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Lawmaker asks state officials to take lead in upholding legal holiday
November 5, 2018

State Rep. Dan Ramos (D-Lorain) last Thursday called on state leaders to follow the longstanding Ohio law that recognizes Election Day from noon to 5:30 p.m. as a legal state holiday in the Buckeye State. The legal holiday designation for Election Day was reaffirmed in 1953, but has been state law for 128 years, dating back to Gov. James Edwin Campbell’s signature of Senate Bill 174 in the 69th Ohio General Assembly.

“The fact is that part of Election Day has been a legal holiday in Ohio for 128 years.  We simply have not been following the law,” wrote Ramos in a letter to Gov. John Kasich and Republican legislative leaders.* “I am requesting that you use the power of your office to follow Chapter 5.20 of the General Provisions of the Ohio Revised Code to close state offices not related to elections on Election Day at noon.”

 
 

State Reps. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire), Thomas West (D-Canton) and David Leland (D-Columbus) will deliver remarks in a mural dedication ceremony honoring the nation’s first professional African American baseball player, Moses Fleetwood Walker, on Sunday, October 7 at 1:30 p.m. in Steubenville. Legislation sponsored by the lawmakers naming October 7, Walker’s birthday, as “Moses Fleetwood Walker Day” in the state of Ohio was signed into law last year.

“Walker’s life story is a perfect example of how we must continue working together to create a world in which everyone has the opportunity to reach their God-given potential,” said Cera. “I’m glad that Jefferson County is memorializing such a gifted athlete and brave American.”

Walker began his professional baseball career with the Toledo Blue Stockings in 1883, but his career was cut short in 1889 when both the American Association and the National League unofficially banned African American players. It was not until 1947 when the Brooklyn Dodgers’ Jackie Robinson finally broke the color barrier.

“Honoring Moses Walker is more than just remembering a baseball player,” said Leland. “It is a reminder of who we are as a Nation, whose Constitution vows to protect everyone’s inalienable rights to ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’. It is also a cautionary tale, because sometimes, after we get something right, we lose our way. So as we honor Moses Fleetwood Walker, we remember that the battle for equality and justice is never finished.”

The mural was painted by artist Ruston Baker. An exhibit on Walker, housed in the Jefferson County Historical Association Museum, will be open to the public that day.

“Moses Walker is yet another hidden figure that is owed the respect for breaking color barriers during the era of Jim Crow and violent raci

 
 

State Rep. Kent Smith (D-Euclid) today responded to inaccurate report card grades given to East Cleveland schools by state education officials. The false information was uncovered by a WEWS investigative news report late Tuesday.

“The school district report cards are not just confusing and inaccurate, they are often times just plain wrong,” said Smith. “That is why there is bipartisan support to end the state takeover of local schools that relies on such a faulty measure.”

 
 

State Rep. Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) today expressed her support and applauded council members’ leadership in the passage of the human rights ordinance by Cuyahoga County Council. The ordinance passed by an 8-3 majority Tuesday evening, making Cuyahoga County the first county in Ohio to ban discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodation based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. It will also create a human rights commission that will investigate and rule on complaints.

“This is both a civil rights and an economic issue,” said Rep. Antonio. “I am hopeful that the passage of this important county ordinance will be instrumental in helping statewide efforts to ban discrimination against people in the LGBT community. Nondiscrimination policies have the potential to serve as an economic catalyst to drive innovation, spur investment and attract the best and brightest to Ohio. Above all, it is the right thing to do.”

 
 
Area schools to get safety funds based on Patterson's new bipartisan law
September 21, 2018

State Rep. John Patterson (D-Jefferson) today announced over 1,700 schools throughout the state will share in some $12 million in school safety grants made possible through the Jefferson lawmaker’s bipartisan legislation, House Bill 318. The state grants require local schools and county board to work with local law enforcement to determine the best use of the funds.

“The ability to foster safe, healthy, and supportive environments in schools is crucial to the wellbeing and education of our children,” said Patterson, “When we invest training, safety equipment, and critical educational and mental health resources, we invest in their future.”

 
 
Propose performance audit of JobsOhio to ensure competitive economic development
September 20, 2018
Lawmakers look for results from state economic development arm

As the nation continues to recover from the global economic recession of 2009, the Buckeye State has largely been left behind in the recovery, a fact that two lawmakers said in part prompted their new proposed state law change to require an annual performance audit of the state’s economic development entity, JobsOhio.

Though JobsOhio is a nonprofit organization that uses public money for economic development and job creation, it is exempt from public performance audits, unlike similar organizations that use taxpayer funds.

State Reps. Kent Smith (D-Euclid) and Thomas West (D-Canton) hope to change that with legislation announced today that would hold JobsOhio to the same standards and level of transparency that taxpayers have come to expect from organizations that receive public money.

 
 

State Rep. Kent Smith (D-Euclid) today responded to the release of Ohio’s School Report Cards, which gave East Cleveland City Schools its third consecutive “F,” setting the stage for a state takeover under the legislature’s hastily-passed, party-line amendment to House Bill 70 in 2016.

“Today's release of the state report card is further evidence that the biggest hindrance to student performance in Ohio's public schools is not the district leadership of East Cleveland but the politicians of Columbus who take campaign contributions from the charter school industry with one hand as they give public school dollars to charter school operators with the other hand,” said Smith, a member of the House Education Committee.

East Cleveland Schools have lost over $5 million to failing, for-profit charter schools like ECOT while the state has cut the schools by millions of dollars in previous state budgets.

The district is also considered to be the poorest community in the state and the fourth poorest in the nation, with 100 percent of students being considered economically disadvantaged according to ODE data. 

“In spite of these substantial challenges East Cleveland City Schools have made tremendous progress, due in part to the extremely talented core of teachers, most of whom have a master’s degree and average 15 years of classroom experience,” said Smith.

 
 

Today the State of Ohio released the 2018 annual Ohio School Report Cards. State Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo), the House Democratic Caucus education lead, believes we need a new state report card system to assess student performance and other measures for school districts.

“Local control and the local perspective is needed to adequately determine the success or growth opportunities for Ohio’s students and educators,” said Rep. Fedor. “Ohio has many different communities. There is no one size fits all approach. We need to be more responsive and responsible in issuing grade cards.”

According to the Ohio Association of Comprehensive and Compact Career Technical Schools (Ohio CCS), Ohio has 91 Career Technical Planning Districts and three career-technical delivery models at the secondary education level focusing on workforce development. The “Prepared for Success” component of the CTE Report Card, however, only includes credentials related to “Ohio’s In-Demand Occupations.” Institutions successfully preparing students for careers will be penalized with low component grades, even if students obtain the knowledge and skills necessary to enter the workforce.

“The current report cards unfairly punish schools, students, and Ohio’s economy,” said Fedor.

Pointing to the role poverty can play in academic performance, Rep. Fedor said the Ohio School Report Cards A-F measurement doesn’t accurately reflect whether administrators and educators are working hard to address the complex challenges within their buildings.

 
 

State Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Akron), state Rep. Tavia Galonski (D-Akron) and state Sen. Vernon Sykes (D-Akron) today sent a letter to Attorney General Mike DeWine urging him to join other attorneys general across the nation in denouncing the Texas lawsuit that seeks to terminate the Affordable Care Act nationwide.

“The Affordable Care Act has been instrumental in Ohio’s ability to expand Medicaid and provide private insurance options to over 157,000 Ohioans, which dramatically reduced the amount of people without insurance in Ohio,” Rep. Sykes said. “The Attorney General must act to protect Ohioans’ healthcare.”

 
 

House Minority Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) today released a statement in honor of the Labor Day holiday:

"As Americans we believe in the value of hard work, and know that punching a time clock, laying brick, or standing behind a cash register shouldn’t mean you can’t afford to plan for you and your family’s future.

But when a wealthy CEO can make millions on Wall Street by betting against American people, and a working mom with kids can’t afford to take a family vacation once a year, something’s wrong.