Tuesday, January 24, 2012

New Leadership Team Announced

Columbus – Senator Cafaro announced Tuesday at a Statehouse press conference that she has asked Senator Eric Kearney (D-Cincinnati) to assume the role of Minority Leader. Cafaro, who has served as the Democratic Senate leader since 2009, cited unanticipated political responsibilities for a legislative leader in a presidential election year. She voiced her added concern that such political activities could possibly take her focus away from her district, where hands-on advocacy is needed on emerging issues like oil and gas.

“I have always given 110% to the people I work for in the 32nd District, and that is not about to change now,” said Senator Cafaro. “However, I wanted to make sure that the Democratic caucus would be guided by someone with the experience, temperament and relationships to lead during a presidential election cycle.”

Senator Cafaro is the longest serving Senate Minority Leader since former Senator Ben Espy, who served in the 1990s. During her tenure, Senate Democrats passed more bills than any other Democratic caucus since 2000.

“I know that I have made the right choice for our caucus by asking Senator Kearney to serve as our leader,” said Senator Cafaro. “I have given him my full support to lead the Senate Democrats going forward.”

Senator Kearney says he’s humbled and honored to have the opportunity to lead the Senate Democratic Caucus.

“I extend my gratitude to Senator Capri Cafaro for her dedicated leadership to Senate Minority Caucus,” said Senator Kearney. “Going forward I hope to lead the Democratic Caucus with a business-like approach emphasizing teamwork, unity, accountability and discipline.”

Senator Kearney has represented the 9th Senate District since December of 2005, making him the senior member of the caucus. During his time in the General Assembly, Senator Kearney has championed the issues of small business development, child safety, healthy choices and crime prevention. He has served as the Ranking Minority of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Financial Institutions Committee.

The Senate Democratic Caucus also announced that Senator Joe Schiavoni (D-Canfield) has been selected to serve as Assistant Minority Leader, Senator Nina Turner (D-Cleveland) as Minority Whip and Senator Edna Brown (D-Toledo) as Assistant Minority Whip.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Senator Turner Introduces Sexual Assault Legislation

Columbus –State Senator Nina Turner (D-Cleveland), today introduced Senate Bill 283, the Compassionate Assistance for Rape (CARE) Act. The legislation would help to ensure that sexual assault survivors are offered medical treatment following an assault.

“It is absolutely imperative that victims of sexual assault are provided with the full array of treatment information and options when they seek medical assistance,” said Senator Turner. “This legislation will make sure they receive the level of care that they deserve.”

The CARE Act would require that all hospital emergency rooms provide sexual assault survivors with treatment that can prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections if the survivor wishes to take them. The bill would not require assault survivors to submit to any treatment, but would only require hospitals to let them know what options are available and provide them if desired.

“These measures will guarantee equal access to care for victims across the state, regardless of the beliefs of the institution they seek assistance from,” said Senator Turner. “It should not come down to the luck of the draw; victims should be able to decide what treatment they receive, not hospitals.”

According to a 2007 survey of emergency rooms, almost 20 percent of the Ohio hospitals that responded do not guarantee access to emergency contraception. The CARE Act seeks to reduce that number by placing the responsibility on the hospital to have policies in place that ensure safe and equal access to all medical options.

State Representatives Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood) and Nancy Garland (D-New Albany) will co-sponsor companion legislation in the Ohio House of Representatives.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Senator Skindell Calls for Creation of State Health Exchange

Columbus – Senator Michael J. Skindell (D-Lakewood) has introduced Senate Bill 277 to create the Ohio Health Benefit Exchange Agency, which will be responsible for operating the Ohio Health Benefit Exchange Program. The Federal Affordable Care Act requires all states to enact legislation that establishes a health exchange by January 1, 2013.

“The legislature can no longer sit and watch idly as the director of the Department of Insurance does nothing to establish the state’s health exchange,” said Senator Skindell. “This legislation is an opportunity for us to create a competitive marketplace for all Ohioans to purchase affordable health insurance from a variety of providers.”

The Exchange Program will allow individuals who otherwise are unable to afford or do not have access to obtain adequate health care coverage. The bill also develops the navigator program to assist and educate consumers. The qualifications of a premium tax credit will also be outlined, which alleviates the financial burden placed on individuals.

“Through this bill our state will see an expansion of coverage, a promotion of competition, affordable options, and overall improvements of consumer protection,” said Senator Skindell. “It is essential that we move forward with this legislation in a timely manner in order to comply with the Affordable Care Act passed by Congress.”

Additionally, a “SHOP Exchange” will be established as a small business health options program to provide options for small business owners and their employees. Businesses will have the option to benefit from the SHOP Exchange by selecting a qualified health insurance plan to meet the needs of their employees.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Senator Schiavoni Calls for Public Hearing to Discuss Recent Earthquakes

Columbus – State Senator Joe Schiavoni (D-Canfield) today called for the Ohio Senate to hold a public hearing in the Mahoning Valley regarding recent earthquakes that may have been caused by a wastewater injection well. Senator Schiavoni released the following statement:

“Because of the recent earthquakes the Mahoning Valley has experienced, I believe it would be very beneficial for the residents in my district to be provided with an explanation of hydraulic fracking/deep well injection. As the ranking member of the Senate Energy and Public Utility Committee, I am requesting a special committee hearing be held in the Mahoning Valley as soon as possible so Senators can gather more information.

“At the hearing, representatives from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Ohio EPA can address the recent earthquakes, the future activity of injection wells located in the Mahoning Valley, and any other concerns members of the public have regarding oil and gas exploration. I spoke with many residents over the holiday weekend who are very concerned for the safety of their family, homes, and property. These are legitimate concerns that must be addressed in a timely manner.

“Today, I will be contacting Senate President Tom Niehaus and Senator David Daniels, the Chairman of the Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee, to urge them to schedule this meeting.”

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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