Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Nearly 1.3 Million Siganatures Collected to Repeal Senate Bill 5

Democratic State Senators and Representatives particiapted in a parade that delivered nearly 1.3 million signatures to the Secretary of State's Office for a referendum to repeal Senate Bill 5. The anti-worker legislation takes away collective bargaining rights for police officers, firefighters, teachers and other public employees in Ohio.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Senator Tavares Passes Nurses Bill

Columbus – Senator Charleta B. Tavares (D–Columbus) and joint sponsor Senator Scott Oelslager (R–North Canton) successfully passed Senate Bill 83, the Advanced Practice Nurse Bill, out of the Senate today with a 23 to one vote. Senate Bill 83 will modify the authority of an Advanced Practice Nurse to prescribe schedule II drugs in specified medical facilities.

“Senate Bill 83 provides another option to expand comprehensive health care to Ohio’s residents,” said Senator Tavares. “Advanced Practice Nurses (APN) will become a part of the medical team with collaborating physicians to prescribe schedule II-V drugs in Ohio; joining 33 other states.”

Senate Bill 83 is Senator Tavares’ first bill to pass out of the Senate. The bill will allow APN’s to prescribe schedule II drugs under a Standard Care Agreement with their collaborating physician. The physician would decide whether or not their APN could prescribe these drugs under the agreement.

Other safeguards include requiring APN’s with a certificate to prescribe to complete an additional six hours of continuing education related to schedule II medications and prescribing prior to the renewal of their license.

“We are protecting the patient while expanding health care services,” said Senator Tavares.

Ohio Senate Passes State Budget That Imposes Devastating Cuts on Schools and Local Governments

Columbus – Senate Democratic Leader Capri S. Cafaro (D-Hubbard) and the entire Senate Democratic Caucus today voted “no” on the final version of the biennial state budget (HB 153). The budget imposes massive and devastating cuts on Ohio’s public schools and local governments and gives the Governor broad powers to privatize valuable state assets.

“The state of Ohio has effectively balanced its budget by unbalancing the budgets for school districts and local governments across the state,” said Senator Cafaro. “It’s pass the buck budgeting that sticks local tax payers with the bill. I fear the result will be more layoffs, reduced public services and higher local taxes.”

The budget plan slashes the local government fund by 50% in fiscal year 2013 and cuts funding for local schools by an estimated $2.8 billion over the next two years according to a coalition of school officials.

Senate Democrats offered an amendment in the budget conference committee that would allocate school funding on a fairer and broader basis. However, majority Republicans rejected the amendment and chose to give additional money to wealthy school districts at the expense of urban and poor districts.

The budget (HB 153) also permits the sale of six prisons, sets the stage for leasing the Ohio Turnpike and gives cities the authority to sell or lease their parking meters to private companies.

“I am deeply concerned this rush to privatize valuable public assets will end up being a bad deal for taxpayers,” said Senator Cafaro. “These assets belong to the citizens of Ohio and they should not be sold off at rock bottom prices.”

Senator Cafaro also expressed concern about the continued assault on workers’ rights that began with Senate Bill 5. A provision of HB 153 specifically prohibits collective bargaining for employees of charter schools.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Senator Turner Talks About Budget Cuts on NBC4

State Senator Nina Turner (D-Cleveland) talked to NBC4 in Columbus about the devastating impact that Republican budget cuts will have on local governments across Ohio.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Senate Democrats Discuss Budget Vote

Members of the Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus talk about why they voted against Governor Kasich's budget plan for the State of Ohio--a plan that will cost jobs and inflict devastating cuts on schools and local governments.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Senate Democrats Offer Proposal to Increase Fairness in Education Funding

Columbus – The Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus today unveiled an education funding proposal that ensures urban and rural school districts are not shortchanged. The Student Success Index is one of the 242 budget amendments that Senate Democrats submitted to the Senate Finance Committee.

“Unlike a plan put forth by Senate Republicans, our proposal doesn’t leave anybody out,” said Senate Minority Leader Capri S. Cafaro (D-Hubbard). “We are ensuring that all students, regardless of their circumstances, are receiving more resources for their education.”

Senate Republicans inserted an additional $115 million into the state budget which overwhelmingly benefits wealthy school districts. This “Robin Hood in reverse” proposal ignores Ohio’s most challenged districts.

The Student Success Index distributes the same $115 million funding increase on a fairer and broader basis by utilizing three widely recognized measurement tools: District Report Cards, the Education Challenge Factor and State Performance Index scores. The measurements reward success while also acknowledging the challenges that all districts face.

Like the House passed version of the budget, the Student Success Index ensures that no school district will see more than a 20 percent decrease in state funding from FY 2011 spending levels. In fact, every school district in Ohio will see additional funding beyond the House plan.

The Senate Democratic Caucus also submitted the following amendments to promote fairness and accountability in the state budget:

· Eliminate a requirement to privatize management of the Ohio Lottery.

· Restore funding for public transportation, alcohol and drug addiction services, mental health services, County Boards of Development Disabilities, the Ohio Fatherhood Commission, Ohio Consumers’ Counsel and Ohio Commission on Hispanic/Latino Affairs.

· Prohibit oil and gas drilling in state parks.

· Restore collective bargaining rights for home health care workers and Statehouse maintenance staff.

· Require government entities to follow the same layoff notice requirements as the private sector.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Senator Skindell Calls for Timeout in Privatizing Lottery

Columbus – Senator Michael J. Skindell (D-Lakewood) today called for removing a provision from the state budget that would privatize the Ohio Lottery by June 1, 2012. Senator Skindell will submit an amendment this week to strip the Lottery privatization proposal from the Senate’s version of the budget.

“I have concerns about the timing and the manner by which this proposal was inserted in the budget,” said Senator Skindell, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee. “Members of the General Assembly have not had sufficient time to determine if this is a good idea or simply a sweetheart deal for private companies that want to take over management of the Lottery.”

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported today that language included in the Senate’s version of the budget is nearly identical to legislation drafted by a company that hopes to take over day-to-day management of the Lottery. In addition, the Chairman of the Ohio Lottery Commission told the Plain Dealer he was not consulted about the proposed legislation.

“Any discussion about privatizing the Lottery should have full transparency and much greater scrutiny than this proposal has received so far,” said Senator Skindell.

Senator Skindell also pointed out that the most recent state audit praised the Lottery’s operations. Last year Lt. Governor Mary Taylor, in her previous role as State Auditor, determined the Ohio Lottery “performed well” and its management practices were consistent with other U.S. Lotteries.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Senator Kearney Walks from Cincinnati to Ohio Statehouse

State Senator Eric Kearney (D-Cincinnati) walked from Cincinnati to the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus for the 5th consecutive year. This year he walked to raise awareness for juvenile diabetes and the Sickle Cell Anemia Center at Cincinnati Children's Hospital.

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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