Friday, June 29, 2012

Senator Turner Comments on SB 5 Anniversary

Today, State Senator Nina Turner (D-Cleveland) issued the following statement on the anniversary of nearly 1.3 million signatures being submitted to the Secretary of State to repeal Senate Bill 5:

“Today is a fitting time to reflect upon the events of one year ago when Ohioans submitted more than a million signatures to put the repeal of Senate Bill 5 on the ballot and send a clear message to an overreaching, Republican-controlled General Assembly.

“I was proud to stand with police officers, firefighters, teachers, and other labor groups in opposition to Senate Bill 5 last year. And I am proud to stand with them today in continued support of collective bargaining rights and a prosperous middle class. Together we turned back a partisan attack on workers’ rights and together we can build a strong and vibrant Ohio where the rights of its citizens are respected and protected for generations to come.”

PHOTO OF THE WEEK: SB 337 Signed Into Law

Senator Smith signs SB 337 as those who worked on the legislation observe.

From The Cleveland Plain Dealer Editorial Board:
Low-level, nonviolent felons in Ohio will have a better chance to re-enter the job market and become productive citizens and responsible parents, thanks to the tireless work of State Sen. Shirley Smith, a Cleveland Democrat.To read the editorial A real chance for Ohio ex-offenders in its entirety click here.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Minority Leader Kearney Releases Statement on U.S. Supreme Court Decision

Ohio Senate Minority Leader Eric H. Kearney (D-Cincinnati) released the following statement today after the U. S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act: 

“I applaud the U.S. Supreme Court for standing with the Obama Administration and declaring the Affordable Care Act constitutional. This is a victory for Americans including many Ohioans who struggle with paying rising healthcare costs.

“Since the passage of this landmark reform, 86 million Americans have benefited from free preventative services such as wellness visits and mammograms. That is a victory.

“As a result of the Affordable Care Act, Ohio health centers have received $74.7 million to create new health centers that expand preventative and primary healthcare services. That is a victory.

“In addition, approximately 100,000 young people in Ohio have been able to stay on their parent’s health insurance until the age of 26. That is a victory.

“I now call upon Governor Kasich and his leadership team to continue providing hard working families the healthcare security that they rightfully deserve and act on the healthcare legislation sponsored by Senator Michael Skindell. It is time for us to stop being complacent and make investments in the health and well-being of Ohio families.

“This should not be a partisan debate. The healthcare of Americans should be a top priority in sustaining our country.  It is time for our leaders to stand up and do what is good and necessary for the country.”

Senator Skindell Releases Statement on U.S. Supreme Court Decision

Senator Michael J. Skindell (D-Lakewood) released the following statement today after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act:

“I am very pleased the Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.   In reaching its decision, the court displayed sound judgment based on clear precedent.  This is a great victory for hardworking families in Ohio who need access to affordable health care.

“The Affordable Care Act is already helping many Ohioans by covering preventive services such as mammograms and colonoscopies at no cost.  It’s also made prescription drugs more affordable for seniors and given Ohioans with pre-existing conditions access to health insurance.  Thanks to the Supreme Court’s decision these vital services will continue. 
“There is no question in my mind that the framers of our Constitution would have viewed the health law as constitutional.  That’s why I joined with other Ohio legislators in filing a court brief to support the Affordable Care Act against a highly partisan assault.

“It’s unfortunate that the current Governor and his administration has needlessly delayed the implementation of a health insurance exchange in Ohio—a key component of the Affordable Care Act.  It is time for the foot dragging to end.  Now that the Supreme Court has spoken, I urge the Governor and the Director of the Department of Insurance to move quickly to pass Senate Bill 277 and create a competitive marketplace where Ohioans and small business owners can purchase affordable health insurance.”

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Senators Tavares and Sawyer Introduce Tuition Equity Act

Today, State Senators Charleta B. Tavares (D-Columbus) and Tom Sawyer (D-Akron) introduced the Tuition Equity Act, Senate Bill 357, to make the children of undocumented immigrants eligible for in-state tuition and financial aid at state colleges and universities. The legislation, which is the Ohio version of the DREAM Act, would change state law so young people who live in Ohio and want to further their education have the opportunity to succeed regardless of their citizenship.

“This bill is necessary to offer all students the chance of achieving the American Dream,” said Senator Tavares. “This country was built on the foundation of encouraging individuals to reach their highest potential. We should not penalize young people for striving for success.”

In order to be eligible for the Tuition Equity Act, individuals must meet the following requirements:
  •  Graduated from high school or obtained a GED in Ohio.
  •  Attended high school in Ohio for three years prior to graduation or lived in Ohio for three years prior to   receiving a GED.
  •  Register as an entering student not earlier than the fall of 2012.
  •  Provide a state college or university with an affidavit stating he or she will file an application to become a United States citizen or permanent legal resident of the U.S.
“It is important for us to elevate the skills of everyone who is in this state and country for the good of America,” Senator Sawyer said. “It makes sense to keep talented young people in our state by giving them the opportunity to further their education so they can put their skills to work here in Ohio.”

The Tuition Equity Act is modeled after legislation in other states including Texas and California where similar legislation has been signed into law.

Governor Signs Senator Smith's Collateral Sanctions Bill

State Representatives  McGregor and Heard along with Senators Smith and Seitz observe Governor Kasich signing SB 337.

Today, legislation introduced by State Senators Shirley Smith (D-Cleveland) and Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) was signed by Ohio Governor John Kasich. Senate Bill 337 is an extensive reform of the collateral sanctions that impose employment restrictions and limitations on over 2 million Ohioans with misdemeanor and felony convictions.

This legislation addresses a number of issues that have prevented ex-offenders from gaining successful reentry into society and their communities. It expands Ohio’s records sealing laws by allowing the sealing of one felony and one misdemeanor conviction, or two misdemeanor convictions. The legislation also creates of a Certificate of Qualification for Employment that lifts automatic disqualification for certain state-issued occupational licenses, and protects employers from negligent hiring lawsuits.

Senate Bill 337 also modifies Ohio’s Child Support laws by giving courts more discretion in calculating Child Support obligations of incarcerated parents and parents with a felony conviction. The legislation also allows courts to work with individuals who would otherwise have their drivers’ licenses suspended, and it allows the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles to create a repayment plan for license reinstatement fees.

“I have long advocated for expanding Ohio’s record sealing laws, and for giving ex-offenders a second chance when finding employment. Senate Bill 337 accomplishes these goals and creates a dimension of redemption in Ohio to complement our justice system,” Senator Smith said following the bill’s signing. “It will benefit thousands of rehabilitated citizens who have paid their dues to society and want to move on with their lives. This legislation eliminates barriers to employment, and it reminds society that ex-offenders have a place among us.

“I have no doubt that people across the state will come to realize that ex-offenders want financial stability, employment, opportunity, a secure home, and the ability to support their loved ones. This legislation is another step in the right direction, and I hope that Ohio’s business leaders and policymakers can continue this momentum.”

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Senator Kearney's Legislative Update on Ohio in Focus

Senate Minority Leader Eric H. Kearney talks about pension reform and other recent legislation in the General Assembly during an appearance on Ohio in Focus.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Senator Kearney Responds to Republican Claims of "Bipartisanship"

Senator Kearney
Columbus – Senate Democratic Leader Eric H. Kearney (D-Cincinnati) issued the following statement in response to claims of bipartisanship made today by Governor Kasich, Speaker Batchelder and President Niehaus:

“Webster’s dictionary defines ‘bipartisanship’ as cooperation, agreement and compromise between political parties. So, it strikes me as very odd that the Governor and Republican leaders would hold a press conference touting their new-found spirit of bipartisanship and not invite Democrats to the event.

“Where was the Republicans’ so-called ‘bipartisanship’ when they passed Senate Bill 5 without a single Democratic vote? Thankfully 62% of Ohioans rejected the GOP’s unwarranted attack on collective bargaining rights.

“To set the record straight, Senate Democrats have introduced 156 bills in this General Assembly, but only 14 percent have passed the Senate. Half of the bills that did pass were jointly sponsored with Republican members and five bills dealt with one issue—pension reform.”

“Senate Democrats also offered more than 700 amendments to protect Ohio’s schools and communities from Governor Kasich’s devastating budget cuts. Not a single amendment was accepted by the Republican majority. That is not bipartisanship by any definition.”

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Senator Schiavoni Honors Student for Winning National Contest

Columbus- Today, Senator Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) honored Nileyshia Johnson, 16, during Senate Session for winning the Heinz Ketchup Creativity Contest sponsored by Heinz Ketchup. Each year the company takes submissions of original artwork from students in grades K-12 across the country to design packets of Heinz ketchup.

“We are so proud of Nileyshia in the Mahoning Valley,” said Senator Schiavoni. “This is something that she does as a passion and it should be recognized. She will go on to do great things.”

A 2012 graduate of Choffin Career and Technical Center with a 4.0 GPA, Nileyshia submitted two designs, both of which were finalists, for the contest. She will attend Youngstown State University where she will double major in nursing and communications.

“I owe everything to the education that I received at Choffin Career and Technical Center,” said Nileyshia.

Nileyshia and Choffin will receive $1,000 and the school will also receive $1,000 worth of Heinz ketchup. Twenty million Heinz ketchup packets featuring Nileyshia’s design will be available nationwide for distribution next school year.

The Cleveland Plan Heads to Governor Kasich

COLUMBUS – Today, the Ohio Senate gave final approval to The Cleveland Plan (HB 525) with a bipartisan vote 27-4. Sponsored by Representatives Sandra Williams (D-Cleveland) and Ron Amstutz (R-Wooster), the legislation supports Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson’s plan for transforming the city’s school system. Identical companion legislation, SB 335, sponsored by Senators Nina Turner (D-Cleveland) and Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering) passed the Ohio Senate on June 12. After today’s vote, HB 525 goes to Governor Kasich to be signed into law.

“Today is a truly great day for the children of Cleveland and the future of our community,” said Senator Turner. “The dedicated efforts of all involved in this legislation have paid off, and the Cleveland Schools will now have the mechanisms in place to turn Mayor Jackson’s vision into reality. However, the real work has just begun. It will take the continued commitment from everyone in our community to fix our schools and give our students a brighter future—legislation cannot do it alone.”

The overall goal of the collaborative effort among Cleveland city officials, the Ohio legislature, teachers union and business community is to ensure that every child in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District has access to a high quality education.

“This bill makes the kinds of bold changes that are necessary to address the problems that plague Cleveland and many other large urban school districts across the country,” said Senator Lehner. “With this plan, Cleveland is leading the way in implementing and developing models for delivering quality education.”

Highlights of the plan include tripling the number of Cleveland students enrolled in high-performing district and charter schools, and eliminating failing schools within six years.

“This is the first step in improving the lives of Cleveland children who find themselves in a substandard educational system,” said Representative Williams. “The support by the House and the Senate was overwhelming. As soon as the Governor signs Sub. House Bill 525, the ball will be in the hands of the citizens. I understand that times are tough for many Cleveland families, but we have to pass a levy in November in order to implement the necessary changes.”

This legislation will also give students in grades 9-12 a voice in their educational futures through an amendment offered by Senator Turner that creates a Student Advisory Committee.

“It was an honor to support the leadership of Cleveland legislators and Mayor Jackson on this bi-partisan process to respond to Cleveland’s call for help on better educating their children,” said Representative Amstutz.

HB 525 will also authorize the district to intervene in low-performing schools in consultation and collaboration with the Cleveland Teachers’ Union and clarifies that teachers and employees cannot be fired as a direct condition of being in a low-performing school.

“It has taken a lot of hard work to reach this point, and will take sustained effort and collaboration to make what was accomplished today a true success,” said Senator Turner. We have demonstrated that a partnership between teachers and administrators; businesses and labor; and parents, politicians, and so many others can make a real difference—it is up to us to continue to fight for high quality education for all students in every school.”

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Ohio House Committee Passes Senator Smith’s Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Legislation

ColumbusToday, State Senator Shirley Smith’s (D-Cleveland) legislation to declare October 13th as Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day unanimously passed the Ohio House Committee on Health & Aging.  Senator Smith applauded the committee’s action, noting that the Senate passed the bill on May 22, 2012.  “I am so pleased that the House committee has passed Senate Bill 199 and has recognized the importance of increasing awareness about this disease.  It is time for Ohio to join the 33 American cities and nine states that officially recognize October 13th as Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day.”
Metastatic breast cancer is the spread of breast cancer to other organs.  Because it usually stems from a reoccurrence, this Stage IV cancer is exceptionally dangerous.  The disease is not currently curable, so treatment for it focuses on extending the woman’s life.

“My legislation will help raise awareness about metastatic breast cancer,” Senate Smith said during her testimony to the committee.  “Advances in biology and medicine have led to new drugs that allow women diagnosed with it to live longer.  However, with increased awareness comes increased attention, and I anticipate that this legislation will lead to new discoveries and treatments.”

Senator Smith first introduced this bill in 2009, and she has been working with University Hospitals to see it enacted into law.  This day of awareness was first celebrated in New York City in 2007.  Since then, a total of 33 American cities and 9 states officially recognize Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day.  Other states that already officially recognize this day include Maine, Illinois, Georgia, Connecticut, and Michigan. 

“Everyone has, in some way, been touched by breast cancer,” Senate Smith said.  “This disease becomes part of our lives when our mothers, wives, sisters, and friends are diagnosed.  Senate Bill 199 honors the memory of those women who have died because of metastatic breast cancer, and it honors the women, their families, and their friends who are fighting it right now.

“Passing this bill gives us some hope for a brighter day in the future when we can work together to finally find a cure for this disease.”

Senator Turner Applauds Approval of Cleveland Schools Plan

COLUMBUS – Today, State Senator Nina Turner (D-Cleveland) issued the following statement reacting to the Ohio Senate’s approval of SB 335, legislation that would support Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson’s plan for transforming the city’s schools:

“Today’s passage of Senate Bill 335 through the Ohio Senate is a watershed moment for the children of Cleveland and the future of our city.  Four months after Mayor Jackson unveiled his vision for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, I am honored to take part in advancing this legislation through the General Assembly and helping to turn this vision into a reality.

“As I have stated many times throughout this process, we had to decide whether we want to live in a city or a cemetery—and act accordingly.  I am proud to have been involved in the collaborative process that led to this moment, one that brought disparate interests to the table for the benefit of our students.  We chose to come together to rededicate ourselves to the future of the City of Cleveland.  We must leverage this momentum to make our students more successful, and our city and region more vibrant. Fixing Cleveland’s schools will take the hard work and dedication of the entire community—Mayor Jackson’s plan cannot do it alone.

“I anticipate the final passage of the Cleveland Plan this week and continued collaboration in the future. By preserving this spirit, we can ensure that we live in a thriving city—not a cemetery—for a long time to come.”

Friday, June 8, 2012

PHOTO OF THE WEEK: Senator Kearney Talks Health Policy with UC Students

On May 31, Senator Eric H. Kearney visited health classes at the University of Cincinnati College of Nursing to discuss health policy in the state of Ohio. Read more about the visit here.

Senator Cafaro Introduces Uniform Guardianship Legislation

Columbus – Today, State Senator Capri S. Cafaro (D-Hubbard) introduced bipartisan legislation (SB 355) with Senator Mark Wagoner (R-Ottawa Hills) to update Ohio’s adult guardianship laws.

“As our population continues to age, it becomes increasingly more important to ensure that our laws accommodate families with out-of-state members and guardians in order to provide the protection and guardianship so desperately needed for our most vulnerable population,” said Senator Cafaro.

Provisions within Senate Bill 355 would allow Ohio’s probate courts to communicate and coordinate with other state courts regarding adult guardianship and protective proceedings when applicable. It will also ensure that the appointed adult guardian is subject to the jurisdiction of the Ohio probate court, and establish rules for Ohio probate courts in deciding how and whether to proceed with a case when a proceeding is also filed in another state.

The bill has bipartisan support and awaits committee assignment in the Ohio Senate.

Representative Tom Letson (D-Warren) introduced companion legislation (HB 27) in the Ohio House of Representatives.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Senators Turner and Tavares Urge Congress to Pass Paycheck Fairness Act

Senator Nina Turner
Columbus – State Senators Charleta B. Tavares (D-Columbus) and Nina Turner (D-Cleveland) today joined with President Barack Obama in calling for the U.S. Senate to stand up for women’s rights and pass the Paycheck Fairness Act.  The legislation is scheduled for a vote Tuesday on Capitol Hill. 

“I applaud President Obama for standing up for equal pay for equal work,” said Senator Turner.  “In 2012, it is unconscionable that a pay gap between women and men persists.  Over 600,000 Ohio households are headed by women, a third of which are below the poverty line. This is not just an issue of equity and fairness—it is a matter of economic security for thousands of families across our state.”

Currently, women in Ohio and across the United States make only 77 cents for every dollar a man earns.
Senator Charleta B. Tavares

“We have pay discrimination against women which impacts their quality of life and that of their families. This in turn negatively impacts our economy,” said Senator Tavares.  “President Obama is standing up for pay fairness and equity for women because it is the right thing to do.  Our President believes in what is fair, right and just for women."

Senators Tavares and Turner recently introduced similar legislation (SB 349) in the Ohio Senate to update state laws that protect Ohioans, particularly women, from wage discrimination. The Fair and Acceptable Income Required (FAIR) Act would strengthen Ohio’s wage discrimination laws by requiring employers to substantiate pay differences—for causes other than seniority, merit, or quantity or quality of employee production—with legitimate, job-related or skill-based reasons.

SB 349 would also prohibit retaliation against workers who discuss salaries with colleagues or raise concerns about wage inequality, and prevent wage discrimination based upon sexual orientation.

Friday, June 1, 2012

PHOTO OF THE WEEK: Senator Brown Tours New Toledo Casino

Senator Edna Brown enjoys the buffet at the Hollywood Casino Toledo VIP Night. Also shown: Jay Black. Photo Credit:The Blade/ Barbara Hendel 
From the Toledo Blade: 
Glitz, glamor, grazing, and gaming. It was all that and more at the Hollywood Casino Toledo VIP night May 24 and positive energy flowed. The VIP night and the daytime event reaped $50,000 each for the YMCA and the Boys and Girls Clubs. Read more about the new Hollywood Casino Toledo here.

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

This page may operate better if you download a free copy of Adobe Flash Player, found here.