Columbus—Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) released the following statement after Governor Kasich rescinded an executive order that granted collective bargaining rights to home healthcare and childcare providers: 

“The Governor’s executive order silences the collective voice of thousands of workers who provide crucial services for long hours at low pay.  These workers, many of whom are women and minorities, are valuable assets to Ohio families. For Ohioans who work third shift, these childcare providers are sometimes the only option that fits their schedules.  And in-home healthcare providers allow those in need to stay in their homes. The Governor talks about lifting people out of poverty with jobs that pay a living wage. But, taking collective bargaining rights away from workers who already earn low wages shows his words don’t match his deeds.  Senate Democrats will be submitting budget amendments to address this attack on worker’s rights.”

 
 
  
 
Senator Williams Applauds Efforts To Assist Ohioans With Re-entry Into The Workforce
Issues call to action to private sector employers
May 21, 2015
 
 

COLUMBUS— Today, State Senator Sandra Williams (D-Cleveland) released the following statement applauding the efforts of the Ohio Department of Administrative Services to “ban the box” and assist Ohioans with re-entry into the workforce. The department recently changed its policy to remove the checkbox requesting information on past convictions from civil service applications beginning on June 1st.

“This change in policy is a step in the right direction to evening the workforce playing field and assist rehabilitated Ohioans who are seeking employment. There are many ex-offenders who have gained necessary skills that can be utilized in our workforce and they should not be penalized for past mistakes. I now call upon private sector employees to join the movement to ‘ban the box’ and support our efforts to put Ohioans on a path to success.  Employment is vital to reducing recidivism, and as the economy continues to recover, it’s time for Ohio to ensure people who want work are given a second chance.”

In 2012, Senator Williams introduced legislation, HB 235, as a State Representative prohibiting employers from asking an applicant if they have been convicted or pleaded guilty to a felony on an employment application.  

 
 
  
 
Black Ohio Lawmakers Push For State Action On Justice Reform
Layout justice reform agenda to guide state, community efforts
May 20, 2015
 
 

COLUMBUS— Ohio Legislative Black Caucus (OLBC) President and State Rep. Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati) joined OLBC members today to call for justice reform and to urge the governor to release an action report on executive efforts toward reform in Ohio. The justice reform agenda* developed by the OLBC aims to guide state and community efforts in dialogue and action between communities of color and the state justice system. 

“Public outcry and civil unrest following the police-led deaths of unarmed African American men has started a new public dialogue surrounding police-community relations and the need for justice reform immediately in Ohio and throughout the nation,” said Rep. Reece. “We need to take hold of a moment in time when Americans and Ohioans are crying out for meaningful justice reform that keeps us safe, treats citizens fairly and restores faith in our justice system. Now is the time to take action for real justice reform.”

OLBC and community leaders are calling for changes in police and law enforcement training, including increased mental health training for peace officers, a greater degree of diversity at the at the Ohio Police Officer Training Academy and community-police partnership incubators that allow communities and law enforcement officials to discuss best practices and create community-based solutions specific to neighborhoods and cities across Ohio.

“I am eagerly anticipating movement on improving community-police relations, restoring confidence in our justice system, and the commitment of resources to ensure reforms are implemented,” said Senator Cecil Thomas (D-Cincinnati). “It is time that we act on the findings of the Governor’s Task Force and maintain an awareness of community dynamics across the State of Ohio.”

Also among the OLBC’s action agenda items is an effort to change the state’s Grand Jury process through Ohio’s Constitutional Modernization Commission, requiring law enforcement to be equipped with body cameras, collecting social demographic data from police interactions to identify discriminatory policing tactics and reforming the death penalty. 

“Change comes with action, not promises,” said Rep. Christie Kuhns (D-Cincinnati). “While I applaud the governor’s executive order, our communities deserve a full and thorough follow-through of the recommendations from the Task Force on Community-Police Relations.”

As part of the comprehensive action plan, OLBC President Alicia Reece and members are urging Gov. Kasich to release a report on the current status of executive action taken by his administration following recommendations issued by the Ohio Task Force on Community-Police Relations last month. The governor’s executive order created a board to develop and oversee minimum standards and best practices for police departments throughout the state.

Here is what other members of OLBC are saying about the need for justice reform: 

“I applaud the work of the Governor's Taskforce on Community and Police Relations, but we want to ensure that the report and recommendations do not sit on a shelf. We studied, recommended and now it is time for action, followed by ongoing education and enforcement.”—Assistant Senate Democratic Leader Charleta B. Tavares (D-Columbus)

“The trust between law enforcement and the people they serve and protect is critical to the safety of our officers and the integrity of our criminal justice system. I look forward to continued conversations with law enforcement, community members and elected officials about how we can get this right in Ohio.”—House Democratic Whip Kevin L. Boyce (D-Columbus) 

“I’m pleased to see the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission is considering examining the effectiveness of the grand jury. I will be following the commission’s progress, but I have high hopes they will be able to recommend ways to modernize Ohio’s judiciary process. Transparency is my main focus and I believe at minimum the Court should allow transcripts to be publicly available, ensure the independence of grand jury stenographers, and require the presence of a judge.”--Senator Sandra R. Williams (D-Cleveland) 

“It is of utmost importance for our communities to trust the men and women have dedicated their lives to protecting and serving the community. I look forward to the opportunity to work with the members of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus, The 131st general assembly, and the administration to implement practical solutions in improving the relationship between police and the community. The future of our state depends on it.”—State Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Akron)

“Our call to action requires that the state take meaningful and substantive steps toward improving police-community relations while making changes that will help restore faith in our justice system.” –Rep. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland) 

 
 
  

State Senator Kenny Yuko honored the Beachwood High School Girls Track Team in the Ohio Senate for winning the State Championship. Coach Smith was joined by Mia Knight, Maya Gaines-Smith, Emilykate Hopsum-Boyd, and Hannah Kahn who all received special recognition, along with a Resolution honoring all of them for their accomplishment. 

 
 
  

Columbus – Today in the Senate Finance Higher Education Subcommittee, Senator Edna Brown (D-Toledo) gave testimony to advocate for a budget amendment recognizing the renaming of the University of Toledo Urban Affairs Center in honor of former Toledo Mayor Jack Ford.

“Jack Ford left a lasting mark in Toledo, in Northwest Ohio, and throughout our state as an educator, a public servant and a leader,” said Senator Brown. “I am honored to advocate for this name change in the Ohio Senate. Continuing to support the Jack Ford Urban Affairs Center’s work enhancing the economic vitality and quality of life in Toledo is a fitting tribute to his legacy."

The amendment was drafted in recognition of the recent University of Toledo Board of Trustees vote, which officially changed the center’s name to the “University of Toledo Jack Ford Urban Affairs Center” in honor of John Marshall “Jack” Ford.
 
Ford passed away on March 21st of this year at the age of 67. 

 
 
  

Columbus—State Senator Charleta B. Tavares (D-Columbus) applauded the passage of Senate Bill 30, legislation she sponsored which establishes the Ohio Family Stability Commission. The proposal establishes a time-limited commission that will focus on the strengthening of Ohio families and emphasizing the well-being of children. 

"While research has shown that the disintegration of the traditional family unit has contributed to the escalating rates of poverty and a wide-range of pathological social conditions, the Ohio Family Commission is a proactive step to addressing these issues in the state," said Senator Tavares. 

The commission, consisting of 25 representatives including policymakers, and representatives from state agencies and faith-based organizations, will address issues related to family instability in Ohio such as poverty, academic failure, poor health status, crime and incarceration. Members of the commission will be tasked with compiling a report and presenting its findings along with a series of recommendations to the Ohio General Assembly at the end of its four-year term on best practices to promote family stability. 

"The state of Ohio spends over $15 billion annually on public assistance services that tend to social issues that are in many ways the repercussions of single-parent homes and absent fathers," stated Senator Tavares. "While some may fear that we as a state cannot afford to address the issues of family instability at this time, I firmly believe that we cannot afford to not address these issues."

Senate Bill 30 passed the Ohio Senate by a vote of 32-1 and will now move to the Ohio House for consideration. 

 
 
  
 
Senators Brown And Gardner Honor State Hockey Champions
No. 2 ranked St. Francis de Sales win second title in school's history
May 13, 2015
 
 

Columbus--Today, Senators Edna Brown (D-Toledo) and Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green) honored the St. Francis de Sales Hockey Team with a resolution from the Ohio Senate for defeating Lakewood St. Edward High School 3-1 at the state championship finals on March 14th at Nationwide Arena in Columbus. 

"I am very pleased to recognize these young men for their accomplishments in athletics and in the classroom," said Senator Brown. "They have done a wonderful job representing Northwest Ohio and their state championship is something for which our community can be very proud. I wish them continued success in all their endeavors and hope they are able to make it back to the Statehouse again in the future." 

Seniors Ricky Kwapich, Zach Poolos, and Junior Jake Todd who all serve as team captains joined head coach Chris Barga and general manager Mike Marciniak  on the floor for the presentation. 

The No.2 ranked Knights, with a record of 32-5-1, won the second hockey title in the school's history. St. Francis de Sales defeated Lakewood St. Edward for the first title in an overtime title game in 2011. 

 
 
  

COLUMBUS—State Senator Sandra R. Williams (D-Cleveland) announced today that the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission has approved funding for the Burke Mansion community project through its cultural facilities grant program. The Cleveland Music School Settlement which serves as the owner and operator will use over $250,000 to replace the HVAC system at the Burke Mansion.
 
It’s great to see that the Music Settlement was able to acquire funding for this community project,” said Senator Williams. “Exceptional fine arts institutions, like the Music Settlement, provide unique opportunities and benefits that promote self-esteem, motivation, cultural exposure, creativity, and an appreciation of diversity throughout our community.”
 
The Burke Mansion community project supports culture through the provision of training in the musical arts. The local project sponsor offers music therapy, early childhood education, and music instruction to people of all ages and levels of experience in greater Cleveland and Northeast Ohio.
 
“The Music Settlement is a remarkable asset to our neighborhood and serves as an essential bridge across language and cultural differences—which in turn, help shape our understanding of how we see ourselves and each other,” said Senator Williams.
 
The project completion date is targeted for August 2015.

 
 
  

May is Mental Health Month sponsored by Mental Health America. This year’s theme is called “B4Stage4” which focuses on diagnosing and addressing mental illnesses before Stage 4 in which symptoms are more severe and difficult to treat.

Mental illnesses are sometimes crippling disorders that affect the lives of millions of Americans and oftentimes go unannounced because of the stigma associated with them.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness:

  • Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S.—43.7 million, or 18.6%—experiences mental illness in a given year. 
  • Approximately 1 in 5 youth aged 13–18 (21.4%) experiences a severe mental disorder in a given year. For children aged 8–15, the estimate is 13%.
  • Only 41% of adults in the U.S. with a mental health condition received mental health services in the past year. Among adults with a serious mental illness, 62.9% received mental health services in the past year.
  • African Americans and Hispanic Americans used mental health services at about one-half the rate of Caucasian Americans in the past year and Asian Americans at about one-third the rate.
  • Serious mental illness costs America $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year. 
  • Over one-third (37%) of students with a mental health condition age 14­–21 and older who are served by special education drop out—the highest dropout rate of any disability group.

Join me in spreading the word about mental health throughout the month of May by taking the StigmaFree Pledge so that your friends, family, and community can get the support and education that they need. 

For more information about mental health awareness, visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness at nami.org.

 

 
 
  

Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) has worked over the last few months to pass legislation that would dedicate a portion of I-80 in Austintown in honor of two local Vietnam Veterans as the "Marine Sergeant James Prommersberger and Army Second Lieutenant Charles W. Brown Memorial Highway". This summer, these efforts will become a reality. 

Senator Schiavoni's office has worked closely with  Jack Kidd to honor his classmates and friends who gave their lives serving our country. Sergeant Prommersberger and Lieutenant Brown graduated from Austintown Fitch High School in 1962 and are remembered fondly by their classmates. 

Sergeant Prommersberger died in the line of duty fighting off 200 Vietnamese soldiers while he was saving a fellow soldier. Lieutenant Brown was killed as he fought off an infiltration of 4,000 Vietnamese soldiers. Both received Silver Star and Purple Heart medals for their outstanding service to our country. 

The Mahoning Valley has a deep sense of pride for those who have served and Leader Schiavoni is humbled to have the opportunity to pay tribute to local heroes. 

 
 
  
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Senator Schiavoni Comments On Governor's Decision To Strip Worker's Collective Bargaining Rights

 

Columbus—Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) released the following statement after Governor Kasich rescinded an executive order that granted collective bargaining rights to home healthcare and childcare providers: 



 
 

Black Ohio Lawmakers Push For State Action On Justice Reform

 

COLUMBUS— Ohio Legislative Black Caucus (OLBC) President and State Rep. Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati) joined OLBC members today to call for justice reform and to urge the governor to release an action report on executive efforts toward reform in Ohio. The justice reform agenda* developed by the OLBC aims to guide state and community efforts in dialogue and action between communities of color and the state justice system. 



 
 

Senator Yuko Honors Beachwood Track State Champions

 

State Senator Kenny Yuko honored the Beachwood High School Girls Track Team in the Ohio Senate for winning the State Championship. Coach Smith was joined by Mia Knight, Maya Gaines-Smith, Emilykate Hopsum-Boyd, and Hannah Kahn who all received special recognition, along with a Resolution honoring all of them for their accomplishment. 



 
 

Senator Brown Recognizes UT Urban Affairs Renaming In Honor Of Former Toledo Mayor Jack Ford

 

Columbus – Today in the Senate Finance Higher Education Subcommittee, Senator Edna Brown (D-Toledo) gave testimony to advocate for a budget amendment recognizing the renaming of the University of Toledo Urban Affairs Center in honor of former Toledo Mayor Jack Ford.