On Wednesday, May 22, Senators Nina Turner (D-Cleveland) and Capri Cafaro (D-Hubbard) presented sponsor testimony on Senate Bill 83, legislation that would repeal the statue of limitations that currently governs the crimes of rape and sexual battery. State law presently draws this line at 20 years. Aside from being good public policy, Senate Bill 83 will accomplish three things: empower the victims of these crimes, assist law enforcement in bringing criminals to justice, and keep Ohio’s communities safe.
On Wednesday, May 22, Senator Turner recognized Darius Ellison as the Ohio Boys and Girls Club Youth of the Year for 2013. Darius, a senior at Ginn Academy competed with 12 other youth from organizations in Ohio. He earned a $3,000 scholarship and plans to attend Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA.
The Boys and Girls Club of American’s premier youth recognition program is designed to recognize top youth from over 4,0000 clubs across America.
On Wednesday, May 22 Senator Michael Skindell honored the culinary team from Polaris Career Center in Middleburg Heights as the 2013 Ohio ProStart Champions.
The students, Alec Bahirjczuk, Travis Hawk, Elijah Laboy, Katarina Liska and Allison Shoemaker led by Chef Chris Olszewski placed first among twenty-two teams in the state at the Ohio ProStart Invitational Culinary Competition in February.
Ohio ProStart is a part of a nationwide, two-year program for high school students that teach culinary arts and restaurant management. ProStart unites the industry and classroom to create a unique and unparalleled experience for students.
Columbus –Today, members of the Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus, led by Minority Leader Eric H. Kearney (D-Cincinnati) unveiled their budget priority amendments in a press conference at the Ohio Statehouse. The amendments represent a commitment by Senate Democrats to invest in Ohio’s communities and public schools, expand Medicaid, create economic opportunities for the middle class and provide vital services for Ohioans who need them the most.
“Last week, The Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus submitted more than 200 amendments derived from a collaborative process between our caucus members and the community,” said Leader Kearney. “The primary goal of our caucus is to pass a budget that creates an environment of economic growth and recovery.”
Senator Nina Turner (D-Cleveland) introduced an amendment to increase funding for K-12 education by eliminating the income tax cut for the two highest income tax brackets. All Ohioans will still receive an income tax reduction, however high income earners will receive a smaller cut than proposed by the Ohio House. The “Targeted Investment Fund” would then redirect approximately $500 million over the biennium to school districts with the highest needs. Approximately 60% of Ohio school districts would receive additional assistance from this fund.
“The Targeted Investment Fund invests in students and schools with the greatest need—rural and urban, large and small,” said Senator Turner. “This plan preserves the middle class income tax cut and does what the governor promised but failed to deliver—give more funding to poorer school districts.”
Medicaid expansion continues to be a top priority for the Senate Democrats because it would give 275,000 Ohioans access to health coverage. Senator Capri Cafaro (D-Hubbard) discussed the caucus’ efforts to push for the inclusion of Medicaid in the budget process.
“Throughout the weeks of Medicaid, Health and Human Services Subcommittee hearings one theme has emerged,” said Senator Cafaro. “ There will be pervasive negative impacts on physical and behavioral health care delivery, costs, health outcomes, employers and the workforce if the General Assembly fails to act to fill the coverage gaps that exist for Ohio’s lower income, working and childless adults. We cannot do anything without removing the prohibition the House of Representatives put in House Bill 59, to preclude extending access to those who fall through the coverage gap.”
Other health and wellness amendments supported by the caucus include removing the provision to defund Planned Parenthood and the addition of $2.1 million annually for breast and cervical cancer screenings.
Senate Democrats also proposed changes in the budget to restore funding to local governments to avoid cuts to services and eliminating the need to lay off police and firefighters. An amendment, submitted by Senator Lou Gentile (D-Steubenville) would increase the Local Government Fund percentage to 2.52% instead of the currently proposed 1.69%. This change would help restore cuts made by the previous budget, amounting to $396 million being reallocated to local governments over the biennium. This plan is supported by the Ohio Township Association, the Ohio County Commissioners, the Ohio Parks and & Recreation Association, and the Ohio Municipal League.
“The $1.4 billion in cuts made to local government funding in the previous biennium budget have proven to be very difficult for local governments,” said Senator Schiavoni (D-Boardman). “With these fiscal constraints, our communities are forced to place the burden on the local taxpayer to pass levies. The state must do better in providing support to its communities.”
Additional local government amendments include increasing the bonding for Clean Ohio by $26 million, strengthening the regulation of brine disposal from oil and gas drilling and protecting Ohio’s natural resources by investing more in the Healthy Lake Erie program.
“This has been a complex process given the limitation of time,” said Senator Sawyer (D-Akron). “What we have offered today are strategic proposals for major investments in education and our communities. We have the opportunity to pass a comprehensive state budget as partners in the legislature that serve the needs of all Ohioans.”
From the Times Leader (click here to read the article):
STATE AND federal funding cuts are making it tough sledding for local communities. Money used for vital operations has been greatly reduced over the years.
State Sen. Lou Gentile is hoping to reverse that trend. We support Gentile's efforts and hope he is successful in his undertaking.
The Steubenville Democrat is looking to add an amendment to the state budget. It is one that we believe makes sense as it would bring many more dollars back to Eastern Ohio.
Gentile's plan looks to increase local government funds by 2.52 percent. This amendment would make $361 million available to communities across Ohio over the next two years.
Should his proposal come to fruition it would prove a great boon in the wake of the previous state budget. That spending plan cut $500 million from Ohio's Local Government Fund.
Removing such a massive amount of money from the state budget obviously has adverse effects. Those effects trickled down to the local level, impacting all types of services, such as street lighting, recreation and safety.
Gentile's amendment would help remedy the situation. It will pump $177 million in fiscal year 2014 and $184 million in fiscal year 2015.
Eastern Ohio villages, cities and townships have enacted painful reductions due to LGF cuts, some of which have compromised safety. Police and firefighting protection should be a high priority by the state, not picked apart for a lack of money.
The state has amassed a rainy day fund of nearly $2 billion. Why should lawmakers lay dormant when it can be utilized to help millions of Ohioans?
Gentile's amendment would spawn a better way of life in Eastern Ohio. For that reason alone, it has our vote of approval.
Columbus – Today, members of the Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus submitted 228 amendments to the Senate Finance Committee to improve the state budget (HB 59). The amendments, which address funding for schools and local communities, Medicaid expansion and many other policy areas, would strengthen the budget to better meet the needs of Ohioans.
Senate Democratic Leader Eric H. Kearney (D-Cincinnati) issued the following statement:
“The amendments show the commitment of Senate Democrats to invest in our communities and public schools, create opportunities for the middle class to prosper, and provide vital services for Ohioans who need them the most. Many of these areas were shortchanged in both the Governor’s original proposal and the budget passed by the House of Representatives. There is an opportunity in the remaining weeks of the budget process to reach consensus on many of these major issues. We hope there is a willingness by our colleagues across the aisle to work in a spirit of bipartisanship.”
Students from the Toledo School for the Arts visited Senator Brown today in recognition of "Arts Day" in Ohio to talk about how art has impacted their lives and prepared them for the future.
Cleveland – Today, State Senator Shirley Smith announced that she has organized a full day of events on Thursday, May 23rd from 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM at the Wolstein Center (2000 Prospect Avenue Cleveland, OH 44115) on the campus of Cleveland State University related to workforce re-entry for ex-offenders.The event will feature workshops surrounding records expungement and the Certificate of Qualification for Employment (CQE), provisions of law that became effective with the passage of Senate Bill 337 last year.
“When I sponsored Senate Bill 337 last year, I knew that it would take a concerted effort to teach people about the new opportunities made under the law,” Senator Smith explained. “I have long advocated for expanding Ohio’s record sealing laws, and for giving returned citizens a second chance when finding employment. Senate Bill 337 accomplished these goals. Now, however, it is time to make these new opportunities real in people’s lives.”
Senate Bill 337 addressed a number of issues that have prevented ex-offenders from gaining successful reentry into society and their communities. It expanded Ohio’s records sealing laws by allowing the sealing of one felony and one misdemeanor conviction, or two misdemeanor convictions. The legislation also created a Certificate of Qualification for Employment that, once granted by a court, can lift the automatic disqualification for certain state-issued occupational licenses and can protect employers from negligent hiring lawsuits.
“The trainings and clinics that I have organized are geared towards every group of stakeholders: judges and court personnel, criminal justice professionals, lawyers, returned citizens, and people who want to seal their non-violent records or apply for a CQE.”
A full list of workshops are noted below:
Changes in law implemented by Senate Bill 337: 9:00 AM- 12:00 PM
Senator Smith and a number of presenters will discuss changes in law implemented by S.B. 337 with representatives from local courts and social service agencies.
CLE Class for Record Sealing Process and CQEs: 1:00 PM
Common Pleas Court Judge Joan Synenberg will lead a CLE class for lawyers interested in learning more about the record sealing process and CQEs.
Records Expungement Clinic: 3:00 PM
Lawyers who participated in Judge Synenberg’s class will assist approximately 400 people who have pre-registered and have been pre-screened to apply to have their criminal records sealed.
Training on Applying for Record Expungment & CQEs: 4:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Representatives from various courts and the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation & Corrections will hold presentations and discussions on how to apply for record expungement and how to apply for a CQE.
“These events will benefit hundreds of people who have paid their dues to society and want to move on with their lives,” Senator Smith noted. “This legislation eliminates barriers to employment, and it reminds society that ex-offenders have a place among us.”
A number of partner organizations working to make the event a success include: The Cleveland Foundation, Cleveland State University, the Sisters of Charity Health Foundation, Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, Ohio Public Defender, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation & Correction, Norman S. Minor Bar Association, Towards Employment, Jobs Partnership Cleveland, Urban League of Greater Cleveland, the NAACP Cleveland Branch, Cleveland Municipal Court, the Ohio Justice & Policy Center, and the Cuyahoga County Offices of Executive Ed FitzGerald, County Council, Office of Reentry, Common Pleas Court, and the Public Defender.
Registration is required for some workshops. For more information or to register, contact the office of Senator Shirley Smith at (614) 466-4857.
Columbus – Today, the Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus called for a greater focus on jobs during the on-going state budget discussions. The need for the General Assembly to have a renewed focus on job creation is highlighted by the most recent unemployment report that shows Ohio lost 20,400 jobs in March.
“The fact Ohio lost more than 20,000 jobs in one month should be a wakeup call to everyone in the General Assembly,” said Senate Democratic Leader Eric H. Kearney (D-Cincinnati). “Senate Democratic legislation would put more Ohioans to work and I urge my colleagues in the General Assembly to join us in making jobs a top priority.”
Senator Kearney has introduced Forward Ohio, a plan (SB 14) that would help the unemployed and offer job-creation incentives to businesses. The non-partisan Legislative Service Commission has estimated that Forward Ohio would save or create nearly 16,000 jobs.
Senate Democrats have also put forth legislation for full Medicaid expansion in Ohio. Senate Bill 117, sponsored by Senator Shirley Smith (D-Cleveland), would create an estimated 28,000 jobs and provide health coverage for 275,000 Ohioans.
“Many Ohioans are using the ER as their only source of medical care because they do not have access to insurance,” said Senator Smith. “That lack of access results in high rates of infant mortality, obesity, cancer, chronic disease, and other serious health problems. Due to the health benefits and job creation that expansion would bring to Ohio, the Senate should move quickly to pass it because it is socially and fiscally responsible.”
Other jobs bills sponsored by Senate Democrats would tap into the growing oil and gas industry in Ohio and help veterans find jobs. Senator Lou Gentile’s Veterans Opportunity Act (SB 13) would develop a standardized system for Ohio colleges to award academic credit for veterans who have received specialized training in the armed forces.
“Our veterans have valuable knowledge and skills from the military training they’ve received that will be very useful in furthering their careers,” said Senator Gentile. “The Veteran’s Opportunity Act reinvests in their education and it will benefit Ohio’s economy greatly.”
Senator Capri S. Cafaro (D-Hubbard) has introduced legislation (SB 12) to create grants and appropriate funding for training programs that would enable more Ohioans to find jobs in the oil and gas industry.
“As the oil and gas industry continues to expand in our state, we need to be sure Ohioans are aware and have access to the job opportunities that come along with that growth,” said Senator Cafaro. “Ohio has a talented workforce and we need to be able to meet the growing demands of this economic boom.”