On the heels of the first state Oil and Gas Commission meeting Thursday, state Rep. David Leland (D-Columbus) today introduced legislation that would protect Ohio’s parks and nature preserves from the impacts of fracking. The proposed bill will ensure adequate protections for Ohio’s state and local parks by refusing any new well permits for lands typically enjoyed by families and people who enjoy the outdoors.
“It is my hope that we can all share a vision for our state that includes meeting our energy needs without ever having to sacrifice our beautiful state and local parks, forests, nature preserves, and wildlife areas,” said Leland. “Conserving Ohio’s public lands ensures they will be around for future generations to utilize and enjoy.”
This year’s state-budget-veto showdown between Gov. Kasich and Ohio House Republicans resulted in the appointment of members to the vacant Oil and Gas Commission, which is responsible for issuing drilling licenses for state lands. The commission held its first meeting Thursday in Columbus.
The footprint and disruption of fracking, or horizontal drilling, is much larger than conventional oil and gas wells, raising additional concerns over habitat fragmentation and wetland destruction. Fracking also typically costs Ohio’s communities much more in added cleanup, greater wear and tear on roads, and significant emergency response needs.
Ohio House Democratic lawmakers today sent a letter to Ohio Department of Medicaid Director Barbara Sears, during the agency’s public comment period, calling on the agency to rethink controversial and partisan Medicaid restrictions. The new restrictions would deny some qualifying Medicaid recipients their healthcare without notice if they cannot work a specified number of hours in a given month.
Ohio Democratic state lawmakers, workers and advocates today announced a bill to address Ohio’s bad economic growth and low wages with new legislation to increase Ohio’s minimum wage to $15 per hour. House Assistant Democratic Whip Brigid Kelly (D-Cincinnati), Senate Assistant Democratic Whip Cecil Thomas (D-Cincinnati) and state Senator Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) called for the legislation, which would give a raise to 1.8 million Ohioans.
Today State Reps. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) and Michael Sheehy (D-Oregon) introduced a resolution urging the Director of the United States Environmental Protection Agency to add Lake Erie’s Western Basin to the list of impaired waters. The move follows a State of the State address that left the two Toledo-area representatives disappointed with the lack of urgency surrounding the continued water quality crisis in Northwest Ohio.
“To seriously address harmful algal blooms in our state requires a firm commitment to reform and to exploring all avenues for action,” said Rep. Fedor. “I was hopeful that Ohio and federal governments would treat the ongoing crisis with more resolve and that last week’s State of the State address would outline some real policy initiatives. It is past time to put Lake Erie and the lives we have built here first.”
This resolution recognizes that Lake Erie’s Western Basin is facing a water quality crisis, plagued by pollution, algal blooms, and fish kills. Both Rep. Fedor and Rep. Sheehy were serving Toledo in the Ohio House of Representatives in 2014 when an algal bloom left 500,000 Toledoans without safe drinking water. Lake Erie’s Western Basin still requires massive doses of chlorine to be considered safefor consumption, continually impacting much of the region.
“The algae problem is far too critical to continue the weak actions taken by the current state and federal administrations,” said Rep. Sheehy. “If swift and decisive action is not taken now, Ohioans along the coast will continue to lose income, wildlife, and many more resources from Lake Erie.”
Unlike Ohio, Michigan did include the open waters in its jurisdiction on its list of impaired waters that it submitted to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, which approved that list. The United States EPA already has declared Michigan’sportion of Lake Erie impair
Ohio House Democratic lawmakers this evening responded to Gov. Kasich’s annual State of the State address in Westerville, Ohio. Though the governor touted a comeback for the Buckeye State, House Democrats noted that Ohioans disproportionately face lower quality-of-life standards than the rest of the nation.
“Ohio used to lead the nation in innovation and economic opportunity. We were first in flight, we have sent men to the moon and even more to the White House,” said House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton). “Now we lead the in all the wrong ways. We’ve tried everything their way for seven years straight. It’s just not working for the middle class and working families.”
Ohio House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) today issued the following statement in response to Gov. John Kasich’s gun safety announcement:
“Today we are at a breaking point, where the American epidemic of gun violence and the activism of our nation’s young people are forcing politicians to retreat from the once-comfortable shadows of partisan, political ideology. This gives us hope and reaffirms our continued work to keep our schools, places of worship, and public settings free from the fear that gun violence holds over our everyday lives. We welcome anyone who is serious about gun safety to the table, and we continue to stand ready to work with anyone who supports restoring commonsense and sanity to the ongoing American dialogue on how we form a more perfect Union.”
State Rep. David Leland (D-Columbus) issued the following statement today in response to Gov. John Kasich’s proposed gun safety framework in Ohio:
“By putting partisan divides behind us, we will be closer to the day when our children don’t have to live in fear of gun violence .Keeping those we love safe and protected from senseless, random acts of violence should be our highest priority. The framework proposed by the governor today brings us closer to that point. Ultimately, I believe we also need to have a serious conversation about prohibiting firearm and ammunition sales to people under the age of 21 in Ohio.”
State Reps. John Boccieri (D-Poland) and Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) today applauded the House passage of House Bill 415, legislation that would send half of any state surplus revenue to a new Local Government Road Improvement Fund to fix potholes and fund local road improvements.
“There is absolutely no reason Ohio needs to add more to the $2.5 billion dollars in the Rainy Day Fund with the condition of our roads,” said Boccieri. “Finally, the legislature is listening to our citizens."
Excess state revenues can develop every two years, at the end of the state’s fiscal year, if the state budgeted for more than was spent. In recent years, surplus revenue has gone to fund the state’s emergency fund, the Rainy Day Fund.
“This bill is a common-sense measure to fix our roads and bridges. It helps local communities and helps create jobs,” said Lepore-Hagan.
Under the legislation, the Office of Budget and Management would tally the length of center lane miles in each county, calculating a dollar amount to be shared by local communities in all 88 counties. The funding is then distributed through counties to townships and municipalities for road repairs.
The bill passed by a vote of 73-13 and now heads to the Senate for consideration.
State Reps. David Leland (D-Columbus) and Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus) today announced legislation that would allow local residents to request for increased roadway safety standards. House Bill (HB) 436 would allow residents or a recognized neighborhood association to petition for a stop sign or lower speed limits on their street.
“Local communities are in the perfect position to know if a stop sign or lower speed limit is in the best interests of their residents,” said Leland. “This bill cuts bureaucratic red tape and unnecessary expenses, and gives Ohioans the flexibility they need to keep our neighborhoods safe.”
Ohio House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) and Democratic House members from across the state today issued statements in support of the Working People’s Day of Action planned for Saturday, February 24 at the Ohio Statehouse. The Ohio march comes on the heels of the introduction of six Republican-sponsored constitutional amendments to implement so-called “right to work” legislation and other workplace restrictions in the Buckeye State.