State Reps. John Patterson (D-Jefferson) and Michael Sheehy (D-Oregon) today reintroduced legislation that seeks to protect and improve the state’s water quality by establishing the Ohio Water Quality Improvement Program, which would incentivize farmers to conserve environmentally sensitive agricultural land rather than use the property for farming or ranching. The bill was first introduced in the 131st General Assembly as House Bill 62.
“There’s nothing more important than the health and well-being of our citizens,” said Patterson. “In addition to ensuring safe and clean drinking water, the Ohio Water Quality Program would promote healthier streams, rivers and estuaries across the state. By partnering with Ohio’s farmers, we can strategically conserve farmland and establish a robust agricultural environment.”
With Ohio “on the verge of recession” and continuing to trail the nation in job growth, Democratic members of the House Finance Committee Tuesday said it was time for state leaders and lawmakers to “wake up” ahead of the next round of budget deliberations.
“Republicans promised trickle-down tax policies would grow our economy and create good-paying jobs, but these policies of the past have only held Ohio back from growth and opportunity,” said Rep. Jack Cera (D-Cera), ranking member on the House Finance Committee. “After six years in charge, Gov. Kasich now says Ohio is on the verge of a recession – and yet the state budget plan offers more of the fundamentally flawed tax shifting that got us here. Ohio’s middle class families cannot afford more of the same. It’s not working. It’s time to wake up to the on-the-ground reality in our state.”
In the midst of state operating budget discussions, State Reps. Greta Johnson (D-Akron) and Brigid Kelly (D-Cincinnati) today announced they are introducing bipartisan legislation, House Bill 61, to eliminate the $4 million yearly sales tax on feminine hygiene products such as tampons and pads. The lawmakers and a recent lawsuit contend the sales tax on essential women’s healthcare items, also known as the “Pink Tax,” disproportionately affects women who already face economic hurdles given Ohio’s gender-based wage gap.
“A tampon is a medical necessity for Ohio women— not a luxury item,” said Johnson. “In a state where women are paid less for the same work as men, every cent counts. The “Pink Tax” takes unfairly more money out of the pockets of women and undermines the economic stability of working families.”
State Reps. David Leland (D-Columbus)—aka “Mr. Baseball”—and Thomas West (D-Canton) reintroduced legislation today to honor Moses Fleetwood Walker, the nation’s first professional African American baseball player, by designating Walker’s birthday of October 7 as “Moses Fleetwood Walker Day” in the state of Ohio.
“Walker prevailed against all odds, overcoming obstacles to break into professional baseball during one of our nation’s bleakest periods,” said Leland, who also serves on the board of trustees for the Columbus Clippers, the Cleveland Indians’ Triple A farm team. “We introduce this bill today with the hopes of cementing Walker’s rightful place in history as the first African American to play major league baseball in the United States.”
State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) today announced the introduction of House Bill 14, legislation that would enact Automatic Voter Registration in Ohio. This system will require that eligible Ohioans in state and school databases be automatically registered to vote and have their registrations automatically updated unless they choose to opt out. Automatic voter registration could potentially add over 1 million eligible voters to Ohio’s voter rolls.
“Automatic voter registration is a far more sensible way to make the list of eligible voters in Ohio,” said Rep. Clyde. “House Bill 14 will allow Ohioans to be added to the rolls when they do everyday things like get a driver’s license, seek disability services or simply turn eighteen. Antiquated voter registration is a barrier to voting. Aggressive purging of voters is a barrier to voting. Automatic voter registration is the solution.”
State Reps. David Leland (D-Columbus) and Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus) last week introduced legislation to keep Ohio’s drinking water clean and safe by preventing the destruction of natural buffer zones around drinking-water reservoirs, like the Hoover Reservoir in Franklin County.
“The Hoover Reservoir is a vital source of public water for Columbus, and the strip of land encircling Hoover and other reservoirs acts as a natural filter that removes contaminants that would threaten our water supply,” said Leland. “This provision, which was inserted into the previous state budget at the last minute without public input or participation, is a potential threat to the health and safety of all Franklin County residents.”
State Rep. Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) today announced the introduction of House Bill (HB) 1, bipartisan legislation to modernize Ohio’s dating violence laws. The bill is modeled after HB 392 of the 131st General Assembly, legislation that passed the House unanimously last spring and as an amendment during the lame duck session. House Bill (HB) 1, co-sponsored by Rep. Nathan Manning (R-N. Ridgeville), would allow victims of dating violence to obtain civil protective orders against their attacker, a protection not allowed under current Ohio law.
“It is past time we pull Ohio out of the dark ages by modernizing our laws to protect all victims who are impacted by dating violence,” said Sykes. “By allowing this measure to become House Bill 1, we are sending a clear message that now is the time to close the loophole in Ohio’s dating violence laws. With every day we wait, more women and men in Ohio are placed in serious danger.”
State Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) hosted the Eighth Annual Human Trafficking Awareness Day today at the Ohio Statehouse, as lawmakers, law enforcement officials, advocates and survivors from across the state and nation gathered for a day of discussion on ways to raise awareness and fight back against human trafficking in Ohio.
“While we have made great strides at the state level to halt the spread of human trafficking, we cannot let up now. Law enforcement, advocates, families and survivors must continue to work together to raise awareness and protect vulnerable men and women from being ensnared by modern day slavery,” said Fedor. “I am confident that by bringing diverse voices from all across the state to the same table, we can make positive progress toward finally ending human trafficking in our state.”
State Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) will host the eighth annual Human Trafficking Awareness Day on Thursday, February 2 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.at the Ohio Statehouse Atrium. The annual event will bring together law enforcement officials, advocates, experts and survivors for interactive educational workshops and informational and inspirational presentations regarding ways to raise awareness and fight back against human trafficking in Ohio. This year’s special guest is Dr. Elaine Richardson, an author, artist and inspirational professor.
“I believe that by bringing diverse voices from all across the state to the same table, we can help raise awareness and collaborate on strategies to combat modern day slavery,” said Fedor. “While we have made great strides at the state level against the spread of human trafficking, the real work is done out in the community by law enforcement, advocates, families and survivors.”
This year’s event will also include the first ever Ohio Youth Trafficking Prevention Summit focused on prevention and protection strategies for young people on Friday, February 3 from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
“Unfortunately, human traffickers often target young and vulnerable children,” said Fedor. “By educating our youth on prevention and protection strategies, I believe we can help keep our children safe from predatory criminals.”
The youth summit is free to attend but tickets are required. Those interested can register at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/8th-annual-ohio-human-trafficking-awareness-day-youth-summit-tickets-28770533440
For the past ten years, Rep.
The lead Democratic legislator on the state’s budget and finance panel, state Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire), released the following statement in response to today’s state budget unveiling:
“Trickle-down tax promises of the last six years haven’t come true, and it’s dangerous to expect they will by shifting even more taxes onto working people. As our nation grows and realizes new opportunities since the recession, Ohioans have been running in place instead of getting ahead. We don’t just need to bring Ohio back from the recession - we need to make Ohio first in growth and opportunity. The economic underpinnings of this budget represent the governor’s plans from the past, not a plan for our future.