Columbus—Today, Ohio Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights) issued the following statement after Congress voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act and put the health care of many Ohioans in jeopardy:

“Shame on Republicans in Congress for celebrating a vote that will hurt the health of our nation and our state. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act we have made significant progress to ensure that more Ohioans have access to quality affordable health care.  This vote is a huge step in the wrong direction.  It will undermine Medicaid expansion and lead to higher costs for older Ohioans and people with pre-existing conditions.  The end result will be that fewer of us can afford health insurance and that is nothing to celebrate.”

 
 
  

COLUMBUS— Yesterday, Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko’s bill, Senate Bill 62, passed the Ohio Senate with unanimous, bipartisan support. SB 62 would designate July 8th as Harrison Dillard Day. 

“Harrison Dillard – one of the world’s most consistent and accomplished hurdlers – is an inspiration to all Ohioans both on and off the track,” said Senator Yuko. “He has represented our great state on the world stage with honor. We should be proud to give him the recognition that he has not only earned but deserves.”

William Harrison Dillard is the only man who has ever won Olympic medals in both sprinting and hurdles. Dillard was born in Cleveland, attended East Technical High School, and entered Baldwin-Wallace College in 1941. At the 1948 Summer Olympics in London, he tied the world record for the 100-meter sprint, winning gold in this race in the first use of a photo finish at an Olympic Game. He also won gold in 1948 for the 4x100-meter relay. At the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, he won gold for the 110-meter hurdles and the 4x100-meter relay.

“It is my sincere hope that the House of Representatives will be able to work together to help this bill become law,” said Senator Yuko. “This is a piece of legislation that I believe everyone can get behind – honoring a great Ohio hero.” 

Senate Bill 62 now moves to the Ohio House of Representatives for consideration.

 
 
  

Columbus – Today, Senator Charleta B. Tavares (D-Columbus) blasted the passage of the American Healthcare Act (AHCA). The AHCA narrowly passed with 20 Republicans and all Democrats voting against the bill. The AHCA has been criticized for allowing states to apply for waivers to get rid of popular provisions of the Affordable Care Act – including the ban on coverage for people with pre-existing conditions and the elimination of annual and lifetime caps. 

"The American Health Care Act is a travesty,” Senator Tavares stated. “Congressional Republicans are more concerned with giving the President a ‘victory’ than they are with making sure the most vulnerable Americans have basic access to healthcare and consumer protections. Those with low incomes and the elderly population may be priced out of the insurance market entirely while the wealthiest among us receive a huge tax break.

"We are about to return to a time when folks with chronic diseases could be turned down for insurance, and when families could go broke paying for procedures because they hit a lifetime cap. The bill doesn’t even cover essential benefits such as mental health and substance abuse disorders, despite the fact the entire country is in the midst of a devastating opiate crisis. The AHCA is more than just a bad piece of legislation; it is a cruel and usual punishment that will hurt the very people our elected officials are supposed to serve.”

The AHCA will also affect states that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Under the bill as currently drafted, the federal government would allow states to place unnecessary and burdensome work requirements on the recipients of Medicaid under the expansion. It would also stop federal payments for the expansion in 2020.

“The expansion of Medicaid has done wonders for over 700,000 Ohioans who have gained coverage through it," Senator Tavares added. "People who would have otherwise had no access to care are finally having their long time health issues addressed. Medicaid expansion has helped Ohioans become well enough to gain employment. This loss of coverage will be devastating, especially to our minority populations who already struggle to access basic services. Those who voted for this bill should be ashamed of themselves."

 
 
  
 
New State Budget Provisions Could Gut Medicaid Expansion
Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko condemns latest effort to take healthcare from thousands of Ohioans
May 01, 2017
 
 

COLUMBUS – Today, Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko released the following statement condemning new provisions to the state budget bill that could potentially cut billions from Medicaid.  

“We have made significant progress to ensure that more Ohioans have access to quality affordable healthcare through expanded Medicaid coverage.  People are living longer and healthier lives and hospitals are not getting stuck paying for uninsured patients.  And at a time when our state leads the nation in drug overdose deaths, 500,000 Ohioans have received mental health and addiction services through Medicaid expansion.

“Now Republicans in the Ohio House have proposed changes that could effectively gut Medicaid expansion. The amendments will endanger public health and undermine the fight against Ohio’s opioid crisis. That’s unconscionable. It will be up to the Senate to put some common sense and compassion back into the budget.”

 
 
  

COLUMBUS—Today, State Senator Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights) released the following statement after the Ohio Senate confirmed him as Minority Leader by unanimous vote. The Northeast Ohio Democrat was elected to the top position by members of his caucus last Wednesday.  

“It is an honor to be confirmed as Minority Leader by the Ohio Senate. This tremendous opportunity comes at a time when the Senate has a lot of work to do very quickly. It will involve the entire Caucus and staff working together for a common goal – to represent 11.5 million Ohioans who deserve a voice in their government. 

“I have dedicated my career to working on issues that improve quality of life. This is consistent with our Caucus’ past agenda, and it will shape our agenda going forward. I look forward to working with the Senate President to make sure Ohioans’ priorities are the Senate’s priorities.” 

A video of Minority Leader Yuko discussing his new role can be viewed here.

 
 
  
 
Senator O'Brien Responds To Proposed Ohio House Budget Changes
NE Ohio Senator praises some lower chamber revisions, is critical of others
April 25, 2017
 
 

COLUMBUS - Today, State Sen. Sean O’Brien (D-Bazetta) responded to the version of the state biennial budget bill, House Bill (HB) 49, that was proposed by the Ohio House of Representatives.  Among other things, this version of the budget set to be voted on by the House cuts “all-funds spending” by roughly $2.5 billion for fiscal years 2018-2019, adds additional funding to the governor’s proposed budget for fighting the opioid epidemic in Ohio, and provides more funding for K-12 education.

“The budget version that was delivered to the House today for consideration does some very good things for my district and the greater state of Ohio, but it is still going to require a lot of work here in the Senate,” said Sen. O’Brien.  “While I was happy to see more funding to fight the scourge of opioid drug addiction, as well as an increase in funding for most of the schools in my district, I’m concerned about cuts to Medicaid that are still included.” 

House committee members inserted an additional $170 million in new resources over the next two years to fight the recent opioid crisis that has been plaguing Ohio. This includes $12.2 million for prevention, $19.4 for mental health services, drug courts, and drug lab reports, and $130 million for addiction treatment.  Additionally, the current version of HB 49 proposes an increase of roughly $80 million over the biennium for K-12 education.  However, due largely to warnings from the state Office of Budget and Management that revenue estimates would likely be reduced by around $800 million over the biennium, cuts to Medicaid entitlements totaling hundreds of millions of dollars were included in the bill by House GOP leaders.

“Lower income Ohioans who disproportionately rely on Medicaid services for healthcare should not have to bear the burden of the Kasich administration’s failure to accurately project budget estimates for the next two years,” continued O’Brien.  “During the budget’s time in the Senate, I will do all I can to ensure that the final version of the bill signed by the governor is as beneficial as possible to all my constituents in the 32nd Senate District.” 

In addition to the budget changes outlined above, the current version of HB 49 authorizes credit unions to participate in state linked deposit programs, revises fees for county recorder charges, allows for cashless lottery sales using a debit card, expands video poker to racinos, and reduces the number of sick days for university employees from 15 to 10, among many other things.  The House is set to vote on the budget late the week of May 1st.  Finance Subcommittee deliberations on the budget bill are tentatively set to begin the week of May 1st in the upper chamber, with a full Senate floor vote slated for some time in late June.

 
 
  

COLUMBUS - Today, Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) issued the following statement regarding the House version of the state operating budget: 

“I have said for months that tax cuts should not be a priority when our schools are not adequately funded and our state is facing the worst public health crisis in decades. It appears the House has listened to the cries of their constituents and their communities. But the heroin epidemic is not going to be fixed overnight. We must keep Medicaid expansion and continue increasing investment in our state’s treatment infrastructure in order to make any long-term progress.

"While I appreciate some positive changes that my colleagues in the House made to Governor Kasich’s budget, there are still troubling aspects. I oppose any efforts to quietly slip in major changes to charter school sponsor evaluations. We should be strengthening accountability in charter schools – not weakening them.”

 
 
  

CLEVELAND - Today, Senator Williams (D-Cleveland) spoke at a press conference with leaders from the city of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County to advocate for the Quicken Loans Arena deal. 

“I am here to confirm my support for the Q deal and press upon Council the importance of protecting and growing investments the citizens of this region have already made. As a member of the legislature, I've worked extremely hard to bring dollars back to this district for economic development and workforce training--because that's what the citizens have asked of us. Opposing a deal that helps to grow our economy is unwise!” 

Senator Williams wrote a letter of support to the Cleveland Plain Dealer for the original “Q Deal” and now supports the three new agreements that have been added. First, the Cleveland Cavaliers have guaranteed that, for every dollar of admission tax that goes toward financing the renovations, one dollar will also go to the city's general fund. Second, the Cavaliers have agreed to resurface every basketball court at Cleveland recreation centers across the city. Finally, the Cavaliers will donate all the proceeds from away game watch parties to Habitat for Humanity in order to restore 100 homes across Cleveland over the next three years.

“I support this deal because I support job growth, economic development, and workforce training. The region is growing in high paying, in-demand jobs as old industries are being reimagined. Public dollars coupled with private investments have helped this region grow," added Senator Williams. "This shouldn't be about us versus them. Contrary to what some would have you believe, this deal is not about investing in a millionaire. It is about investing in ourselves and our region to improve our future.”

 
 
  

Columbus—Today, Ohio Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) resigned his leadership position, effective next week, to concentrate on his campaign for governor. The members of the Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus unanimously elected Kenny Yuko of Richmond Heights to replace him as Minority Leader.

“It’s been an honor to serve as Minority Leader for the past three years,” said Senator Schiavoni.  “I am proud of how our caucus has fought to give all Ohioans a fair shot and stood up for our schools and communities in the face of Republican budget cuts.  Together, we have been a strong voice for millions of Ohioans at the Statehouse and I know that will continue under Senator Yuko’s leadership.”

Senator Yuko will take over as the Senate’s highest-ranking Democrat on April 26th, the date of the next Senate session. 

“I am grateful that my colleagues have given me the opportunity to serve as their leader,” said Senator Yuko. “We have a great team and we’ll work hard every day to protect working families, promote access to quality health care and improve Ohio’s economy. During the upcoming budget debate in the Senate, we will fight to ensure our schools and communities have the resources they need and deserve.”

Senator Yuko represents the 25th Senate District, which includes the eastern portion of Cuyahoga County and part of Lake County.  He spent 25 years as a union organizer before he joined the General Assembly, first as a member of the House of Representatives in 2005 and then as a Senator in 2015. 

Senator Schiavoni, who served as Minority Leader since December of 2013, will continue to represent the Mahoning Valley and the 33rd Senate District.

“I look forward to serving on committees again, hearing testimony from Ohioans and working on more legislation to help the citizens of this state,” added Senator Schiavoni.

 
 
  
 
Sen. O'Brien Lauds PUCO Approval Of Natural Gas Settlement
11th-hour deal reached between Commission and Ohio Rural Natural Gas
April 18, 2017
 
 

Columbus- State Sen. Sean O’Brien (D-Bazetta) responded today to a deal reached between the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) and the soon-to-be defunct gas provider, Ohio Rural Natural Gas (ORNG).  Under the settlement, northeastern Ohio natural gas customers who were previously told they would be forced to pay to switch to a different provider will be allowed to keep their current service with no additional charge or gap in service.

“The agreement reached yesterday between the PUCO and ORNG is the result of intensive discussions over the last couple of months, and it means that hardworking citizens in my district will not have to go a single day without gas or pay to switch providers,” said Sen. O’Brien.  “I applaud the work of individuals on both sides of this issue for coming to an agreement that both ensures the safety of my constituents, and resolves concerns surrounding ORNG.” 

Concerns about ORNG’s natural gas delivery system arose initially after repeated safety violations by the gas company, which eventually totaled 37 over the course of 14 months.  The issue came to a head on January 18th with the PUCO’s order for ORNG to cease operations by March 1st.  However, under this initial order, customers themselves would have been forced to find and pay for an alternative source of heating gas by the date of the shutoff while ORNG worked to fix the situation.  Extensive pushback from consumers, as well as state and federal lawmakers, who were concerned about shutting off the residential gas supply to dozens of Ohioans during the cold weeks of early March, resulted in the PUCO pushing the initial shutoff date back to April 17th

“Thankfully, an agreement was reached in the 11th hour, prior to the shutoff deadline yesterday,” continued O’Brien.  “My office will continue to monitor this situation, but I’m happy to report that, as of this morning, the pilot lights of everyone formerly serviced by ORNG were still on.”

Under the new settlement terms, ORNG will turn over all control of its assets and operations by Monday, May 15th, to a newly created entity, Ludlow Natural Gas LLC.  Ludlow, in turn, has been charged with selling or transferring those assets to a PUCO-approved entity by July 15th, after which it too will cease operations.  Until then, Utilities Technologies International Corporation will be retained to oversee compliance with the PUCO’s orders and ensure that strict safety requirements are met.

 
 
  
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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. 



 
 

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. 



 
 

Senator Williams Issues Statement Calling For Accountability After Verdict In Michael Brelo Trial

 

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: