Sen. Turner To Introduce Legislation To Fix Campaign Finance Loophole
Bill would address deficiency in Ohio law identified by 2011 court ruling
April 22, 2014
 
 

COLUMBUS—State Senator Nina Turner (D-Cleveland) announced today that she will soon be introducing legislation to close a loophole in Ohio campaign finance law.  The loophole allows out-of-state individuals and entities who participate in campaign activities in the state to escape investigation by the Ohio Elections Commission and secretary of state for irregularities found in their campaign finance filings.

“This simple legislative fix is long overdue,” said Senator Turner. “Ohioans deserve to know that those from outside of our state trying to influence Ohio elections and public policy will be held accountable to our laws.“

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 from out of state to appear before the commission and answer questions about irregularities in their campaign finance filings.

“This really is a common-sense measure that will help ensure that our elections are fair and transparent,” Senator Turner said. “Ohio voters deserve to have the peace of mind that when it comes to Ohio elections and Ohio laws, the final word rests with them—not someone from the other side of the country. I look forward to working with advocates and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to keep Ohio’s elections honest.”

 
 
  
 
Tavares Joins National Organization In Calling For The Restoration Of Voting Rights
The National Black Caucus of State Legislators Releases Special Report on Expansive Voting Rights Legislation Passed By Black State Legislators Across the Nation
April 16, 2014
 
 

Columbus-Senator Charleta B. Tavares, Assistant Senate Democratic Leader (D-Columbus) and Regional Director of NBCSL  announced – In the face of recent suppressive attacks on voting rights across the nation, that the National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL) released a special report on state-led, expansive voting rights legislation.  Senator Tavares joins NBCSL in its state-by-state call for the full restoration of voting rights for every American. 
 
NBCSL’s report, Upholding Voting Rights for All Americans, synthesizes a total of 601 pieces of pro-voting rights legislation from 41 states (including the District of Columbia) introduced by members of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL) between 2011 and 2013. The purpose of the April report is to show that despite the passage and implementation of restrictive laws, Black state legislators are fighting back.
 
“State lawmakers are essential in the battle for voting rights,” said NBCSL President, Representative Joe Armstrong (TN). “We experience the barriers to the ballot box, and, more importantly, we hear the stories directly from our constituents, fighting to exercise our nation’s most sacred right.”
 
NBCSL strongly promotes safeguarding and broadening voting rights, and since the organization was founded, NBCSL has fought against the efforts waged to prohibit, suppress, and limit the vote. For members of NBCSL, this fight happens on-the-ground, in statehouses, districts, and communities across the country.
 
The NBCSL asserts that voting is a fundamental right and an important civic duty that should not be infringed upon. Each state – especially Ohio– is charged to preserve and protect this fundamental right. The full report is available online at: 
http://nbcsl.org/public-policy/policy-publications.html.
 
“As a member of the Ohio Senate and a representative of the people, it is incumbent upon me and those who profess to support our U.S. and state Constitutions as well as our democratic form of governance – to insure the fundamental right to vote is not abridged, abrogated or refused,” stated Senator Tavares. “We have a responsibility to register, educate and encourage the participation of all citizens, 18 years of age and older, in our elections to maintain a government of, by and for the people.”
 
The National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL) is a membership association representing over 650 African-American state legislators from 45 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 
NBCSL is the nation’s largest membership association of Black state lawmakers.NBCSL members represent upwards of 65 million Americans of all racial backgrounds. To learn more visit www.nbcsl.org.

 
 
  

COLUMBUS—In recognition of National Tax Day, legislators from the Ohio House and Senate and leaders from local organizations joined State Senator Nina Turner (D-Cleveland) at the third “Testimony Tuesday” at the Statehouse. The event focused on the ongoing tax shifts that have disproportionately burdened working class families and local governments throughout the state.

“The policies enacted by this administration and General Assembly of the continued cuts to our local governments equates to less firefighters and police officers to keep our families safe,” said Senator Turner. “We, as state legislators, must ensure our cities have the adequate financial resources to provide the services their citizens deserve.”

State legislators also highlighted the cuts that local governments have faced during recent years, as the Local Government Fund was cut in half during Governor Kasich’s first biennial budget in 2011.

In his Mid-Biennial Review, Governor Kasich proposed an income tax cut for all Ohioans partly paid for by shifting taxes onto businesses. This cut would save the average, middle-income Ohioan only $13, whereas the wealthiest Ohioans would save $2,847 a year.

“In Ohio, families of modest income already pay a higher share of their income in state and local taxes than affluent families,” said Wendy Patton of Policy Matters Ohio.  “In 2010, the poorest of families paid 11.6 percent of their income in state and local taxes, while the wealthiest paid 8.1 percent. The across-the board income tax cuts will continue to make it worse."   

“We need to understand that tax day isn't a debt owed, it is about paying down for the great nation we have,” said Brian Rothenberg, Director of ProgressOhio. Whether it is a soldier overseas, or a firefighter on call, a police officer helping a distressed motorist or a sanitation worker, teacher or road worker, Tax Day is a patriotic day, because it fuels Ohio and America and makes us the great nation we are.”

 “Testimony Tuesday” was initiated to bring community stakeholders together to voice the concerns of the Ohioans. 

 
 
  
 
Senator Tavares Comments On Pentagon Spending On National Tax Day
WiLL pens letter to Congress calling for responsible and strategic spending
April 15, 2014
 
 

Columbus- State Senator Charleta B. Tavares (D-Columbus) issued the following statement on National Tax Day in relation to the implications of Pentagon spending. Tax Day also signifies the Global Day of Action on Military Spending. The Women Legislators’ Lobby (WiLL), where Senator Tavares serves as a state director, also penned a letter to Congress concerning the 50% allocation to the Pentagon each year from the federal discretionary budget:

“We can shift our spending on outdated, unnecessary weapons to investing in programs that keep us secure and help us prosper – first responders, teachers, bridges, roads, and rails. This will ensure safety, security, and prosperity for generations to come.  No federal department, especially not one that is such a large percentage of the federal budget, should be immune from oversight and accountability. The Pentagon should commit to conducting an audit and stand by the numbers.”

 

 

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Evidence continues to mount that the two-decade-long Ohio experiment in charter schooling has failed many students and hoodwinked most state taxpayers.

The latest compelling evidence came to light two weeks ago by a dogged and deft team of Northeast Ohio student journalists based out of Youngstown State University. The NewsOutlet’s three-part series, in professional partnership with The Vindicator and the Akron Beacon Journal, vigorously reinforced long-standing charges that the Buckeye State’s growing network of 400 quasi-public charter schools lacks adequate transparency, accountability and responsibility to the public.

It also served as a launching pad for encouraging state legislation that no longer would permit charter schools to escape some of the same taut standards of openness and integrity that their public-school counterparts must obey.

Among the most troubling findings of the group’s months-long investigation include:

Sadly inadequate responsiveness to a set of legitimate questions about charter schools’ programs and administration. Of about 300 charter schools contacted by NewsOutlet reporters, only about 80 came through with responses to all of the justifiable queries.

Lack of adequate state oversight of charter schools. The Ohio Department of Education has outsourced much direct oversight of charters to “sponsors,” usually private corporations that too often lack responsiveness. Charterschool boards, not publicly elected, also forfeit much of their limited financial and other oversight to the whims of these private companies.

Draining already strained public schools’ budgets with exorbitant transportation costs. Public-school buses carry charter children longer distances to reach their community schools. Indeed, charter schools often promote “free” transportation while districts such as Youngstown’s must pay the bill. As the Beacon Journal reported as part of its contribution to the series, Ohio’s bus fleet traveled 15,627 miles farther each day in 2012 because of longer routes for charter students, which adds up yearly to an astronomical $15.2 million of taxpayer money. 

AN UNSAVORY HISTORY

Collectively, the findings further support institutional weaknesses that have plagued the community-school system since its inception in Ohio in 1997. Its intentions then were to provide urban students viable alternatives to deteriorating academic performance in public schools.

Over the past 17 years, however, the realities have revealed an unsavory trail of mismanagement, greed, illegal activity, instability, lack of public accountability and anemic academic performance. What’s more, a troubling side effect has been the systematic disintegration of public school systems, especially urban districts such as Youngstown.

Given the recent findings and the charters’ troubled past, we commend State Sen. Joe Schiavoni of Boardman and State Rep. John Carney of Columbus for their speedy legislative response.

The two Democrats’ legislation would require the state auditor to audit the public funds for charter operators and sponsors every year. Charter schools would also have to establish a public- records commission and records-retention schedule, as are required of public school districts, and comply with public-records requests about management or sponsorship of the school.

“The growing problem is we don’t know how most of these taxpayer dollars are being spent,” Schiavoni said. Such uncertainty and secrecy insult the public’s right to know.

In coming months, the Legislature must avoid capitulating to charter-school lobbyists whining about unfairness of the proposed standards. These schools have been operating far too long with far too little oversight of the taxpayers’ money, particularly considering the lackluster academic results many charters produce.

Charter schools must be held to the same standards as public schools in accountability, transparency and integrity. Schiavoni’s legislation offers a promising start toward those ends.

 

 
 
  
 
Senator Turner Praises Ruling To Extend Equality To Ohio Couples
Judge Black declares Ohio must recognize out-of-state marriage licenses
April 14, 2014
 
 

COLUMBUS—Today, State Senator Nina Turner (D-Cleveland) released the following statement expressing her support for the ruling by Judge Timothy Black of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio regarding same sex marriages in Ohio. Judge Black stated that Ohio must recognize out-of-state same-sex marriage licenses just as it recognizes all other out-of-state marriage licenses. In his ruling, Judge Black wrote critically of Ohio’s “ongoing arbitrary discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.” 

"Judge Black's ruling today is another step in the march toward equality in Ohio. In upholding the ideals of the U.S. Constitution, the judge has affirmed that every Ohioan deserves to be treated equally and fairly by our laws. It is my hope that other leaders in our state will respect this progress and work toward a more inclusive Ohio. 

“I look forward to a time when elected officials in our state do not expend time and taxpayer dollars excluding certain Ohioans from a critical social institution such as marriage.”

 

 
 
  

Columbus—Today, State Senator Edna Brown (D-Toledo) released the following statement regarding pending recommendations from the Ohio Supreme Court Death Penalty Task Force:
 
“In making their recommendations, the Supreme Court Task Force has recognized that there are serious and systemic flaws in the handling of capital punishment cases in Ohio. Decades of studies have shown that capital punishment is arbitrarily applied, enormously expensive and wasteful, fails to deter criminal activity, and always carries the possibility of sentencing an innocent person to death. Unfortunately, the task force was prohibited from exploring abolishment; the only solution that fully addresses these systemic flaws.”

 

 
 
  

Columbus – State Senator Eric H. Kearney (D-Cincinnati) issued the following statement after General Electric announced that it would develop their U.S. Global Operations Center in the Cincinnati region creating approximately 1,400 jobs.

“I am elated to see that GE has chosen to continue its long-standing relationship with the Greater Cincinnati area by bringing its new U.S. Global Operations Center to the region. This announcement is a reflection of the hard work that many Cincinnatians have done to make the city an attractive place to live and work.”

Senator Kearney represents Ohio’s 9th district, which includes parts of Cincinnati, St. Bernard, Elmwood Place, Norwood, Golf Manor, Hollydale, Columbia Township, Silverton and Springfield Township.

 
 
  
 
April Is National Donate Life Month!
As the number of registered donors increases, the fewer empty chairs there will be
April 09, 2014
 
 

How many chances will any of us have to be a hero in our lifetime?

Odds are most of us will never leap tall buildings in a single bound, or even be in the position to save someone from a burning building or a raging river.  But each of us can still be a hero with the single word “yes”.

For the more than 121,000 Americans awaiting a life-saving organ transplant, their future rests in the hands of a compassionate stranger.  Each individual who makes the decision to become an organ and tissue donor at the time of their death, and says “yes” to placing their name in the Ohio Donor Registry when obtaining their driver license at the BMV, is already a hero.

This April the Ohio Senate Democrats acknowledge Donate Life Month by encouraging everyone to learn the facts about organ, tissue and eye donation and consider the heroic difference they could make as a donor at the time of their death.  Eighteen people – men, women and children -- die each day in the United States waiting for the Gift of Life. In 2013, over 28,000 transplants were performed, but thousands of people died because the organ they needed to survive did not become available in time.

The Donate Life Ohio Green Chair brings to mind the many different people affected by organ, eye and tissue donation. The Green Chair provides a platform to share their stories and save lives because as the number of registered donors increases, the fewer empty chairs there will be.

Every donor has the potential to save eight lives through organ donation and enhance the lives of up to 50 more through tissue and eye donation.  Organs that can be donated include heart, lungs, liver, kidneys and pancreas.  Tissues include heart valves, bones, tendons, ligaments, veins, skin, and corneas.

By placing your name in the Ohio Donor Registry, you are giving your advance authorization for donation at the time of your death, if donation is possible.  An individual’s suitability for donation is determined by the appropriate organ, tissue or eye recovery agency at the time of death.

After you have registered in the Ohio Donor Registry, you are encouraged to share your decision with your family. Sudden and unexpected death is tragic and painful. Most families, however, receive comfort in knowing that their loved one’s wishes have been met and that their sad loss can bring life-enhancing gifts to so many others.

Answers to any questions you may have about organ, eye and tissue donation or the donation process, as well as access to the on-line registry or a mail-in Ohio Donor Registry Enrollment Form, can be found at www.donatelifeohio.org.

Your commitment can mean the difference between life and death for those in need. Be a hero. Be an organ and tissue donor.  Join the Ohio Donor Registry.

 
 
  
 
Senator Brown Joins Lucas County Children Services For Wear Blue Day!
Day serves as a reminder that child abuse is preventable
April 09, 2014
 
 

Today, Democratic Whip Edna Brown (D-Toledo) and staff joined Lucas County Children Services for Wear Blue Day. This day serves as a reminder that child abuse is preventable. According to the agency, the goal is to get people from all walks of life to demostrate their commitment to protecting children from maltreatment by wearing blue on this day. 

In 2011, more than nine out of every 1,000 children in the United States was a victim of abuse or neglect. In Lucas County in 2013, 952 children were victims. 
 
For more information on Wear Blue Day and how Lucas County Children Services is working to combat child abuse, click here
 
 
  
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Tavares Joins National Organization In Calling For The Restoration Of Voting Rights

 

Columbus-Senator Charleta B. Tavares, Assistant Senate Democratic Leader (D-Columbus) and Regional Director of NBCSL  announced – In the face of recent suppressive attacks on voting rights across the nation, that the National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL) released a special report on state-led, expansive voting rights legislation.  Senator Tavares joins NBCSL in its state-by-state call for the full restoration of voting rights for every American. 



 
 

"Testimony Tuesday" Highlights Tax Shifts And Cuts To Local Government Funding

 

COLUMBUS—In recognition of National Tax Day, legislators from the Ohio House and Senate and leaders from local organizations joined State Senator Nina Turner (D-Cleveland) at the third “Testimony Tuesday” at the Statehouse. The event focused on the ongoing tax shifts that have disproportionately burdened working class families and local governments throughout the state.



 
 

Senator Tavares Comments On Pentagon Spending On National Tax Day

 

Columbus- State Senator Charleta B. Tavares (D-Columbus) issued the following statement on National Tax Day in relation to the implications of Pentagon spending. Tax Day also signifies the Global Day of Action on Military Spending. The Women Legislators’ Lobby (WiLL), where Senator Tavares serves as a state director, also penned a letter to Congress concerning the 50% allocation to the Pentagon each year from the federal discretionary budget:



 
 

Senator Turner Praises Ruling To Extend Equality To Ohio Couples

 

COLUMBUS—Today, State Senator Nina Turner (D-Cleveland) released the following statement expressing her support for the ruling by Judge Timothy Black of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio regarding same sex marriages in Ohio. Judge Black stated that Ohio must recognize out-of-state same-sex marriage licenses just as it recognizes all other out-of-state marriage licenses. In his ruling, Judge Black wrote critically of Ohio’s “ongoing arbitrary discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.”