Columbus - Today, Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights) announced the appointment of Mike Rowe as the new Chief of Staff of the Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus.

“Mike has been a great asset to our caucus while serving as Communications Director for nearly nine years,” said Senator Yuko. “He has the knowledge, experience and communications skills to do an outstanding job as our Chief of Staff.”

Rowe, who will begin his new role on December 18, joined the Democratic caucus in 2009.

“I’m honored to have the opportunity to serve as Chief of Staff for the Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus,” Rowe said. “We have a tremendous group of senators and a terrific staff and I look forward to helping our caucus achieve its goals for 2018 and beyond.”

A native of Sugarcreek, Ohio, Rowe is a former TV news anchor in Columbus and Youngstown and a graduate of Ohio University’s Scripps School of Journalism.


COLUMBUS—Today, Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights) introduced Senate Concurrent Resolution 18 to urge Congress to amend the Americans with Disabilities Act and adopt a new version of the International Symbol of Access that depicts a wheelchair user in an active and engaged way.

“The handicap symbol is long overdue for an update,” said Senator Yuko. “Updating this 50-year-old sign is a way to change our perceptions of people with disabilities. It is important for the new sign to show mobility because many people with disabilities are fully independent and enjoy a very active lifestyle.”                                                                                                

Shown above, the new symbol features a person on a wheelchair whose body is in motion, with the head and upper body leaning forward and the arms pushing backwards. The resolution calls for the new version of the symbol to replace the current International Symbol of Access. All new signs would use the new symbol and old signs would be replaced with the new symbol when they become worn out.

The concurrent resolution had also been introduced in the 131st General Assembly as SCR 24.


COLUMBUS – State Senator Sean O’Brien (D-Bazetta) announced today that the Ohio Senate unanimously passed Senate Concurrent Resolution 15, which designates 2018 as “Ohio’s Year of the Trails”. Co-sponsored by Sen. O’Brien and Sen. Steve Wilson (R-Maineville), SCR 15 encourages Ohioans to take advantage of their local trail network, pays tribute to those who maintain and improve the trails and advocates for more trail segments to be connected.

“By bringing awareness to the extensive trails network in our state, we can recognize the people who have helped make it a reality and, hopefully, facilitate its continued improvement for years to come,” said Sen. O’Brien. “Additionally, this would give the Ohio Legislative Trails Caucus a designated timeframe in which to achieve some of the goals we discussed during our initial meeting in May.”

The OLTC is a group of state legislators from both parties and both chambers of the Ohio General Assembly that advocates for the development, maintenance and preservation of Ohio’s non-motorized trails. The group is co-chaired by Sens. O’Brien and Wilson and is the first of its kind in the nation at the state level.

“Ohio is home to more than 3,500 miles of trails that are used for a variety of activities including walking, biking, horseback riding, rolling and paddling,” said O’Brien. “Not only do these pathways provide significant economic and environmental benefits, but they are also an important feature in helping to improve Ohioans’ quality of life, encouraging community connections and promoting a healthy lifestyle.”

SCR 15, which now moves to the House of Representatives, had a bi-partisan group of co-sponsors, including the majority of OLTC members in the Senate. Additional information, including a draft of the document and its current legislative status, is available here.


Columbus—Today, Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights) issued the following statement after the death of former Ohio Senate President Bill Harris:

“My wife, Pam, and I extend our heartfelt condolences to the family of Bill Harris.  President Harris always displayed a strong sense of duty and dedicated much of his life to public service as a Marine Corps officer and state legislator.  He was also a successful businessman and dedicated family man.  We honor his service to our country and to the citizens of the state of Ohio.”


COLUMBUS –Today, State Senator Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) praised the City of Campbell for securing an interest free loan from the Ohio EPA to establish an emergency drinking water connection with the City of Youngstown. The system will be used to ensure clean safe water is distributed to the city in case of a water main break or a harmful algal bloom outbreak.

“I am happy to see Campbell and Youngstown are planning ahead to ensure their citizens have access to clean water,” said Senator Schiavoni. “We often see governments having to react in emergency situations, like in Flint Michigan. I’m glad cities here in the Mahoning Valley are preparing so our citizens never have to experience something like that.”

Eligible projects for funding from the Water Supply Revolving Loan Account (WSRLA) include design and construction loans used to replace, rehabilitate, upgrade, expand or put in new water treatment plants and their components. Assistance can also be given to public drinking water systems in numerous areas such as planning, design and construction.

“I am very pleased to see our two communities working together to help each other,” said Campbell Mayor Nick Phillips.  “This new drinking water connection is a big idea and everybody came together to make it happen.”

Receiving these loan funds will allow the city of Campbell to save approximately $185,000 on the project. 


Columbus - Senator Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) introduced a Senate Concurrent Resolution to urge the President and Congress to create a national bank dedicated to funding repair, renewal and construction projects of national scope, such as modern high-speed rail, water systems and power projects.

“States often find themselves having to use limited financial resources to fix large-scale infrastructure problems,” said Senator Schiavoni. “This bank would give the additional financial support that is needed to begin rebuilding our country’s failing infrastructure. We know it will work because the bank would be modeled after the successful national banks that built this country.”

These projects will not add new debt and have the potential to raise the output and productivity of the American economy. The projects will adhere to prevailing wage levels. In order to maintain local control, the bill also allows the national bank to partner with entities such as state and local governments, banks and credit unions.

SCR 17, which was introduced last week, is being co-sponsored by Democratic leadership in the Senate. Eleven other states have introduced similar legislation. 


Columbus –Today, Senators Edna Brown (D-Toledo) and Frank LaRose (R-Hudson) provided testimony on Senate Bill 118 before the Senate Insurance and Financial Institutions Committee. The legislation would enable peace officers, firefighters and emergency medical workers diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder arising from employment without an accompanying physical injury to be eligible for compensation and benefits under Ohio Workers’ Compensation Law.

“I’ve championed this cause for three consecutive General Assemblies,” said Senator Brown. “PTSD has rightfully received attention in the realm of military service. We also need to extend that attention to our first responders, whom we rely on daily to protect and save the lives of others.”

The Center for Disease Control describes post-traumatic stress disorder as an intense physical and emotional response to thoughts and reminders of a traumatic event for many weeks or months after the event occurred. About half of those suffering from PTSD recover without treatment. However, for those with severe symptoms, the disorder can disrupt their lives to the point where intervention is required.

“I think it’s also important to emphasize that we are not talking about people permanently leaving the workforce after receiving BWC benefits,” said Senator Brown. “Our goal is to give them the resources they need to deal with PTSD quickly and effectively when the symptoms first appear. By providing treatment right away, we can help these brave men and women heal and continue serving their communities.”


COLUMBUS – State Sen. Sean J. O’Brien (D-Bazetta) issued the following statement today after the state Controlling Board approved the release of funds to be used for the completion of improvements at three state parks in northeastern Ohio.

 “As state Senator for the 32nd District, and also the co-chairman of the Ohio Legislative Trails Caucus, I was happy to learn of the release of funds for improvements at Geneva, Mosquito Lake, and Pymatuning,” said Sen. O’Brien.  “The economic and health benefits of the trails and the many other amenities offered by our state parks are undeniable, so I’m pleased to see the state placing a high priority on their maintenance and improvement.”

In all, the state released more than $1.1 million in funds for improvements at the three state parks – all in Sen. O’Brien district – with over $350,000 going to Geneva, over $950,000 to Mosquito Lake, and over $490,000 to Pymatuning. The funds will go toward full service upgrades to campsites at all three parks, a new shower/bathroom facility at Mosquito Lake, and renovations to the north building at Pymatuning. Construction is set to begin sometime in the near future.

“The newly renovated campsites and facilities at those three parks will really enhance the experiences people have when visiting them in the coming years,” continued O’Brien. “Ohio’s state parks are already incredible, but continuing to prioritize them in ways like this will help contribute to the physical, mental, and economic wellbeing of everyone in the Buckeye State for generations.”

Along with funds for the three state parks in Sen. O’Brien’s district, the Controlling Board also released funds for several other Ohio state parks in the same capital request, including Delaware, Dillon, Grand Lake St. Mary’s, Hocking Hills, Lake Hope, Mohican, Pike Lake, and Tar Hollow. Additional information about the recent Controlling Board release, including full descriptions of the work that will be done at each park can be found on the agenda for the Controlling Board’s November 13th, 2017 meeting here.


Columbus—Today, State Senators Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) and John Eklund (R-Munson Township) announced that they reintroduced a bipartisan bill to expand broadband internet access to more homes and businesses in Ohio. The bill, SB 225, would not raise taxes.

“I’m proud to be working with Democrats and Republicans to address a problem that impacts people all over Ohio,” said Senator Schiavoni. “This bill would help make Ohio competitive in a changing economy. By expanding internet access, we can create opportunities for everyone, no matter where in the state they live.”

Right now, 300,000 rural households and 88,500 businesses in Ohio do not have access to broadband internet. This hinders economic development and limits employment opportunities.

SB 225 would create a $50 million annual grant program using existing funds from Ohio Third Frontier bond revenue. It would expand broadband coverage to about 14,000 Ohio households each year without raising taxes or using money from the state’s General Revenue Fund.

“The world is moving at breakneck speed, and all Ohioans who want to keep up should have access to broadband,” said Senator Eklund. “Yet, today some Ohioans live in what may as well be an information desert. This bill gives them hope that they can fully embrace the modern age.”

The proposed grant program is modeled after a highly successful broadband infrastructure funding program in Minnesota. Under the bill, the Development Services Agency (DSA) would award grants of up to $5 million to businesses, non-profits, co-ops or political subdivisions to build broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved areas. 

Preference would be given to applicants who:

- Offer creative ways to stretch dollars and help as many people as possible;

- Expand broadband to vital services such as schools, hospitals, and police and fire departments.

SB 225 has eight Democratic and two Republican co-sponsors. Rep. Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell) and Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire) have introduced bipartisan companion legislation (HB 378) in the Ohio House of Representatives.


Columbus—Ohio lawmakers and staff members joined State Senator Charleta B. Tavares (D-Columbus) in releasing the following open letter about sexual harassment.

In the past few weeks, sexual harassment has been a topic of national conversation. Millions of Americans were shocked to learn of sexual harassment in the entertainment industry fueled by stories of Harvey Weinstein and others who allowed his behavior to continue. Now, the conversation has shifted to the pervasive sexual harassment that exists within state legislatures across the nation. Reports of misconduct have come from state capitals in California, Illinois, Iowa, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon and Rhode Island. I am disappointed to my core to acknowledge that our own Ohio Legislature is also on that list.

This behavior is not a joke. It is not playful banter. It is not flirting. This behavior exploits an elected position of power to create a hostile and intimidating work environment for women whose jobs are often in the hands of the perpetrator. This behavior is especially despicable because in situations outside the workplace, such as a bar, a golf course, a restaurant – though still illegal and disgusting – a woman is usually able to walk away from these unwanted advances. However, a woman’s job is how she earns a living to support herself and her family and a sexual predator in the workplace has now made that job unsafe, unstable, and unbearable for that woman to come to every day.

I am here to tell you that as a legislative body of officials elected to serve our constituents, we are not doing enough.

Although a start, sexual harassment training will not be enough to change the culture. In 2016, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) conducted a task force study on harassment in the workplace and found that, while trainings may help participants understand what constitutes workplace harassment, there’s no good evidence that trainings change attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors.

If we want to end harassment, we must work to close gaps in gender equality, increase the number of women in the legislature and in leadership roles, and continue to convey that we have zero tolerance for harassment in our legislature. That said, my team and I are working on a piece of legislation designed to address these issues.

As leaders in the community, representatives have an obligation to hold themselves and their colleagues accountable for their actions. I am encouraging all those who have experienced or witnessed sexual harassment in the workplace to speak out.

Women in the workforce are often afraid of retaliation, reputational harm, mockery, ridicule, being blacklisted, intimidated, or even fired. Rather than focus on the actions of the oppressor, we must acknowledge the brave victims that have come forward to expose these scandals and we must believe them! As legislators, we encourage our constituents to elect representatives whose values reflect integrity, accountability, and humility. As well as hiring staff who reflect those same values.

The hard truth is that every single woman you know has a story to tell. Every. Single. One.

I, along with the undersigned legislators and staff, are calling on all elected officials, state employees, constituents, and especially women, to intervene and to demand better. The undersigned include both women who have experienced sexual harassment and women who have not experienced sexual harassment. It represents women who are committed to creating a welcoming and safe environment. 


Senator Charleta B. Tavares               

Senator Sandra Williams

Representative Brigid Kelly

Representative Catherine D. Ingram

Representative Emilia Strong Sykes

Representative Janine R. Boyd

Representative Kathleen Clyde

Representative Kristin Boggs

Representative Michele Lepore-Hagan

Representative Nickie J. Antonio

Representative Stephanie D. Howse

Representative Tavia Galonski

Representative Teresa Fedor

Andrea Costin

Bethany E. Sanders

Cayla Burton

Chelsea Golterman

Cindy Peters

Emily Underation

Giulia Cambieri

Hope Lane

Jaehla Meacham

Julia Wynn

Kayla Lewis

Kelly Kefauver

Kaneeka Dalton Paul

Moriah Lieberman

Margaret M. Palmer

Megan Seitz

Sarah A. Cherry

Serena Finlay

Sara Owens

Terese Herhold

Taylor Rae Phillips

Whitney Kennard

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Senator Yuko Introduces Legislation To Prohibit Child Marriages Under The Age Of 16


Columbus – Today, Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights) introduced legislation to update Ohio’s antiquated child marriage law. 


Senate Democrats Lauch Statewide Tour Of Ohio Schools


COLUMBUS - Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) and members of the Senate Democratic Caucus have launched a series of trips around the state to gather opinions from parents and educators on ways to improve education in Ohio.


Senator Tavares To Introduce Eyewitness Protection Act


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. 


Senator Thomas Testifies To Reinstate Pete Rose To Major League Baseball


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.