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New legislation will strengthen high-tech workforce development, prevent "brain drain"
May 9, 2016

State Rep. John Patterson (D-Jefferson) introduced legislation last week to create the STEM Degree Loan Program, a state-level loan repayment plan aimed at keeping graduates working in Ohio after earning degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics.

 
 

State Rep. Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus) and State Rep. Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) this week introduced a resolution urging all state employees and officials to refrain from engaging in nonessential official state travel to North Carolina. The resolution comes in response to the passage of the controversial bathroom access law in North Carolina that critics, and now the U.S. Department of Justice, say allows discrimination against LGBT individuals. 

 
 
Lawmaker pushes back on anti-voter laws that toss out votes, harm our democracy
May 5, 2016

COLUMBUS— State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) today announced the Count the Votes Act, a bill to end the practice of throwing out ballots for trivial and technical reasons. In the last presidential election, over 47,000 ballots were thrown out. Rejection rates in elections since then have gotten worse.

 
 
Senate Bill 152 handcuffs local communities, attacks working people
May 4, 2016
House Dems vote against local hiring ban, project labor restrictions that send Ohio jobs out of state

Ohio House Democratic legislators today voted against the passage of Senate Bill (SB) 152, saying legislation to ban local hiring standards and restrict project labor agreements (PLAs) for public works projectswill handcuff decision-making authority of local communities and send Ohio jobs out of state.  

“Project labor agreements are a proven tool to ensure fair wages and quality work help complete projects on time and under budget. In addition, PLAs can include local hiring benchmarks that help strengthen the local economy by providing opportunities to workers from the community,” said House Minority Leader Strahorn (D-Dayton). “Undercutting existing laws will negatively affect major construction projects in the future by sewing confusion and destabilizing project bids, budgets and timelines.”  

In 2002, the Ohio Supreme Court struck down state laws prohibiting a public entity from requiring project labor agreements for local projects. Republicans are doubling-down on the attempt to restrict PLAs with an amendment added at the last minute to SB 152 Tuesday morning that will prohibit project labor agreements from being required on any public works projects receiving state funds.

The lawmakers also objected to provisions of SB 152 that prohibit communities from setting local hiring standards on public construction projects. Some Ohio communities use local hiring standards on publicly financed projects as a way to strengthen local workforce participation and, in turn, strengthen local economies. Urban areas typically have higher unemployment rates than the national average, making the decision to hire local even more impactful for improving the job market in urban areas.

“This is a devastating blow to local communities which have

 
 

State Reps. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) and John Boccieri (D-Poland) stood up for Ohio’s skilled workers today by voting against the passage of Senate Bill (SB) 152, saying legislation to ban local hiring standards and restrict project labor agreements (PLAs) for public works projects will jeopardize Ohio jobs and destabilize local economies. 

Urban areas typically have higher unemployment rates than the national average, making the decision to hire local workers even more impactful for improving the job market in urban areas.

“The language regarding project labor agreements is yet another Republican assault on working people in our state,” Rep. Lepore-Hagan said. “By restricting PLAs, Republicans are undermining wage and benefit levels for women and men employed in the construction industry. For those of us in border cities, that also means losing jobs to surrounding states. We should be focused on growing jobs in Ohio, not sending them out of state. Right in our district, companies like Penn Gaming used private sector PLAs for large-scale projects because they recognize the financial and practical value of having an agreement with their highly skilled workers before a project begins. Professionals know what safety means at the workplace, and they get the job done right the first time, usually under budget.”

Senate Bill 152 initially only addressed Ohio communities’ authority to set local hiring standards on public construction projects before Rep. Ron Hood (R-Asheville) amended the bill to restrict project labor agreements on public construction projects. The legislation now restricts PLAs when any state dollars are used for projects locally. The bill also prohibits communities from requiring local workforce participation rates for projects funded by local governments.

“This legislation is going to outsource Ohio jobs,” Boccieri said. “It's a race to the bott

 
 
Cera proposes solution to state sales tax hike on working people
May 4, 2016

State Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire) today expressed disappointment that the state legislature rejected an amendment aimed at helping working and middle-class families make ends meet by eliminating the sales tax on everyday essential items, such as feminine hygiene products, disposable baby diapers and non-prescription medications and drugs.

The Bellaire lawmaker offered a floor amendment to House Bill 466, legislation to exempt online advertisements from the state sales and use tax. 

“Just as businesses are seeking to roll back the sales tax shift that has been enacted over the past several years, Ohio’s working families are looking to the General Assembly for help,” said Cera. “Tax cuts that disproportionately benefit the wealthiest one-percent have been paid for by shifting taxes onto middle-class and working families. This amendment would have helped restore fairness to Ohio’s tax code.” 

 
 
Local reservists want hangar at Air Reserve base to assist deploying soldiers
April 26, 2016
Portions of the capital bill put 'pork' and puppets ahead of Ohio's patriots

State Rep. John Boccieri (D-Poland) today highlighted some of the community projects that won funding in the 2016 capital budget over the Youngstown Air Reserve Station (YARS)’s request to create a Regional Joint Readiness Center (RJRC) to provide a central point for deploying reservists. The request centered on the cargo apron and hangar that reservists from the 910th Airlift Wing would immediately utilize.

According the Vindicator, the Federal Aviation Administration financed an $11.5 million 13-acre paved cargo apron area on the west side of the airport in 1999. A private developer built a building for airport cargo shipping next to it, but both facilities have remained practically unused since. On a recent visit to the area, U.S. military officials expressed interest in the idea of using the cargo apron and building as a deployment hub for troops and other military assets from all branches of the military from Northeast Ohio as well as nearby portions of neighboring states.

“I’m really surprised that the initial introduction of the capital bill placed ‘pork’ ahead of Ohio’s patriots,” Rep. Boccieri said. “The irony is almost pathetic – legislators want to construct a fifty-foot statue of the Wright brother’s first airplane ahead of prioritizing a project that will have an immediate impact on deploying soldiers who fly out of the Air Reserve Station.”

Instead of appropriating even one dollar to Western Reserve Port Authority, the legislature is on track to give $80,000 to the Bowling Green Curling Club and $500,000 toward a soccer stadium in Columbus. In addition, the state is granting the full funding amount requested by the Madcap Production for a new puppet theater, and $1 million to the Cleveland Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum for a single exhibi

 
 
Akron lawmaker will work to combat infant mortality rate, other minority health disparities
April 26, 2016

State Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) today announced her recent appointment to the Ohio Commission on Minority Health (OCMH). As a board member, Sykes will work to support the commission’s efforts to address health disparities among minority populations, including the infant mortality rate for African Americans. According to the Ohio Department of Health, African American babies die at roughly twice the rate of white babies in Ohio.

 
 

Every Ohioan depends on clean, safe water. Water is easy to take for granted. Turn on the faucet, and it is available.

Ohio is a water-rich state, bounded by Lake Erie on the north and the Ohio River on the south, with many streams and rivers within its borders.

In recent years, there have been concerns about the role Ohio’s agriculture community plays in protecting our environment, specifically as it relates to water quality. The good news is – through the passage of comprehensive legislation and detailed environmental regulations, Ohio has in place a robust infrastructure that can and does efficiently and effectively preserve our land, air and water.

 
 
Celebrated feminist, journalist discusses Ohio issues during "Real Talk" forum
April 21, 2016
Gloria Steinem joins women lawmakers for day at the Statehouse

The Ohio House Democratic Women’s Caucus (OHDWC) today is hosting nationally renowned American feminist, activist and journalist Gloria Steinem for a series of events at the Ohio Statehouse. Born in Toledo, Ohio, Gloria Steinem was a key figure during the women’s rights movement of the late 1960’s and has received numerous bestselling book awards for her novels on women’s issues on personal, national and global levels. 

“Gloria Steinem is an inspiring hero and role-model for women in Ohio and across the nation,” said Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo), chair of the OHDWC. “From the gender wage gap, to restrictions on women’s access to healthcare, to outdated and incomplete laws against rape, many of the challenges women in Ohio face today are the same issues Gloria has been fighting against and raising awareness of for decades. The challenges we face in Ohio are certainly real, but they are not insurmountable if we come together, speak with one voice and make a stand.”