Thursday, September 27, 2012

Do You Have Questions About How the Pension Reform Will Affect You?

On September 26, landmark pension legislation was signed into law that will help preserve and protect the retirement benefits for nearly 1.8 million Ohioans.

The pension bills are the result of a collaborative process involving the pension systems and stakeholders. Due to the economic recession and a growing number of retirees, Ohio’s five public pension systems needed to make adjustments to meet their financial obligations and ensure long-term stability. For example, the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System estimates it has been losing nearly $1 million per day in potential savings while it waited for the General Assembly to act.

The changes will be effective January 7, 2013.

It is recommended that you speak with experts with the pensions systems regarding your retirement benefits. They can look directly into your unique circumstances and can help you consider different retirement scenarios since they have the exact details of your account.

For more information on how your retirement benefits will be affected, please contact the appropriate system below.

PERS/Public Employees Retirement System
STRS/State Teachers Retirement System
SERS/School Employees Retirement System
OP&F/Ohio Police & Fire Pension Fund
HPRS/Highway Patrol Retirement System

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Be the First to Vote in Ohio: Sleep Out the Vote!

Ohio Senate Democrats invite the public to Sleep Out the Vote on October 1-2 to mark the beginning of early voting in Ohio. Sleep Out the Vote will take place at early voting locations in Hamilton, Cuyahoga, Franklin, Lucas and Mahoning counties beginning at 7pm Oct. 1. Polling sites open at 8am Tuesday, October 2. Sleep Out the Vote and be the first to vote in Ohio!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Senator Cafaro Receives Leadership Award

Columbus – Senator Capri Cafaro (D-Hubbard) has been selected as one of the Girl Scouts of Northeast Ohio “Women of Distinction” for 2012.  The award recognizes those who have exemplified extraordinary leadership and distinguished service.  

"I am honored to be considered a role model for the next generation of women leadersand understand the responsibility we all have to help provide Ohio's young girls with the tools to grow into accomplished women,” Senator Cafaro said.  “The Girl Scout program truly does build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who will make the world a better place.”

Senator Cafaro has been serving as an honorary chair for the Girl Scouts 100th Anniversary in the eastern Ohio region over the last year.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Sleep Out the Vote: Make Your Vote Ohio’s First!

Sleep Out the Vote: Make Your Vote Ohio’s First!

Columbus– Today, members of the Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus announced that they will empower Ohioans to exercise their right to vote by spending the night outside local county boards of elections beginning at 7:00PM, October 1st, in a statewide Sleep Out the Vote campaign. Sleep Out the Vote is an initiative started by State Senator Eric H. Kearney in 2008 to raise awareness for early voting in Ohio.

“Recent efforts by opponents to disenfranchise thousands of Ohio voters spurred our members to take action and show that we will not allow it to happen without a fight,” said Minority Leader Kearney.

There are many benefits to early and absentee voting for those who work during the day, are immobilized, or attend school outside of their district. Taking advantage of the early voting process can decrease the wait time often associated with the lines on Election Day.

“It is imperative that all those who care about liberty, justice, and the right to vote make sure their voices are heard,” said Senator Nina Turner (D-Cleveland).

Participating counties in the Sleep Out the Vote campaign include: Hamilton, Lucas, Cuyahoga, Franklin and Mahoning.

“I am joining my colleagues and community members to increase early voting in order to increase the vote and voice of our citizens in Ohio,” said Senator Charleta B. Tavares (D-Columbus).

Early voting in Ohio will begin on Tuesday October 2, 2011 at 8:00AM.

BEST PHOTO/INTERVIEW TIMES: Monday, October 1, 2011 8:00 PM
                                                                Tuesday, October 2, 2011 7:00 AM

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Senator Schiavoni Introduces Priority Legislation for Fall

Columbus – State Senator Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) recently announced a new slate of legislation focused on constituent driven initiatives, most notably a bill that focuses on support for community-based correction facilities. 
The bill provides tax exemption status for any nonprofit agency that operates a community-based correctional facility for criminal offenders. Senator Schiavoni worked with Youngstown’s Community Corrections Association in putting the legislation together. 

“The Community Corrections Association (CCA) has provided dozens of significant services to those in need while simultaneously redeveloping the streets on the Southside of Youngstown,” said Senator Schiavoni. “It is my goal to pass legislation that ensures the CCA and any other community correction nonprofit organization, continued success through the utilization of tax exempt status.”

Dr. Richard Billak, Director of CCA, agrees with the Senator Schiavoni.  “Without this, the financial impact on nonprofit correctional agencies statewide will be dramatic. We feel that this legislation is critical to the success of these programs across the state of Ohio.”
Other pieces of legislation introduced by Senator Schiavoni this summer include:
  • Reforming criminal sentencing guidelines for Veterans.
  • Regulation and oversight of Internet sweepstakes, often referred to as Internet caf├ęs.
  • Prohibiting customer support call centers from receiving state loans or grants if they outsource their call center jobs overseas.
  • Prohibiting indemnity agreements in trucking contracts.
  • Promoting non-violence by designating the first week of October as Non-Violence Week across Ohio. 
A second batch of legislation that Senator Schiavoni plans on introducing in the coming weeks includes:
  • Property tax relief for homeowners and renters.
  • Creation of additional liquor permits to assist in the development of entertainment districts, such as downtown Youngstown.
  • Safety improvements in relation to oil and gas drilling.
  • Requiring Ohio insurance companies to cover HPV screenings and vaccinations.
  • Expanding safeguards to prevent home foreclosures.
Like many of his bills, these ideas derived from working directly with constituents.
“My job is to listen to my constituents, address their concerns and correct or create laws based on their feedback,” stated Sen. Schiavoni.  “I look forward to working hard in Columbus on this new legislation, and want to continue to encourage those within my district to contact me with any ideas they might have.”

Landmark Pension Reform Heads to Governor

(Columbus)—The Ohio Senate concurred today with overwhelming bipartisan support to House changes regarding five landmark pension reform bills that strengthen and protect the retirement benefits for nearly 1.8 million Ohioans.  The legislation—jointly sponsored by Senate President Tom Niehaus (R-New Richmond) and Senate Minority Leader Eric H. Kearney (D-Cincinnati)—passed the Ohio House of Representatives earlier today.

“Due to the demands of a growing retirement population, rising health care costs and a struggling economy, this legislation responsibly addresses the threat of insolvency and avoids the long-term financial crisis emerging in other states,” said Senator Niehaus.

The pension bills are the result of a collaborative process involving the pension systems and stakeholders.  Due to the economic recession and a growing number of retirees, Ohio’s five public pension systems needed to make adjustments to meet their financial obligations and ensure long-term stability.  For example, the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System estimates it has been losing nearly $1 million per day in potential savings while it waited for the General Assembly to act.

“Today we have protected the retirement benefits of nearly 1.8 million Ohioans by passing long over due pension reform,” said Senator Kearney. These pension bills show what the General Assembly can accomplish by working together in a bipartisan manner. Not only do the reforms strengthen our public pension systems, but the changes do not require additional tax dollars.”

The Senate originally passed the legislation in May, but because of minor changes made to the bills in the Ohio House a concurrence vote was necessary.  The legislation now goes to Governor Kasich for his signature.

The changes to the pension systems take effect January 7, 2013.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Senator Brown Introduces Children’s Nutrition Bill

Columbus – Today, State Senator Edna Brown (D-Toledo) introduced Senate Bill 372 that will require school buildings to be made available during the summer to serve meals in areas where 50% or more of the local children qualify for summer meal programs.  Many schools have been forced to end their summer food programs due to a lack of finances, making the required meal programs unavailable to children in need. 

“Hunger does not take a break in the summer,” said Senator Brown. “Many children are unable to obtain much needed nutrition once the school year ends due to a lack of accessible meal sites.  Schools are often at the center of neighborhoods and are already convenient locations for children to access.  This measure is a step to alleviate childhood hunger.”

Under the proposed law, schools could explore partnerships with local governments, faith-based providers or nonprofits to aid in the delivery of nutritious meals to children in the summer months at potentially no cost to taxpayers.  Schools would also have the option to provide the meals themselves.

Senate Bill 372  also includes a revision to current Ohio law that prevents children from eating while on a school bus.  This revision would permit school districts to use a stationary school bus as a place where children can consume their meals. Once one group of children has finished their meals and exited the bus, it could be moved to another location, creating a mobile feeding site to help meet the nutritional needs in each neighborhood.

The proposed law would also create a new healthy food service license for family childcare providers that would allow them to offer fresh produce. Currently, in order to serve fresh produce family childcare providers are required to secure the same commercial food license needed by supermarkets and restaurants.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Ohio Newspapers Agree with Senate Democrats

Senate Minority Leader Eric H. Kearney
Columbus--Last Friday Federal Judge Peter C. Economus ordered the state of Ohio to restore in-person voting for all Ohioans for the last three days before the November 6th election.  Republican leaders have vowed to appeal the decision and thus far have refused to set voting hours for those three days.  In response, Senate Minority Leader Eric H. Kearney (D-Cincinnati) released the following statement: 

“By appealing Judge Economus’ decision and refusing to establish voting hours for the last three days before the election, Republican leaders have once again shown their determination to limit voting opportunities for Ohioans.  Republicans should stop playing partisan games with our elections in a cynical attempt to sway the outcome.  Judge Economus has made it clear that early voting must be open to all Ohioans and state officials should comply with his order."

Today, the editorial boards of the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Toledo Blade agreed with Senator Kearney and the Senate Democratic Caucus.  Both newspapers have called on Republicans to drop their appeal and accept Judge Economus' decision.

Cleveland Plain Dealer

"Early voting in Ohio starts in less than four weeks. Millions of Ohioans this week will begin receiving absentee ballot applications sent by Secretary of State Jon Husted's office. It's time to stop arguing and litigating about the hours for in-person, early voting. Set the rules so the two major parties and individual Ohioans can plan accordingly."

Toledo Blade

"Ohio Republican leaders are challenging two proper court decisions that affect how the state will
conduct elections this fall.  The GOP would do better, on behalf of voters, to accept the rulings and agree to expand ballot access, rather than appear to pursue partisan advantage by restricting access."

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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