Columbus—Today, the Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus sent a letter to the Ohio Department of Education and Superintendent of Public Instruction Richard Ross calling for the withholding of any portion of a $71 million federal grant to chronically failing online charter schools, know as e-schools. The letter, signed by all the members of the caucus, states the following:
Dear Superintendent Ross:
We write to you today to express our deep concern with how the $71 million grant awarded to the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) from the U.S. Department of Education will be used to expand charter school options across the state. Specifically, we ask that you withhold awarding any of the aforementioned funds to online charter schools, known as “e-schools.”
We recognize that there are charter schools in Ohio that serve as examples of high academic achievement, particularly those that are sponsored by or work in conjunction with school districts. However, many of Ohio’s charter schools are not serving their original intent, and the academic environments that they provide are often worse than the traditional school districts from which their students came.
This failure is particularly evident in e-schools, which have consistently failing scores, predominantly among student progress measures. Our concern about this pattern of failure deepened this week when the Cleveland Plain Dealer revealed how students enrolled in e-schools fall so far behind in their first year that they never catch up. Additionally, e-schools were at the forefront of the recent events at ODE whereby failing scores of e-schools were unlawfully withheld in calculating charter school sponsor evaluations.
Having been called the “Wild Wild West” of charter school regulation, Ohio is finally on the verge of passing much-needed charter school reform. We are proud of the steps that our Caucus has taken to work with ODE and the Majority Caucus to strengthen House Bill 2. It is our hope that the Conference Committee keeps intact the strongest provisions of the bill that we have championed for so long. Nevertheless, Ohio has a long way to go to fix the most flawed piece of our charter system –the e-schools that are so deeply marred by poor performance and scandal. Therefore, we respectfully ask ODE to withhold awarding any funds to these schools at this time.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus
COLUMBUS - Yesterday, Senator Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) and Senator Capri S. Cafaro (D-Hubbard) introduced S.B. 128, which would designate May 30th as Bartter Syndrome Awareness Day. The Senate passed S.B. 128 with unanimous support.
“Bartter Syndrome is not well known, which often means those suffering from it wait far too long for the right diagnosis,” said Senator Schiavoni. “Raising awareness could help save families from years of pain and frustration as they search for answers.”
Bartter Syndrome is a rare, inherited series of closely related renal tubular disorders that cause the kidneys to remove too much potassium from the body. Individuals with this disease also lose an excess of sodium and chloride. There are five different types of Bartter Syndrome.
“I am happy to see that Bartter Syndrome Awareness Day has been passed by the Ohio Senate,” said Senator Cafaro. “It is important that we bring attention to this rare, but life-threatening, disease that affects our children. I am hopeful that the Ohio House of Representatives also sees the importance of this bill.”
In 2013, Warren, OH, residents Liliya and Daniel Hoffman started the Bartter Syndrome Foundation in honor of their son, Ethan. Ethan was born with Bartter Syndrome and suffered greatly for the first four years of his life before receiving the proper diagnosis. The Hoffman family began the foundation to help others who may be struggling to find a diagnosis and treatment for their own loved one.
The Hoffman family released the following statement on the introduction of yesterday’s bill:
“Abraham Lincoln once said, ‘It’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.’ Our son, Ethan, has an incurable rare genetic kidney disorder, which causes premature birth and detrimental symptoms that can lead to cardiac arrest without treatment. At 12 years old, Ethan has become an advocate for his disease, termed Bartter Syndrome. In his short lifetime, he has already helped a plethora of other families and continues to spread awareness and advocacy to undiagnosed individuals and save lives through diagnosis and treatment.”
“It is Ethan’s mission to nominate May 30th as ‘National Bartter Syndrome Awareness Day’ to reach out to the newly diagnosed, educate the general public on this life-threatening chronic disorder, and ultimately find a cure. Ethan is a fighter and has accrued a lifetime of progress in his short tenure on earth, promoting awareness for the disease he is destined to defeat…”
Learn more about Bartter Syndrome by visiting the Bartter Syndrome Foundation website.
Columbus, OH — Senator Edna Brown (D-Toledo) this past weekend joined other regional leaders in Great Lakes policy to explore how states and provinces can protect and restore the largest system of fresh surface water in the world.
“I was delighted to join the Great Lakes Legislative Caucus to establish legislative priorities in our region,” said Senator Brown. “I hope the resolutions presented at this year’s meeting will receive serious consideration as we search for solutions to keep our waterways clean and our drinking water safe.”
At this year’s Great Lakes Legislative Caucus (GLLC) annual meeting, held Sept. 25-26 in Buffalo, participating legislators passed five policy resolutions and took part in sessions on how to stop the spread of Asian carp, mitigate the potential hazards of crude oil transport, and prevent toxic algal blooms by controlling nutrient runoff into the lakes and their tributaries. Members and other meeting attendees also had an opportunity to see firsthand how the federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is helping government, nonprofit and private organizations partner on projects that are restoring and revitalizing the city of Buffalo’s waterfront.
The GLLC is a nonpartisan group of legislators from eight Great Lakes states (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin) and two Canadian provinces (Ontario and Québec). Close to 40 state and provincial legislators took part in this year’s meeting, at which they approved resolutions:
The resolutions can be viewed in full at www.greatlakeslegislators.org
The Midwestern Office of The Council of State Governments provides staffing services for the Caucus, which is funded in part by a grant from the Joyce Foundation. CSG is a nonprofit, nonpartisan association serving all three branches of state government.
For more information about the caucus, please contact Lisa Janairo at firstname.lastname@example.org or 920.458.5910 or visit www.greatlakeslegislators.org
Columbus—Today, the Ohio Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 124, which designates May as Asthma Awareness Month and May 5 as Childhood Asthma Awareness Day. State Senator Cecil Thomas (D-Cincinnati) is the primary sponsor of the legislation.
“As many know, I lost my daughter, Dinika, to asthma when she was 31 years old,” said Senator Thomas. “I know personally what Ohio families are going through when they watch a loved one suffer from this disease. This bill is for them.”
Asthma is a chronic condition that affects 13-15% of the population. Asthma diagnoses are increasing, and 6.8 million children (9.3%) in the United States currently suffer from the disease. In Hamilton County, the percentage is higher, with 1 in 6 children (16.67%) having been diagnosed with asthma.
“Too many families have experienced the pain of losing a loved one to asthma,” said Senator Thomas. “It is my hope that Senate Bill 124 will be a beneficial step toward finding better treatments and ultimately a cure for this disease that continues to affect so many of us.”
Senate Bill 124 will now proceed to the Ohio House of Representatives to go through the committee process.
Columbus – Today, Senator Sandra Williams (D-Cleveland) and Senator Capri S. Cafaro (D-Hubbard), both members of the Energy Mandates Study Committee (EMSC), announced that the Senate Democratic Caucus has sent a letter to Governor Kasich and EMSC leadership, addressing the future of Ohio’s renewable energy policies ahead of the release of the committee’s report. Members of the Democratic Caucus recommend that Ohio end its energy mandates freeze and reinstate the clean energy policies enacted by S.B. 221 of the 127th General Assembly, in order to meet Federal EPA Standards, 111(d).
S.B. 310 of the 130th General Assembly mandated that the EMSC assess Ohio’s renewable energy policies. The committee held eight public hearings and heard testimony from multiple stakeholders on the effects of S.B. 221 and the subsequent freeze. They are expected to release a report this week detailing their findings.
A copy of the letter can be found here.
Columbus – State Senator Edna Brown (D-Toledo) announced today that the State Controlling Board has released $589,942 to improve security measures at the Toledo Correctional Institution (ToCI).
The funding for ToCI will go towards upgrading door control at the facility by replacing the computer operated locking mechanism on approximately 665 doors. The door control system has been repaired and serviced many times, but the current 15 year-old system is out of date and no longer serviced by the manufacturer.
“Expenditures like those approved today demonstrate a commitment to improve safety and security at ToCI for both inmates and personnel,” said Senator Brown. “I will continue advocating for these types of investments in Northwest Ohio’s infrastructure.”
The door control project was initiated in 2012.
COLUMBUS–Today, as America marks National Voter Registration Day, State Senator Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights) calls for renewed commitment by state legislators to increase voter registration in Ohio.
“We know our democracy is stronger when more people are engaged, but a quarter of eligible Americans are still not registered to vote,” said Senator Yuko. “As legislators, we should be promoting policies that encourage participation in elections, instead of excluding people from the democratic process. That is why I have introduced legislation that would create automatic voter registration and move Ohio to the forefront of modern, accessible election procedure.”
Senator Yuko and Representative Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) introduced Senate Bill 158, also known as the Registration Modernization Act, which would do the following:
“With November right around the corner, National Voter Registration Day is a reminder to encourage those around us to get involved in the political process,” said Senator Yuko. “With so many issues at stake, there is no better way to let your voice be heard than at the ballot box.”
Senator Yuko would like to remind registered Ohio voters to update their registration address. If they need to register for the first time, they can do so here. The deadline to register for this November’s election is October 5th.
Columbus – Today, Senator Charleta B. Tavares (D - Columbus) applauds the Ohio Supreme Court for ruling that campus police departments are a public office under the Ohio Revised Code and subject to disclosure under Ohio's Public Records Act. The Court held that campus police departments are exercising a core function of government and must therefore comply with Ohio's Public Records Act.
"It is essential that we hold our campus police responsible and operating at the highest standards as public employees, especially when it comes to being transparent in their actions," stated Tavares. “In the wake of the University of Cincinnati's police officer shooting of a Cincinnati resident, it is important that the public knows they have a right to request that the school share records."
 The State Ex Rel. Schiffbauer v. Banaszak Et Al. (142 Ohio St. 3d 535)
Columbus – Today, State Senator Edna Brown (D-Toledo) announced that the Ohio Third Frontier Commission has approved funding for Blue Water Satellite, Inc., a high-tech satellite imagery company located in Toledo. Blue Water Satellite, Inc. uses its technology to provide information on the world’s land and water resources.
“I am always happy to see funding go towards innovative businesses in Toledo,” said Senator Brown. “Blue Water Satellite provides valuable information about our region’s water supply, which can improve our ability to keep our drinking water clean and safe. I look forward to future projects this funding will help facilitate.”
The Toledo-based company received a $1 million loan to accelerate the growth and development of image and data analysis of satellite imagery to identify contaminants in water and on land. Blue Water Satellite Inc.’s new funding flows from the Third Frontier Commission’s Commercial Acceleration Loan Fund (CALF). The fund seeks to bridge the gap between new businesses’ need for capital and the traditional sources of financing primarily reserved for established businesses.
Columbus -– Today, State Senator Charleta B. Tavares (D - Columbus), Assistant Senate Democratic Leader, called on her colleagues in the Senate to join other states in banning the use of credit checks as a precursor to employment. Senator Tavares introduced Senate Bill 65 on February 23, 2015, which would make it an unlawful discriminatory practice for an employer to use a person's credit rating, credit score or consumer credit history as a factor in making decisions regarding that person's employment. The bill prohibits using an individual's credit history in hiring, tenure, terms, conditions, privileges of employment, or any other matter directly or indirectly related to employment.
"This bill is critically needed today, given our unemployment among youth and people who are recovering from the economic downturn," stated Tavares. "Employers are misusing potential employees' credit rating, credit score and consumer credit history, and not hiring qualified candidates."
On April 16, 2015, the City of New York, NY, City Council passed the Stop Credit Discrimination in Employment Act. It went into effect on September 3, 2015. Senate Bill 65 is similar to this act. Credit reports were not originally designed as an employment screening tool. Instead, they were developed as a means for lenders to evaluate whether a would-be borrower would be a good credit risk.
As of September 2014, eleven states (California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington) have passed legislation to restrict the use of credit checks in employment, and an additional 19 states introduced bills in 2014 to do the same.
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.
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.
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.
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: