Senator Turner Applauds Passage Of Senate Bill 148
Legislation designates portion of I-271 near Cleveland in honor of fallen soldier
November 20, 2014
 
 

COLUMBUS—Today, Senate Bill 148, which designates a portion of Interstate 271 through the city of Bedford Heights as the “Army Pvt. Brandon Sloan Memorial Highway,” received final approval from the Ohio House. The chamber’s unanimous vote in support of the measure is the final legislative step necessary for the highway’s designation.
 
The measure was jointly sponsored with Senator Tom Patton (R-Strongsville).
 
“Today’s vote is an important step by the legislature to honor the sacrifice this young man and his family made for our nation,” said Senator Turner. “I am deeply honored to have had the opportunity to sponsor this measure with Senator Patton, and help pay a small but worthy tribute to Brandon’s legacy of selfless service.”
 
Private Brandon Sloan was raised in Bedford Heights and attended Heskett Middle School and Bedford High School, where he played football prior to enlisting in the United States Army. As a member of the 507th Maintenance Company out of Fort Bliss, Texas, Brandon’s job was to keep the army moving—fixing diesel tanker trucks, generators, and whatever else needed attention. He performed his duty with honor, skill, and pride until his supply convoy was ambushed near Nasiriya, Iraq on the night of March 23, 2003. The incident claimed Brandon’s 19-year old life along with nine of his fellow soldiers. He was one of the first Northeast Ohioans killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

 
 
  
Senator Eric H. Kearney with WHHS Athletic Director Thomas Donnelly and his family on the Senate floor during session.

During Senate Session on November 19, State Senator Eric H. Kearney (D-Cincinnati) recognized Thomas Donnelly as the recipient of the 2013 Southwest Ohio Athletic Director of the Year Award by the Southwest Ohio Athletic Directors Association. Donnelly currently serves as Athletic Director of Walnut Hills High School located in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Donnelly was honored for his work to increase the athletic division of the school by adding a total of 90 sports teams for boys and girls, for every grade level throughout all seasons. Walnut Hills High School is a classical six-year college preparatory high school and has been ranked the top rank high school in Ohio for 2014. 

 
 
  

Columbus –Today, the Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus announced the re-election of its leadership team, led by Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman), to serve in the next General Assembly beginning in January.  Besides Senator Schiavoni, the leadership team includes: Assistant Minority Leader Charleta B. Tavares (D-Columbus), Minority Whip Edna Brown (D-Toledo) and Assistant Minority Whip Lou Gentile (D-Steubenville).  The following quotes can be attributed to the leadership team:
 
Minority Leader Schiavoni
 
“I am honored to have the continued support of my colleagues to serve as the Minority Leader of the Ohio Senate.  It’s been a privilege to lead our caucus for the past year and I look forward to working with our leadership team to advocate on behalf of policies that grow our state’s economy and invest in our schools and local communities.”
 
Assistant Minority Leader Tavares
 
“I am honored to once again receive the support of my Senate Democratic Caucus to serve as the Assistant Minority Leader. The members have supported the policy direction of our leadership team and I am happy that we will be able to continue to serve our Caucus and most importantly, the people of Ohio.”
 
Minority Whip Brown
 
“I am elated to continue in my role as the Whip of the Democratic Caucus here in the Senate and thank my colleagues for their votes of support. It is more important than ever to fight for policies that will benefit all Ohioans and I look forward to doing that with renewed energy and purpose under Senator Schiavoni’s leadership during the 131st General Assembly.”
 
Assistant Minority Whip Gentile
 
“I am deeply humbled to have been reelected by my colleagues to serve as the Assistant Minority Whip for the Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus,” said Sen. Lou Gentile (D-Steubenville).  “I look forward to promoting our caucus’ agenda in promoting economic development and the creation of good paying jobs, strengthening our education system, and improving the quality of life for all Ohioans.”

 

 
 
  

Columbus – On November 18, Senator Charleta B. Tavares (D - Columbus) presented sponsor testimony on two pieces of legislation in the Senate State Government Oversight and Reform Committee. Senate Bill 317 would designate June as LGBTQ Pride Month in Ohio while Senate Bill 320 would require state agencies to only purchase uniforms and other apparel items that are made with American textiles, materials, and supplies.
 
SB 317 coincides with President Obama’s Presidential Proclamation that named June as LGBTQ Pride Month nationwide. “Everyone should be able to take pride in who they are and as a community we should support diversity and celebrate it. These are our friends, family members, and constituents. We should stand with them,” stated Assistant Democratic Leader Tavares.
 
United States Senator Sherrod Brown introduced the Wear American Act of 2014 earlier this year which serves as the template for SB 320. The bill will only require state agencies to purchase American made uniforms and apparel. 
 
“We spend a lot of time talking about how great America is and the quality of our products, but this is a way we could put action to our words and show our pride for American made goods,” added Tavares. “If we want our businesses to grow and our employees to have more opportunities, we need to invest and support the industries here at home.”

 
 
  
 
Senator Turner Continues Advocacy For Simple, Convenient And Secure Voting
Offered sponsor testimony on three voting measures in Senate committee today
November 18, 2014
 
 

COLUMBUS—Today, State Senator Nina Turner (D-Cleveland) continued her advocacy for simple, convenient, and secure elections—as well as greater electoral participation—as she presented initial sponsor testimony on three elections-related measures before the Ohio Senate State Government Oversight & Reform Committee.

“We should be doing everything possible to make Ohio the gold standard of election access and convenience,” Senator Turner said. “Instead of reducing early voting days and hours and throwing up needless hurdles, we should be looking for ways to boost the abysmal participation we saw during the most recent election. The more people who participate, the stronger our democracy becomes.”

Turner spoke to three bills related to voting during this morning’s committee meeting:

Senate Bill 20 – Known as the Voter Protection Act, this comprehensive bill would make significant reforms to Ohio’s elections laws to emphasize the protection and promotion of the right to vote. It would establish default early voting hours in law, ease voting for military personnel and disaster responders, allow for online voter registration and absentee ballot request, and institute a number of other updates to ensure voters’ voices are heard.

Senate Bill 110 – Will allow eligible 16 and 17 year-old Ohioans to pre-register to vote. Soon-to-be voters’ information would be entered into Ohio’s voter rolls as inactive, and automatically switched to active status to allow them to vote in the first election in which they are eligible. Studies of other states’ pre-registration systems have shown an increased likelihood that these young people will vote. The bill does not change the legal voting age in Ohio.

Senate Bill 146 – Would establish the bi-partisan Motor Voter Study Committee to investigate why so few voter registrations occur at Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles locations compared to other states, as well as find way to reduce the likelihood of data-sharing glitches that have jeopardized the integrity of Ohio’s elections system in the past.

 

 
 
  
 
Senator Turner Testifies On Bill To Close Campaign Finance Loophole
Legislation would ensure in-state, out-of-state election spenders play by same rules
November 12, 2014
 
 

COLUMBUS—Today, State Senator Nina Turner (D-Cleveland) presented sponsor testimony on Senate Bill 337 before the State Government Oversight and Reform Committee in the Ohio Senate. The bill, introduced this spring, would close a loophole in Ohio’s campaign finance enforcement statutes identified in 2011. Currently, out-of-state individuals and entities who participate in campaign activities in the state are able to escape investigation by the Ohio Elections Commission and Secretary of State for irregularities found in their campaign finance filings.

“No one should be beyond the law,” said Turner. “If a person or group is working to influence our elections, they should be held accountable to the laws that govern them—regardless of where they are based.”

The deficiency was identified by U.S. District Court Judge George Smith in his 2011 ruling in Cummings v. Husted.

Following the authorization of video lottery terminals at Ohio’s horseracing tracks in 2009, the ballot issue committee LetOhioVote.org formed to advocate placing the measure before voters in a referendum—activity that required the group to file a campaign finance report pursuant to ORC §3517.10. However, then-Secretary of State Brunner discovered irregularities in the report and issued subpoenas to several Virginia-based individuals associated with the referendum effort.
 
The issue eventually landed in U.S. District Court, where Judge Smith ruled that state authorities lacked the statutory ability to subpoena individuals outside of the state to appear before the commission and answer questions about irregularities in their campaign finance filings.

“This simple fix is long overdue,” Turner said. “I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate and all interested parties to advance this legislation before this session concludes.”

 
 
  

Columbus – State Senator Eric H. Kearney (D-Cincinnati) announced today that he will introduce a resolution in the Ohio Senate this week urging the United States Congress to amend the Military Selective Service Act to require both men and women to register for the selective service.  Currently, only male citizens between the ages of 18 and 26 are compelled to register.

“On Veteran’s Day, it is appropriate to recognize the important and outstanding contributions women have made to our military throughout American history,” said Senator Kearney.  “As integration barriers fall and combat restrictions are lifted for women in the armed services, this resolution urges Congress to take a critical stride for women’s equality in the US military by calling on them to register for the selective service.”

Women have served the U.S. military in many different capacities since the American Revolution including more than 225,000 who served recently in Iraq and Afghanistan.  In 2013, following a unanimous recommendation by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Secretary of Defense ended a rule that excluded women from direct combat roles.

 
 
  
 
Senator Brown Introduces Bill To Protect Health Benefits For Retiring Workers
Bill would address workers deciding to retire or forego health insurance
November 10, 2014
 
 

Columbus – Today, Senator Edna Brown (D-Toledo) introduced Senate Bill 385 to prevent some public employees from losing their health benefits.  SB 385 would require that members of the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS) retiring on or after January 1, 2015, who have attained age sixty with fifteen or more years of service credit on that date, are treated as retiring on or before December 1, 2014, for purposes of qualifying for any retiree health care coverage provided by the Retirement System.

“There are over 22,000 public employees aged 60 years and older with between ten and twenty years of service who have been adversely affected by draconian changes to the health coverage offered by OPERS,” said Senator Brown. “These workers are facing a choice between unexpected early retirement and the possibility of losing health coverage through the OPERS system.”

By statute, the Ohio General Assembly gave OPERS the authority to make determinations regarding health care rules for retired Members of the System.  At the time of the most recent OPERS pension reforms in Senate Bill 343, the OPERS Board of Trustees made changes to the health care rules.  This included requiring retirees to have twenty years of qualifying service starting in 2015 rather than the present requirement of ten years for OPERS sponsored health care.

“OPERS has stated that this rule change is a way to save health care, but I feel older employees are being unfairly used to ‘fix’ decisions made in the past,” said Senator Brown. “It is important to protect and transition employees who may not reach the new twenty year requirement due to their age.”

 
 
  

Columbus, Ohio—Senator Lou Gentile (D-Steubenville) received the 2014 Ohio Educational Service Center Association’s Legislative Leadership Award for his dedication to strengthening Ohio’s education system. The award program, which began in 1985, recognizes outstanding ESC and school district board members, as well as elected officials. 

“This program symbolizes the very heart and essence of Ohio’s 53 Educational Service Centers—pooling exemplary leaders, community resources, businesses, industries and government together to better serve Ohio school districts and Ohio’s youth regardless of where they live and attend school. We are honored to recognize Senator Gentile for his dedicated commitment to public service,” said OESCA Executive Director Craig Burford. 

Senator Gentile was nominated by Jefferson County Educational Service Center Superintendent George Ash as well as the Jefferson County ESC’s Governing Board, and was formally recognized during the 29th Annual Capital Conference Awards and Recognition Program in Columbus. 

“I am deeply honored to receive such a prestigious award from the OESCA,” said Senator Gentile. “I am humbled to be recognized by so many dedicated and talented education professionals. Together, we share a commitment to ensuring our school districts have the resources they need to provide a quality education for Ohio's children. I will continue to work with Ohio's ESCs to encourage the General Assembly to invest in public education and make educating our children a top priority.”

 
 
  
Photo courtesy of Athens Messenger

Pomeroy- State Senator Lou Gentile (D-Steubenville) spoke at a reception that marked the opening of the Holzer emergency department in Meigs County. The county has been without a 24 hour emergency care facility for more than 10 years.  The 13,000 square foot facility has eight treatment rooms, a double trauma room. a lab and radiology services. 

 
 
  
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Senator Turner Applauds Passage Of Senate Bill 148

 

COLUMBUS—Today, Senate Bill 148, which designates a portion of Interstate 271 through the city of Bedford Heights as the “Army Pvt. Brandon Sloan Memorial Highway,” received final approval from the Ohio House. The chamber’s unanimous vote in support of the measure is the final legislative step necessary for the highway’s designation.



 
 

Senator Kearney Honors Southwest Ohio "Athletic Director Of The Year"

 

During Senate Session on November 19, State Senator Eric H. Kearney (D-Cincinnati) recognized Thomas Donnelly as the recipient of the 2013 Southwest Ohio Athletic Director of the Year Award by the Southwest Ohio Athletic Directors Association. Donnelly currently serves as Athletic Director of Walnut Hills High School located in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Donnelly was honored for his work to increase the athletic division of the school by adding a total of 90 sports teams for boys and girls, for every grade level throughout all seasons. Walnut Hills High School is a classical six-year college preparatory high school and has been ranked the top rank high school in Ohio for 2014. 



 
 

Senate Democrats Announce Leadership Team For 131st General Assembly

 

Columbus –Today, the Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus announced the re-election of its leadership team, led by Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman), to serve in the next General Assembly beginning in January.  Besides Senator Schiavoni, the leadership team includes: Assistant Minority Leader Charleta B. Tavares (D-Columbus), Minority Whip Edna Brown (D-Toledo) and Assistant Minority Whip Lou Gentile (D-Steubenville).  The following quotes can be attributed to the leadership team:



 
 

Tavares Gives Sponsor Testimony For Pride Month And Support American Made Apparel Legislation

 

Columbus – On November 18, Senator Charleta B. Tavares (D - Columbus) presented sponsor testimony on two pieces of legislation in the Senate State Government Oversight and Reform Committee. Senate Bill 317 would designate June as LGBTQ Pride Month in Ohio while Senate Bill 320 would require state agencies to only purchase uniforms and other apparel items that are made with American textiles, materials, and supplies.