Monday, April 30, 2012

Senator Gentile Honors Outstanding Students

Senator Gentile with Alesia Withers (left) and Martariesa Fialo (right).
(Columbus) - Senator Lou Gentile (D-Steubenville) presented Alesia Withers and Martariesa Fiala with commendations from the Ohio Senate for making the All Ohio Academic team. They received their awards at a Statehouse luncheon sponsored by the Ohio Association of Community Colleges.  Withers and Fiala attend Eastern Gateway Community College.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Senator Sawyer: School Grading Plan Needs Time

(Columbus Dispatch)  "Sawyer and others noted that districts with levies on the fall ballot will be in a particularly difficult spot: having to explain to voters both why they need additional tax revenue and why their grade fell under the new rating system."

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Senator Turner: Redistricting Reform Should Reflect That Ohio is a 50-50 State

Columbus - Leaders of the bipartisan Redistricting Reform Task Force kicked off their initial meeting optimistic that they can craft a better way to draw congressional and legislative districts.

Critics of the current process, which allows the majority party to operate largely in secret and gerrymander districts to its political benefit, hope the panel of eight lawmakers can come up with a less-political way to draw maps that creates fewer safe seats.

“Elected officials are choosing their constituents instead of the constituents choosing their elected officials,” said Sen. Nina Turner, D-Cleveland, co-chairwoman of the task force. “Both parties need to go back to their colleagues and say this is not about political advantage, it’s about doing what’s in the best interest of the state.”

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Senator Turner Releases Video and Statement on the Introduction of New Legislation for The Cleveland School Plan

Columbus –State Senator Nina Turner (D-Cleveland) issued the following statement and after the introduction of new legislation for the Cleveland School plan (SB 335):

“I am pleased to be able to join my Statehouse colleagues in the introduction of Senate Bill 335, the revised legislation to support Mayor Jackson’s vision to transform the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. From the beginning I have emphasized that this would be a process that all stakeholders must remain engaged in for the benefit of Cleveland’s children. Today, I am proud to note that this process has yielded a result with which all parties can agree.

“This revised legislation reflects the agreement reached between Mayor Frank Jackson, Cleveland schools CEO Eric Gordon, and the Cleveland Teachers Union. This deal includes the removal of the fresh start provision and assurance that teachers will not be penalized for taking on tough assignments. It will not only treat educators fairly, it will help promote a culture of excellence in the city’s schools and set the stage for the educational success of its students.

“I applaud the courage and leadership of Mayor Jackson and Mr. Gordon for bringing this plan forward, and that of Representative Williams, Representative Amstutz, and Senator Lehner for their perseverance and commitment to Cleveland’s kids. I commend all parties for their willingness to keep the city’s children at the forefront and reject the shortcomings of today as unacceptable for the future.

“I look forward to strengthening these partnerships as the bill enters the legislature, helping affect real change in our schools, and ensuring that Cleveland’s children have access to the education that they deserve.”

Senator Kearney Walks the Talk for Children's Health

Senator Kearney walking to Statehouse in 2011.
Columbus – Today, Minority Leader Eric H. Kearney (D-Cincinnati) announced that he will lace up his shoes and walk 107-miles to bring awareness to childhood hunger in the state of Ohio. Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Roddrick Muckelroy and defensive end Michael Johnson as well as local radio personalities from Radio One Cincinnati, the Avondale Running Club, Childhood Food Solutions and more will join Senator Kearney and walkers as they embark on the 6th Annual Walk for Children’s Health at the official kick off celebration on Friday, April 27th at 8:00 AM at Pleasant Ridge Montessori School (5945 Montgomery Road Cincinnati, OH 45213).

According to the USDA, over 16 million children lived in households with little access to food. Ohio ranked higher than the national average with 16.4% homes in the state suffering from food insecurity.

“In my own community the only meal that children may get a day is during school. Once they get home, they must worry about what they are going to eat,” said Senator Kearney.

“This is why I am fortunate to partner with Childhood Food Solutions, a local charity in Cincinnati that provides food to children in areas of high crime and poverty on the weekends and during summer breaks. Statistics have shown that without a sustainable source of food, the physical, mental and educational well-being of a child is threatened.”

Senator Kearney’s walk is comprised of four days of travel through Ohio along highways US-22, US-62, and State Route-3. A group of supporters will welcome Senator Kearney and approximately 20 other walkers at the Ohio Statehouse at 5:00 PM on Monday, April 30, 2012.

Partners for the event include: Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Childhood Food Solutions, and The Avondale Running Group.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Senator Turner Reacts to Proposal to Cut Funding for Planned Parenthood

Senator Turner speaks at Statehouse press conference.
(Columbus) – State Senator Nina Turner (D-Cleveland) issued the following statement today in response to House Republicans’ latest attempt to halt public funding for Planned Parenthood:

“The House Republicans’ new ‘priority system’ for the allocation of federal dollars by the state clearly demonstrates that the health and well-being of Ohio’s women is not a priority of their caucus.
“What kind of state are we living in? It is unbelievable that elected officials—stewards of the public interest—would seek to deliberately deny millions of working class and underprivileged women access to high quality healthcare services. This new plan is another vicious, heartless, and unconscionable volley in the Republican war on women. This narrow policy will disproportionately affect low income and rural areas, and will have consequences that will ripple across the state. I urge Ohio’s 5.8 million women and the men who love and respect them to speak out against it.”

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Senate Democrats React to Republican Lawsuit to Disenfranchise Voters

Columbus – Senate Democratic Leader Eric H. Kearney (D-Cincinnati), Senator Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman), Senator Edna Brown (D-Toledo), Senator Nina Turner (D-Cleveland), Senator Shirley Smith (D-Cleveland) and Senator Charleta B. Tavares (D-Columbus) today condemned continued efforts by Republicans in the General Assembly to disenfranchise voters.

Yesterday, Senate President Tom Niehaus (R-New Richmond) and House Speaker Pro Tempore Lou Blessing (R-Cincinnati) filed a lawsuit (State of Ohio ex. rel. Neihaus v. Husted) asking the Ohio Supreme Court to overturn a federal consent degree which, if successful, would result in fewer provisional ballots being counted.

“The lawsuit makes it clear that Republicans in the General Assembly will stop at nothing to disenfranchise more Ohioans,” said Senator Kearney. “They are circumventing constitutionally guaranteed rights and defying the federal courts in a cynical effort to throw the next election in their favor.”

“Wasting taxpayer dollars to eliminate voting rights is a lose-lose situation,” added Senator Tavares.

“As legislators we should be working on ways to encourage more people to vote, not filing lawsuits that will reduce a citizen’s ability to be heard,” said Senator Schiavoni.

“I completely agree with former Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner that this lawsuit is an embarrassing action by Ohio elected officials,” said Senator Brown. “Once again it appears that they are willing to use any and all means to deny voter access to the citizens of Ohio.”

“This is just another sad attempt by Republicans to suppress the vote,” said Senator Turner. “With all of the pressing issues facing the State of Ohio, I cannot understand why the majority party is so obsessed with making it harder to vote.”

The lawsuit follows a vote in the Ohio Senate last month (SB 295) to prevent the citizens of Ohio from voting on a referendum to overturn House Bill 194—partisan legislation passed last year that shortens the early voting period and prohibits counties from mailing unsolicited applications for absentee ballots. The voting changes would disproportionately affect minorities, senior citizens and college students.

“Republicans don’t seem to care that voting is the most fundamental right in our democracy,” said Senator Smith. “Too many people have fought and died for the right to vote for us not to speak up and defend it.”

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Senator Kearney on Ohio in Focus

Senator Minority Leader Eric H. Kearney discusses Governor Kasich's education proposals and pension reform on Ohio in Focus.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Politifact: Senator Kearney's Statement is True

Senator Eric H. Kearney
(Cleveland Plain Dealer) A bill to reform Ohio election laws, House Bill 194, has been a consistent source of controversy since it was introduced last year.

The latest flap came on March 28 when the Ohio Senate passed a bill to repeal the law, which Democrats and others have called a "voter suppression" bill.

Although they oppose HB 194, largely because it restricts early voting opportunities, Democrats also spoke out against the bill’s repeal because there already is a referendum on HB 194 scheduled for this fall’s ballot.

Sen. Eric Kearney, who leads the Senate’s Democratic caucus, said voters have the right to decide the fate HB 194. He said Republicans were unconstitutionally taking away their right to referendum by repealing the law before the election on Nov. 6.

"This is the first time in Ohio history where a bill has been passed to stop a referendum," Kearney, of Cincinnati, said during the floor debate March 28.

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Cleveland Plain Dealer Reports on Senator Schiavoni's Legislation

COLUMBUS, Ohio - With casino gambling soon to start in Ohio, some state lawmakers are now setting their sights on reining in another form of gaming called sweepstakes.

Sweepstakes are all the rage in many pockets of Ohio, sprouting up in storefront locations that profess to be internet cafes but are what some lawmakers and the state's attorney general say are nothing more than unregulated slot machine parlors.

Read more here:

Senator Turner Talks About the War on Women on MSNBC

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Senator Kearney Responds to Violence in Cincinnati

Columbus – In response to several shootings in Cincinnati involving young children, Senate Democratic Leader Eric H. Kearney (D-Cincinnati) will introduce legislation this week aimed at protecting Ohio’s children from gun violence.

“I am horrified by the recent shootings that have taken place in my neighborhood of Avondale”, said Senator Kearney. It is terrifying as a parent to realize that our children cannot go outside and play without fear of being struck down by a stray bullet.”

Avondale has seen an increase in violence in the last several weeks resulting in the injuries of several bystanders, including a 4-year-old.

The legislation will add an additional 10-year prison term to an existing sentence for any person who discharges a firearm while committing an offense resulting in the injury or death of a child. He originally introduced a similar bill in 2006 when two children were hit by stray bullets on the corner of Reading Road and Forest Avenue in Avondale.

“I encourage lawmakers to pass this legislation and protect our children. I also look forward to working with community leaders to make our neighborhoods safer for our citizens, particularly our children," Senator Kearney said.

Senator Eric H. Kearney represents Ohio’s 9th district which includes parts of Cincinnati, St. Bernard, Elmwood Place, Cleves, Cheviot, Norwood, Golf Manor, Columbia Township, Deer Park, Silverton, Springfield Township, North Bend and Addyston.

Senator Turner Introduces Cleveland School Plan

(Columbus) –State Senator Nina Turner (D-Cleveland) joined State Senator Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering), State Representative Sandra Williams (D-Cleveland) and State Representative Ron Amstutz (R-Wooster) in the introduction of legislation that would enact Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson’s plan to transform the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.

“We have a moral obligation to confront the challenges plaguing our school district and to resolve to do what is in its students’ best interest,” said Senator Turner. “Doing nothing is unacceptable, and this plan is a bold step towards creating the conditions for success for our children, our city, and our future.”

Senate Bill 325 builds off of Mayor Jackson’s original proposal, but reflects many of the compromises reached though negotiations between the mayor, the district, and the Cleveland Teachers Union. These include provisions that would preserve teacher tenure, increase the transparency of the newly-created Transformation Alliance, and allow for teacher hiring to be done at the building level instead by the central office. The contentious “fresh start” language remains, but only until the details of its replacement can be agreed upon.

“The legislation was not perfect last week and it is not perfect now, but Senate Bill 325 serves as a starting point critical to getting the legislative process moving. As agreements are reached among stakeholders, changes will be incorporated into the bill,” noted Senator Turner. “Based on the progress made over the past few weeks by all parties, I am deeply hopeful that the remaining concerns can be addressed.”

Companion legislation, House Bill 506, was also introduced in the House today by Representatives Williams and Amstutz.

“I applaud my colleagues in the General Assembly who have given the mayor’s plan a chance and who have dedicated themselves to turning his vision into reality,” said Turner. “I must also commend the hard work of all the teams from the mayor’s office, the district, and the union who have been able to bridge their differences to bring about real change for the city’s children.”

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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