions working Ohioans have made to our state.
Even as radical attacks on our labor force seem ever-present from conservative interests and lawmakers across the country, I vow to never stop fighting for creating equitable working conditions and a living wage for all Ohioans.
Tracy Maxwell Heard
State Representative Debbie Phillips (D-Albany) today sent a letter* to the Kasich Administration demanding a full account of the events that led to the removal of George Elmaraghy, the Chief of the Division of Surface Water, at the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Rep. Phillips specifically requested that correspondence between the Gov. Kasich’s office, the Ohio EPA and coal industry officials regarding Mr. Elmaraghy be made available under Ohio’s public records law.
Elmaraghy asserts that Gov. Kasich and EPA Director Nally forced him to resign early last week due to growing pressure from coal companies seeking special permits-- permits that could violate state and federal laws. Elmaraghy’s official email account was disabled late last week, even though the long-time regulator wouldn’t be off the payroll until Sept. 13th.
“Governor Kasich and his administration need to make decisions based on what’s best for the people of Ohio, rather than paying back campaign donors,” said Rep. Phillips. “It seems pretty clear that Mr. Elmaraghy is the latest casualty of the Kasich Administration’s culture of political favoritism.”
State Representative and Ohio Legislative Black Caucus President Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati) released the following statement today in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s March on Washington:
“As we commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the March On Washington, President Obama's speech confirmed that there is still much work to be done for equality, race relations, voting rights, and economics to ensure that everyone has a chance at the American Dream. It is time to work with a sense of urgency to make Dr. King's dream real.”
State Representative Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati) will be speaking at the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington, tomorrow, August 24th at 10 a.m. in front of the Lincoln Memorial. The event is being organized by Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network and will focus on issues such as economic injustice and racial inequality.
During her speech, Rep. Alicia Reece will call for a Voter Bill of Rights state constitutional amendment to be launched in Ohio and across the nation in response to the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Her initiative aims to provide concrete rights to voters that would extend access to polls, protect voters against voter intimidation and disenfranchisement, and ensure citizens’ right to vote.
Ohio State Rep. Reece has been a strong advocate for voting rights since her days at Grambling State University. She has fought against voter intimidation and suppression in Ohio and she has championed numerous voting rights bills. Rep. Reece is a national board member of the National Action Network, and has been asked to participate as a speaker at the March on Washington at the Mall on Saturday, August 24th.You can learn more about Rep. Reece’s work on voting rights here. A high resolution photo of the Cincinnati lawmaker is attached.
In 2011, Ohio was faced with a choice: We could either establish our own customized, state-run health-insurance exchange where Ohioans could purchase health insurance, or we could use a one-size-fits-all federal exchange. During that pivotal time, I asked Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, director of the Ohio Department of Insurance, to come to the Ohio House Health and Aging Committee to discuss the choice, but my request was met with silence.
Voices from across the health-care system — physicians, health insurers, insurance agents, consumer advocates and hospitals — thought that a state-run exchange would be better for both Ohio insurers and consumers by encouraging more insurers to participate. So Rep. Nickie Antonio of Lakewood and I introduced legislation that would create a state-based exchange. Still, Taylor refused to appear in front of the committee to discuss the bill and ignored all offers to work collaboratively to establish a state-based exchange.
Gov. John Kasich and Taylor opted to do nothing and settle for a one-size-fits-all approach to offer affordable health care to Ohioans. Now, Taylor is claiming that, because fewer insurers are participating in the federal exchange, costs will go up for Ohio's consumers.
In response to today’s Dayton Daily News investigative report on potential conflicts of interest at JobsOhio, Rep. John Patrick Carney (D-Columbus) released the following statement:
“The latest revelations in this ongoing controversy at JobsOhio are disturbing at best.
"It is problematic when you see that a majority of individuals who direct economic development in our state also have personal financial interests in the companies that received state incentives.
“It is beyond problematic when it is exposed that Governor Kasich worked to set up a secretive economic development system that would go on to benefit his recent employers.
“Economic development in our state should be based on best practices and evidence-based projects. It shouldn’t be about who you know, or what your powerful friends can do with taxpayer dollars.”