State Rep. Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) today announced the Ohio Senate’s unanimous passage of House Bill 94, marking its last legislative stop before Gov. John Kasich’s anticipated signature into law. Jointly sponsored by Rep. Rick Perales (R-Beavercreek), the bipartisan legislation establishes February as Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month in Ohio in an effort to raise awareness around teen dating violence in hopes of preventing abuse and helping victims find safety.
“By designating February Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, we are giving light to something that is tragically effecting our youth at high rates,” said Sykes. “Increasing public awareness and raising the profile of this problem in schools, communities and throughout our state will help more people get the help they need to stop the cycle of violence.”
The Office of Criminal Justice Services Family Violence Prevention Center defines dating abuse as a pattern of controlling behavior that someone uses against his or her girlfriend or boyfriend. Abuse can cause injury or even death, but does not have to be physical. One in five children between the ages of 11-14 say their friends are victims of dating violence. Teens who are victims of dating violence are more likely to be depressed and do poorly in school.
State Rep. Tavia Galonski (D-Akron) released a statement today responding to the Barberton shooting that took place Tuesday, Oct. 3 near Barber Road:
“In the wake of the unthinkable horror in Las Vegas, it is absolutely devastating to be faced with an active shooter here at home, in our community. I am immensely grateful to the Barberton, Norton, and Copley first responders who ran toward danger to keep us safe. Because of their swift and brave response, the suspect was taken into custody and another potential tragedy has been avoided.”
Galonski represents Ohio’s 35th district, which is comprised of parts of Akron and Barberton.
State Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) today introduced House Bill 368, The Fair Lending through Land Contracts Act, which will establish new protections for Ohioans who are buying homes through “lease to own” or “rent to own” agreements. Along with protecting consumers, the legislation will strengthen communities throughout the state by requiring sellers to correct code violations and pay outstanding fines before they can enter into a land installment contract (LIC) with a prospective buyer.
“When done right, these contracts provide a path to home ownership for people who do not qualify for a traditional mortgage loan,” said Lepore-Hagan. “It is unfortunate that a growing number of unscrupulous firms are now using the agreements to trap trusting buyers in predatory loans.”
Rep. Lepore-Hagan drafted the legislation in response to concerns about abuses in the LIC market raised by consumers, traditional lenders, advocacy organizations, local government officials and the news media.
“Companies swooped into Ohio and other states devastated by the collapse of the housing market, bought homes for pennies on the dollar, inflated the value of the homes, then enticed borrowers to enter into high-interest, long-term loans they have little, if any, chance or repaying,” Lepore-Hagan said.
The problem has become so severe that the City of Cincinnati recently filed suit against Harbour Portfolio Advisors, the nation’s largest seller of foreclosed properties, alleging
State Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire) today was named to a four-member, bipartisan panel of state legislators to review and suggest reforms to the way Ohio draws districts for congressional seats. Ohio voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot initiative in 2015 to reform redistricting for statehouse districts.
“Our Democracy is strongest when people feel like their vote counts, and that starts with putting an end to gerrymandering in Ohio,” said state Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire). “We expect a process that is open, transparent and accountable to all public voices, groups and citizens who want change and progress. We need to put our political differences aside and do right by those who sent us here.”
Four lawmakers, two Republicans and two Democrats, will review current congressional redistricting practices, gather input from the public and make recommendations to the General Assembly later this year. Any action state lawmakers take would need approval from the voters, and a proposal could be placed on the statewide ballot as early as next year.
“Throughout his time at the Statehouse, Rep. Cera has been a voice for fairness and accountability. His experience, knowledge and expertise will be invaluable to this group and to the taxpayers who want us to work together to deliver results,” said Minority Leader Rep. Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton).
Working group meetings are expected to be held as soon as this month, though official dates and times have yet to be released.
State Rep. Bernadine Kennedy Kent (D-Columbus) today released the following statement in response to the deadly Las Vegas Strip shooting which claimed the lives of at least 50 people and injured hundreds:
"I am shocked and dismayed at the latest attack in Las Vegas. With more than fifty killed and 200 injured, the media is calling this attack the ‘deadliest’ shooting in U.S. History. My heart goes out to the many victims and their families, who I can only imagine feel hopeless, alone, and motionless as they struggle to cope with the unbearably unexpected.
“I am thankful to law enforcement for fighting to protect one of our most basic human needs – safety. Though our instinct is to run away from gunfire and bullets, our law enforcement officers run toward the sound of gunfire to save lives; and for that, we are extremely grateful.”
State Rep. Hearcel Craig (D-Columbus) and Franklin County Recorder Danny O’Connor today announced new legislation to give property owners the freedom to redact discriminatory language from their online housing documents.
The proposed law change follows O’Connor’s discoveries of racially discriminating language, or restrictive covenants, expressed in thousands of property documents that historically barred African Americans, Jews and others from owning a home in some neighborhoods.
“Even though this type of discrimination is not enforceable, I want to make it clear that in Ohio, and certainly in Franklin County, we do not condone offensive or discriminatory language of any kind,” said O’Connor.
Housing discrimination referenced in these property documents has been unlawful and unenforceable since a 1948 Supreme Court ruling and the enactment of the Fair Housing Act of 1968. However, under current Ohio law, county recorders do not hold the authority to edit documents once they have been recorded, regardless of the content.
“As a military veteran and state representative, I believe that protecting our country’s fundamental values of freedom and equality are vital to ensuring a high quality of life for everyone,” said Craig. “This language undermines our strides, advancement and progress as a community and nation. Redacting it is a small, but simple step we can take to further thoughtful dialogue within our communities, while showing would-be residents and businesses that we are not stuck in shadows of our past.”
The proposed legislation would specifically allow property owners, attorneys, title companies and other agents authorized to do business in Ohio to notify their recorder’s office of a potential restrictive covenant, as well as give the recorder permission to redact a restrictive covenant from an online version of the property document. The original
Governing magazine today announced State Rep. Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) has been selected as one of 25 women elected leaders to the Women in Government Leadership Program Class of 2018. The women selected for the program are changing the face of politics in America, according to the publication, from council chambers to statehouses, during a tumultuous time in American history. The program celebrates their service, courage and commitment to advancing good government.
“It is an honor to be selected for the 2018 Women in Government Leadership Program. I look forward to collaborating and sharing experiences with intelligent and innovative women from all levels of government across the United States,” said Sykes.
Governing Institute’s Women in Government Leadership Program brings together outstanding elected women leaders from across the nation to acknowledge their contributions, provide leadership development and mentor the next generation of women leaders to run for office.
“The women in the Class of 2018 are subject matter experts, negotiators, civic activists and pioneers,” said Julia Burrows, director of the Governing Institute. “Each year, the program adds to a national network, with 25 new members who establish deep friendships, provide consultation and campaign support and recruit future female candidates. The common goals of gender parity and advancing good government forge a bond that rises above partisanship and will pay dividends for many generations.”
The 25 women in the program’s new class will be profiled in the February 2018 issue of Governing magazine and will participate in Governing events throughout the coming year.
The Class of 2018 will gather for their first leadership conference in November in Phoenix, Arizona.
Sponsors state Reps. David Leland (D-Columbus) and Thomas West (D-Canton) today announced the Senate passage of their legislation designating October 7 as “Moses Fleetwood Walker Day” in the state of Ohio to honor the nation’s first professional African American baseball player.
“Honoring Moses ‘Fleetwood’ Walker is more than just honoring a baseball player, because anytime we recognize and celebrate the fight for equality in our society, it moves the whole country forward,” said Leland, who also serves on the board of trustees for the Columbus Clippers, the Cleveland Indians’ Triple A farm team.
The Republican-controlled Ohio House of Representatives held a second committee hearing on legislation that critics say would reduce wages and benefits for non-union and union workers in construction and building trade careers.
The legislation, House bill 163, would effectively limit wages and benefits for workers by kicking communities off the state’s prevailing wage structure before allowing them to reapply. Under current law, local communities and state universities undertaking public construction projects hire contractors who pay employees an industry-recognized standard wage, or prevailing wage, that is in line with their profession.
“Prevailing wages helped build the American middle class while delivering safe buildings to taxpayers on time and under budget,” said the state Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown), the lead Democrat on the House Commerce and Labor Committee. “It would be a mistake to take us back to a time when poverty wages and dangerous buildings were considered the standard.”
The Ohio Department of Commerce works with the U.S. Department of Labor to calculate prevailing wages and benefits to protect workers with careers as plumbers, painters, roofers, electricians, masons, elevator technicians, metal fabricators, and bricklayers.
“Without fair wages, we’re looking at contractors who want to cut corners to increase company profits by hiring out-of-state and foreign workers with little experience for next to nothing,” added Lepore-Hagan. “It’s hypocritical for Republicans to encourage children to learn a trade or go to career-tech while they roll back wages and benefits that let those same workers buy a car, own their home and have a family. People are tired of politicians who say one thing and do another.”
Ohio’s “prevailing wage” laws have encouraged career paths for skilled workers and artisans in the b