Wednesday, December 30, 2009

State Senator Teresa Fedor Presents Human Trafficking Awareness Day at the Ohio Statehouse

Keynote address by Mark Lagon, CEO of the Polaris Project
January 11, 2010
8:30am - 11:30am
Statehouse Atrium

Free and open to the public
Anti-Trafficking organizations will have information tables

Presented by State Senator Teresa Fedor
For details or questions, contact Ursula Barrera at:
or (614) 466-5204

To download the flyer and agenda, please click here.
(Adobe Acrobat Required - to download, click here.)

To view the flyer and agenda in your web browser, simply click on the images below.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Three Bills Sponsored by Ohio Senate Democrats Signed into Law Today

Three bills sponsored by Ohio Senate Democrats were signed into law by Governor Ted Strickland today.

Senator Sue Morano's SB 89 was signed this morning, followed by Senator Eric Kearney's SB 106, and Senator Joe Schiavoni's SB 124.

  • Senator Morano (D-Lorain) sponsored SB 89, to address a critical shortage in nursing educators that has forced nursing schools in Ohio and across the nation to turn away qualified applicants. Read details on SB 89 here.
  • Senator Schiavoni (D-Canfield) sponsored SB 124, to make the transfer of property upon death less complex for Ohioans. The bill changes the transfer of death designation instrument from a deed to an affidavit. Read details on SB 124 here.
  • Senator Kearney (D-Cincinnati) sponsored SB 106 with Senator Steve Buehrer (R-Delta), to clarify the law dealing with trusts in divorce proceedings and closing a loophole under which estate settlements can be delayed for years. Read details on SB 106 here.

(Click on pictures for hi-res images)
Watch video of the Senators' reactions here.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Senator Morano - December E-Newsletter Available

Senator Sue Morano's December E-Newsletter is now available to download online.

To download, click here.

(Free Adobe Acrobat Reader required - to download, click here.)

Senator Schiavoni - December E-Newsletter II Available

Senator Joe Schiavoni's December E-Newsletter II is now available to download online.

Click here to download.

(Free Adobe Acrobat Reader required. Click here to download.)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Senator Smith - December E-Newsletter

Senator Shirley Smith's December E-Newsletter is now available to download online.

Click here to download

(Free Adobe Acrobat Reader required - click here to get it)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Senate Democratic Leader Capri S. Cafaro comments on passage of House Bill 318

ColumbuS – Senate Democratic Leader Capri S. Cafaro (D-Hubbard) released the following statement today after the Ohio Senate passed substitute House Bill 318.

“I am pleased the Ohio Senate has finally passed House Bill 318 nearly two months after the legislation reached our chamber. Throughout this budget process the Senate Democratic Caucus stood firm in support of a simple straight forward plan with widespread support from business, labor, law enforcement, teachers, university leaders and Ohio’s major newspapers. HB 318 provides the stable funding that Ohio’s schools and universities need while also protecting social services from devastating cuts.

“We are also pleased the budget agreement contains our recommendation for three pilot projects to objectively evaluate all aspects of construction reform. Our Caucus strongly believes changes to construction rules must contain assurances that minority businesses are fairly represented on the job site.”

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Ohio General Assembly Passes Senator Morano’s Comprehensive Nursing Education Bill

Senate Bill 89 heads to Governor Strickland to receive his signature

COLUMBUS – The Ohio General Assembly passed Senator Sue Morano’s Comprehensive Nursing Education Bill (SB 89) today. This bill addresses a critical shortage in nursing educators across Ohio. SB 89 now awaits Governor Strickland’s signature.

“This is an exciting day for Ohio, for its nurses, and for those who want to become nurses,” said Senator Morano (D-Lorain). “Today, we took another step toward ending the nursing shortage in this state.”

Nationally, 65% of nursing schools cited faculty shortages as the reason for not accepting qualified applicants. In the 2005-2006 academic year, 88,000 qualified applicants were turned away from the nation’s nursing schools due to faculty shortages.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that by the year 2020 there will be a 36% shortfall in Registered Nurses (RNs) nationwide. In the State of Ohio alone, 40% of practicing nurses are expected to leave the field within the next 10 years, due in large part to retirement.

“I have worked tirelessly with Nursing organizations from across the state, the General Assembly, and my staff to get the Comprehensive Nursing Education Bill to where it is today,” said Senator Morano.

Senate Bill 89 incorporates recommendations of the General Assembly’s Nursing Education Study Committee chaired by Senator Morano. The committee made the following recommendations contained in Senate Bill 89:
  • SB 89 will restructure the allocation of Nurse Education Assistance Program (NEALP): The Chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents would be given the authority to reallocate 25% of NEALP. The money would be directed to nursing programs with the most need for assistance.
  • SB 89 will enable the Ohio Skills Bank to serve as mediator between universities and hospitals: The Ohio Skills Bank, administered by the Board of Regents, would collaborate with educational programs to meet the needs for nursing education in every region of the state. The goal of this provision is to enable nurses to serve as mentors for nursing students, while also allowing hospitals and nursing programs to work together in coming up with solutions to the nursing educator shortage.
  • SB 89 will adjust requirements for Advance Practice Nurses (APN): APNs that have had prescriptive authority in another state for at least one continuous year within the last three years would not be required to repeat their APN training under an Ohio physician. These APNs would need to be able to provide the appropriate documentation to the Ohio Board of Nursing in order to get their license.
“This is a well thought out, smart, bipartisan-supported piece of legislation,” said State Representative Dan Stewart (D-Columbus) in House session yesterday.

Since it was introduced, the Comprehensive Nursing Education Bill has garnered support from the Ohio Board of Nursing, the Ohio Nurses Association, the American Nurses Association, AARP, and the Deans of the Nursing Schools of Otterbein College, Mount Carmel, North Central State College, and the Ohio State University.

The Comprehensive Nursing Education Bill was recently amended to restore loss of funding to Ohio’s Drug Repository Program. Fiscal Year ’09 funding to the Drug Repository Program will be maintained. Failure to exempt Drug Repositories from this reduction would have a negative impact on local governmental bodies like Lorain’s. The Lorain County Board of Mental Health has saved nearly $130,000 in pharmaceutical costs for severely disabled adults in Lorain County since the Drug Repository Program opened at Buderer Pharmacy in Sandusky. Others that benefit greatly from the program senior citizens who have reached the doughnut hole in their Medicare Part D benefits.

Senate Bill 89 now proceeds to Governor Ted Strickland to be signed into law.

Besides her duties in the General Assembly, Senator Morano is also a Registered Nurse who still works 3 nights a month in the Intensive Care Unit at Community Health Partners Hospital in Lorain.

To view floor testimony on Senate Bill 89, visit the following link:
(The Ohio Channel)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Senator Cafaro Votes Against Oil and Gas Drilling Bill

Columbus — Senate Democratic Leader Capri S. Cafaro (D-Hubbard) voted against Senate Bill 165 today because the legislation falls short of providing necessary safeguards for Ohioans who live near oil and gas wells. Senator Cafaro offered two amendments to the bill that addressed the concerns of residents of the 32nd Senate District. However, neither amendment was included in the final version of SB 165.

“I cast my vote to stand up for the people of my district and I hope the House of Representatives will correct the bill’s shortcomings before it becomes law,” said Senator Cafaro. “I am greatly disappointed that more residential safeguards did not become part of the bill.”

Senator Cafaro offered an amendment to prohibit the drilling of oil or gas wells within 1,000 feet of a residential dwelling, instead of the 150 foot requirement contained in the bill. “A gas well explosion that blew a home off its foundation in Geauga County underscores the need for a larger safety zone,” said Senator Cafaro. “And my amendment would have also protected property values since the FHA will not finance loans for homes within 300 feet of a drill site.”

Senator Cafaro also expressed disappointment that the Senate did not include a provision giving local governments more authority to regulate oil and gas drilling. Prior to 2004, local zoning laws governed where wells could be drilled.

Senator Kearney’s Bill to Boost Savings Rate for Ohioans

Columbus – State Senator Eric H. Kearney (D-Cincinnati) delivered testimony today in the Senate Finance and Financial Institutions Committee for his legislation to boost the personal savings rate in Ohio. Senate Bill 194 would allow anyone filing an Ohio income tax return to have their refund deposited directly into a retirement savings account. Qualified accounts include 401(k) accounts, IRAs, annuities and Keogh plans.

“As the recession has hurt 401(k) values, it is more important than ever that we set aside a little extra for our future,” Senator Kearney said. “This bill makes saving for retirement easier than ever before.”

Economists estimate that a savings rate of 8-10 percent is a good range for long-term sustainability. In September, the national rate dipped to just three percent, a twelve-month low. During the worst period of the recession, the rate was as low as zero percent. There is an alarming trend in which families are dipping into retirement savings in order to pay bills and make ends meet. As families’ savings dwindle, their future financial vulnerability increases.

“Although many Ohioans have become more frugal as the economy has slowed, we must not ignore this opportunity to help ourselves prepare for retirement,” Senator Kearney said. “An increase in savings helps the Ohio and national economy. This legislation will help families withstand the challenges of future economic downturns.”

In addition to making it easier for Ohioans to save, the plan would also save money for the State. Compared with traditional paper checks, the State of Ohio saves approximately forty-cents for every refund issued via direct deposit. According to data from the Department of Taxation, this saved the State of Ohio over $500,000 last year alone.

“If just one in four taxpayers takes advantage of this program, more than $300 million would be deposited into retirement savings accounts statewide,” Senator Kearney added. “This would provide a significant boost to our state’s personal savings rate.”

Senator Eric H. Kearney represents parts of Cincinnati, St. Bernard, Elmwood Place, Cleves, Cheviot, Norwood, Golf Manor, Columbia Township, Deer Park, Silverton, Springfield Township, North Bend and Addyston.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Senator Schiavoni - December E-Newsletter Available Online

Senator Schiavoni's December E-Newsletter is now available to download online.

To download, click here.

(Adobe Acrobat required - to get it, click here)

Senator Morano Applauds Recipients of Tax Credit Awards

Apollo Theatre Receives Historic Preservation Award

OBERLIN – Today, Senator Sue Morano (D-Lorain) applauds the Apollo Theatre in Oberlin for receiving an Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit award.

“I am very pleased that the preservation of this wonderful community asset will continue,” said Senator Morano. “I’ve been seeing movies with my family and friends at the Apollo since I was a child, so it is especially exciting to see how the Apollo owners are restoring this beautiful building while maintaining so much of its original architecture. It’s great to see how much the Oberlin community and College have worked together to renovate this historic property.”

The Historic Preservation Tax Credit awards are part of the Ohio Bipartisan Job Stimulus Plan, which aims to create new jobs while laying the foundation for future economic prosperity. $120 million were set aside in the Plan for Historic Preservation Tax Credits. Today, Governor Ted Strickland and Ohio Department of Development Director Lisa Patt-McDaniel announced 12 awards to owners planning to rehabilitate historic buildings throughout Ohio.

The Apollo Theatre, in its 96 years of business, has been the primary movie-going destination in Oberlin. The renovations will transform the venue into a mixed-use space for movies, live performances, Cinema Studies academic programs from Oberlin College, and a 21st Century media education center.

To read the Governor’s release, click here.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Senator Kearney’s Bill a Step Closer to Becoming Law

Trust Legislation Passes Ohio House of Representatives

Columbus — Today the Ohio House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 106, bipartisan legislation jointly sponsored by State Senator Eric H. Kearney (D-Cincinnati) and Senator Steve Buehrer (R- Delta). The bill clarifies law regarding trusts in divorce proceedings and closes a loophole under which estate settlements can be delayed for years.

“This legislation will go a long way toward modernizing Ohio’s system of estate trusts and prevent unnecessary delays in settlement currently affecting the system,” said Senator Kearney. SB 106 has passed both the House and Senate and will now be referred to a conference committee before final approval by the Governor.

Supported by the Ohio State Bar Association, this legislation will do the following to improve Ohio’s antiquated trust laws.
  • Provide that the termination of a marriage revokes any trust provision that confers a beneficial interest on the former spouse.
  • Excludes from the application of the savings statute certain specified estate and trust proceedings that have limitation periods.
  • Increase from $10,000 or less to $25,000 or less the amount of an estate of a ward that the court may terminate upon application by the guardian, for which the court may distribute the estate assets without a guardianship, and for which the court may authorize the settlement of claims of minors or adult incompetents without the appointment of a guardian.
Senator Kearney represents Cincinnati, Norwood, Deer Park, Silverton, Golf Manor, St. Bernard, Elmwood Place, Cheviot, Addyston, North Bend and Cleves.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Senator Schiavoni Speaks Out for Legislation to Keep More College Graduates in Ohio

COLUMBUS – State Senator Joe Schiavoni (D-Canfield) testified this week at a meeting of the Senate Ways and Means Committee on behalf of Senate Bill 198, a tax credit designed to keep more college graduates in Ohio.

Senator Joe Schiavoni recently introduced SB 198, which would grant an income tax credit to individuals earning degrees in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) related fields of study. The bill would provide income tax credits as follows: $10,000 for a master’s or doctoral degree, $5,000 for a baccalaureate degree and $1,000 for an associate’s degree.

“As we build and grow Ohio’s economy for the future, we must do all we can to keep our brightest young minds in the state,” said Senator Schiavoni. “This bill can help stop the brain drain that happens when new graduates move out of Ohio to pursue their careers.”

The bill is similar to House Bill 123, sponsored by Representatives Jay Goyal (D-73) and Josh Mandel (R-17), but reduces the credit amount for each degree. HB 123 calls for the following reductions: $30,000 for a master’s or doctoral degree, $20,000 for a baccalaureate degree and $5,000 for an associate’s degree.

“When I first chose to pursue this bill, cost was a main concern and a reason why HB 123 has received little attention,” said Senator Schiavoni during his sponsor testimony. “I’ve significantly lowered the dollar amounts per degree which lessens the burden for the state, while still providing incentive for future graduates to remain in Ohio.”

The summary for SB 198 is as follows:
  • Allows a nonrefundable income tax credit for an Ohio resident who has earned a degree in science, technology, engineering, or math-based fields of study after the effective date of the bill.
  • Allows a $1,000 credit for an associate's degree; $5,000 for a baccalaureate degree; and $10,000 for a master's or doctoral degree.
  • Allows an individual to receive additional credits for obtaining more advanced degrees.
  • Requires the recapture and forfeiture of the credit if the claimant does not remain an Ohio resident for five years.

The Caucus

Minority Leader Eric H. Kearney - Cincinnati - 9th District
Assistant Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni - Canfield - 33rd District
Minority Whip Nina Turner - Cleveland - 25th District
Assistant Minority Whip Edna Brown - Toledo - 11th District
Senator Tom Sawyer - Akron - 28th District
Senator Charleta B. Tavares - Columbus - 15th District
Senator Shirley Smith - Cleveland - 21st District
Senator Michael J. Skindell - Cleveland - 23rd District
Senator Lou Gentile - Steubenville - 30th District
Senator Capri S. Cafaro - Hubbard - 32nd District

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