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State Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire) today issued the following statement in response to FirstEnergy Solutions’ announced plans Wednesday night to close the W.H. Sammis power plant in Stratton, Ohio:

“The economic impact of First Energy in Eastern Ohio is critical to the stability of families, small businesses and our local community. The working men and women of Eastern Ohio have powered and help build this nation over many generations, making it even more important that state and federal officials come together to work toward a fair solution that puts our people and businesses first.

“After talking to First Energy, it’s clear we need an all hands on deck approach from JobsOhio, PUCO, local leaders, PJM and Trump and Kasich Administration officials to solve what will turn into a regional economic crisis if we fail to work together. After recently meeting with leaders at the Sammis plant, I will focus every effort of my state office on opening lines of communication with Governor Kasich and President Trump to seek a resolution for the continued economic competitiveness and stability of our community, businesses and workers.”

 
 

State Rep. Dan Ramos (D-Lorain) today responded to a new report that shows Hurricane Maria is responsible for the deaths of 2,975 American citizens in Puerto Rico, becoming one of the deadliest natural disasters in modern U.S. history.

“It is an absolute travesty that Maria’s actual death count is now 46 times higher than originally reported,” said Ramos. “As an American, and as a Puerto Rican descendant, I am heartbroken by our federal government’s inaction and overall mismanagement following last September’s historic hurricane. Unless we take action to provide emergency relief, this unprecedented devastation to the island will be remembered as one of the most deadly natural disaster for American citizens.”

 
 

Marking the 55th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s historic March on Washington, State Rep. Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati) today reflected on the challenges that lie ahead for civil rights, and acknowledges the importance of preserving Dr. King’s legacy.

“While the progress attained by Dr. King and so many others has faced multiple threats in recent years, it is our duty to counter these obstacles with the unity and action that has long defined our nation,” said Reece. “As we come together to honor the significance of this day, we must continue to move forward in the never-ending fight for equality and justice to realize the full potential and promise of the American Dream.”

 
 
Lawmakers respond to public corruption search warrant executed on Ohio House Republicans

State Reps. David Leland (D-Columbus) and Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus) today issued the following statements in response to the release of a U.S. Department of Justice subpoena into allegations of Ohio House Republicans’ pay-to-play culture of corruption at the Statehouse:

“As this investigation into the Republican culture of corruption unravels at highest levels of power in the Ohio House, Republican House leadership is working overtime to distance themselves from their involvement while trying to paint Cliff Rosenberger as the sole actor in any illegal, pay-to-play schemes.

“Though Rosenberger was the first House speaker in history to resign amid a federal corruption investigation, his leadership team and former roommate, Speaker Ryan Smith, is still in control of the Ohio House and potentially illegal campaign funds, creating more questions than answers as to how deep this river of corruption runs at the Statehouse.”—Rep. David Leland

 
 
Asks governor to bring state heads to mediation table in civil rights investigation
August 22, 2018

State Rep. Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) recently sent a letter* to Gov. John Kasich asking him to bring his administration to the mediation table to resolve her Ohio Civil Rights Commission investigation into reported discrimination and bias surrounding Statehouse security practices.

“You frequently talk about bringing people together to solve problems and making sure our actions reflect our American values of equality and fairness,” Sykes wrote to Kasich. “I appeal to you in an effort to gain your assistance in bringing your Department of Public Safety and Department of Administrative Services to the mediation table with me and the Ohio Civil Rights Commission to resolve experiences of gender discrimination and racial bias in Statehouse security practices.”

 
 

Education advocate and state Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) today issued the following statement on Attorney General Mike DeWine’s announcement he is asking the courts to pursue recovery of some $60 million in stolen taxpayer funds from now defunct online charter school ECOT:

“Taxpayers are right to be concerned that they may never receive a return on their eighty-million dollar investment into an online charter school that was more concerned about padding the pockets of politicians like Mike DeWine instead of providing education opportunities to our children.

“Because public pressure and bad headlines have backed Mike DeWine into the smallest political corner, he has only now felt it important to recover millions of stolen taxpayer dollars. When Ohio officials were fraudulently changing letter grades to get ECOT more t

 
 
Bill would outlaw payoffs like ECOT's half-million dollar employee secrecy pacts
August 21, 2018

As questions surrounding the appropriate use of non-disclosure agreements arise for government employees, Ohio too has seen the use of these unique secrecy contracts by the now-defunct, taxpayer-funded online charter school ECOT, which spent over half-a-million dollars to buy former employees’ silence against making statements that would be critical of the school or it’s for-profit management companies.

 

The contracts also prevent former ECOT employees from bringing legal action against the online charter or its founder, Bill Lager.

State Rep. Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus) said the ECOT hush money, and reports that it attempted to silence a former employee-turned-whistleblower with a similar contract and cash pay-out, pushed her to draft legislation to ban the practice in Ohio.

 
 

In the wake of last week’s storm floods of Boardman-area residents’ homes, State Rep. John Boccieri (D-Poland) and other local elected officials are urging Boardman Township Trustee Tom Costello to quickly share the township’s flood-mitigation plan and to work with state officials to address local safety and health issues, much like Austintown and Poland did when faced with similar issues.

“When families and citizens experience the financial and physical devastation that flooding brings, they need serious solutions that prioritize their safety and well-being,” said Boccieri. “I stand ready to assist local officials who need to establish a comprehensive plan immediately to ensure this never happens again.”

 
 

State Rep. Thomas West (D-Canton) responded to today’s Ohio Department of Medicaid decision to fire the state’s pharmacy middlemen after reading an advance copy of Auditor Dave Yost’s report on the deceptive healthcare pricing scheme that cost Ohio taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. Yost’s report is expected to be made publicly available tomorrow.

“Today’s decision to fire cheating big-pharma middlemen is proof positive of what many of us have been saying all along: big healthcare corporations have been ripping off Ohio consumers by hundreds of millions of dollars to line their own pockets and boost their own bottom line,” said West. “This decision is a win for consumers and small independent pharmacies alike, but we shouldn’t wait until January 1 to stop this rip off.”

 
 
Civil Rights Commission complaint takes on discriminatory Statehouse security policies
August 13, 2018

State Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) is optimistic that four agencies will sit down by the Ohio Civil Rights Commission’s (OCRC) Aug. 16 mediation deadline to address racial profiling and discrimination by State Highway Patrol and private guards at the security checkpoints for the Riffe Tower and the Statehouse.

"Now that the State Highway Patrol’s self-review is completed, the next step is to sit down with all parties for mediation,” said Sykes. “I'm keeping an open mind and remain hopeful that we can come together to ensure everyone is treated equally at their state capitol.”

Sykes said that if some parties aren’t willing to meet OCRC’s mediation deadline, she will rely on the outcome of the commission’s independent investigation to determine a final resolution.