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Lawmaker says state must take concrete steps to achieve gender equality in Ohio
March 8, 2016

As the world celebrates “International Women’s Day,” an annual event recognized by the United Nations to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, Rep. Greta Johnson (D-Akron) today called for meaningful state action on issues of gender equality. 

 
 
Says latest attack prevents young people from having say in direction of their country
March 4, 2016
Clyde criticizes new, backroom attack on student access to polls

State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) today issued a response to Sec. Jon Husted’s directive that excludes 17-year-olds from presidential primary voting. Ohio has permitted those who will be 18 years old before the November election to vote in the presidential primary since 1981.

“I was astonished to learn that 17-year-old Ohioans who will legally become adults before the November election are now being prohibited from having a say in the direction of their country at the presidential ballot box during the primary. Ohio’s pro-voter practice that welcomes young adults into the process has been on the books since 1981,” said Clyde. 

“Secretary Husted’s latest underhanded, backroom attack on our most fundamental freedom should have us all concerned – about this and about his repeated claims he has made it easier to vote in Ohio – when in fact he continues to find ways to make it harder,” Clyde continued.

 
 
Says commission members pushing for all-appointed school board undermine Ohio teachers, parents and children
March 4, 2016

State Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo), who serves as the Ranking Member of the House Education Committee, today called on legislative leaders in both the House and Senate to ensure that Democratic members of the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Committee represent the principles and values of the teachers, parents and students they were elected to serve. 

“We cannot enable a public official, under the guise of representing Democratic values, to push an agenda that is contrary to our party’s principles and destructive to our public education system,” said Fedor, in her letter. “Doing so would betray our brothers and sisters in labor who teach and nurture children each day in public schools across Ohio, and the working families who rightfully expect the state to provide their children with an excellent education that prepares them for future success.”

Full copy of the letter is below:

March 4, 2016

Dear Leader Strahorn and Senator Schiavoni,

I write as the Ranking Member of the House Education Committee to ask you both to exercise all means within your power to explore the removal of Paula Brooks from the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission (OCMC) Committee on Education, Public Institutions, and Local Government. Brooks has worked consistently for the past year to subvert the Democratic agenda to strengthen public education, using her place on the committee to instead promote the agenda of online charter school magnate William Lager.

Democratic members should stand firmly behind the principle of a high quality public education for all students. This is inconsistent with the Lager agenda that Brooks promotes: removing elected members from the state board of education, stripping local communities of elected school boards, and calling into question the Ohio Constitution’s “thorough and efficient” clause upon which Ohio’s commitment to our children rests.

 
 
Ohio Supreme Court finds state sentencing laws jeopardize victims' rights to full protection from offenders
March 2, 2016

State Rep. Greta Johnson (D-Akron) this week introduced House Bill 478, new sentencing reform legislation to close a loophole that allows felons to continue harassing, intimidating and stalking their victims from behind bars. A recent Ohio Supreme Court decision left a victim of kidnapping and rape without the protection of a no-contact order, essentially allowing the imprisoned offender to continue contacting their victim until a civil protection order could be established through a separate court process. 

“Every citizen deserves to feel safe under the protection of the law, especially victims of crime,” said Johnson. “Unfortunately, some criminals continue to harass and threaten their victims even from behind bars. The legislature must act immediately to close this loophole and ease the burden on victims seeking protection.”

 
 
Legislation would provide two-year tax credit for Ohio college students
March 2, 2016

State Rep. Dan Ramos (D-Lorain) this week introduced legislation to make higher education more accessible and affordable by creating a tuition tax credit for Ohio’s college students.

 
 
Say PARCC test inaccuracies render report cards useless, damage schools
February 25, 2016
Dem education leaders call for pause on state school report cards that harm students

State Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) today joined Ohio Board of Education member A.J. Wagner to call for a pause on faulty state school report cards that the duo says hurts kids, communities and school districts. The lawmakers contend that the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC) tests used to develop the Ohio School Report Card – at an estimated cost of $200 million – were not properly vetted, but in fact were hastily designed and put into use without sufficient validation. 

“Every grade on these report cards is tainted by unverified, arbitrary, poorly designed and implemented tests that have been thrown out by the Ohio legislature,” said Fedor, who serves as ranking minority member on the House Education Committee. “The flaws are so pervasive that the grades on the Ohio School Report Cards should not be counted for anything. The state calls it a safe harbor, which should lead one to question: why there are there report cards at all?” 

 
 
Says cracking down on inhumane treatment could lead to prevention of other felony offenses
February 24, 2016

Rep. Heather Bishoff (D-Blacklick) today heralded the House passage of House Bill (HB) 215, legislation to increase penalties for those who knowingly engage in activities associated with cockfighting, bearbaiting, or pitting an animal against another. Joint sponsored by Rep. Bishoff and Rep. Barbara Sears (R-Monclova Township), HB 215 will require anyone found guilty of pitting an animal against another to be charged with a felony offense.

“States with weak cockfighting laws become a hub for a variety of illegal activity, such as gambling, narcotics trafficking and homicide,” said Bishoff. “By elevating the offense from a minor misdemeanor to a felony charge, we send a clear message to Ohioans and the nation that Ohio cares about animal welfare.”

 
 
Community leaders, citizens come together for State of Black Ohioans, state action on barriers facing African American community
February 24, 2016
Black lawmakers take action on "Justice for All" agenda during statewide gathering at Statehouse

State Rep. and Ohio Legislative Black Caucus (OLBC) President Alicia Reece today joined OLBC lawmakers, community leaders and hundreds of citizens from around Ohio at the Statehouse for the OLBC’s Fourth Annual Day of Action. The two-hour event began with the State of Black Ohioans address from Reece, followed by a presentation of the OLBC’s 2016 “Justice for All” policy agenda. 

“Black Ohio taxpayers deserve an up-or-down vote from the legislature on bills that create economic stability for their families, address health disparities, allow our children to learn the skills they need to succeed, and restore faith in a criminal justice system that has failed a generation of black Ohioans,” said Reece. “We cannot wait any longer to confront the challenges facing our community. We had the taskforces and we have the facts – now the public wants immediate action from the Statehouse.”  

 
 

House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) today issued the following statement in response to Gov. Kasich signing House Bill 294, legislation defunding Planned Parenthood and groups that contract with the organization: 

“The vast majority of Ohioans support Planned Parenthood because they know it opens the doors to healthcare for underserved populations that have trouble accessing comprehensive healthcare services like cancer screenings and domestic violence prevention initiatives. From low-income urban centers to remote rural communities, Ohioans from all walks of life turn to Planned Parenthood in times of medical need.” 

 
 
Lawmakers will discuss State of Black Ohio, unveil "Justice for All" agenda
February 19, 2016

State Rep. and Ohio Legislative Black Caucus (OLBC) President Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati) will join OLBC members, community leaders and citizens from around the state for the OLBC’s fourth Annual Day of Action next Wednesday, February 24, at the Riffe Center Capitol Theatre Lobby from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

This year’s event will highlight the OLBC’s 2016 agenda on issues that are important to Ohio’s African American community – including voting rights, jobs and economic opportunities, criminal justice reform, infant mortality, and more.

“As we celebrate black history month, citizens from all over the state will gather at their capitol to make their voices heard. Our constituents, the people of Ohio, are tired of sitting on the sidelines, waiting for the legislature to act on issues like justice reform, voting rights, economic opportunity and infant mortality,” said Reece. “That is why we will be calling for action to effect positive change on a statewide level to make sure the future looks brighter for African Americans in Ohio. As we enter the new year, African-American unemployment remains double the state average and black babies are dying at twice the rate of white babies. We must move beyond just words by taking action to help address the challenges faced by the African American community in Ohio.”

WHAT:           The Ohio Legislative Black Caucus Annual Day of Action

WHO:             Ohio Legislative Black Caucus, advocates, activists, faith community

WHEN:           Wednesday, Feb. 24

                     10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.