COLUMBUS - Today, Senator Michael Skindell (D-Lakewood) accepted The Nature Conservancy’s Conservation Leader Award.

“It is an exceptional honor to be selected for this award. The Nature Conservancy has been a notable leader in the conservation movement,” said Senator Skindell. “I have made it a top priority in my time in the legislature to make sure our diverse natural resources are protected and restored, and I will continue to do so.”

The Nature Conservancy is an organization dedicated to the preservation and protection of the lands and water in order to sustain the diversity of life. The Conservation Leader Award is presented in recognition of exceptional leadership in advancing state conservation and environmental policy issues that improve the quality of life for all Ohioans.

Senator Skindell was chosen for this award because of his work in protecting Lake Erie, including a bill to prohibit offshore drilling, improve the lake’s shoreline, and promote safety and minimize risk when drilling for oil and gas.

 
 
  

COLUMBUS – The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) last week presented Ohio Senator Sandra Williams (D-Cleveland) with a “Women in Politics Making a Difference” award from the Women's Legislative Network, an arm of the NCSL, at a luncheon held at the NCSL summit in Chicago. 

The Women’s Legislative Network is an active, vibrant and respected organization dedicated to promoting the participation, empowerment, and leadership of women legislators. There are currently 1,809 women serving in state legislatures across the country. Every female legislator is a member of the network by virtue of her service, and the organization is governed by a bipartisan, regionally balanced board of 15 directors.

To celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of female legislators across the country, the network created the Women in Politics Making a Difference Awards. The network will recognize 16 women over the course of the next year. The honorees are women who are making a difference in ways large and small: championing a landmark bill in their states, or helping a constituent in a time of need. Women are important actors in the laboratories of democracy that are state legislatures, and this campaign will make women’s contributions more visible.

“Nearly 100 years ago, women in America earned the right to vote. Today, strong women legislators throughout the country act as level-headed leaders, consistently breaking through legislative gridlock in times of heated partisan debate,” said Senator Williams. “Women continue to make a lasting impact throughout the country by helping to pass policy that impacts families in a positive way.”

The award was presented by Tennessee State Representative Brenda Gilmore, who is now Chairwoman of Women's Legislative Network.

 
 
  

COLUMBUS – Today, members of the Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus celebrated a federal judge’s decision to block the implementation of a law that would have defunded Planned Parenthood and many other healthcare providers throughout Ohio. Judge Michael R. Barrett of the U.S. District Court in Cincinnati ruled that the law, which the Democratic Caucus opposed in the Ohio Senate, would cause “irreparable injury” to Planned Parenthood. Governor John Kasich had signed House Bill 294 into law in February.

Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman): “Thank you to the judge for recognizing that this law is nothing more than pushing the Republican agenda to deny a woman’s constitutionally protected right to seek an abortion. Let’s stop these attacks and allow Planned Parenthood to do what they do best – provide vital healthcare services to women and men all across this state.”

Assistant Senate Minority Leader Charleta B. Tavares (D-Columbus): "Planned Parenthood has provided quality, valuable and needed HIV tests, cancer screenings and other prevention services for many years.  The people of Ohio deserve to have continuity of care with trusted providers who serve vulnerable Ohioans."

Senator Capri S. Cafaro (D-Hubbard): “I am proud to have been a leading voice against the misguided bill aimed to defund Planned Parenthood. I applaud Judge Barrett's decision to ensure the Ohio Department of Health considers Planned Parenthood's application for grant funding. It is a reflection of the important and necessary health services Planned Parenthood provides to men and women across the Buckeye State.” 

Senator Sandra Williams (D-Cleveland): “I pleased to see that the Court has decided to stand by the many women who depend on Planned Parenthood for affordable health care services.  I applaud the efforts of Planned Parenthood and the many men and women who work each day to protect health care access for women.”

Senator Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights): “Young women and men go to Planned Parenthood because they know they will be given accurate medical information and reliable services. Planned Parenthood is irreplaceable, and at the very least they deserve to compete for these funds. This is a small victory for thousands of patients across Ohio.”

 
 
  
 
Democrats Introduce Call Center Protection Legislation
Bill will help keep jobs in Ohio
August 03, 2016
 
 
Senator Schiavoni speaks at press conference on legislation to protect Ohio jobs.

COLUMBUS – Today, Democratic legislators from both the House and Senate announced the introduction of legislation aimed to protect Ohio’s call center jobs. The Consumer Protection Call Center Act of 2016 would ban state grant or loan opportunities for companies that transfer or relocate call centers from Ohio to overseas for five years.

“Ohio is home to many call centers that are located across the state,” said Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman). “The key is to making sure that these jobs stay in Ohio and this bill would incentivize employers to do just that.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 171,700 call center workers throughout the state. Since 2006, Ohio has lost 13,900 call center jobs – a decline of over 7.5 percent.

"Call center workers and consumers are rightfully concerned by the offshoring of call center jobs,” said Frank Mathews, Administrator Director with the Communications Workers of America. “In this digital world, calls can be rerouted anywhere simply by flipping a switch. This costs American jobs and allows our most private business, health and financial information to be shared with and possibly accessed by less than secure eyes, in another country.”

“Our goal with this bill is to keep jobs in the state of Ohio instead of sending them overseas. Protecting our own workers needs to be a priority for the state,” said Senator Lou Gentile (D-Steubenville). “Taxpayer dollars should not be used to send jobs overseas.”

In addition to the ban on state aid, the bill would also increase transparency by creating a list of companies that relocate their customer service centers overseas. Companies would be required to notify the Director of the Department of Jobs and Family Services at least 120 days prior to relocating any call center jobs overseas. Failing to do so could result in a civil penalty against the employer.

“Now more than ever, it is imperative to protect Ohio jobs that pay above the minimum wage,” said Representative Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood). “If passed by the Ohio General Assembly, this legislation would help pave a path to economic stability for working families by keeping call center jobs from being shipped overseas. The end goal of the Consumer Protection Call Center Act is to keep Ohio jobs in Ohio, with a workforce of Ohioans.”

 “This legislation is important to someone like me because I don’t think the state should be rewarding companies who are taking jobs overseas,” said Robert Taylor, a call center employee from Columbus. “Those tax dollars should be going to creating jobs here in Ohio and not the Philippines. As a call center worker it’s important that these middle-class jobs stay in Ohio and I think that this legislation will help do that.“

This legislation will be introduced in both the House and Senate today.

 
 
  

Columbus – Today, Senator Charleta B. Tavares (D - Columbus) announced she will soon introduce legislation to address the issue of discrimination against minorities based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status or national origin. This bill is in response to a recent Columbus Dispatch article (July 25, 2016) that highlighted the discriminatory language still present today in real estate documents. The article reveals that many deeds and covenants blatantly excluded people of color from living in certain communities. The County Recorder Association of Ohio says the Ohio General Assembly must pass a law allowing them to redact the offending language.

“The language contained within these real estate documents represents a discriminatory practice that is abhorrent to not only the residents of Ohio who are being discriminated against, but to all communities,” Senator Tavares stated. “It is intolerable to still see racist language in deeds and covenants in 2016, and it is a reminder of our ugly history. This language is especially painful today as we see an increase in violence, hate speech and the growth of racist actions around the country.”

Tavares’ legislation would seek to prohibit the recording of discriminatory language in real estate deeds and covenants. The Legislative Service Commission is currently conducting research on states that have passed similar legislation.

 
 
  
 
Senator Thomas To Introduce Common Sense Gun Safety Measure
Local control bill is a response to safety concerns at the Republican National Convention
July 20, 2016
 
 

COLUMBUS – Today, State Senator Cecil Thomas (D-Cincinnati) announced he will introduce legislation to allow municipalities to restrict open or concealed carry of firearms during events of regional or national significance. This local control bill comes after Cleveland's largest police union expressed concerns over the ability of citizens to openly carry firearms during the Republican National Convention.

“We have received feedback from public safety experts who are concerned that certain events – such as political conventions – could incite unnecessary violence and hinder the ability of law enforcement to perform their duties,” said Senator Thomas. “We want every person in our state to be safe when they are attending an important event. We also want law enforcement to have the ability to deploy the most effective methods to assure that safety.”

Senator Thomas’ bill would restore an element of local control to Ohio’s gun laws. It allows for common sense restrictions to be put in place in an efficient manner. The bill will also allow citizens and law enforcement to provide feedback to their local governments when there is an important event scheduled in their community.

“Ohioans recognize the importance of local control in many areas of the law. A one-size-fits-all approach does not work when it comes to many issues, including open and concealed carry of firearms,” said Senator Thomas. “It makes sense to listen to the input of community members and law enforcement at the local level when we’re deciding whether or not we want loaded firearms carried at an event with 50,000 people in a confined area.”

“As a former law enforcement officer, I know firsthand the added stress and anxiety placed on officers who only have protecting public safety on their minds,” said Senator Thomas. “Anxiety and stress levels rise considerably when individuals or groups decide to carry their firearms into an emotionally charged event, especially given the current climate in our nation. This bill is just a common sense approach, designed to protect our citizens and first responders.”    

 
 
  

COLUMBUS – Today, State Senator Cecil Thomas (D-Cincinnati) announced that St. Bernard Elmwood Place City School District has been selected to receive about $27 million from the Ohio School Facilities Commission for the construction of a new school building for grades Pre K-12.  

“I am thrilled for the students, parents, and educators in St. Bernard Elmwood Place,” said Senator Thomas. “This funding allows the district to build a modern learning environment that will benefit students throughout the community.”

The district will use the money to build one new school, which will be large enough to house all students in the district, grades Pre K – 12. The state will provide $27,062,550 to the project, while the district will contribute $5,940,560. The Controlling Board will have final approval over the project.

St. Bernard Elmwood Place City School District is one of 14 districts and one STEM Compact school that are expected to receive state funding. Each district is charged with acquiring their portion of the funding before state dollars can be released. They are expected to do so within a 13-month time period.

 
 
  
 
Senator Lou Gentile's Amendment Adopted Into Law
Designates October as Disability History and Awareness Month
July 13, 2016
 
 

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Today, Governor Kasich signed into law Ohio House Bill 483, which is a mid-year budget update for the Department of Developmental Disabilities. Included in the bill is an amendment offered by Senator Lou Gentile (D-Steubenville) to designate the month of October disability history and awareness month.

“We started with this idea to make October disability history and awareness month after hearing an idea from Terrie Lincoln, a resident of Marietta,” said Senator Gentile. “It is so important to listen to people. I’m glad we were able to work across the aisle to make her idea law.”

The amendment, originally offered as Senate Bill 130, encourages schools in the state to provide instruction and events focused on disability history, people with disabilities, and the disability rights movement. Senate Bill 130 passed the Senate unanimously with thirty cosponsors, but had not yet been considered in the House when it was offered as an amendment.

“Teaching our kids the impact and contributions that Ohioans with disabilities have made in our society is part of a solid education. They need to understand that all people matter, and our different backgrounds and abilities make our communities better places to live,” Gentile concluded.

House Bill 483 makes changes for children with developmental disabilities; makes changes to residential and day facilities; expands scope of practice in some areas; and makes an appropriation. Once signed, the bill takes effect in 90 days.

 
 
  

Columbus—Today, Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) issued the following statement after it was announced that James Bates, the former operator of Sebring's water system, now faces criminal charges as a result of the village's lead contamination crisis:

“The criminal charges filed against the operator of Sebring’s water system are further evidence of serious mismanagement that contributed to the village’s lead contamination crisis.  But, the Ohio EPA also shares some responsibility for failing to act sooner when it knew about the problem months before it notified the public.   We can hope that the lessons learned from Sebring, which prompted the passage of new state laws, will prevent this type of situation from being repeated anywhere in Ohio. The bottom line: Safe drinking water must be the top priority for local communities and the state EPA.”

 
 
  

COLUMBUS - Today, Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni issued the following statement after a judge denied a request by the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) to block the Ohio Department of Education (ODE)’s audit of student attendance. ECOT had issued a statement earlier in the day admitting that if the state is able to conduct a thorough and accurate audit of ECOT’s records, the school would be forced to return “significant portions of [its] funding,” or even close.

 

“The judge’s decision to allow the Department of Education’s audit to proceed is a victory for transparency and accountability in state government. Hopefully it’s a sign of needed changes to come. ECOT’s failure to educate its students and continued wasting of tax dollars cannot go on any longer. ODE must be allowed to do its job and examine ECOT’s records.

“ECOT has now admitted that they don’t properly track attendance to ensure students are learning and eventually graduating. They even acknowledged that if ODE were to thoroughly examine their records, they could be forced to close. That explains their attempt to block a routine audit that is expected of other e-schools.

“Let’s be clear: ODE is not trying to single out ECOT. The truth is that ECOT has failed to educate students while apparently overbilling Ohio taxpayers by tens of millions of dollars.”

 
 
  
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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. 



 
 

Senate Democrats Submit More Than 500 Budget Amendments

 

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. 



 
 

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.