Columbus—Today, state Senator Charleta B. Tavares (D-Columbus) announced that she will soon introduce legislation establishing the Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program, to help build stronger families, a more productive workforce and greater economic security.

“In Ohio, 38% of children live in a single-parent household, often headed by single mothers,” said Senator Tavares. “Paid family and medical leave will help these families take care of their loved ones when they need it the most.”

The proposed legislation would allow workers to continue earning a percentage of their paycheck while they take time off to care for a newborn, a newly-adopted or newly-placed foster child, a family member with a serious illness or to address their own medical condition. Workers would be provided up to 12 weeks of family and medical leave during a 12-month period at partial pay. To be eligible, employees must have worked at least 680 hours and contributed to premiums to the Family and Medical Leave Insurance Fund for at least one year.

“Family leave supports family stability, strengthens child-and-parent bonds and improves health outcomes,” said Senator Tavares. This bill will contribute to a healthier economy and a more productive, family-friendly workforce.”

Funding for the program is provided entirely by the employee through premiums deducted from their wages. Businesses would bear no financial costs.

State Reps. Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights) and Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus) have announced companion legislation in the Ohio House of Representatives.

According to a survey conducted by the National Partnership for Women & Families, nearly two-thirds of Ohio voters, including both lower-wage and higher-wage workers, reported that they would be willing to contribute towards a paid leave fund.

This legislation is in alignment with Senator Tavares’ continued commitment to creating pro-family policies in Ohio, including SB 174- Fair and Acceptable Income Required Act, and the Ohio Family Stability Commission that was created through SB 30 from the 131st General Assembly.

 
 
  

Columbus—Today, Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights) testified on Senate Concurrent Resolution 19 and Senate Bill 245, which would designate Eating Disorder Awareness Week.

SCR 19 would designate February 26 through March 4, 2018 as Eating Disorder Awareness Week, while SB 245 would designate the week commencing on the last Monday of February as Eating Disorder Awareness Week. Sixteen other states have introduced similar resolutions.

“Many Ohioans are affected by eating disorders and we want to encourage them to seek help,” said Senator Yuko. “It is important that we understand the struggles that many of our friends and family members face when suffering from an eating disorder. Raising awareness is a step to educate the public and to fight the stigma that is associated with these life-threatening illnesses.”

According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), 20 million women and 10 million men in America suffer from an eating disorder at some point in their lives. Eating disorders often affect teenagers, but psychologists and doctors have diagnosed an increasing number of children and adults with these illnesses. The most common forms of eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating.

NEDA has a ‘Help and Support’ section on their website that helps people locate treatment and support in their area.

 
 
  

COLUMBUS—Today, Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights) gave sponsor testimony on Senate Concurrent Resolution 18, which urges 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.

“It is long overdue that the sign be updated to display mobility, as many people with disabilities are fully independent and enjoy a very active lifestyle,” said Senator Yuko, speaking in front of the Health, Human Services and Medicaid committee. “The new wheelchair symbol is a step towards removing the stigmas affecting those with disabilities.”

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.

 
 
  

Columbus—Today, Senate Minority Leader Senator Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights) testified on Senate Concurrent Resolution 13, which urges Congress and the United States Drug Enforcement Administration to reclassify marijuana, or cannabis.

“The current scheduling of marijuana creates a catch-22, because the federal government is requiring thorough research of the medical benefits of marijuana, but the federal restrictions prohibit meaningful research from being conducted,” said Senator Yuko. “It is time that the federal government recognizes what the growing majority of states already have: that cannabis has medicinal benefits.”

Currently, marijuana is a Schedule I drug alongside heroin and LSD. However, 29 states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation to allow for comprehensive medical marijuana and cannabis programs. This classification has generated additional barriers for those who seek to use medical cannabis in research programs or as a treatment option. The rescheduling of cannabis would ease restrictions on research and ease regulatory burdens in states where marijuana is currently legal.

 “It is long overdue that the federal government acknowledges the host of people that can benefit from medical cannabis including children with cancer, veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and patients with Parkinson’s, among many other conditions.”

 
 
  

Columbus — Today, state Senator Sandra Williams (D-Cleveland), along with state Representatives Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights) and Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland), hosted the Third Annual Energy Assistance Expo to provide resources to residents of Cleveland who need assistance with their energy bills.

“Colder weather adds extra financial burdens,” said Senator Williams. “Many people are unaware that there are electric and gas programs available to them. Today, we were able to help alleviate the burden for some individuals and families and shed light on programs that may be helpful to them.”

Held at the Third District Police Station, the event was attended by community organizations and agencies with the goal of educating people about their energy bill options and about setting up payment plans if they were struggling to pay their current bills.

The Council for Economic Opportunities in Greater Cleveland (CEOGC), CHN Housing Partners, First Energy and Dominion Energy were also in attendance. Attendees were given the opportunity to speak face-to-face with these organizations’ representatives and apply for the payment options they qualified for. 

“It is important for me to make sure that my constituents are informed,” said Senator Williams. “This event is always well received because there are many people in our community who need help. I want them to know that I understand the burdens they face and I am willing to help in any way that I can. Today, that help included providing a central location for residents to learn and attempt to get their energy bills under control. As always, if anyone needs assistance and couldn’t make it to the Energy Expo, please contact my office and I will provide them with the information presented today.”

 
 
  

COLUMBUS – Today, State Senator Sean J. O’Brien (D-Bazetta) announced today that the Ohio House of Representatives has unanimously adopted Senate Concurrent Resolution 8, which urges the US Department of Defense’s Missile Defense Agency (MDA) to select Camp Ravenna Joint Military Training Center as the preferred site for a future East Coast Missile Defense System. 

“Camp Ravenna, which straddles both mine and Senator John Eklund’s district, is currently being considered for a future East Coast Missile Defense Site, along with sites in Michigan and New York,” said Sen. O’Brien. “However, unlike Ohio, Michigan and New York have now hired lobbying firms in Washington to advocate for their states to be chosen as the site. It is for this reason that passage of this concurrent resolution was so urgent.”

Senator O’Brien had introduced SCR 8 in the Ohio Senate together with Senator Eklund (R-Munson Township). It was unanimously adopted by the Ohio Senate last June.  

The MDA is currently considering sites for the potential future installation of additional ground-based interceptors for homeland defense. While similar missile defense sites already exist along the West Coast, no such sites currently exist in the East.  

The selection of Camp Ravenna would provide a multi-million dollar investment in Ohio and would create hundreds of high-paying, high-education jobs. Additionally, Camp Ravenna’s selection would increase its value to the US military, greatly decreasing its chances of its closure by the federal Base Closure and Realignment Commission. 

Representatives of the Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber of Commerce, who worked closely with Sen. O’Brien on SCR 8, were also pleased by its passage. “The Eastern Ohio Military Affairs Commission, along with the Youngstown-Warren Chamber and all of those involved with the pursuit and acquisition of the East Coast Missile Defense site are very pleased with the passing of SCR 8 on the Statehouse floor today,” said Vito Abruzzino, director of the Regional Chamber’s Military Affairs Commission. “The local communities surrounding Camp Ravenna praise the legislature and the resolution’s sponsor for their quick and decisive support via this resolution.”

Now that SCR 8 has been formally adopted, the Clerk of the Ohio Senate will transmit duly authenticated copies of the resolution to the Secretary of Defense, members of the Ohio Congressional delegation and news media outlets of Ohio.

 
 
  

Columbus—Yesterday evening, state Senator Joe Schiavoni and Representative Michele Lepore-Hagan delivered a letter to Governor John Kasich, requesting his support for the release of Amer “Al Adi” Othman.

The letter comes after the two lawmakers visited Mr. Othman at the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center, where he is currently detained, on Sunday. As Mr. Othman enters the second week of his hunger strike, his physical condition continues to deteriorate.

Senator Schiavoni and Representative Lepore-Hagan hope the governor’s support may encourage a timely release of Mr. Othman and a pathway to his day in court.

A copy of the letter can be found here.

 
 
  

Columbus—State Senator Charleta B. Tavares (D – Columbus) will soon introduce legislation that will allow mentally competent Ohioans with a terminal condition to request and self-administer medication to end their life peacefully after meeting a series of requirements.

The bill is modeled after similar laws in Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Vermont and Washington DC.

“It is time we recognize the rights of dying and suffering patients to control their own end-of-life decisions,” said Senator Tavares. “Death with Dignity means exactly that: allowing patients to determine the time and manner of their death when they have reached the point where medical care can only keep them alive without the interactions of loved ones that make life worth living.”

To make sure that the patient is in control of the process, a number of conditions have to be met. These include:

  • The patient must be diagnosed with a terminal condition by the attending physician
  • The patient must make two oral requests and written request dated and signed in the presence of two unrelated adults
  • The patient’s physician must inform the patient of all available treatments options
  • The patient must request the medication free from any coercion or undue influence
  • If the physician suspects the patient may not be able to make their own health care decisions, the patient must be referred for psychological evaluation
  • There are two waiting periods – one after the initial verbal request and one after the receipt of the written request by the attending physician
  • The patient may opt out at any time
  • No health care professional can be forced to participate
  • The patient must self-administer the medication

Across the nation, similar laws have led to better care for terminally ill patients, improved access to pain relieving treatments and the quality of hospice care.

“Through my extensive research, I have discovered that in Oregon this law has worked effectively and safely for the past 20 years,” said Senator Tavares. “The Death with Dignity Act is rarely used, and yet today Oregon leads the nation in the number of people who die at home, surrounded by loved ones, and those who receive hospice care and are able to make their own choices at the end of their life. I want to bring this same level of comfort and peace of mind to the people of Ohio.”

Similar laws are currently being considered in Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey and New York.

 
 
  

Columbus—Today, Senator Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights) announced that the state Controlling Board has released $3.25 million in additional funding to complete the cleanup of the illegal ARCO dump in East Cleveland.

“I am pleased to hear the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is continuing to work hard to complete the cleanup of the ARCO dump. It is a burden lifted off the citizens of East Cleveland that has plagued their community for years,” said Senator Yuko. “I have been working to rectify this situation since my constituents first brought the issue to my attention in 2016. Cleaning up the dump is a great beginning, but it is not the end.”

Six million dollars had already been appropriated to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the state’s main operating budget last June 2017 to clean up the ARCO site, which was originally established as a recycling facility for construction and demolition debris. 

However, in October 2017, the site erupted into flames requiring emergency response efforts. The amount of resources put forward to contain the fire, prevent additional fires and manage water on the site significantly increased the cost of the cleanup. In addition, for fear that another fire would erupt at the facility, the cleanup, which was originally supposed to be completed within a year, had to be expedited. It will be completed next month, further increasing the total cost of the operation.

“The appropriation of the additional funds to properly complete the cleanup was absolutely necessary,” said Senator Yuko. “My focus will continue to be on the health and well-being of the citizens of East Cleveland as we move forward to address adverse health effects suffered by those affected by the dump.” 

What makes ARCO different from other illegal dumps around the state is its proximity to residential homes. The site at 1705 Noble Rd. is located directly behind houses, only separated by a few feet and a chain-linked fence. For years, residents have had to deal with a foul odor coming from the dump in the heat of the summer and other concerning issues.

 
 
  

ASHTABULA –  State Sen. Sean J. O’Brien (D-Bazetta) announced today that the state Controlling Board approved $367,232 in federal grant money to benefit Lake Erie coastline conservation in Ashtabula County.

“As co-chair of the Ohio Legislative Trails Caucus, I am happy any time our state receives funding for conservation projects, but I am especially happy when those funds go to benefit my district,” said Sen. O’Brien. “This grant money will go a long way toward protecting a lot of natural habitat in our area of the state.”

The Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program (CELCP) grant was awarded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which allocates funds annually to facilitate environmental conservation in Ohio through the Ohio Coastal Management Program. Matching funds in an amount equal to the grant are being provided by the grant sub-awardee, Ashtabula County Metroparks, to complete projects made possible by the CELCP funds.

This year’s CELCP grant, approved today by the Ohio Controlling Board, will go toward facilitating Ashtabula County Metroparks’ acquisition of a 118-acre site, located approximately 700 feet south of the Lake Erie shoreline.  According to a Controlling Board award summary document, the acquisition of this land will “protect a significant coastal property and ensure critical migratory bird stopover habitat is preserved within an area of growing residential development.” Additionally, protection of this parcel of land will ensure wetland restoration opportunities along approximately 1.5 miles of Red Brook, a direct tributary of Lake Erie, and will also provide a passive recreation space close to Lake Erie. 

“I very much look forward to working with the good people of Ashtabula County Metroparks to ensure the preservation of our precious natural habitat along the Lake Erie shoreline,” said Sen. O’Brien. “I, along with my fellow members of the OLTC, will continue to do everything possible at the state level to pursue conservation opportunities like this throughout the state of Ohio.”

The OLTC is a bipartisan, bicameral group of Ohio state legislators who share a commitment to developing, maintaining and preserving Ohio’s system of non-motorized trails and supporting other environmental conservation initiatives.

Further information about the grant, including a breakdown of what the funds will be used for, can be found here.

 
 
  
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