Thursday, April 29, 2010

Senator Cafaro Introduces Legislation to Promote Economic Development in the City of Warren

Columbus – Senate Democratic Leader Capri S. Cafaro (D-Hubbard) introduced legislation in the Ohio Senate today to enable Warren and similar cities to create Local Entertainment Districts. Senate Bill 252 is companion legislation to House Bill 445 sponsored by Representative Tom Letson (D-Warren).

“I want to thank Representative Letson for bringing this issue to the attention of the General Assembly,” said Senator Cafaro. “By changing Ohio law to enable the establishment of Entertainment Districts in cities the size of Warren, we will encourage downtown revitalization and job creation across the state.”

Current Ohio law allows a municipality with a population of 100,000 or more to create a Community Entertainment District and qualify for up to 15 additional liquor permits. State law also allows a municipality of less than 100,000 residents in a county with a population of less than 125,000 to create a Revitalization District, thus qualifying for up to five additional liquor permits. Unfortunately, Warren and other cities across Ohio fall in the gap between these two laws.

SB 252 would allow a municipality of less than 100,000 in a county of more than 125,000 to create a Local Entertainment District. These Local Entertainment Districts would qualify for up to ten additional liquor permits for restaurants and bars.

“This legislation will build on the growth already underway in Warren with the Eastern Gateway Community College and the Warren Business Incubator,” said Senator Cafaro. “When it becomes law, SB 252 will provide a combination of entertainment and dining opportunities for people visiting the downtown area.”

Senator Turner Awarded Fellowship for Prestigious Leadership Program

COLUMBUS – Senator Nina Turner (D-Cleveland) learned this week that she has been selected as one of only 37 lawmakers to participate in a training program for promising state leaders. Senator Turner will join fellow lawmakers from 11 Midwestern states and three Canadian provinces this summer for the Council of State Governments’ 16th annual Bowhay Institute for Legislative Leadership Development.

“I am thrilled and honored to be given this opportunity to participate in such an outstanding leadership institute,” said Senator Turner. “As a college professor, I appreciate the value of this unique educational experience and I look forward to using what I learn for the benefit of my constituents and all the citizens of Ohio.”

The Bowhay Institute will be held July 9-13, at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. The Institute teaches leadership skills and analyzes a variety of public policy issues including the economy, economic development and corrections. Courses and seminars are taught by Midwestern legislative leaders, professional development experts and University of Wisconsin faculty.

The Bowhay institute was founded in 1995 to provide training for legislators. It is named in honor of the late James Bowhay, a longtime director of The Council of State Government’s Midwestern Office.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Senator Morano Chairs Nurse Staffing Workgroup

COLUMBUS – Senator Sue Morano (D-Lorain) has been named the chairperson of the Nurse Staffing Workgroup, which met for the first time on Monday. A subcommittee of the Hospital Measures Advisory Council (HMAC), the Nurse Staffing Workgroup will provide recommendations to the Ohio Department of Health and HMAC regarding nurse staffing measures.

"With the increasing focus on healthcare, it is crucial that the issue of hospital nurse staffing be discussed in relation to hospital measures and their outcomes. I look forward to working with the members of this committee," Senator Morano said.

During a period of six months, the Nurse Staffing Workgroup will discuss the nurse-to-patient ratio in Ohio’s hospitals and its effect on the quality of patient care. With its findings, the Workgroup will determine whether nurse-to-patient ratios should be a measure that is represented on the Ohio Department of Health’s Hospital Compare website (

The guiding principles of the Workgroup are as follows:
  • Does the measure reflect upon an unequivocally important aspect of patient care?
  • Does a poor nurse-to-patient rate reflect poor quality in the hospital?
  • Can the nurse-to-patient rate be improved without actually improving quality?
  • Can the hospital accurately collect the data from its records?
  • Do hospitals have a sufficient number of qualifying cases to give an accurate public report?
This is the second committee Senator Morano has chaired during her tenure in the Ohio General Assembly. She has also chaired the Ohio Nurse Education Study Committee.

The Hospital Measures Advisory Council was established in the 126th Ohio General Assembly to determine a set of hospital performance measures so that the public can have access to accurate and understandable information about hospital quality in Ohio.

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.

Senator Morano Presents Senator Sue Morano Scholarship to Nursing Student

COLUMBUS – Last week Senator Sue Morano (D-Lorain) presented the first ever Senator Sue Morano Scholarship at the Ohio Nurses Foundation 9th Annual Nurses Choice Awards and Scholarship Luncheon. The $500 scholarship goes to a Registered Nurse who is returning to school for an advanced degree in order to teach Ohio’s next generation of nurses. This year, the scholarship was presented to Christine Pavlick, a Registered nurse at St. Elizabeth Health Center in Youngstown.

“It was an honor to present the $500 scholarship to Christine Pavlick, a Registered Nurse for over 18 years at St. Elizabeth Health Center,” Senator Morano said. “After speaking with Christine, it is apparent that her desire to combine experience and education will assist Ohio's current crisis with the nursing shortage. I am honored to present this scholarship to her.”

Senator Morano has long been an advocate for nursing issues and finding solutions for the nursing shortage. In the 2005-2006 academic year, 88,000 qualified applicants were turned away from nursing schools throughout the United States due to faculty shortages. As a consequence of the faculty shortage and other factors, 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.

“It is vitally important to give nurses every opportunity to go back to school in order to teach. Ohio and the nation are facing a serious nursing shortage,” Senator Morano said. “Without adequate nursing education, Ohio simply will not have enough instructors to teach nursing students and, in turn, get them into the workforce.”

The Ohio Nurses Foundation created the Senator Sue Morano Scholarship to honor the Senator’s work on Senate Bill 89, which was signed into law by Governor Ted Strickland last December. The bill is geared toward continuing education for nurses who want to teach in the State of Ohio.

Through its Scholarship Fund, the Ohio Nurses Foundation gives about $10,000 a year in grants and scholarships to nursing students and researchers. Since its inception in 2001, the Foundation has distributed over $70,000 in scholarships, research grants and continuing education dollars to nurses and nursing students.

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.

Photograph by Jennifer Norfolk

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Senator Smith Gives Sponsor Testimony on Legislation to Strengthen Ohio's Sex Offender Notification Law

Columbus – State Senator Shirley Smith (D-Cleveland) gave sponsor testimony today on legislation that she has introduced to strengthen Ohio’s Tier III sex offender notification law. The bipartisan bill is supported by Cuyahoga County Sheriff Bob Reid and the Buckeye State Sheriffs Association.

“Last fall, my city was paralyzed by rage and disbelief when the remains of 11 females were discovered buried in and around the home of Anthony Sowell, a registered sex offender, who lived on Imperial Avenue in Cleveland, south of my district,” Senator Smith explained during testimony. “Like all other sex offenders, he was reclassified on January 1, 2008 as part of the state’s compliance with the federal Adam Walsh Act. Sowell went from being a low-level offender to a Tier III sex offender, the most serious level in the new system. However, Sowell did not move residences after being reclassified, so the Cuyahoga County sheriff had no authority to notify the community about his new Tier III status. ”

Senator Smith’s legislation requires sheriffs to check each Tier III sex offender’s files to verify that notification has been sent. If notification has not been sent, the bill mandates that sheriffs do so. The bill also would remove the authority of judges to exempt any Tier III sex offender from the notification laws, as determined in the recent Ohio Supreme Court decision, State v. McConville.

“I am grateful that the Chairman agrees with me that we need to address these issues, especially in light of the Supreme Court’s decision,” Senator Smith said after committee. “The murders on Imperial Avenue and the recent Supreme Court ruling compel us to strengthen Ohio’s sex offender notification laws. S.B. 237 does this.”

Ohio House Passes Senator Kearney's Tax Refund Savings Bill

Columbus–The Ohio House of Representatives passed unanimously Senator Eric Kearney’s (D-Cincinnati) legislation to boost savings rates among Ohioans. Senate Bill 194 enables anyone filing an Ohio income tax return to have their refund deposited directly into a retirement savings account.

“This is a common sense bill that provides a convenience for taxpayers and encourages Ohioans to save for retirement,” said Senator Kearney. “I am proud my legislation received overwhelming bipartisan support in the General Assembly.”

The legislation has the added benefit of saving taxpayers’ money by reducing the number of refund checks the State of Ohio has to mail. The state saves approximately $1.50 for every refund filed electronically compared to traditional paper checks. If only one in four tax filers uses this new retirement savings account option the state will save $1.5 million per year.

“With this bill all people have to do is check a box and their refund will be transferred electronically to their retirement account,” Kearney said. “This legislation is a win-win for taxpayers and the State of Ohio.”

The State of Ohio processes about 4 million tax returns each year with an average refund amount of $310. If just 25% of tax filers getting a refund take advantage of this option Ohio taxpayers will save $310 million toward their retirement.

The new option would apply to all income tax returns, regardless of whether they are filed on paper, electronically, or telephonically. The Department of Taxation currently offers direct deposit for a checking or savings account, but Senator Kearney’s plan marks the first time that a refund could be deposited directly into a retirement account. Those interested in taking advantage of the retirement savings option would simply provide their account information on their tax return.

The Ohio Senate passed SB 194 by a unanimous vote on February 17th. Following today’s vote in the House, Governor Ted Strickland will soon sign the bill into law.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Senator Cafaro Helps Kick off Bioproduct Challenge

Senator Capri S. Cafaro (D-Hubbard) joined the Ohio Soybean Council today to kick off the SoyInside Bioproduct Challenge. Senator Cafaro is a joint sponsor of Senate Bill 131, a bill recently signed into law to establish a bioproduct purchasing program for state agencies and universities.

“I applaud the efforts of the Ohio Soybean Council. This challenge will give bioproducts a chance to shine as viable alternatives to petroleum-based products,” said Senator Cafaro. “It’s a tremendous opportunity to raise consumer awareness.”

The 150 homes and businesses throughout Ohio participating in the SoyInside Bioproduct Challenge will receive a kit containing numerous products derived from soybeans and other agricultural sources. The kit includes degreasers, cleaners, wipes and home care products like lotions and anti-bacterial hand sanitizers. Many of these products replace commonly used items manufactured for petroleum or other chemicals.

“I believe bio-based products represent a tremendous opportunity for job growth in Ohio,” said Senator Cafaro. “Plus, it gives our farmers a new market for the crops they produce.”

In February, Governor Strickland signed Senate Bill 131 into law. Jointly sponsored by Senators Capri Cafaro and Karen Gillmor (R-Tiffin), SB 131 encourages the use of bio-based products by state entities. The bill requires the Director of the Ohio Department of Administrative Services (DAS) to establish a program that gives purchasing preference to bio-based products. In order to qualify for this program, the bio-based products must be comparable in cost and quality to traditional petroleum-based products.

The Ohio Soybean Council is based in Worthington, Ohio, and is governed by a 17-member volunteer farmer board, which directs the Soybean Promotion and Research Program. The program’s primary goal is to improve soybean profitability by targeting research and development projects using the investment of farmer-contributed funds.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Senator Kearney Announces 4th Annual Children's Health Walk

CINCINNATI – Today Senator Eric H. Kearney (D-Cincinnati) announced that he will embark on a 102 mile, four-day walk from Cincinnati to Columbus to bring attention to children’s health issues.

The theme of this year’s walk is fighting childhood obesity through exercise and healthy eating. Kearney hopes to highlight Senate Bill 210 and House Bill 373. The bi-partisan legislation is jointly sponsored by Senator Kearney, Senator Kevin Coughlin, Representative Lynn Watchman and Representative John Carney. The bill contains school-based initiatives that will increase physical activity, raise the bar for physical education and improve the nutritional value of foods offered during the school day. For more information on the bill visit

“Childhood obesity can lead to life long problems ranging from heart disease and diabetes to depression,” Kearney cautioned. “If we don’t address these health problems at a young age it will only become more damaging and harder to treat as the child grows.”

Senator Kearney invites the community to attend the kick-off for his walk on Friday, April 23rd at South Avondale Elementary school. The event, located at 636 Prospect Place, starts at 8:00 AM.

Kearney will be joined by supporters from the Ohio Business Roundtable, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Ohio State Medical Association, Childhood Food Solutions and the Center for Closing the Health Gap.

"My goal is to get families moving. We need to think about exercise and good food choices,” Kearney noted. “Moderate physical activity can change a child’s life and give good health habits for life. It’s time we start treating obesity as the serious health problem that it is."

Kearney completes the walk on April 26th on the steps of the Senate Building in Columbus at about 5:00 PM. All are invited to celebrate his arrival.

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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