Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Senator Turner Introduces Legislation to Increase Oversight of Sex Offenders

COLUMBUS – Senator Nina Turner (D-Cleveland) introduced legislation (Senate bill 217) today in the Ohio Senate to increase oversight of Tier III sex offenders. This bill would help law enforcement agencies better monitor serious sex offenders while also raising community awareness of their presence in the community. Under Ohio law, Tier III is the most serious category for sex offenders.

“The Imperial Avenue Slayings on Cleveland’s East Side are a gruesome reminder of the many cracks that still exist within the system of monitoring the sexual predators who reside in our communities,” said Senator Turner. “Unfortunately, criminals are able to manipulate these cracks every day. Under the current system a Tier III sex offender can fulfill their monitoring requirements and still remain largely off the radar.”

The proposed legislation has five key elements that will apply to sex offenders within the State of Ohio, regardless of when they were originally registered. These mandates are as follows:

  • Will increase the frequency of address verification by Tier III offenders from every 90 days to every 30 days.
  • Requires law enforcement personnel to confirm the addresses of Tier III offenders every 90 days through face-to-face personal contact at the offender’s place of residence and track the outcomes of such visits.
  • Upon initial registration as a Tier III sex offender, law enforcement personnel must confirm this person’s address through personal contact at the offender’s place of residence.
  • Institute mandatory community notification of the presence of a Tier III offender once per year, on the anniversary date of their original address registration.
  • For all sex offenders, address verification and registration would require demonstration of proof of residency, the same as is found in Ohio Election Law.
“The tragedy on Imperial Avenue makes it incumbent on state and local elected officials and community stakeholders to work together to make our communities safer,” said Senator Turner. “This bill is one step toward that goal.”

Senator Smith Thankful for Holiday Opening of Innerbelt Lanes and Ramps

Cleveland – After closely working with the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) on its Innerbelt Bridge Safety Plan, State Senator Shirley A. Smith congratulated ODOT on reopening all lanes and ramps on the bridge in time for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Repairs which began several months ago were recently completed, allowing ODOT to reopen the W. 14th Street onramp to I-90 eastbound, as well as all lanes over the Innerbelt Bridge and the Ontario Street entrance ramp to I-90 westbound.

"For safety’s sake, ODOT needed to restrict some of the traffic flow on the bridge. That left neighborhoods such as Tremont and the Gateway District with limited access to I‐90," said Senator Smith. “Despite delays and other obstacles in the process, I am pleased to have these ramps reopened in time for the holiday season. The Innerbelt is one of Ohio’s most vital highway links, and it is imperative that we keep it open and fully functional while a new bridge is constructed.”

This accelerated phase of ODOT’s Innerbelt Bridge Safety Plan is part of the department’s $10 million investment on the Innerbelt Bridge this year, aimed at maintaining safe and reliable travel on the aging bridge

In March 2009 ODOT announced plans to construct a new westbound Innerbelt Bridge, utilizing federal transportation stimulus funds made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Construction of the new westbound bridge is expected to begin in 2011.

Senator Shirley Smith represents Cleveland and the 21st Senate District, which stretches from Old Brooklyn and Brooklyn Heights north to downtown and east to University Heights. She joined the Senate in 2006 and currently serves as Assistant Minority Leader. Prior to joining the Senate, she spent eight years in the Ohio House of Representatives.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Senator Schiavoni - November E-Newsletter No. 2 Now Available

Senator Schiavoni's November E-Newsletter #2 is now available to download online.

(To download, click here)

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

Friday, November 20, 2009

Senator Fedor Sponsors Land Bank Bill with Senator Mark Wagoner

Senator Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) and Senator Mark Wagoner (R-Ottawa Hills) testified on Senate Bill 188 this week – a bi-partisan bill that will create County Land Reutilization Corporations or “land banks”. SB 188 would grant counties the opportunity to address the foreclosure blight plaguing their cities and convert such properties to a productive use.

“Passing land banking legislation is a responsible and productive tool to address the aftermath of this foreclosure epidemic,” said Senator Fedor. “If the legislature does not address this problem now, Ohio will continue on this downward spiral to crisis.”

Ohio has record numbers of foreclosures, excessive vacant land and blighted properties, increased tax delinquencies, double-digit unemployment, and a steady decline in population. Currently, Ohio ranks 12th in the country for foreclosures with one foreclosure for every 435 houses, according to November 12th report issued by RealtyTrac of Irvine, Calif.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Senator Morano Introduces Wage Protection Act

COLUMBUS – On Thursday, November 19, Senator Sue Morano (D-Lorain) held a press conference at the Ohio Statehouse, addressing the problem of wage theft in Ohio. Members of the labor and religious communities joined Senator Morano at the conference. November 19th is the National Day of Action to Stop Wage Theft.

“Wage theft is a very real problem across the nation and here in Ohio,” said Senator Morano. “Too many hard working Ohioans are being cheated out of the wages they’ve earned. This legislation affirms Ohio’s commitment to protecting workers.”

Wage theft, the act of an employer not paying an employee for the total time worked, is a dilemma facing thousands of workers in Ohio. This Wednesday, Senator Morano introduced Senate Bill 212, the Wage Protection Act, in the Ohio Senate to expand the Department of Commerce’s enforcement abilities to allow the Director to investigate complaints beyond the scope of minimum wage.

Under current law, the Ohio Department of Commerce is only permitted to investigate and resolve violations of the minimum wage requirements of the Ohio Constitution. An employee who earns above the minimum wage is presently unable to file a complaint with the Department for the full amount of unpaid wages. Civil action may be taken, but this is often a difficult route for many working Ohioans to take, given today’s economic climate.

On Wednesday, Senator Morano also introduced Senate Concurrent Resolution 22, urging Congress to pass House Resolution 3303, the Wage Theft Prevention Act. HR 3303 would ensure that delays in investigating claims of wage theft not result in a permanent loss of back pay for workers.

Wage theft is an issue that affects workers of all income levels. A recent study conducted by the National Employment Law Project, entitled Broken Laws, Unprotected Workers, found that low-wage workers in New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles had an average of $51 stolen from their weekly earnings. And today, Ohio is one of only 5 states in the U.S. that does not investigate unpaid wages above the minimum wage.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Senator Shirley Smith - December E-Newsletter Available Online

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

To download it, click here.

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

Statement from Senator Cafaro on GOP Budget Proposal

ColumbusSenate Democratic Leader Capri S. Cafaro (D-Hubbard) today offered the following statement on a budget proposal offered by Senate Republicans.

“We respect the work the majority caucus has done so far. But, it is in conflict with our core values and counts on money that can’t be relied on. The Senate Democratic Caucus is unified in opposition to the substitute budget plan offered today by Senate Republicans. We remain united in support of HB 318 as passed by the Ohio House of Representatives.”

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Senator Morano Featured on Cover of Fall 2009 Momentum Magazine

Senator Morano (D-Lorain) is currently featured in the Fall 2009 issue of Momentum, a publication of the Ohio Board of Nursing. (

Senator Sawyer and Rep. Garrison Introduce Bill to Enhance Education in Ohio

COLUMBUS- State Representative Jennifer Garrison (D-Marietta) and State Senator Tom Sawyer (D-Akron) today introduced legislation that will bolster Ohio schools and promote student success. The companion bills in the House and Senate position Ohio to access a share of the $4 billion “Race to the Top” fund initiated by the federal government.

“The comprehensive education reforms we passed in this year’s state budget were the first step toward world-class education in Ohio,” Rep. Garrison said. “By competing for more resources through ‘Race to the Top,’ we will open the door to even more ways we can encourage successful schools and successful students – thus positioning our students and our state for leadership in the 21st-century economy.”

“Our bill will help aid Ohio in achieving 9 of the 10 ‘Race to the Top’ requirements. The longitudinal data system in particular places Ohio in a better position for this funding, as the program has emphasized preference for states with such a data system in place,” Senator Sawyer added. “Ohio already has an A; we want to make it an A+.”

The “Race to the Top” grant program is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. The program aims to encourage and reward states that are creating conditions for education innovation and achieving significant improvement in student outcomes. Outcomes are measured by criteria such as substantial gains in student achievement, improved high school graduation rates, and better student preparation for success in college and careers.

Ohio is already highly competitive among states for this funding—currently meeting eight of the 10 eligibility requirements set forth by the ARRA. The companion bills from Rep. Garrison and Sen. Sawyer address the two areas where Ohio’s educational policies can be improved to ensure Ohio can obtain the valuable additional federal resources. Under the bills, the state will:
· Adopt standards of accountability for the operation of online schools, also known as eSchools, in Ohio. These standards were developed and approved by the State Board of Education in September of 2003 but have yet to be adopted by the legislature.
· Establish a Longitudinal Data System that would combine information currently gathered by the Ohio Department of Education and the Board of Regents. This data system, while respecting students’ privacy, will provide educators and policymakers with the necessary information to improve student achievement by analyzing their progress over time.

The bill now awaits assignment to both House and Senate committees.

Senators Kearney and Coughlin Introduce Bill to Fight Childhood Obesity

Columbus - Today State Senator Eric H. Kearney (D-Cincinnati) and Senator Kevin Coughlin (R-Cuyahoga Falls) introduced Senate Bill 210 to enlist Ohio's schools in combating the childhood obesity epidemic.

“Now is the time for Ohio to move forward with a comprehensive plan to address childhood obesity in our schools,” Kearney stated in testimony before the Senate Health and Human Services Committee today. “Failure to address obesity at an early age will lead to lifelong health issues and will come at enormous expense.”

One in three Ohio kids is overweight or obese by the age of eight. The Ohio Family Health Survey 2008 found that childhood obesity is a major public health threat that impacts every demographic group in every corner of the state.

The legislation:
  • Builds physical activity into the daily school routine by requiring 30 minutes of moderate activity.
  • Makes physical education a key component to get kids moving. The bill increases physical education requirements for high school students, requires licensure and certification of physical education teachers, and stipulates that performance results must be posted on state report cards.
  • Requires B.M.I measurements as the student ages. The simple height and weight calculation will be determined upon school entry, and in grades three, five and nine. Parents will be informed of results on a confidential basis.
  • Ensures that children have access to nutritious foods in a school setting. The bill allows for all schools to provide a free breakfast to all who are eligible. It also sets standards for food and beverages offered through vending machines and a la carte.
The bipartisan bill includes support from the Ohio Business Roundtable, the Ohio Children's Hospital Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Center for Closing the Health Gap, American Heart Association, American Stoke Association, Children's Hunger Alliance, Health Policy Institute of Ohio, Ohio Action for Health Kids, Ohio Soft Drink Association, and many others.

“Childhood obesity is the most profound long-term public health challenge in this state,” stated Ohio Business Roundtable president Richard Stoff. “The Senate’s bipartisan commitment to combat this crisis – led by senators Kearney and Coughlin – properly focuses attention on the setting where children spend the bulk of their time outside the home and where we know we can have an immediate impact: Ohio schools. We are proud to have played a role in assembling the broad-based coalition of healthcare, child advocacy, community and business leaders to support their efforts.”

“This is groundbreaking legislation,” stated President and CEO of The Center for Closing the Health Gap Dwight Tillery. “Ohio lags behind many other states in its approach to dealing with the childhood obesity problems. This bill is a giant step forward. I applaud Senator Kearney and Senator Coughlin for their leadership.”

There are additional benefits to the bill. For instance, Dr. Lisa Simpson, Professor of Pediatrics and Director of Child Policy Research Center at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical noted, “eleven of 14 studies found participation in improved physical activity is associated with improved academic performance.”

Kearney is a longtime proponent of Children's Health. This spring he conducted his third annual walk from Cincinnati to Columbus to bring attention to childhood obesity, hunger, and infant mortality.

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.

For audio soundbites with Senator Kearney, click on the following link:

Friday, November 6, 2009

Senator Joe Schiavoni - November E-Newsletter

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

To download, click here.

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

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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