Friday, February 11, 2011

Senate Democrats Offer Amendments to Correct Flaws in JobsOhio

Columbus – Senator Michael J. Skindell (D-Lakewood) announced today that Senate Democrats have proposed nearly 40 amendments to fix flaws in Governor Kasich’s JobsOhio plan. The amendments focus on protecting tax dollars, improving transparency and accountability and raising ethical standards for JobsOhio.

“Through hearings in the House and the Senate, it has become clear that the current JobsOhio plan lacks the necessary transparency and accountability measures to protect taxpayers’ money,” said Senator Skindell, the Ranking Minority member on the Senate Finance Committee. “Senate Democrats listened to the concerns of the Ohio Ethics Commission and that’s why we’re calling for higher ethical standards for board members and other employees of JobsOhio.”

Senate Democrats have proposed that Ohio’s Ethics laws apply to JobsOhio, just as they do for other state agencies and departments. Other amendments submitted to the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee today include the following:

• More legislative oversight: Appointments to JobsOhio’s Board of Directors would need “advice and consent” from the Senate.
• More public input and scrutiny: JobsOhio would be required to establish a records retention policy and provide time for public comment during board meetings.
• Greater transparency: Businesses would be required to disclose money they contribute to JobsOhio.

“Senate Democrats strongly support efforts to create jobs in Ohio, but it must be done correctly,” said Senator Skindell. “As state legislators it is our responsibility to make sure JobsOhio has adequate safeguards in place at the beginning, not six months from now and not sometime in the future after tax money has been misspent because of insufficient oversight.”

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Senate Bill 5 Attacks Working Families

Columbus – State Senator Joe Schiavoni (D-Canfield) called today’s introduction of Senate Bill 5 an attack on working families. The legislation eliminates collective bargaining for state employees and binding arbitration for local police and firefighters. Senator Schiavoni, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Insurance, Commerce and Labor Committee, issued the following statement:

“Senate Bill 5 is an attack on hard working Ohioans from every corner of the state. This bill will likely lead to lower wages and benefits for police officers, firefighters and other public employees who put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe.

“State employees have already accepted unpaid furloughs, wage freezes and pay cuts to balance the current state budget. The most recent concessions saved the state $250 million, plus an additional $100 million will be cut from health care benefits.

“The Republican sponsor of the bill claims eliminating collective bargaining rights and binding arbitration would bring more “transparency” to public employee contracts. But, what the legislation really does is give employers the power to impose whatever settlements they wish without regard to fairness and the impact on working families.”

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Senate Democrats Announce Legislative Priorities for 129th General Assembly

Columbus – Members of the Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus introduced their first legislation of the 129th General Assembly that covers a broad range of issues important to Ohioans. The bills address economic and workforce development, support for working families, government efficiency and accountability, as well as consumer protections.

“Our top priority is doing all we can to create jobs and promote economic development,” said Senate Minority Leader Capri S. Cafaro (D-Hubbard). “At the same time we want to support and protect Ohio’s families and maintain government accountability that ensures taxpayer’s money is well spent. We will introduce additional legislation in the coming weeks that further illustrate our commitment to building a stronger Ohio.

The Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus introduced six bills today that address the following priorities for the 129th General Assembly:

Economic & Workforce Development

The top priority for the members of the Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus is to help jumpstart Ohio’s economy. As a result, the Caucus will push for legislation that will help small businesses flourish and get more people back to work.
• Sen. Eric Kearney (SB 12) Small Business Set Asides: Requires the Department of Administrative Services and other state agencies to set aside approximately 20% of their purchases for which only small business enterprises may compete.
• Sen. Jason Wilson (SB 16) Agriculture Estate Tax: Eliminates the estate tax for Farm Preservation Lands. Under current law family farms often have to sell land to pay estate taxes which makes it difficult to continue operation.

Supporting Working Families

Hardworking families around the State of Ohio continue to struggle through this lingering recession. The Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus will be introducing measures that aim to ease the burden on these working families.
• Sen. Joe Schiavoni (SB 13) Unemployment Modernization Act: Would prevent denial of unemployment benefits to Individuals with compelling family circumstances and extend benefits for unemployed workers in qualified job training programs. Implementing these changes will qualify Ohio for part of $7 billion made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Government Efficiency & Accountability

Citizens expect their government to run as efficiently as possible and be accountable to the people it serves. The Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus continually seeks ways to make government work better and will pursue legislation to enact practical improvements.
• Sen. Capri Cafaro (SB 11) Regulatory Reform: This legislation builds on Governor Strickland’s Executive Order (2008-04S) by requiring state agencies to craft better methods for appropriately regulating entities that conduct business in the State. The bill also creates an e-notification system and an Ohio Small Business Panel to ensure that businesses are treated as partners in identifying and achieving regulatory goals.
• Sen. Nina Turner (SB 15) Dropout Prevention: To require the State Board of Education to recommend standards for dropout programs operated by school districts.

Consumer Protections

As Ohio continues down the road to economic recovery, we must not forget the unscrupulous and short-sighted business practices that contributed to severe financial hardship for many families. The Senate Democratic Caucus is committed to legislation that will protect consumers from such practices in the future.
• Sen. Michael Skindell (SB 14) Foreclosure-Mortgage Servicers: The bill takes a common sense approach to the mortgage crisis in Ohio by modifying court procedures and requirements for residential mortgage foreclosure actions. It also requires mortgage servicers to register with the Superintendent of Financial Institutions of the Department of Commerce, undergo civil and criminal background checks, to maintain standards of operation, and to provide notice and information to property owners.

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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