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Leader Fred Strahorn says right to work is wrong for working families

Ohio House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) issued the following statement today in response to a Republican push for so-called “right to work” restrictions on working people in Ohio:

“Instead of restrictions to make working people poorer and less safe on the job, we should prioritize commonsense ideas that grow our economy and create good-paying jobs that give working families the opportunity to get ahead. The Republican package of so-called “right to work” legislation is wrong for working families and wrong for Ohio.”

 
 
HB 418 would expedite the process of transferring student records
January 22, 2018
In wake of ECOT's closure, Galonski calls for legislative action on student record transfers

State Rep. Tavia Galonski (D-Akron) today responded to Educational Service Center of Lake Erie West’s announcement of suspending operations at Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) and urges the House Education and Career Readiness Committee to begin hearings on House Bill (HB) 418, which establishes a statutory requirement for schools to transfer student records upon request.

“Although I do not support ECOT’s fraudulent reporting methods or its significant misappropriation of taxpayer dollars, I cannot help but be heartbroken for the thousands of students impacted by this decision,” said Galonski. “Ohio’s children deserve an equal opportunity to receive a quality education, and now it is our job to make sure that these students are taken care of.”

 
 
Smith named House Democratic Caucus policy chair

Ohio House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) today announced state Rep. Kent Smith (D-Euclid) has been named policy chair for the House Democratic Caucus in 2018.

Smith, first elected to serve the 8th House District in 2014, will help shape the policy agenda for the caucus in 2018, working with members and organizations to research and draft legislation that furthers the caucus priorities of middle-class job growth, economic stability for working families and increased opportunities for working people to get ahead in the Buckeye State.

“Kent is smart, thorough, and will work hard to maintain a deep understanding of how the policies coming out of the Statehouse impact people’s quality of life,” said Strahorn. “Whether you’re a single parent working two jobs, the head of a family of five or a business owner looking to expand, we want you to be able to meet your basic needs and have enough left over to plan for a brighter future. Kent gets that.”

Smith graduated from Miami University and earned his Master of Science in Urban Studies from Cleveland State University in 2001. His Master’s Degree thesis, written in 2001, was about the emerging threat of Predatory Lending and the SubPrime Market. He also co-authored the first Predatory Lending Report by Policy Matters Ohio in 2002.  Following his Master’s Degree studies, he was a PhD student at Cleveland State University in Economic Development.

“The work that we have been doing at the Statehouse to increase wages, grow our economy and let families better plan for the future is fundamental to the progress and economic stability of our state,” said Smith. “We need to take a different approach in Ohio.  The current policies have not led to income growth for Ohio's working families.  I look forward to working with my Democratic colleagues to create economic opportunities for everyday Ohio

 
 

In response to reports that ECOT’s sponsor is officially cutting ties with the online charter school, state Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo), the lead Democrat on the House Education Committee, issued the following statement:

“What a relief! Finally, Education officials are standing up for our children and taxpayers. The unchecked charter school experiment has gone on long enough. With lessons learned, we must review the real successes and failures of this experiment. It is time for real oversight and real penalties for charter schools that are not living up to their charters. It’s clear, charter schools must be held to the same standards and requirements that are placed on Ohio’s public schools. Let’s create a real oversight effort immediately.”

 
 
HB 460 encourages more landowners to protect agriculture from waste run-off
January 16, 2018

State Reps. John Patterson (D-Jefferson) and Michael Sheehy (D-Oregon) recently announced the introduction of House Bill (HB) 460, legislation to exempt riparian buffers from property taxes in an effort to encourage more landowners in the western basin of Lake Erie to install these agricultural barriers, known for filtering nutrients that cause harmful algal blooms.

“Extensive research has proven that riparian buffers are effective filters for nutrients, including nitrogen, phosphorus, calcium, potassium, sulfur and magnesium,” said Patterson. “Excessive levels of nitrogen and phosphorus are of particular concern in the nation’s streams and lakes due to their ability to cause harmful algal blooms. Understanding the tight profit margins associated with farming, removing land from agricultural production is not financially possible for most farmers in Ohio. By removing the tax burden, we hope HB 460 will enable landowners to help address Lake Erie water quality issues.”

 
 
House Democrats reflect on Dr. King's legacy, dream of equality for all

In recent years, we have seen divisions emerge in our public debate. Partisan rancor spills from the halls of government to our homes, our classrooms and on our social media. We see demonstrations of hate in small towns and big cities and read profiles of self-proclaimed white nationalists in our newspapers. While this division reveals the many imperfections of America, like Dr. King, I do not believe it defines us.

 
 

As Martin Luther King, Jr. day nears, Ohio State Rep. Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati) today issued the following statement on Ohio’s Voter Purge, or automatic cancellation of taxpayers’ voting registration, now being heard by the U.S. Supreme Court:

“Taxpayers deserve answers as to why their most fundamental freedom, the right to vote, can be automatically cancelled by politicians in Columbus. No other American privilege or right faces as little protection in Ohio as voting.

“I believe we can and should move past these constant assaults on our constitutional freedoms and guarantees by taking the lead, at the state level, to permanently enshrine a voter’s rights into state constitutions across our nation.”

 

 
 
Statehouse summit raises awareness, encourages dialogue on modern day slavery
January 11, 2018
Reps. Fedor, Galonski host Ninth Annual Human Trafficking Awareness Day

State Reps. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) and Tavia Galonski (D-Akron) today hosted the Ninth Annual Human Trafficking Awareness Day at the Ohio Statehouse, as lawmakers, law enforcement officials, and hundreds of advocates and survivors from across the state gathered to raise awareness and discuss ways to further combat human trafficking in Ohio. 

 
 

State Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire) and state Sen. Vernon Sykes (D-Akron), the two Democratic designees on the Ohio legislature’s redistricting working group, issued the following statement in response to today’s Republican congressional gerrymandering presentation to House and Senate committees:

“We are committed to achieving real reform and want to make sure that our state’s congressional districts are fair and truly representative of Ohioans. We want any congressional redistricting plan to end partisan gerrymandering.

“Unfortunately, the plan that Senator Huffman and Representative Schuring presented today doesn’t achieve that. In fact, in some ways, it is worse than our current system, as it eliminates the governor’s veto power and removes the citizen referendum from the legislative process.

“Any plan that does not include strict criteria to prevent gerrymandering or does not ensure bipartisanship weakens representation in Ohio.

“We are willing to continue discussions in good faith and hope a bipartisan plan that puts an end to gerrymandering is still possible.”

 
 
State reports show ten percent of school water fountains with lead levels above the federal limit
January 9, 2018
With hundreds of school pipes contaminated, state lawmakers press for domestic steel

State Reps. Dan Ramos (D-Lorain) and John Boccieri (D-Poland) today renewed their call for their legislation to mandate the use of domestic steel in schools amid state reports showing that ten percent of school drinking water fixtures had elevated levels of lead last year. The state testing of school water fountains was included in legislation that passed in the wake of the lead contamination crisis in Sebring last year. Boccieri and Ramos introduced House Bill 57 soon after the crisis to require that all schools receiving public funding use American steel in school construction and renovations.

“This problem is even more widespread that we could have imagined. Our children are being put in harm’s way by importing cheaply made foreign goods, containing dangerous chemicals.  We have to do something right away to protect our kids,” said Ramos.

State reports showed that over 1,400 out of 14,000 Ohio school drinking water fixtures contained lead levels above the federal limit. School districts recently completed their voluntary testing with funding from the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC). So far, the OFCC has released $500,000 for testing and drinking fountain or faucet replacement. Approximately half of the fixtures found to be contaminated have been replaced, while the rest have been shut off or are otherwise unused.

“Any number of contaminated fixtures in our schools presenting health risks to young students means we still have a problem,” said Boccieri. “We need to do more to eliminate lead contamination and protect the safety of our kids. Requiring the use of safe, American steel in our school infrastructure is one way to start getting there.”

China’s illegal over-subsidizing of their steel industry has given it a competitive advantage in markets, but has also resulted in a