Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Senator Smith Introduces Legislation to Ban Texting While Driving Statewide

Cleveland – State Senator Shirley Smith (D-Cleveland)announced that she has re-introduced legislation that creates a statewide ban on the dangerous habit of texting while driving.

“It is imperative that we move to prohibit this extremely dangerous behavior,” said Senator Smith. “Senate Bill 154 ensures that Ohio has a consistent, statewide law that addresses texting while driving. Drivers need to know that Ohio will not tolerate texting from behind the wheel. Ohio needs to take a strong stance on this issue, and I hope that Ohio policymakers understand the need for this legislation. I have long been an advocate on this issue, and I will continue to fight for the bill’s passage.”

Senator Smith noted that her last texting legislation, Senate Bill 164, had the full support of the Ohio Conference of AAA Clubs, the Summit County Sheriff’s Office, and the public. A Quinnipiac University poll at that time revealed that 89 percent of Ohioans wanted a statewide bad on texting while driving.

“Cities such as Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Toledo have already taken the lead in curbing this dangerous driving behavior. Thirty states and the District of Columbia have also instituted bans on texting while driving,” Senator Smith said. “There is no reason to delay passing a statewide law. Continued inaction on this issue will only result in an increasing number of accidents and deaths.”

Monday, April 11, 2011

Senator Cafaro Announces Loan to Create Jobs at Niles Business

Columbus – Senate Democratic Leader Capri S. Cafaro (D-Hubbard) announced today that the State Controlling Board approved a $750,000 Department of Development Research & Development Loan to NMC Metals in Niles, Ohio. The loan will be used to purchase new machinery and equipment.

“Awarding NMC Metals these funds is critical to the company’s growth as a successful Ohio business,” said Senator Cafaro. “This loan will create more high-tech and higher paying jobs for in the community.”

The R&D loan will help NMC create a technology center for research and product development. As a result of the technology center, 15 new, full-time technology jobs will be created. The loan will also help save 15 at-risk jobs in Niles. The company plans to offer internships at the new center to local engineering students.

“NMC has been a leader in its field for more than 50 years. The Research and Development loan program ensures that companies like NMC can continue to compete,” said Senator Cafaro.

NMC Metals was founded in 1960 to develop and manufacture expanded materials. Their products include expanded metal mesh, gratings, walkways, security fences and precision foil mesh. NMC also has engineering, research and product development departments.

The Controlling Board provides legislative oversight over certain capital and operating expenditures by state agencies and has approval authority over various other state fiscal activities.

Senator Turner Announces Loan to Create and Retain Jobs in Garfield Heights

Columbus –State Senator Nina Turner (D-Cleveland) announced today that the State Controlling Board approved a $500,000 Department of Development Innovation Ohio Loan to AxioMed Spine Corporation (ACS) in Garfield Heights, an inner-ring suburb of Cleveland. The loan will lead to the creation of six new jobs while retaining 25 existing jobs.

“I am pleased to learn of the state’s continuing commitment to promoting Northeast Ohio’s emerging medical technology field,” said Senator Turner. “This is yet another great example of the public and private sectors working together to produce a positive outcome for our communities.”

The loan will allow ACS to purchase production tooling, equipment and surgical instruments. The equipment will be used in the development of their new Freedom Lumbar Disc products, a total disc replacement for the lowest vertebrae.

“This is truly a win-win for everyone,” said Turner. “The investments will help create and retain jobs and assist ACS in developing and manufacturing products that will help improve the quality of life for chronic back pain sufferers.”

Founded in 2001, ACS’ mission is to develop products for patients who suffer from Degenerative Disc Disease. The Garfield Heights-based company is an emerging medical device company designing spine products to restore natural spine function through total disc replacement. The Department of Development’s funding represents 74 percent of the total investment.

The Controlling Board provides legislative oversight over certain capital and operating expenditures by state agencies and has approval authority over various other state fiscal activities.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Senator Sawyer's Win-Win Academy Bill Passes Ohio Senate

Columbus – Today, the Ohio Senate voted to approve Substitute Senate Bill 86. The bill, introduced by Senator Tom Sawyer (D-Akron), will create a unique, drop-out recovery community school in partnership with the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC). The “Win/Win Academy” will improve the re-entry of youth offenders back into the community by helping them earn a high school education.

“I’m grateful that my colleagues were able to come to a bipartisan agreement of this critical legislation,” said Senator Sawyer. “Ohio continues to face serious and debilitating problems with the overcrowding of our state prison system and many of our student dropouts are ending up in prisons.”

The bill will allow inmate-students to earn high school credits while incarcerated and achieve their diploma upon release. Initially housed in the Pickaway Correctional Institution, a single-gender ODRC institution, the school will integrate state academic standards with curriculum that has a demonstrated a record of improving student’s achievement and lowering recidivism. They will be taught by Ohio licensed educators with the support of “Thinking Aides” who are formerly incarcerated graduate-mentors.

“These offenders can often lack both critical thinking skills and the necessary education to excel in the workforce,” said Senator Sawyer. “Without education and the credentials that come with it, they are more likely to continue a life of crime. We are instead giving Ohio’s youth an opportunity to contribute to their communities.”

The academy will start as a pilot program that can be evaluated for its sustainability by 2013. The program will also be considered for expansion based on its success.

The bill will now be assigned to a committee in the Ohio House of Representatives and scheduled for committee meetings.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Senator Schiavoni Debunks DAS Memo Again

Columbus – State Senator Joe Schiavoni (D-Canfield) is calling the Department of Administrative Services’ Senate Bill 5 memo, which the agency re-released today, a flawed analysis that inflates potential savings to local governments.

“The memo fails to calculate any additional costs to the state that will be a result of this legislation,” said Senator Schiavoni. “It does not take into account the inevitable cost of litigation or any cost related to implementing the performance-based pay system and other new un-funded state mandates.”

The memo claims that the state would have saved more than $75 million in 2010 by eliminating Step Movements for state workers. The memo neglects to point out that in the current biennial budget (HB1) there was a step freeze that already saved the state this money. Through the existing collective bargaining process, public employees have already made this concession.

“I find it ironic that DAS continuously cites cost savings that were achieved through collective bargaining as a reason to take away workers rights,” said Senator Schiavoni. “Collective bargaining has proven itself to be a valuable tool for saving state funds. It has been part of the solution, not the problem.”

The DAS memo does not factor in that not all local employees receive step and longevity pay like some state workers. Therefore, these calculations are flawed, and can not be added to the overall projected savings.

In addition, a Legislative Service Commission fiscal analysis on SB 5 concluded that there was not enough information available to provide accurate savings amounts.

Senator Skindell on Fox 8 Cleveland Talking About Budget Impact on Local Governments


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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