State Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire) early this morning responded to the passage of Senate Bill 268, a bill increasing penalties for theft in public office. The Bellaire lawmaker supported the bill, but noted the lack of state laws that protect state employees who come forward to report wrongdoing and corruption to authorities.
“Corruption has no place in government. Over the last year, we’ve seen pay-to-play schemes, FBI investigations and the misuse of taxpayer money to line the pockets of political friends. Ohio taxpayers deserve better,” said Cera. “We need to hold elected officials accountable. That’s why I support this bill, but I also support protections for those who expose wrongdoing and corruption in state offices.”
In the last year, employees vocalized problems with the Department of Administrative Service’s rigged, no-bid IT contract scheme that saw tens of millions in misspent taxpayer dollars handed out with little to no oversight. DAS officials even investigated an employee who tried to blow the whistle on the alleged schemes.
Today, the state inspector general released a report on the incidents showing a much deeper pattern of taxpayer abuse.
In the late hours of lame duck session, the Ohio House of Representatives voted 82-3 to pass House Bill (HB) 461, legislation introduced by state Reps. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) and Tavia Galonski (D-Akron) to bring Ohio law into compliance with federal law in cases involving the human trafficking of minors aged 16 and 17 years old.
“Our children deserve to be rescued, not arrested,” said Fedor. “I’m grateful for the overwhelming support from both Republicans and Democrats to pass this critical piece of legislation that seeks to protect all of Ohio’s children.”
State Reps. John Rogers (D-Mentor-on-the-Lake) and Nathan Manning (R-North Ridgeville) today announced the concurrent passage of House Bill 497, which prohibits the nonconsensual dissemination of private sexual images, often referred to as “revenge porn,” by setting penalties to punish those who distribute sexually explicit images with the intent to harass the victim.
State Senators Charleta B. Tavares (D-Columbus), Sandra Williams (D-Cleveland) and Vernon Sykes (D-Akron), together with state Representatives Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland) and Emilia Sykes (D-Akron), today urged the legislature to study the progress and challenges of African Americans in Ohio.“2019 marks 400 years of African Americans in America,” said Senator Tavares. “We faced a brutal beginning and have had challenges along the way. We have built America and her companies, historic buildings and economies, but we have not yet seen justice and equality for all. Our story in America, and more specifically in Ohio, needs to be researched to determine where we have made progress and the challenges we have to overcome in order to advance.” The lawmakers’ bill would create a committee to review the contributions and achievements of the Black community in Ohio. The group will also look at issues such as housing, transportation, health, education, employment, environment and businesses development and offer recommendations for addressing persistent challenges.“Without an honest conversation about the issues and challenges African Americans disproportionately face in our state, all Ohioans risk falling further behind,” said Rep. Howse, who also serves as the president of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus (OLBC). “We won’t grow our economy or create more opportunity if a significant population of Ohioans are left to fend for themselves. Ohio succeeds when African Americans succee
State Rep. Tavia Galonski (D-Akron) today announced the Ohio House will tonight pass Senate changes to House Bill 491, which extend alternative pathways to graduation for 2019 and 2020 Ohio high school seniors.
“Though I share the frustration of students and families who have been looking for a graduation solution from the Statehouse for almost a year, I am happy we will ultimately extend alternative graduation pathways through 2020,” said Galonski. “We have a lot of work left to do to ensure stability and consistency in Ohio’s ever-changing graduation requirements, so students can plan for their future and have an equal opportunity to succeed.”
The Akron lawmaker, who serves on the House Education Committee, introduced her own legislation, House Bill 630, to extend alternative pathways. The bill gained the attention of concerned students and parents, but was only given one hearing by majority Republicans. Galonski’s bill would have given career and college-ready Ohio high school seniors the opportunity to graduate in 2019 and 2020, similar to the language ultimately included in HB 491.
“I am committed to working toward fair requirements that recognize individual student success and performance instead of putting too much weight on standardized testing alone to determine graduation,” added Galonski. “We can’t afford to hold career and college-ready students back just because education standards in Columbus are broken.”
According to the Ohio Department of Education, some 50,000 students were at risk of not graduating in 2019 due to an overreliance on standardized testing – an approach that has been roundly criticized by lawmakers of both political parties.
House Democrats raised concerns today as Republican-sponsored House Bill (HB) 393 passed the House. The bill would allow one Ohio company to sell brine from certain oil and gas production to Ohio consumers for personal use. Democrats questioned the impact the sale and use of radioactive brine would have on health and the environment.
State Rep. Catherine D. Ingram (D-Cincinnati) today announced the passage of House Bill (HB) 705, which provides relief to school district treasures from strict personal financial liability.
“It is important to recognize and continue to be transparent on how our school districts function in the State of Ohio,” said Ingram. “HB 705 brings to light the issue of the treasure’s personal assets being linked to the expenditure of public funds on behalf of the school district.”
State Rep. Brigid Kelly (D-Cincinnati) today applauded the House for including language that exempts feminine hygiene products from state sales tax under House Bill (HB) 545, a larger tax-related bill which passed the Ohio House this afternoon. The provision came out of HB 61, introduced by Kelly and former state Rep. Greta Johnson (D-Akron) in February 2017.
“Eliminating the tampon tax will put more money into the pockets of women, in-turn strengthening the families they support and nurture,” said Kelly. “I am thankful we were able to come together to even the playing field for women, girls and families on medically necessary products. No one should face extra economic challenges simply because of their gender.”
The Ohio Controlling Board on Monday approved the release of 9.9 million dollars from the Healthy Lake Erie Fund to Lucas, Lorain, and Ashtabula Counties for projects related to the management of dredge material. The funding comes in support of state officials’ goal to end all open-lake dumping of dredge materials by 2020 to mitigate the devastating environmental impact of the practice.
“The prohibition of open lake dumping of dredged material weighs heavily upon our local communities,” said Rep. John Patterson (D-Jefferson). “These funds will allow us to replace the lower coal docks with a new Conneaut Creek Dredge Facility. The ability to process and strategically use dredged materials is a critical step toward the future; not only for the harbor, but for the health of our great lake and the culture we have built around it.”
Ohio House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) today appointed state Rep. Adam Miller (D-Columbus) Caucus Chair for the Ohio House Democrats, a position charged with building and strengthening legislative relationships both in Columbus and throughout the state.
“Rep. Miller knows how to work hard and bring people together. That’s what he’s done throughout his time in the military and in public service,” said Strahorn. “He exemplifies the kind of leadership we need to chair our caucus over the next two years as we fight for the issues that matter most to working families—issues like healthcare access, good schools and better-paying jobs.”