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Galonski applauds alternative pathways, sets sights on permanent solution
December 6, 2018

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.

 
 
Study shows toxic chemical levels in commercial brine far exceed EPA safety limits
December 6, 2018

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.

 
 
Legislation addresses school district treasure liability for loss of public funds
December 5, 2018

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.”

 
 

State Rep. David Leland (D-Columbus) released the following statement today in response to new, fast-tracked legislation, House Joint Resolution 19, that would limit citizens’ access to Democracy in Ohio by placing new, arbitrary restrictions on the constitutional ballot initiative process in Ohio: 

“Ohio Republican leadership want to rig our Ohio democracy against voters. The citizen initiative has been the only backstop to rigged, gerrymandered districts and the extreme political agenda at the Ohio Statehouse. In the last several years, the General Assembly has only acted on major issues like redistricting reform and medical marijuana when faced with the threat of a citizen-led ballot initiative.

“It’s strange, but the whole concept of popular democracy seems foreign to them. Leadership only holds their positions of power because gerrymandering subverts the will of the people. Now they want to severely restrict one of the only avenues left for the majority of people to be heard.”

 
 

State Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland) released the following statement today in response to new, fast-tracked legislation, House Joint Resolution 19, that would limit citizens’ access to Democracy in Ohio by placing new, arbitrary restrictions on the constitutional ballot initiative process in Ohio: 

“This dangerous new restriction on democracy would silence citizens’ voices and further tilt the balance of power to corporate, out of state special interests who have the power and money to change our constitution under this misguided plan."

“When politicians in Columbus fail to act or do their jobs, citizens should have the right to hold them accountable through reasonable access to the ballot. Instead, these new restrictions would take that power out of the hands of concerned citizens and sell it to the highest out-of-state bidders.”

 
 
Say pending Supreme Court appeal of HB 70, Youngstown Plan disaster highlights need to stop state takeovers
November 28, 2018

State Reps. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown), Kent Smith (D-Euclid), and Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) today joined Community Leadership Coalition on Education (CLCE) members during their legislative advocacy day urging the passage of House Bill (HB) 626, legislation to halt state takeover of public schools. CLCE is a group of advocates from Youngstown, Lorain, East Cleveland, and other communities around Ohio whose local school districts are or may soon be subject to state takeover as implemented under HB 70.

“HB 70 neutered the duly-elected school board members and gave an autocratic, unaccountable, appointed CEO total control over every facet of the system,” said Lepore-Hagan. “The Youngstown Plan has been a failure and a disaster, but it seems Gov. Kasich and the anti-public school zealots who created this debacle don’t use objective criteria to evaluate what has happened.”

 
 

The Ohio House Democratic Caucus today announced its leadership team for the 133rd General Assembly. In an all-caucus vote, Democrats re-elected state Rep. Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) as Minority Leader.

“The dedication to improving the lives of everyday Ohioans our leadership team, members and staff have shown over the past two years is remarkable, and our state is better for it,” said Strahorn. “Over the next two years, it is critical that we continue working together to grow opportunity from the middle out so that every Ohioan has a fighting chance to get ahead.”

 
 
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