A Bold Independence Day
A Column by State Senator Frank LaRose
July 04, 2015
 
 

Throughout human history, nations have been formed based on ethnic identity, religion and tribe. The United States of America stands unique, because our nation was founded on an idea. Our founders believed in the simple yet revolutionary idea that all people are created equal and free by virtue of being human, that our rights come from the Creator instead of any government or king. For many that equality for all was not realized immediately but required ongoing struggle. A constant work in progress, each generation of Americans strives to perfect our great union.

This weekend we celebrate the birth of our nation. We recall that time in 1776 when these brave visionaries boldly signed a Declaration of Independence which articulated a vision for a new American nation based on the revolutionary idea of human freedom and self-determination.

In the midst of fireworks, parades and celebrations, it can be easy to overlook the incredible danger and risk that the signers of the Declaration of Independence faced. A modest, untrained army of farmers and merchants representing a loose union of colonies challenged the most powerful empire on earth, and few would have placed bets in favor of the colonists. Their victory may seem like a foregone conclusion through the lens of history, but the signers realized that defeat was both possible and certainly fatal. They chose to sign anyway, and the world witnessed the birth of a different kind of nation.
 
The universal principles that the Revolutionary Army fought to defend have profoundly shaped America’s unique history. Where founding principles have been misapplied due to politics and self-interest, as in the case of slavery and denial of female suffrage, Americans have shed their sweat and blood to correct these wrongs and extend the scope of freedom inside and beyond its borders. Our foreign policy is guided not only by national interest but by a conviction that all people on earth are entitled to freedom and self-government. As a U.S. Army veteran, I have a deep appreciation for how hard-fought and rare this freedom is throughout the world.
 
Nearly 250 years after our founders declared that “these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states,” our nation faces a new set of challenges. From tackling the national debt at home to countering violent extremism abroad, the policy issues we face are daunting and complex. We have inherited problems from previous generations, to be sure, but we have also inherited a legacy of boldness. The same boldness that inspired colonial settlers to sacrifice and fight for their freedom was evident in the Americans who stormed the beaches of Normandy, who marched for civil rights, who ran to the aid of others at the World Trade Center towers. It may look different for every generation, but it is unmistakably American.
 
Today we all share the responsibility for acting boldly to defend the freedom and well-being of our fellow citizens, often without accolades or fanfare. From the police officer who stands in the line of fire to the teacher who strives to enrich young minds and mold responsible citizens, or the military family who proudly supports their mom or dad serving abroad and prays daily for their safe return, we all have a part to play. As a state lawmaker, boldness may look like negotiating a tough compromise in order to meet the needs of my constituents. It may look like voting my conscience in the face of political pressure. We carry on the legacy of our nation's founders imperfectly, but we carry it proudly. 

As we celebrate this Independence Day, let us be reminded of the extraordinary boldness that propelled our founders to victory and inspires us to serve the country that we love. Let us be bold, for it is our inheritance and responsibility. 

 
 
  

COLUMBUS– State Senator Frank LaRose (R-Copley) today announced the Senate's passage of legislation to improve the reporting and evaluation of incidents of student violence against educators and educational staff.

"The dedicated professionals who devote their lives to educating our students should be able to do their jobs without the fear of violence," said LaRose. "Ohio's leaders deserve our support and protection." 

Senate Bill 168 would require school districts to report violent student behavior resulting in disciplinary action in the Education Management Information System (EMIS), the statewide data system for primary and secondary education institutions in Ohio. For a two-year period, schools would be required to report violent incidents to the Ohio Department of Education (ODE), including information about the individual to whom the violent behavior was directed. 

"The purpose of this legislation is to increase awareness about the problem of student violence against educators and take the first step toward developing an effective response," said LaRose. "I first became aware of the severity of the problem when a group of teachers in my district who had suffered physical assault at the hands of students shared their experiences with me."

F.I.V.E.S. (Facing Incidents of Violence against Educators & Staff) is a coalition of educators and staff whose purpose is to increase awareness about violence against educators and encourage policymakers to develop solutions.


Pamela Hinton, a former assistant principal who was herself a victim of a brutal attack by several students, founded F.I.V.E.S. and testified on behalf of the legislation, saying, "Senate Bill 168 encourages our school communities to work together to increase awareness, create solutions, and make a positive difference in addressing student violence against educators and staff." 

If enacted, Senate Bill 168 would require ODE to prepare a report based on the information collected in EMIS related to student violent incidents for the first two years after the bill goes into effect. ODE will then report to the President and Minority Leader of the Senate, Speaker and Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, and chairpersons of the Senate and House education committees on the pervasiveness of student violence in order to inform future action on addressing the problem of student violence. 

"Throughout the process of developing this legislation, I worked closely with the Department of Education to ensure that these new requirements will not create an additional burden for school districts," added LaRose.

Changes to the EMIS system would sunset two years after the release of ODE's report, allowing the legislature to decide whether or not to make the new reporting procedure a permanent feature of EMIS. 

Senate Bill 168 passed with extensive bipartisan support and will now go to the Ohio House of Representatives for further consideration.

 
 
  

COLUMBUS– State Senator Jim Hughes (R-Columbus) today announced the Senate passage's of legislation to designate October as Rett Syndrome Awareness Month with the goal of raising awareness about the devastating effects of the neurological disorder. 

Senate Bill 117, jointly sponsored by Hughes and Senator Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights), would dedicate the month of October to the families and indiduals affected by Rett Syndrome, which affects females almost exclusively. 1 out of every 10,000 girls born is diagnosed with Rett Syndrome, a severe postnatal neurological disorder that impairs cognitive, sensory, motor, emotional and other essential brain functions. 

"This legislation is an important first step in heightening public awareness of Rett Syndrome and working on behalf of the thousands of girls who suffer from the disease," said Hughes.

People living with Rett Syndrome often experience scoliosis, seizures, and difficulty swallowing. There is currently no cure for the disease, and funding for research is scarce. 

"Unfortunately, Rett Syndrome has received little funding for research compared to diseases like Cystic Fibrosis and ALS, which occur with the same frequency. My hope is that increased awareness will be accompanied by a more robust investment in research for a cure."

Senate Bill 117 passed the Senate with a unanimous vote and now goes to the Ohio House of Representatives for further consideration.

 
 
  

COLUMBUS– State Senator Jim Hughes (R-Columbus) today announced the Senate's passage of legislation aimed at improving the response time of emergency vehicles by giving emergency personnel more authority to report traffic violations.

Substitute Senate Bill 123 gives emergency personnel in public safety vehicles the discretionary authority to report a driver's failure to yield the right of way to public safety vehicles.

"Drivers who impede the progress of emergency vehicles put lives in danger," said Hughes. "This legislation gives emergency personnel another tool to carry out their lifesaving work without delay or impediment."

Emergency personnel in ambulances, fire department vehicles and other identifiable volunteer rescue or fire vehicles would have the authority to report a violator's license plate number and general description of the person and vehicle to law enforcement. The law enforcement agency receiving the notification can choose to investigate the offense and issue a written warning or citation to the driver who violated the law. 

"Even a few seconds can make the difference between life or death for a person an emergency vehicle is trying to reach," added Hughes. "I feel the responsibility to do everything in my power to make the public aware of the law and motivated to help our emergency vehicles pass as quickly as possible."

Drivers guilty of impeding a public safety vehicle in an emergency situation may face a $150 fine and a minor misdemeanor charge. 

The Senate passed Substitute Senate Bill 123 with bipartisan support. The legislation now goes to the Ohio House of Representatives for further consideration.

 

 
 
  

COLUMBUS– State Senator Jim Hughes (R-Columbus) yesterday announced the Senate's final passage of legislation that would restrict access to death certificates in an effort to prevent identity theft. 

Currently, Ohio is one of only ten states that allows unrestricted public access to copies of death certificates, which contain the decedent's Social Security number and other personal identifying information. The absence of safeguards has opened the door to identity theft, which Hughes' family personally experienced after the passing of his father.

"Grieving families should not have to deal with the added burden of identity theft," said Hughes. "There is no really good reason for any member of the public to have the unqualified authorization to access a death certificate containing personal information."

Substitute Senate Bill 61 restricts access to a certified copy of a death certificate within five years of the decedent's death to a list of qualified individuals, including the decedent's spouse and other descendants, a county veterans officer, and a law enforcement official or prosecutor. A House amendment also added to the list representatives of municipalities and townships, which are responsible for the cost of burial or cremation in some situations.

The Senate approved House changes to the legislation with a bipartisan vote. The bill will now go to the Governor for his signature.

 
 
  
Senator Obhof joined Mayor Glen Stewart to celebrate Ashland's 200th Anniversary and presented a resolution honoring the occasion on behalf of the Ohio Senate. The bicentennial celebration was held in historic downtown Ashland.
ASHLAND - 

State Senator Larry Obhof (R-Medina) joined the Ashland community today for the kick-off of the bicentennial-themed Annual Ashland Summer Celebration event held in the city's historic downtown. During the event's opening ceremonies, Mayor Glenn Stewart accepted a resolution presented by Senator Obhof on behalf of the Ohio Senate, officially recognizing the city's 200th Anniversary. 

"Despite the rain, it is a bright day for this wonderful city as we gather to celebrate another milestone and look ahead to a prosperous future for the Ashland community," said Obhof. "I'd like to thank Mayor Stewart, the Ashland city council and the event organizers whose commitment and determination made this celebration possible."

Early afternoon rain showers did not prevent area residents from coming out for the celebration kick-off. Events include historical reenactments, fun kids activities, festival food and a concert featuring local musicians.

William Montgomery is credited with the founding of Ashland in 1815. At that time, cabins were strung along both sides of the street, housing less than fifteen families. The city has continued to grow and prosper over the years. The bicentennial is a time to celebrate Ashland's founding and to recognize early settlers who endured hardships and uncertainties to make the opportunities of our time possible. 

A complete schedule of Ashland bicentennial events is available online at www.Ashland200.com

 
 
  
STATEHOUSE - 
State Senator John Eklund (R-Munson Township) today announced the passage of Am. Sub. House Bill 64, the state’s two-year operating budget. The Senate voted 23-9 in favor of the conference report approved earlier in the day. The bill gives nearly $2 billion in tax cuts to Ohioans and makes significant investments in both K-12 and higher education.
 
“This balanced budget builds on our continuing efforts to help Ohioans keeps more of their money to invest in education and workforce development, to encourage job creation and take care of those in need,” said Eklund. “Ohio's improving performance has also allowed us to tackle some specific needs right here in our community through the budget.” 

The Senate budget includes a number of amendments supported by Senator Eklund, including: 
  • Support for Mental Health and Addiction Services: The Senate proposal provides funding for prevention and wellness services which will be allocated to Northeast Ohio Medical University’s campus safety and health programs.
     
  • Services for Victims: Provides new funding to assist the Chardon School District to provide comprehensive support for the school community in the wake of the 2012 Chardon school tragedy. This program offers support services for students after they have completed their high school coursework.
     
  • Addresses Water Drainage Issues: Provides funding for Mentor's wetland and storm water project and the Portage County-Aurora East storm water project; both work toward long term solutions to area flooding issues that have strained local resources.
     
  • Enhances Alzheimer’s Support Programs: Provides critical support for individuals and families affected by Alzheimer’s disease, including respite caregiver support; adult day care; guardianship programs; elder protection; nutrition assistance and more.
“From storm water projects in Mentor and Shalersville, to community recovery in Chardon, to Northeast Ohio's Medical University's suicide prevention efforts, I know this bill will make a real positive difference in the lives of local Ohioans,” Eklund said. 
 
The bill provides significant tax relief and support to Ohioans and small businesses with the purpose of keeping the state’s economy healthy and growing. The $1.85 billion net tax cut includes an across the board 6.3 percent income tax cut for all Ohioans. The bill also makes permanent the 75 percent tax cut on small businesses’ first $250,000 of net income and increases it to 100 percent in FY17 and establishes a three percent flat tax on income above that. 
 
The proposal, which will become law with the Governor’s signature, also provides much needed sustainability and solvency to the state’s K-12 school funding formula, investing over $900 million dollars over the next two years. Based largely on the current formula, this budget ensures that no school district loses funding and drives additional dollars to low-wealth, low-capacity districts while ensuring more districts are on the funding formula.
 
A hallmark of the bill is the Senate’s focus on making college affordable and accessible. A two-year tuition freeze will go into effect, and universities and colleges are required to reduce student costs by five percent. This budget also makes the largest state investment in SSI (state share of instruction) in higher education in eight years and creates and funds the Higher Education Innovation Fund to assist institutions with their cost reduction efforts.
 
Additional highlights include:
  • Reducing Infant Mortality: Infuses funding and outcome-driven programs to areas with prevalent infant mortality problems.
     
  • Women’s Health Funding and Coverage: Restores funding for Medicaid coverage of pregnant women up to 200% of the poverty level and restores coverage for breast and cervical cancer screenings for women on Medicaid.
     
  • Support for Developmental Disability: Fully funds DD initiatives outlined in the Governor’s plan and provides funding for ABLE savings accounts for the developmentally disabled.
     
  • Improved Mental Health Care: Provisions included to integrate behavioral health care services into a managed care model.
     
  • Increased Police Training: Includes additional GRF funding for a total of nearly $20M for police training and community police relations initiatives.
     
  • Local Township Support: Adds $20M in a local government support fund specifically targeted to township needs.
     
  • Modernizing Ohio’s Elections: Includes $12.8M for a state-local partnership to provide county board of elections with new, digital electronic pollbook technology, making it even easier to vote in Ohio.
     
  • Relief for Ohio’s Waterways: Provides additional loan and tourism funding for Ohio’s distressed lakes.
     
  • Additional Student Aid: Includes $100M for need-based student aid through the Ohio College Opportunity Grant.
     
  • Building Our Savings: Increases the maximum allowable rainy-day fund from 5 percent of general revenue funds (GRF) to 8.5 percent.
 
The conference committee report now awaits a vote in the House before moving to the Governor for his signature. The bill must be signed into law before July 1, 2015.
 
 
  
STATEHOUSE - 

State Senator Joe Uecker (R–Miami Township) today announced the Senate passage of legislation prohibiting local governments from requiring contractors and design professionals to reside within a particular city as a condition for participating in city projects. 

“Numerous organizations representing dozens of businesses across Ohio testified in support of Senate Bill 152," Senator Uecker said. “It is my duty to combat these discriminating policies which limit competition and prevent the people of southwest Ohio, and all of Ohio for that matter, from having the best opportunities to thrive.”

The proposed legislation seeks to eliminate residency requirements on Ohio contractors and design professionals. Existing requirements drive up the costs for local infrastructure projects by lowering the number of qualified contractors eligible to bid of the project. 

Residency requirements reduce competition and increase project costs as fewer contractors are able to bid on these projects due to unknown labor expenses. Ultimately, they give an advantage to out-of-state workers and their employers. The U.S. Constitution protects against discriminatory hiring practices based on state of residence but no protection exists to prevent these practices based on residence within the same state. 

"Our bill is simple: it's about lowering costs for Ohio's cities; and eliminating baseless stipulations some cities have placed on small businesses that would otherwise be willing to perform higher quality work at a lower cost," said Uecker.

In 2009, the Ohio Supreme Court decided that cities could no longer require employees to reside within their city limits as a condition of employment. The Court determined that such requirements violated an employee's protected rights. 

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for further consideration. 

 
 
  
STATEHOUSE - 

State Senator Dave Burke (R-Marysville) announced the passage of legislation to provide prompt access to potentially life-saving treatment for Ohioans with chronic medical conditions in an emergency situation. 

Senate Bill 141, jointly sponsored by Senator Burke and Senator Gayle Manning (R-North Ridgeville), would allow diabetes, asthma and certain cardiac medications such as nitroglycerin to be filled by pharmacists if a customer has made a reasonable attempt to contact a physician but has been unsuccessful.

The bill makes changes to the law governing physician-pharmacist consult agreements and ensures that pharmacists working under consult agreements have the ability to manage, modify, and initiate prescriptions within the desired scope.

“By revising the consult agreement statute we will improve patient care by reducing unnecessary administrative paperwork, and most importantly, improving disease management to help individuals with chronic conditions live long and prosperous lives,” Burke said.

The issue was brought to Senators Burke and Manning's attention following the death of an Avon Lake resident who passed away after when he could not get his prescription for insulin refilled on New Year's Eve in 2013.

“It just seemed ridiculous that a diabetic in 2015 could run out of prescription and die,” Burke said. “In a health care system that we pride ourselves on, something like this should not happen.”


The legislation allows a pharmacist to generate a prescription using the patient’s record one time per year, per drug. The bill does not give pharmacists independent prescriptive authority but allows the pharmacist to consult patients' prescription records to determine whether an emergency refill is warranted if a physician can not be reached. 

Narcotics and other pain medication refills are not permitted under the legislation. 

Senate Bill 141 passed the Senate with a vote of 32-0 and now goes to the House of Representatives for further consideration. 

 
 
  
Yesterday in the Senate Chamber, Senator Troy Balderson (far left) presented a resolution to Kaylee Antill (third from left) for winning the state discus championship title. She is joined by her parents Cheryl (far right) and Jeff Antill (second from left).
STATEHOUSE - 

State Senator Troy Balderson (R-Zanesville) honored Tri-Valley High School senior Kaylee Antill yesterday for winning the Division I High School State Discus Championship. 

"We are so proud of Kaylee for all she has accomplished both as an athlete and as a student," said Balderson. "She serves as a role model for all of Ohio's student athletes and we are watching for more big things to come from this young lady as she begins her college career."

Antill graduated Tri-Valley High School last month at the top of her graduating class with a 4.0 grade point average. She also recently signed to throw discus for Arizona State University where she will attend on a student-athlete scholarship. 

 
 
  
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Featured Posts

A Bold Independence Day

 

As we celebrate this Independence Day, let us be reminded of the extraordinary boldness that propelled our founders to victory and inspires us to serve the country that we love. Let us be bold, for it is our inheritance and responsibility. 



 
 

LaRose Announces Passage Of Legislation To Shed Light On Problem Of Student Violence Against Educators

 

"The dedicated professionals who devote their lives to educating our students should be able to do their jobs without the fear of violence," said LaRose. "Ohio's leaders deserve our support and protection." 



 
 

Senate Votes To Raise Awareness For Rett Syndrome

 

"Unfortunately, Rett Syndrome has received little funding for research compared to diseases like Cystic Fibrosis and ALS, which occur with the same frequency. My hope is that increased awareness will be accompanied by a more robust investment in research for a cure."



 
 

Hughes Announces Passage Of Legislation To Improve Response Time Of Emergency Vehicles

 

"Even a few seconds can make the difference between life or death for a person an emergency vehicle is trying to reach," added Hughes. "I feel the responsibility to do everything in my power to make the public aware of the law and motivated to help our emergency vehicles pass as quickly as possible."