Columbus – This coming Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) will join state and local officials to dedicate a portion of I-80 in Austintown in honor of two local Vietnam Veterans. The portion of I-80 between 1-76 and I-680 in Mahoning County will be renamed, "Marine Sergeant James Prommersberger and Army Second Lieutenant Charles W. Brown Memorial Highway."

Sergeant Prommersberger died in the line of duty fighting off 200 Vietnamese soldiers while saving a fellow soldier. Lieutenant Brown was killed as he fought off an infiltration of 4,000 Vietnamese soldiers. Both Prommersberger and Brown received Silver Star and Purple Heart medals for their outstanding service to our country. The public and media are invited to join Senator Schiavoni in honoring these two heroic soldiers.

When:  12:00 pm EST

             Tuesday,July 7, 2015 

Where:  Quaker Steak & Lube

              5800 Interstate Blvd

              Austintown, OH 44515

 
 
  

COLUMBUS–Today, Senate Bill 117, legislation jointly sponsored by State Senators Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights) and Jim Hughes (R-Columbus), passed the Ohio Senate with unanimous, bipartisan support. Senate Bill 117 would designate the month of October as “Rett Syndrome Awareness Month.”

“Rett Syndrome is a devastating disease that affects families all across this state,” said Senator Yuko. “Although much still needs to be done in the fight against Rett Syndrome, SB 117 is a small but necessary step in changing the lives of thousands of girls.”
 
Rett Syndrome is a postnatal neurological disorder that affects females almost exclusively and currently has no cure. One out of every 10,000 female births is diagnosed with Rett Syndrome, which equates to a girl being born with the disorder every 2 hours. Those affected normally have no verbal skills or purposeful hand use, and on average about half are unable to walk. 

“Help us win this fight by dedicating the month of October to these girls and to those who have yet to be diagnosed. Let us strive for a world in which no child or family has to suffer from this devastating disorder,” stated Yuko.

Senate Bill 117 moves to the Ohio House for further consideration. 

 
 
  

Columbus – Today, State Senator Charleta B. Tavares (D – Columbus) praised the United States Supreme Court for their decision to extend marriage equality to all states. 

“America has always been a nation that strives for justice and liberty,” Tavares said. “Today, we once again practice what we preach.”

Senator Tavares firmly believes we must uphold American values and ensure these values are reflected throughout our legal system. Equality of opportunity for all citizens is among the most basic tenets of American society. For far too long, our marriage laws had not reflected our nation’s core beliefs. That changed today.

“It is our duty to do what is fair, what is right, and what is just. After years of waiting, millions of Americans have finally received the justice they so greatly deserve. This is a beautiful day.”

The senator celebrates with everyone who worked tirelessly over the years to bring about this historic moment. Though our highest court decided this case, it was decades of work by thousands of dedicated citizens that changed the course of history. 

 
 
  

COLUMBUS, OH—Today, Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) released the following statement after the United States Supreme Court struck down Ohio’s ban on same-sex marriage:

“Today the United States Supreme Court confirmed what we have known all along: that all families are equal and all families deserve to be treated equally under the law. This is a day to celebrate an historic victory for love and equality. I call upon Governor Kasich and Attorney General DeWine to respect the court’s decision and to act swiftly to make sure every Ohioan can marry the person they love.” 

 
 
  

Columbus—Today, the Ohio Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 116, which designates October 16 as George Washington Williams Day in honor of Ohio’s first African American state legislator. State Senator Cecil Thomas sponsored the legislation, along with State Senator Charleta Tavares (D-Columbus). The bill encourages schools in Ohio to observe the day by discussing the life of George Washington Williams 

“George Washington Williams was a trailblazer for African American public servants in the State of Ohio and an inspiration for people everywhere,” said Senator Thomas. “I am humbled to walk in his footsteps from Cincinnati to Columbus. Passing this legislation will be an important and long overdue salute to a man who has opened doors for me, Senator Tavares, and a long list of our predecessors in the Ohio Legislature.”

George Washington Williams was an accomplished historian, theologian, Civil War veteran, and the first African American elected to the Ohio Legislature. He was elected to represent Cincinnati and served one term in the Ohio House of Representatives. Williams was universally respected in his community and among political elites. Following his time in Columbus, Williams was appointed Minister Resident and Consul General to Haiti by President Chester A. Arthur, though he was never allowed to serve. He was also among the first whistleblowers on the European abuses of colonialism in the Congo.    

Senate Bill 116 will now proceed to the Ohio House of Representatives to go through the committee process there. 

 
 
  
 
Senator Yuko Gives Sponsor Testimony On Senate Bill 25
Raises minimum wage & improves workers' rights in Ohio
June 24, 2015
 
 

COLUMBUS—Today, “The Ohio Worker’s Rights Act”, Senate Bill 25, received its first hearing in the Senate Transportation, Labor, and Commerce Committee, during which State Senator Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights), the bill’s sponsor, gave testimony. The bill is a multi-pronged approach to improving worker’s rights in Ohio and a priority for the Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus for the 131st General Assembly.

“This bill takes a dramatic, but necessary, step forward in ensuring hardworking Ohioans are paid and treated fairly,” said Senator Yuko. “The protections provided in Senate Bill 25 will lift Ohioans out of poverty, provide an incentive for hiring of additional middle class workers, and allow salaried workers to better balance work and family.” 

The main components of this legislation include a raise in the minimum wage and increased overtime protection, as well as measures that would prevent employee misclassification. More specifically, the bill would raise Ohio’s minimum wage from $8.10 to $10.10 an hour, adjusting to changes in inflation each year. It also increases overtime protection compensation from $23,000 to $50,000 in the first year, then to $69,000 in the following years. Lastly, it creates a more uniform definition of what constitutes an employee and provides further protections against employers benefiting, at the expense of the employees, off of the misclassification of their workers.

“These are not new ideas- these are ideas that have been implemented in other states, and they are seeing results. States that protect their workers protect themselves,” said Yuko. “As it has been said many times before: ‘People working 40 hours a week should not live in poverty.’ It’s that simple. We are doing a disservice to our working low and middle class families, who are without a doubt the ones most in need. It’s an absolute shame.”

Senate Bill 25 is co-sponsored by all members of the Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus.  

 
 
  

Columbus –Today, members of the Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus voted against the state budget (HB 64) because the legislation fails to invest enough resources in our schools and communities and places new restrictions on collective bargaining and reproductive rights.  Following the vote, Democratic Senators released the following statements on why this budget is a bad deal for Ohio:

Sen. Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman)

“When the budget arrived in the Senate our members were committed to working in a bipartisan manner to make the bill more helpful to all Ohioans.  We requested a modest package of investments to provide much needed support for our schools, communities and Ohioans who need assistance.  Unfortunately, our reasonable proposal was rejected and we were left with a budget that caters to the rich and largely ignores the poor and middle class.  Last minute amendments made the budget even worse by placing more restrictions on reproductive rights.  This budget deserved a ‘no’ vote.”

Sen. Charleta Tavares (D-Columbus)

“As a whole, the operating budget fails to address the needs of our most vulnerable populations. The poor and working class pay taxes like everyone else yet instead of using their tax dollars to fund targeted programs to assist them, we keep doing whatever we can to ensure the rich become richer. We need to put our money where our rhetoric is; it is time for Ohio to focus on children, lifting people up, and investing in communities.”

Sen. Edna Brown (D-Toledo)

“As Ohio continues to recover and state revenues increase, it is important to focus on policies which help all Ohioans. This budget is a missed opportunity to invest in our communities and schools in ways that benefit every family. Instead, the focus has been placed on tax breaks which hand our hard earned gains to a select few and leave the rest of the state feeling like they are still in a recession.”

Sen. Capri S. Cafaro (D-Hubbard)

“I am disappointed that we could not come to a mutual agreement on the best ways to assist our most vulnerable citizens in Ohio. This budget does not properly invest in programs to help keep Ohioans healthy, improve our infant mortality rates, or protect our aging population. These are not populations that can help themselves. These populations need our help, and we should and could do more.”

Sen. Tom Sawyer (D-Akron)

“I am disappointed today in the outcome of the Senate’s state budget.  This is a lost opportunity to make real investments in Ohio students and the long-term health of the state’s economy. The Senate budget bill follows the lead of the Governor and the Ohio House by focusing on the wrong priorities.  This budget bill slashes taxes to benefit a few and neglects our obligations to students and middle-class families.  This budget does not properly address urgent needs or long-term problems. This budget settles on the short term and short-sighted priorities instead of long-term investments.  The Ohio Senate can do better and the people of Ohio certainly deserve better.”

Sen. Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights)

“I stand in opposition of this budget as a testament to all of those who time and time again are over looked and forgotten.  I cannot support a budget that does not support the most vulnerable populations in our state, a budget that leaves out our children, our seniors, our disabled, and so many more hard working individuals and communities that deserve so much more than what has been proposed here today.”

Sen. Cecil Thomas (D-Cincinnati)

“This budget falls short of adequate investment in the areas vital to Ohio’s continued success. Cuts to schools and local governments are particularly unacceptable when presented in the same proposal that contains a massive tax shift, and a huge increase to the Rainy Day Fund. We are capable of investing our tax dollars more equitably to support the future of our children and the services and infrastructure relied on by all Ohioans.

 
 
  
 
Senator Cafaro Pleased With Changes To State Budget
Senate version of HB 64 includes Cafaro amendments
June 12, 2015
 
 

Columbus- Today, State Senator Capri S. Cafaro (D-Hubbard) announced that amendments she submitted to the state operating budget (HB 64) have been included in the Senate version of the legislation. The amendments will be beneficial to the residents of the 32nd Senate District that includes Trumbull, Ashtabula and portions of Geauga counties.

Amendments accepted into the budget include the following:

  • Changing the way nursing homes in Trumbull County are reimbursed to more fairly reflect the size of the county. This will help improve care for Trumbull nursing home residents. 
  • Allocating $657,000 per fiscal year for Chardon’s Continuum of Care Pilot Program for Mental Health and Addiction Services.
  • Senator Cafaro also coordinated with Chardon residents to testify on behalf of College Credit Plus program for homeschoolers. This program saw its budget double in the substitute bill.
  • An amendment to create an agreement for joint vocational school district mergers allows a school district losing students and tax revenue some relief for the first two years. This provision greatly helps Ledgemont and Cardinal School districts in Geauga County.
  • An additional $500,000 per year was allocated for a water and sewer loan fund to assist local governments and public entities extending water and sewer line access. This proposal also included a 15 year opt-out option for septic systems that are in good standing, similar to an amendment submitted by Senator Cafaro.

“I am pleased to see that my district will benefit from certain measures proposed in Substitute House Bill 64,” said Senator Cafaro. “Trumbull County saw a major victory as their nursing homes will be changed from a peer group 3 to a peer group 2, and will help all nursing homes in the county with higher reimbursements rates. This is an issue I have worked on since my first budget, and I am happy to see it finally resolved in my last. I am also pleased to see the additional money go towards Chardon’s Pilot Program for the continuum of care for mental health and addiction services. It is my hope that this program further proves to be successful and can be a model for the entire state. The provision regarding sewer tie-ins will greatly help all in my district with functioning septic tanks. The additional money could also provide some much needed relief to local governments extending sanitary sewer access for rural residents, but cannot afford the great cost associated with the procedure.”

Senator Cafaro also submitted amendments to add additional dollars to the Alzheimer’s line item. While the proposed funds were less than originally requested, Senator Cafaro is pleased that $500,000 was added. Senator Cafaro’s amendment to restore Medicaid funding for pregnant women up to 200% of the federal poverty line and funding for breast and cervical cancer screenings was also accepted.

“I was also happy to see that this version of the budget prioritized women and children by restoring funding for pregnant women on Medicaid up to 200% of the federal poverty level,” Senator Cafaro stated.  “This is essential to showing that the General Assembly cares about our abysmal infant mortality rate, and not just says it, I feel like this is a step in the right direction for our Medicaid program.”

Senator Cafaro calls it a victory that a proposed closure commission for developmental disabilities facilities has remained in the budget.  The Senate altered the proposal by adding a family member or caregiver of a resident at a developmental center to the commission and by extending the deadline for the commission to issue a report from 30 to 90 days. Many families worked with Senator Cafaro’s office to coordinate testimony for this vital commission proposal, which could keep the doors of Youngstown Developmental Center open if the commission saw necessary.

“After many hours of public testimony, I am glad to see our efforts ensured that the Developmental Disabilities Closure Commission language was retained,” Senator Cafaro said. “The families’ heart wrenching stories were heard, and not only was the commission retained, but the Senate also added provisions that were asked for by many in my district.”

The Senate is scheduled to vote on the budget bill next week followed by a conference committee to work out differences between the House and Senate versions of the legislation. 

 
 
  
 
Senate Democrats Submit Amendment To Restore Historic Tax Credit
Provision in Senate Budget would "kill jobs and scuttle important projects"
June 11, 2015
 
 

Columbus –Today, Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) issued the following statement regarding Ohio’s Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit, which is a vital redevelopment tool for municipalities across the state:

“Today the Senate Democratic Caucus submitted an amendment to the state budget to restore the Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit.  The tax credit has been instrumental for community efforts to revitalize neighborhoods and preserve landmark buildings that define our state’s history.  The proposal by Senate Republicans to abruptly end the tax credit through a provision in the state budget would kill jobs and scuttle important projects. Community leaders from across Ohio agree with us that ending the tax credit program would be a mistake.”

 
 
  

COLUMBUS—State Senator Sandra Williams (D-Cleveland) testified Wednesday in the Senate Transportation, Commerce and Labor committee on Senate Bill 81, legislation that would create a license plate honoring women veterans. The Senator was approached by the Women Veterans Advisory Committee earlier this year and asked to sponsor a bill that would recognize the contributions and sacrifices made by women in our U.S armed forces.

“Women veterans deserve recognition for revolutionizing and changing the landscape of the United States’ military,” said Senator Williams. “With every passing day, there is a new and enthusiastic group of young women who enlist with the same determination and courage that our current women veterans possess along with those who severed before them.”

As a veteran herself, Senator Williams strongly supports the creation of a license plate that would simply read ‘Women Veteran” across the bottom the license plate.   

“Women who have served and those currently serving in our armed forces have been met with all types of obstacles and barriers, but we continue to overcome adversity,” Senator Williams said. “This license plate designation is a way to honor the legacy, as well as the proud and distinguished service of women.”

The bill will allow any woman who is a retired or honorably discharged veteran of any branch of the armed forces of the United States to apply to the registrar for the registration of any vehicle the woman owns or leases and the issuance of “Women Veterans” license plates.

The number of women veterans serving our country has grown significantly over the last several years. Today, women are estimated to comprise 20 percent of new recruits, 14 percent of the current military, and approximately 8 percent of the entire veteran population according to the United States Department of Labor.

 
 
  
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Senator Tavares To Introduce Eyewitness Protection Act

 

Columbus—Next week, Assistant Senate Democratic Leader Charleta B. Tavares (D-Columbus) will introduce legislation aimed at protecting citizens who record law enforcement and civilian involved incidents. The Eyewitness Protection Act will give a person the right to lawfully record any incident involving law enforcement or the public and to maintain custody and control of that recording and the device used to record the incident. 



 
 

Senate Democrats Submit More Than 500 Budget Amendments

 

Columbus—Today, members of the Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus submitted more than 500 amendments to House Bill 64, the biennial state budget.  The amendments represent the commitment of Senate Democrats to help Ohio families, grow our communities through targeted investments and increase opportunities for everyone. 



 
 

Senator Thomas Testifies To Reinstate Pete Rose To Major League Baseball

 

Columbus—Today, State Senator Cecil Thomas (D-Cincinnati) testified before members of the State and Local Government Committee on Senate Concurrent Resolution 4 to urge Commissioner Robert Manfred to reinstate Pete Rose to Major League Baseball. The resolution also encourages the Baseball Writers' Association to consider Pete Rose for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. 



 
 

Senator Williams Issues Statement Calling For Accountability After Verdict In Michael Brelo Trial

 

Cleveland—Today, Senator Sandra Williams (D-Cleveland) released the following statement calling for accountability after Judge John O'Donnell found Officer Michael Brelo not guilty of voluntary manslaughter charges in the deaths of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams: