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Say proposal will ensure fair reviews that build community trust
December 30, 2015

State Reps. Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights) and Christie Kuhns (D-Cincinnati) this week introduced a justice reform measure to ensure fair, independent investigations when a law enforcement officer uses deadly force. The legislative proposal follows the Cuyahoga County prosecutor’s grand jury investigation into the police-led deadly shooting of 12-year old Tamir Rice last November. The grand jury ultimately declined to bring charges against the officers involved.

“Communities must be able to believe that when an officer takes the life of a civilian, an independent and fair investigation will provide answers and facts that can be trusted,” said Boyd. “This bill will help restore faith in the justice system by cutting down on questions of bias or partiality during these types of investigations.”

The new legislation would require that at least two outside law enforcement officials conduct investigations into an officer’s use of deadly force. The outside investigators would be required to come from jurisdictions separate than that of the officer under investigation.

Upon completion of an investigation, a report will be submitted to the local prosecutor. If it is determined that no crime was committed, the report must be made available to the public.

“The introduction of our bill is a necessary action in creating greater public trust in our criminal justice system,” said Kuhns. “We need to maintain a system where fairness and justice are the top priorities.”

 
 
OLBC President Alicia Reece responds to Tamir Rice grand jury decision

Ohio Legislative Black Caucus President and State Rep. Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati) responded today to the news that a Cleveland grand jury has decided to not bring charges against police officers involved in the shooting death of 12-year old Tamir Rice that occurred last November. 

“Today’s decision is disappointing and disheartening for all those left searching for meaning and answers in the wake of such an unthinkable tragedy that claimed the life of an innocent young boy, Tamir Rice. The year-long grand jury process that brought us today’s decision underscores our state’s immediate need for action on social and criminal justice reforms, especially as they relate to making the grand jury process more transparent,” said Reece. “The Ohio Legislative Black Caucus will continue to push for this and other commonsense criminal justice reforms that provide solutions to help restore faith in the criminal justice system and trust between law enforcement and the public. My heart and prayers go out to Tamir Rice’s family and friends.”

 
 

State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) released the following statement on the conclusion of Attorney General DeWine’s misguided investigation of Planned Parenthood:

"It's no surprise that Attorney General DeWine has announced the end of his failed investigation on a Friday afternoon. This harassment of Planned Parenthood and its patients is inexcusable. The attempt to paint the women's healthcare provider as a lawbreaker is sad and deeply troubling. Governor Kasich's equally weak call for his Health Department to take legal action is dangerous, and puts women in harm's way. I stand with Planned Parenthood because it is a trusted and valuable resource for women and men in Ohio." 

 
 
'Buffer zone' legislation aims to keep patients, employees safe from harassment and violence
December 9, 2015

State Reps. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) and Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland) held a news conference today to announce House Bill 408 (HB 408), legislation that would create a buffer zone for patients and medical staff at reproductive healthcare providers. The bill would also provide victims of non-physical harassment the ability to pursue legal action. 

 
 
Launches investigation into nearly 900 uncounted absentee ballots
December 8, 2015

State Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) and State Rep. and President of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus (OLBC) Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati) responded today to Secretary of State Jon Husted’s announcement that his office is looking into the nearly 900 absentee ballots in Summit County that went uncounted this past election due to lack of postmarks. The Democratic lawmakers had previously called on the secretary of state to launch an investigation into the troubling postmark discrepancies that voided hundreds of votes. 

 
 
Bipartisan legislation outlines body camera policies based on national best practices
December 7, 2015

State Reps. Kevin Boyce (D-Columbus) and Cheryl Grossman (R-Grove City) recently introduced new legislation to create consistent standards which must be included in a law enforcement agency’s body camera policy. 

 
 
Says latest effort is part of a growing trend of policies that hurt working men and women
December 1, 2015

House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) today spoke out against anti-worker restrictions the Republican-controlled Ohio legislature continues to push this year. The latest attack on working families, Republican Tom Brinkman’s right to work” legislation – House Bill 377, would effectively weaken collective bargaining rights in the state by outlawing what are known as fair share fees, or costs stemming from the collective bargaining process that typically brings higher wages and better benefits for all employees, union and non-union alike. A Republican-led panel will consider Brinkman’s bill later this afternoon.

“So-called right to work restrictions do not create jobs – instead, they start a race to the bottom, lowering the quality of life for families by making people and communities poorer and workers less safe,” said Leader Strahorn. “Workers in right to work for less states take home less pay, face higher poverty and infant mortality rates, and are more likely to die on the job. There is a reason workers in Ohio are not lining up in support of right to work: because they know right to work is wrong. It is wrong for working families and it is wrong for our state.”

National studies show that workers in states with right to work for less restrictions have a 36 percent higher chance of dying on the job and are stuck in more low-wage occupations than workers in free-bargaining states like Ohio. The Economic Policy Institute calculates that workers in states with right to work restrictions earn $1,540 less a year, while U.S. Census Bureau data shows that median family income is at least $6,000 less compared to other states.

A study by The National Education Association also reveals that these same right to work for less states invest some $3,000 less per-pupil for public education than their free-bargaining counterparts. Children and families in right to work for less states are a

 
 
Nearly 900 absentee ballots in Summit County tossed due to lack of postmark
November 19, 2015

State Rep. and President of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus (OLBC) Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati) joined Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) today in calling for a statewide investigation following troubling reports that hundreds of Akron voters had their absentee ballots voided because they lacked a postmark. 

 
 
Calls for hearing on bill to require written policies, public investigatory reports
November 18, 2015
Rep. Reece pushes for more transparency in officer-involved fatality investigations

State Rep. and President of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati) and State Rep. Jonathan Dever (R-Cincinnati) recently held a news conference to discuss House Bill 380, newly introduced legislation to create a more transparent investigative process with deaths that result from a law enforcement officer’s use of a firearm.

 
 
Lawmakers offer testimony on bill to require two-person crew
November 18, 2015

State Reps. Michael P. Sheehy (D-Oregon) and Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) provided sponsor testimony this week before the House Commerce and Labor Committee for House Bill 371 (HB 371), legislation to require freight train operating crews to consist of at least two people.