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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.” 

 
 
State estimates Ohioans will lose coverage under plan signed by Kasich
April 21, 2016

State Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Akron), the lead Democratic member on the Health and Human Services House budget panel, today joined House Democratic lawmakers to file a formal protest with the Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM), opposing proposed restrictions and additional barriers to healthcare for working poor Ohioans. 

 
 
State lawmakers say U.S. Senate must uphold constitutional duty to advise and consent on Supreme Court nomination
April 20, 2016

State Rep. Dan Ramos (D-Lorain) and State Sen. Michael Skindell (D-Lakewood) today introduced companion legislation in their respective chambers to urge the U.S. Senate to consider the nomination of Appeals Court Judge Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court. The president nominated Garland on March 16, but the U.S. Senate has so far refused to hold hearings to consider his nomination.

 
 

Ohio Legislative Black Caucus (OLBC) President and State Rep. Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati) today applauded the selection of Harriet Tubman as the new face of the U.S. $20 bill.

 
 
Legislation would give caller direct access to 9-1-1 responders
April 15, 2016

In honor of National Public Safety Telecommunications Week, State Rep. Greta Johnson (D-Akron) today announced the introduction of “Kari’s Law”, legislation that aims to make it easier for Ohioans to dial 9-1-1 in cases of emergency. The bill would require multi-line telephone systems—such as the ones used by hotels and offices—to allow direct access to 9-1-1, eliminating the need for a dial out number.