COLUMBUS – Today, the 132nd Ohio General Assembly officially began with the swearing in of new members and leadership for the Ohio Senate. The Senate Democratic Caucus welcomed two new members, Senator Vernon Sykes (D-Akron, pictured middle) and Senator Sean O’Brien (D-Bazetta, pictured left).
“The goal for this General Assembly is to get things done and make a better and stronger Ohio,” said Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman). “We have two very experienced legislators joining our Caucus who will be strong voices for families and communities across the state.”
Senator Sykes, a longtime member of the Ohio House, returns to the Statehouse to serve the 28th District in the Senate.
“I’m elated to be a member of the Ohio Senate after serving in the House of Representatives for 26 years,” said Senator Sykes. “I’m really concerned about our local governments in the 28th Senate District and the impact that state government has on them. I’ll be working hard to make sure the communities I represent have a strong voice in Columbus.”
Senator O’Brien will represent the 32nd Senate District after previously serving in the Ohio House.
“I’m excited about the opportunity to serve the residents of Trumbull, Ashtabula and Geauga counties in the Ohio Senate,” said Senator O’Brien. “There’s a lot to do, and I look forward to continuing the work we started in the House as we fight on behalf of the 32nd District.”
The Senate Democratic Caucus leadership for the 132nd General Assembly will be as follows:
Columbus—Today, members of the Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus applauded Governor Kasich’s decisions to veto House Bill 554 and Senate Bill 329—legislation that would have threatened Ohio jobs and put basic public services at risk. All Senate Democrats voted against the bills and signed a letter to the Governor urging him to use his veto authority.
SB 329 would have given the General Assembly unprecedented power by establishing a new sunset review process that could eliminate state agencies without legislators having to cast any votes.
“I’m pleased Governor Kasich agreed that Senate Bill 329 was dangerous legislation that threatened to undermine our government’s system of checks and balances,” said Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman). “The law would have put crucial government services at risk and created a constant state of uncertainty for our business community.”
House Bill 554 would have continued a freeze on “green energy” standards for another two years and made them voluntary instead of mandatory for Ohio’s utility companies.
“The Governor made the right call by vetoing legislation that would have taken our state backward,” said Senator Michael Skindell (D-Lakewood). “Renewable energy is a growing part of our nation’s economy. Ohio has the manufacturing infrastructure and skilled workers to play a leading role in developing this new technology which creates good paying jobs and is good for the environment.”
COLUMBUS – Today, State Senator Sandra Williams (D-Cleveland) is hosting a holiday food giveaway at the Glenville Elks Lodge in Cleveland. Senator Williams’ goal is to bring holiday cheer by helping those who are struggling to put food on the table in her district. The event aims to provide nutritious holiday food to residents of Senate District 21, among them seniors, veterans, people with disabilities, children and families who are displaced.
“For many of us, the holidays are a time for family and friends to be grateful for the blessings in their lives and reflect on the past year. For others, the return of colder weather adds extra strains in health and budgets,” said Senator Williams. “Many people do not know where their next meal will come from. The goal today is to help alleviate the burden for some of these struggling individuals and families.”
In the spirit of the holidays, Senator Williams recognizes the importance of giving back and helping those less fortunate. She believes this time of year is especially important for the community to be unified and take care of one another. “This time of year we must be vigilant and check daily on elderly friends, relatives and neighbors who live alone, and those in need,” she added.
“It is important for me to give back because there are people in my district who need help. I want them to know that I hear them and that I am here for them. I will continue to fight for them every day,” said Senator Williams. “This giveaway is a small way to show my appreciation for my constituents this holiday season.”
Columbus—The National Black Conference of State Legislatures (NBCSL) recently presented Ohio Senator Sandra Williams (D-Cleveland) with the “2016 Regional Legislator of the Year” award at the NBCSL 40th Annual Legislative Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana.
“It is an honor to receive the Regional Legislator of the Year Award from the NBCSL. We must remember that not long ago, African Americans did not have the same rights as others, let alone the ability to vote and pass legislation. Today, strong African American legislators throughout the country act as level-headed leaders, consistently fighting for and influencing policy that is reflective of the needs of our community,” said Senator Williams. “We will continue to make a lasting impact throughout the country by helping pass policy that impacts families in a positive way.”
NBCSL brings together African American legislators from across the country to discuss issues of their region and constituents on a national stage. NBCSL holds an annual conference to discuss legislative best practices, pass policy resolutions that reflect the mission of the NBCSL, and reinforce the priority of implementing policies that will protect and benefit all Americans.
To celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of African American legislators across the country, the organization recognizes state legislators for their service. Senator Williams was awarded for her dedication to promoting the policies adopted by NBCSL, her commitment to advancing issues important to the African American community, reforming the criminal justice system, ensuring quality education, and promoting sustainable energy.
Columbus—Today, Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) and Assistant Senate Minority Leader Charleta B. Tavares (D-Columbus) released the following statements after Governor John Kasich vetoed the so-called "heartbeat bill" (H.B. 493) but signed a 20-week abortion ban (S.B. 127):
Senator Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman), Senate Minority Leader:
"While I am grateful that Governor Kasich vetoed the unconstitutional 6-week ban, I'm disappointed that he chose to sign the 20-week ban, which also may be unconstitutional. S.B. 127 is still a radical attack on women’s reproductive rights, as it does not include exceptions for rape, incest, or fetal anomaly. The governor’s decision will still cost Ohio thousands of dollars in legal fees at a time when we are 'on the verge of recession,' as the governor recently warned."
Senator Charleta B. Tavares (D-Columbus), Assistant Senate Minority Leader:
“I would like to applaud Governor Kasich for being responsible by vetoing the heartbeat provisions in H.B. 493, which would have made Ohio’s abortion laws the strictest in the country. However, I am extremely disappointed that Governor Kasich would choose to sign the 20-week ban into law. The law has no exception for rape or incest and will endanger the reproductive health of women in Ohio. The State of Ohio should not be in the business of making decisions for women. We should allow women to make these personal decisions for themselves with the input of medical professionals.”
Columbus – Today, State Senator Michael J. Skindell (D-Lakewood) joined his colleagues on the Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board in voting to allow former astronaut and U. S. Senator John Glenn to lie in state at the Ohio Statehouse. Glenn died Thursday at the age of 95. The honor is normally reserved for current and former governors, statewide office holders and members of the legislature. So, it was necessary for the Board to meet this morning to grant an exemption.
“The Glenn family made the request and I was honored to make a motion at the board meeting to fulfill their wishes for a Statehouse tribute to a remarkable man and a true American hero,” said Senator Skindell.
Members of the public will be able to pay their respects to Senator Glenn when he lies in state Friday in the Statehouse rotunda. The New Concord, Ohio native and Marine Corps combat pilot became the first American to orbit the earth before he served 24 years in the United States Senate.
“I am proud to say I worked on Glenn’s 1984 presidential campaign—an experience that reinforced my deep respect and admiration for the Senator and his wife Annie,” said Senator Skindell. “They are two of the most outstanding people I have ever met. I encourage every Ohioan who is able to join us this Friday to come to the Statehouse to honor Senator Glenn.”
The last person to lie in state at the Ohio Statehouse was Congressman Paul Gillmore in 2007. Only eight people have been honored this way, including President Abraham Lincoln in 1865.
COLUMBUS - Today, Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni released the following statement on the passing of Former Senator John Glenn.
"Statesmen like John Glenn come along once in a lifetime. From his service as a Marine pilot to his pioneering space expeditions to his expansive career in public service: Senator Glenn truly did it all.
"John Glenn was fearless. His resume of groundbreaking achievements spans three quarters of a century. Americans may not know that John Glenn requested and flew 59 combat missions in World War II, and 63 more in the Korean War. They may not know he set the 1957 speed record, flying from Los Angeles to New York in three hours and 23 minutes.
"Instead, our nation celebrates John Glenn as the first American to orbit the Earth. They remember him as a great senator from the state of Ohio, who fought tirelessly for the people of our state. Never satisfied, Senator Glenn also later became the oldest person to go into space.
"In Ohio, John Glenn will live on through the many public service projects he founded and helped to grow. Each year, students from the John Glenn Institute for Public Service leave The Ohio State University with the same sense of civic duty that lived in the program’s namesake.
"John Glenn was an Ohio legend and a true American hero. We could not be more proud of the legacy he leaves our great state. We offer our deepest condolences to his wife and lifelong partner, Annie, as well as his family, his friends, and all whose lives were improved through knowing him."
Columbus – Last night, the Ohio House of Representatives voted to pass Senate Bill 332, which would implement a series of initiatives to lower Ohio’s infant mortality rate. The Senate then concurred on the House changes. Upon passage, Senator Tavares issued the following statement:
“For quite some time, Ohio’s abysmal infant mortality rate has been a stain on our great state. It highlights our state's inability to care for its most vulnerable residents and shows the inherent disparities faced by people of color.
"The Ohio Department of Health recently released its 2015 infant mortality data. While the infant mortality rate increased for babies of all races, the infant mortality rate for African American babies is now nearly three times that of Caucasian babies. This is totally unacceptable. That is why I want to thank my colleagues in the Ohio House for their support and passage SB 332.
"SB 332 represents the largest effort to date by the Ohio General Assembly to combat infant mortality. I want to thank Senator Shannon Jones (R- Springboro) who has dedicated herself to this cause and has been with me every step of the way. I would also like to thank Representative Robert Sprague (R-Findlay) and Representative Emilia Sykes (D-Akron)–chair and ranking member, respectively, of the House Finance Subcommittee on Health & Human Services–for their leadership in shepherding SB 332 through the House.
"I await Governor Kasich’s signature so we can begin the process of making Ohio a place where all babies are able to live to see their first birthday.”
Senate Bill 332 was sponsored by Senators Tavares and Jones.
Columbus –Today, State Senator Edna Brown (D-Toledo) provided sponsor testimony on Senate Resolution 256 in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. SR 256 encourages support for the agreement reached between Ontario, Michigan, and Ohio regarding the reduction of phosphorus in the western basin of Lake Erie.
“Without implementing a plan that adequately addresses this issue, we are putting Ohio’s families at risk,” said Senator Brown. “By investing in practices that improve the state of our Great Lakes, we invest in the health and wellbeing of Ohioans.”
The Western Basin of Lake Erie Collaborative Implementation Plan expands upon the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, which was signed by both the United States and Canada in 2012. The agreement was established as an effort by both regions to jointly manage phosphorus concentrations and loadings in Lake Erie.
The plan focuses on reducing phosphorus in the western basin at a rate of 40 percent by 2025 with an interim goal of a 20 percent reduction by the year 2020. Phosphorus from fertilizer runoff contributes to the growth of harmful algal blooms, which substantially damage our waterways.
The three-day drinking water ban that Toledo experienced in 2014 was a result of microcystins, deriving from toxic algal blooms. All of the Great Lakes suffer from algal toxins, but the western basin alone accounts for an overwhelming 61 percent of the entire lake annual phosphorus load. Over the past decade, toxic bloom occurrences have continued to rise.
Senator Brown also recently testified for Senate Bill 224, which focuses on reducing nutrient runoff from agricultural lands and animal feeding lots, contributing to toxic algal blooms in waterways.
Senator Brown is happy to be joined in her efforts to improve Lake Erie by Ohio House Representative Michael Sheehy (D-Oregon) and U.S. Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (D-OH).
Columbus – Last night the Ohio House of Representatives’ committee on Community and Family Advancement passed Senate Bill 30, introduced by Senator Charleta B. Tavares (D - Columbus). Senate Bill 30 would establish the Ohio Family Stability Commission, which would not only look at ways to reduce the number of single-parent households in the state, but would also address the challenges that are faced by single-parent families.
“We recognize that single parents who are raising their children to be well-adjusted, contributing citizens should be heartily commended,” stated Senator Tavares. “However, it is extremely difficult for single-parent households to raise and care for children properly today. The Ohio Family Stability Commission will not engage in any form of stereotyping, rather it will perform vigorous research in order to submit a set of recommendation to the Ohio General Assembly that will strengthen families across the state.”
The Ohio Family Stability Commission was first introduced by former Senator Ray Miller after he convened a statewide conference that included elected officials and faith leaders. After Senator Miller’s term expired in 2010, Senator Tavares – who also participated in the conference – introduced the Ohio Family Stability Commission in each subsequent General Assembly.
The Commission would be made up of 25 commissioners who have expertise in areas that include: non-marital births, marital divorce, employment, child custody, child abuse and neglect, domestic violence, judicial system, and faith-based initiatives. The Commissioners would meet for no more than 4 years, provide the General Assembly with recommendations, and would offer assistance for the implementation of their recommendations.
“I am grateful to Chairman Ginter, Ranking Member Boyce, and all those who support the passage of Senate Bill 30,” said Senator Tavares. “It took many years of hard work to get us to this point. However, the work that was done on SB 40 ensures we have crafted the best bill possible. The importance of the issues facing the health, security and well-being of our children and families will be addressed with our residents and stakeholders.”
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.
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, 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: