Jones opens the first meeting of the Commission on Infant Mortality

COLUMBUS- State Senator Shannon Jones (R-Springboro) today joined other health advocates to initiate a new phase in Ohio's fight to reduce its high infant mortality rate. The newly formed Commission on Infant Mortality met for the first time to hear testimony and establish a timeline for developing recommendations to improve accountability and coordination in the state's efforts to combat the growing crisis. 

"Senator Tavares and I began planning this Commission years ago, and it is coming to fruition at a critical time. Ohio is a very sick state, and our unacceptably high infant mortality rate can give us insight into why that is. Infant mortality is not just about babies— it is a reflection of the overall health and wellness of entire communities."

Legislation sponsored by Jones and passed into law last December established the Commission, which includes Senator Jones, Senator Charleta Tavares (D-Columbus), Representative Stephanie Kunze (R-Hilliard), Representative Hearcel Craig (D-Columbus), the directors or designees from a number of executive agencies, and representatives from Ohio's hospitals and community-based programs. 

Members of the Commission will meet regularly to take inventory of state programs and funding streams available to address the crisis of infant deaths in Ohio, which ranks 46th in the nation for overall infant mortality and 50th among black babies. The legislation that established the Commission last year, Am. Sub. Senate Bill 276, directs its members to prepare a written report of its findings and recommendations to the governor and General Assembly. 

"There is a serious disconnect between the investments made and the people we are trying to impact," said Jones. "We need to look at the problem of infant mortality in a broader context, define the state's role in interacting with local communities on this issue and develop a system of accountability." 

At today's meeting, Director John McCarthy from the Ohio Department of Medicaid and Director Angela Dawson from the Ohio Commission on Minority Health each delivered a presentation summarizing their agency's previous efforts, funding needs and future goals related to infant mortality. Following the presentations, members of the Commission discussed the scope and timeline of future meetings. 

The Commission will meet bimonthly with the objective of producing a final report by December 31. 

 
 
  

COLUMBUS- State Senator Frank LaRose (R-Copley) today introduced legislation to ensure greater transparency in local elections by requiring campaign finance reports to be filed electronically with county boards of elections.

Currently, Ohio law does not authorize county boards of elections to permit electronic filing, even on a voluntary basis. Unlike the Ohio Secretary of State, which manages an online campaign finance reporting system for candidates and campaign committees that file with that office, local boards of elections are not authorized to do the same.

Senate Bill 206 would remove the paper-only filing requirement that still regulates political candidates and campaign committees that file with local boards of elections.

"The concept is pretty straightforward," said Senator LaRose. "This bill will update Ohio's campaign finance law to allow local entities to join a system that has operated smoothly for 15 years. There is no good reason to deny the public the opportunity to view local campaign finance reports online when state reports are already available."


The legislation would require county boards of elections to make campaign finance reports available to the public online. Like the current requirement for state records on the Secretary of State's online campaign finance database, local filing information must be searchable, viewable and accessible through the Internet. The bill builds on the current database maintained by the Secretary of State.

The Ohio Association of Election Officials (OAEO) has been a longtime proponent of extending electronic reporting to the local level. 


Shawn Stevens, member of the Delaware County Board of Elections and President of the OAEO, said, "Ohio has taken numerous steps in recent years to modernize our elections system and make it more transparent to the public. Senator LaRose’s legislation is the next logical step in this process. It reduces needless paperwork for boards of elections, streamlines filing requirements for candidates and makes campaign finance data easier to access for the public. We look forward to working with Senator LaRose and both parties in the Ohio General Assembly on this common sense legislation.”

 
 
  
COLUMBUS - 

State Senators Troy Balderson (R-Zanesville) and Bob Peterson (R-Sabina) will join State Representative Gary Scherer (R-Circleville) to hold district office hours between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. on Friday, August 28 at the Pickaway County District Public Library.

“It is important that the people in the district have the opportunity to voice their concerns,” said Balderson. “My constituents are my number one priority and part of my responsibility as their elected official includes taking their views into account. Holding office hours in the district with either myself personally or my staff is a great way to offer constituents in-person meetings without having to travel to my office in Columbus."

No appointment is necessary. Office hours with the legislators and/or their staff will be held:


1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Pickaway County District Public Library
1160 North Court St.
Circleville, OH 43113

 
Senators Balderson and Peterson, along with Representative Scherer, each represent portions of Pickaway County, and will be available at the Pickaway County District Library on Friday between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. 

If you have any questions, please contact Senator Balderson's office by phone at (614) 466-8076 or by e-mail at Balderson@OhioSenate.gov

 
 
  
COLUMBUS - 

State Senators Bill Beagle (R-Tipp City) and Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering) today reintroduced legislation aimed at keeping renters safe in the event of a fire. The bill requires a separate means of egress for all dwelling areas above the second story of a residential rental property.

“When a fire breaks out, tenants have only moments to make a decision about how to safely escape. Every second counts and ensuring that an escape plan is in place is critical,” said Beagle.

The need for a change in the law became evident after two University of Cincinnati students, Ellen Garner and Chad Kohls, were trapped in a third story attic bedroom when a fire started on the second floor of the off-campus house. The only safe exit from the room was an internal staircase, which quickly became engulfed in smoke. The 36-foot jump from a third story window onto the cement pavement was not a viable escape route. After the two students attempted an escape through the smoke-filled stairwell, they passed out from smoke inhalation before the firefighters could rescue them. Ellen and Chad later passed away at a nearby hospital.

Rental homes with more than two stories are not required to have secondary means of egress under current law. Additionally, it is common for landlords to convert attics and upper floors into bedrooms, often leaving internal staircases as the only possible means of egress. This practice is often seen in off-campus housing statewide and poses a serious threat to students.

“Egress ladders are an underutilized, inexpensive and potentially lifesaving tool,” said Lehner. “We need to make sure our families, neighbors and children can get out safely.”

“As many colleges and universities resume classes, it’s important that we raise awareness about the dangers of not having a second means of egress in rental homes in our campus communities,” said Beagle.

In response to testimony and discussions regarding Senate Bill 359 last year, the bill now includes language clarifying that landlords will have qualified immunity should the ladder be misused or malfunction occur while in proper use. If adopted, landlords will have 180 days after the bill's effective date to comply with the new law.

State Representative Rick Perales (R-Beavercreek) reintroduced similar legislation today in the Ohio House. Both bills now await referral to committees in the respective chambers.

A video describing how the tragic loss of Chad and Ellen inspired Senators Beagle and Lehner to introduce legislation to help make campus housing safer is available online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XvXCg960w3I

 
 
  
 
Protecting Ohio's Students
A Guest Column by Senator Scott Oelslager
August 24, 2015
 
 

Throughout this General Assembly, it has been my privilege to help move forward policies that help make Ohio a better place to live, work and raise a family. As families prepare for the new school year, we are reminded of the importance of health and well-being for our students. Senate Bill 121, which I recently co-sponsored, focuses on implementing healthy habits and protecting our community’s health. 

This legislation highlights the importance of the meningococcal vaccine for young people. A debilitating and potentially fatal disease, bacterial meningitis is a rare illness caused by bacteria moving quickly through the body. Infections that spread to the spinal cord, can cause brain damage, which may prove deadly. Symptoms include the quick onset of a high fever, rash, vomiting and severe headache.

Meningococcal disease is highly contagious, however infants, children, and teens are the most at-risk for infection. Thankfully, the meningitis vaccine renders the disease preventable. The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Ohio Department of Health recommend that parents consult with their child's physician to determine the best vaccine schedule.

Senate Bill 121 will require school students to be immunized against meningococcal disease at an age recommended by the Ohio Department of Health. The language does allow for exceptions from the immunization requirement if the parent or guardian has a written statement related to reasons of personal or religious objection. Also, if a student’s physician certifies that the immunization would be dangerous to an individual’s health, they would be exempt from getting the vaccination requirements. Although passed this summer, the legislation will not become effective until October 2015 and will impact the 2016-2017 school year. However, there is no better time than the present to learn more about protecting your family from dangerous diseases like bacterial meningitis.  

The bill’s primary sponsor, Senator Cliff Hite (R-Findlay) was inspired to introduce this legislation after his young niece died of bacterial meningitis.

For more information you can visit www.cdc.gov/meningococcal/vaccine-info.html or www.odh.ohio.gov/odhprograms/bid/immunization/collegeimm.aspx.

Please do not hesitate to contact me by calling (614) 466-0626, emailing Oelslager@OhioSenate.gov, or by writing me at 1 Capitol Square, Columbus, Ohio 43215.

 
 
  
COLUMBUS - 

State Senator John Eklund (R-Munson Township) delivered a check on Tuesday to the Mentor City Council to support the city's efforts to improve stormwater management.

"These funds will go along way toward addressing the stormwater run-off issues that have affected so many families in the Mentor community," said Eklund. “Ohio's improved economic performance allows us to provide funds to support cities with these critically important projects.” 

Senator Eklund advocated for the inclusion of funds in the recent state operating budget to address the stormwater problem in Mentor and surrounding areas. An appropriation for $350,000 was approved by the legislature and signed by Governor Kasich earlier this summer. Combined with local dollars, these funds will be used to develop long-term solutions to area flooding that has strained local resources. 

Mentor City Council President Ray Kirchner accepted the payment from Senator Eklund and State Representative Ron Young, who jointly delivered the check on behalf of the State of Ohio. The presentation occurred during a meeting of the city council Tuesday evening. 

A full video of the check presentation, including remarks from Senator Eklund, is available on the City of Mentor's website.

 
 
  
COLUMBUS - 

State Senator Bill Beagle (R-Tipp City) announced the availability of federal disaster assistance loans for small businesses in Darke and Preble counties as a result of excessive rain and flooding that occurred throughout spring and summer.

“Small businesses and the agriculture industry are a vital part of our community and our economy,” said Beagle. “These loans and their availability to business owners in Darke and Preble Counties will be able to provide relief to some of those hit hardest by the weather this summer.”

Federal assistance is available to eligible farm-related and non-farm entities that suffered financial losses as a direct result of the disaster. With the exception of aquaculture enterprises, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) can not provide disaster loans to agriculture producers, farmers or ranchers. 

Loans of up to $2 million with interest rates of 2.65 percent for private nonprofit organizations and 4 percent interest for small businesses, with terms up to 30 years, are available for eligible applicants. Eligibility is determined based on the size of the applicant, type of activity and its financial resources. 

Disaster assistance is available for the following counties in Ohio: Butler, Darke, Defiance, Hamilton, Mercer, Paulding, Preble and Van Wert. 

Applicants can learn more and apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) through the SBA website at http://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela or mail a completed application to the following address:
 

U.S. Small Business Administration
Processing and Disbursement Center
14925 Kingsport Road
Fort Worth, TX 76155


Applications must be submitted no later than April 12, 2016

 
 
  
COLUMBUS - 

State Senator John Eklund (R-Munson Township) will present Mentor city officials with a check for $350,000 on behalf of the State of Ohio for stormwater improvements in the Mentor community. The presentation will be held TOMORROW at 7:30 p.m. during a meeting of the Mentor City Council.

Senator Eklund advocated for an amendment to the state's main operating budget earlier this summer to provide state support to the Mentor community for stormwater improvements. State funds will be used to help provide a long-term solution to flooding issues that have strained local resources. 

WHAT: Senator Eklund will present local officials with a check in the amount of $350,000 on behalf of the State of Ohio for the stormwater improvement project in the City of Mentor

WHO: State Senator John Eklund (R-Munson Township); State Representative Ron Young (R-Leroy Township); Councilman Ray Kirchner, Council President; Councilwoman Janet A. Dowling, Council Vice President; Councilman Robert M. Shiner; Councilman Matthew E. Donovan; Councilman Bruce R. Landeg; Councilman John A. Krueger and Councilman Scott J. Marn

WHERE: Mentor Municipal Building, 8500 Civic Center Boulevard, Mentor, Ohio 44066

WHEN: TOMORROW at 7:30 p.m.

 
 
  
COLUMBUS - 

Senator Bill Beagle (R-Tipp City) recently traveled the Mad River by kayak into Downtown Dayton for a firsthand view of the riverfront improvements to RiverScape MetroPark funded through state capital funds.
 

“Dayton’s redevelopment plans are gaining momentum and projects like the RiverScape MetroPark and the RiverRun Mural will continue to make Dayton a destination for young professionals and economic growth,” said Beagle.
 
The Ohio General Assembly passed the state's capital budget in 2014, which included over $330,000 for the Riverfront Enhancement Project and RiverRun Mural Project. State investments were combined with local contributions to make these developments possible.

 
 
  

COLUMBUS- State Senator Chris Widener (R-Springfield) yesterday hosted OSU President Michael Drake at several events in the Miami Valley.

The visit included a signing c
eremony between Central State University (CSU) and The Ohio State University (OSU) to formalize their expanded research and extension collaboration, an update from the Xenia Division of the Rogosin Institute on the progress of the Institute's cancer and diabetes treatment programs, and a tour of Wright Patterson Air Force Base. President Drake's tour focuses on forging partnership between OSU and institutions of research, innovation and higher education. 

"It is a pleasure to host President Drake in my district today," said Widener. "Dr. Drake has been a tremendous partner in the effort to invest in the research and innovation that creates jobs and makes Ohio a better place for our families."

Ohio State-Central State Partnership

Left to right: OSU President Michael Drake,
Central State President Cynthia Jackson-Hammond, Senator Chris Widener


The Ohio State University and Central State University, Ohio's two Land Grant Institutions, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to represent a commitment to further collaboration. The partnership is expected to attract additional federal dollars.

Senator Widener and former House Speaker Bill Batchelder were instrumental in helping CSU by promoting the passage of a state resolution that called on Congress to designate Central State as an 1890 Land Grant Institution in 2014. 
 
“It was an honor to assist Central State University over the past few years in becoming a land grant institution," said Widener. "Today I witnessed the continuance of their collaboration in research and extension activities with The Ohio State University with a formal signing. There is still much to be done to secure land grant funding for Central State, and I look forward to continuing to work with the University until that goal is accomplished.”
 
Rogosin Institute

Senator Widener and OSU President Michael Drake visiting the Rogosin Institute


The second stop on President Drake's visit, the Rogosin Institute of Xenia, Ohio, began as a formal research program for the development of new treatments for diabetes and cancer. The Institute manufactures macrobeads which are used to deliver treatments that have the potential to prevent kidney damage and slow the growth of cancerous cells.
 
“The Rogosin Institute's research offers a cutting edge approach to treating cancer and diabetes,” said Widener. “The unique research being conducted by the Institute regarding the use of macrobeads in treatment is remarkable, and I am proud that this work is being done right here in the Miami Valley.”
 
Wright Patterson Air Force Base 

OSU President Michael Drake and Senator Widener on tour of
Wright Patterson Air Force Base


During his final stop at Wright Patterson Air Force Base (WPAFB), President Drake was briefed on the Air Force Institute of Technology, the National Air & Space Intelligence Center, the Air Force Institute of Technology, the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center and affordable college credit opportunities. 

Among other portions of the tour, Senator Widener and President Drake had the opportunity to visit the 711th Human Performance Wing and discuss WPAFB’s collaborations with OSU Athletes on biomarkers research.
 
“Wright Patterson Air Force base produces some of the best research, training and education regarding aerospace and aviation technologies in the nation,” said Widener. “It is truly amazing to have such high caliber military and civilian personnel working at Wright Patterson Air Force Base."
 
Senator Widener and President Drake were joined by the following individuals on their tour:

  • Mike Carrell, Director of Military and Veterans Affairs, The Ohio State University
  • David Williams, Dean, College of Engineering, The Ohio State University
  • Bruce McPheron, Dean, College of Agriculture, The Ohio State University
  • Mr. Jeff Hoagland, President & CEO, Dayton Development Coalition
  • Mr. Rich Knoll, VP of Aerospace, Dayton Development Coalition
 
 
  
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Jones Sets Priorities, Champions Accountability At First Meeting Of Commission On Infant Mortality

 

"There is a serious disconnect between the investments made and the people we are trying to impact," said Jones. "We need to look at the problem of infant mortality in a broader context, define the state's role in interacting with local communities on this issue and develop a system of accountability." 



 
 

LaRose Introduces Legislation To Improve Transparency In Local Elections

 

"The concept is pretty straightforward," said Senator LaRose. "This bill will update Ohio's campaign finance law to allow local entities to join a system that has operated smoothly for 15 years. There is no good reason to deny the public the opportunity to view local campaign finance reports online when state reports are already available."



 
 

Balderson Announces August District Office Hours In Pickaway County

 
COLUMBUS - 

“It is important that the people in the district have the opportunity to voice their concerns,” said Balderson. “My constituents are my number one priority and part of my responsibility as their elected official includes taking their views into account. Holding office hours in the district with either myself personally or my staff is a great way to offer constituents in-person meetings without having to travel to my office in Columbus."



 
 

Beagle, Lehner Reintroduce Legislation Aimed At Keeping Renters Safe

 
COLUMBUS - 

“When a fire breaks out, tenants have only moments to make a decision about how to safely escape. Every second counts and ensuring that an escape plan is in place is critical,” said Beagle.