As the Ohio House of Representatives enters the next stage in state budget deliberations, House Democratic leaders today warned that GOP economic policies are blowing a hole in the Ohio budget and threatening the economic stability of working people and families.
“During the worst global economic recession since The Great Depression, Republican lawmakers called for the state budget director – at the time, a Democrat – to step down,” said House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton). “In the governor’s own words, Ohio is now on ‘the verge of a recession’. However, we are not demanding pink slips be delivered today. Instead, we believe that state leaders must take steps to recession-proof the state by investing in communities and schools, rather than approving yet another round in tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.”
State Reps. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) and Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland) today announced the introduction of the Ohio Equal Pay Act, a bill that would help close the longstanding gender pay gap between men and women in the Buckeye State.
“Too often, women with the same jobs as men and with the same education as men are paid less than men, see fewer opportunities for career advancement and are more likely to struggle to meet the basic needs of their families,” said Rep. Clyde. “The Ohio Equal Pay Act works to address the systemic undervaluing of women in the workplace and aims to ensure women are treated as what they are— equal.”
House Democratic lawmakers today called on Gov. Kasich to address the real state of the state in his annual remarks tomorrow night in Sandusky, arguing that the governor owes 11 million Ohioans an explanation on why the state is on “the verge of a recession” after six years under his leadership. The lawmakers also noted that the governor’s budget failed to adequately address the real state of the economy, education, healthcare and recent drastic state cuts to communities in Ohio.
“The last time the governor addressed the legislature he warned that Ohio was “on the verge of a recession’, but weeks later introduced a budget that doubles down on the tax-shifting policies that have harmed so many working families and brought us to this point,” said House Minority Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton). “Ohioans deserve to hear honest remarks from the governor on his plan to address the economic and other challenges facing our state, because so far his plan just seems to be more of the same.”
State Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) was recently elected to serve as Vice Chair of the Ohio House Democratic Women’s Caucus (OHDWC), a position that plays a vital role in advancing the caucus’s agenda.
“I am honored to be elected to this leadership position by my colleagues to help advance more Ohio women,” said Lepore-Hagan. “It is so important for each and every woman to have equal opportunities and representation at home, at work and more importantly: at the state level. I look forward to working with those that share this sentiment to help build a better and brighter future for women across the state.”
House Democratic lawmakers today criticized the passage of House Bill (HB) 114, saying legislation that changes the state’s advanced energy standards to unenforceable “goals” will harm consumers and jeopardize thousands of manufacturing and development jobs in Ohio’s advanced energy industry and other industries that increasingly want and rely on advanced energy sources.
“If Ohio’s economy is on the ‘verge of a recession,’ as the governor has claimed, rolling back state renewable energy standards will threaten future job growth and could harm consumers, workers and the environment,” said House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton). “Advanced energy technologies are helping create the manufacturing jobs of the future, and we would be wise to invest now to become a leader of this emerging industry instead of falling behind the rest of the nation.”
State Reps. Kent Smith (D-Euclid) and Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights) recently introduced House Bill (HB) 138, legislation to fight pay discrimination in Ohio by establishing a toll-free equal pay hotline, an easily accessible, anonymous resource for workers to report wage discrimination and gather more information to find out if they could be victims of pay discrimination.
“While the federal Equal Pay Act was enacted over fifty years ago, Ohio has done little more to protect worker’s paychecks from unprecedented and illegal discrimination,” said Smith. “By providing the tools necessary to help ensure folks are receiving equal pay for equal work, we can attract more top talent and create a stronger economy for all Ohioans.”
With Ohio leading the nation in heroin and opioid overdose deaths, departing state Rep. Greta Johnson (D-Akron) penned a letter today to Gov. John Kasich expressing her disappointment that the state hasn’t been willing to devote more resources to fighting the statewide opioid overdose emergency.
Johnson has called on the governor numerous times in the last year to declare the Buckeye State’s opioid crisis a statewide emergency, freeing up emergency funding for first responders, treatment and law enforcement.
Sunday marks Johnson’s final day at the Ohio House as she prepares to begin her new role as deputy law director for Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro.
The full text of the letter is below and attached:
March 23, 2017
Dear Gov. John Kasich,
It has been an honor to serve the people of the 35th District as their representative. As I look toward the end of my time in that office, I can't help but feel like the state has let the people of the 35th down. Everywhere I go in Summit County, the number one issue of concern is the statewide opioid epidemic. Folks continue to ask what the state is doing about it. And, I continue to say, not enough.
I have called upon you, the speaker and the senate president to call this epidemic what it is: a statewide emergency. I have never heard back directly from your office, but I read that you've stated that you can't do that.
You can't do that despite the fact that you declared last summer's GOP convention in Cleveland an emergency so that law enforcement agencies could be reimbursed by the state. You previously declared an emergency when animals escaped from a private zoo in Eastern Ohio. Neither of those situations caused damage to property or harm to citizens, yet, you somehow had the authority to declare an emergency, and release emergency funding from a $53-million-dollar emergency fund.
As the nation marks the seventh anniversary of the passage of the Affordable Care Act today, Ohio House Democratic lawmakers today spoke out against the GOP’s current efforts to decimate the landmark healthcare reform law that has expanded coverage to roughly 20 million Americans and reduced the country’s uninsured rate to an all-time low.
“After seven years of hearing partisan attacks against the Affordable Health Care Act and promises of a better way forward, it’s clear today that the American people have been misled,” said House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton). “Not only does Trumpcare threaten economic growth and increase costs for families, seniors and individuals, but it will have life-or-death consequences, forcing families to choose between paying for medical coverage and keeping a roof over their heads or saving for their future.”
State Reps. Kent Smith (D-Euclid) and Sarah LaTourette (R-Chesterland) today applauded the passage of House Bill (HB) 80, their bipartisan legislation to combat child hunger in Ohio. HB 80 would allow outside organizations to use schools as summer meal sites to ensure hungry children have access to a nutritious lunch even when school is out of session.
“It is unacceptable that over a half million Ohio children go hungry when they are not in school,” said Smith. “By allowing schools to partner with qualified organizations in the summer to provide healthy meals to students in need at no cost to the school district, we can help reduce child hunger in our state.”
Democratic members of the House Economic Development, Commerce and Labor Committee today objected to the anticipated committee passage of House Bill (HB) 2 along party lines, saying the GOP-led “No Rights at Work” bill will strip Ohio employees of critical protections from workplace discrimination. The legislation was scheduled for a vote last week, until it was pulled down at the last minute. The bill will receive a fifth hearing this afternoon, but is not yet scheduled for a vote.
“Harassment and discrimination will increase in the workplace if employees lose their right to hold supervisors accountable for misbehaving and bullying,” said Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown), the highest ranking Democrat on the committee. “I believe workers deserve to feel safe and welcome when they go to work every day to provide for their families.”