Columbus—Today, Ohio Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights) and Senator Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) released the following statements in response to the Trump Administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program:

Minority Leader Kenny Yuko

“I stand with our Dreamers. The United States is the only home many of them have ever known and to suggest they should be deported is inhumane and disgraceful. They are as much a part of this nation as you and I are. They pay taxes, contribute to our economy, and help push America forward. Immigration is a sensitive subject that requires thoughtful and compassionate action. However, the remarks delivered yesterday by Attorney General Jeff Sessions on behalf of the President showed a lack of understanding about the consequences of rescinding DACA. This decision will further drive a wedge through our nation.”

Senator Joe Schiavoni

“Despite widespread, bi-partisan calls to keep the DACA program in place, President Trump has decided to end it. Nearly 800,000 children and young people who have called the United States home since childhood - including 4,500 here in Ohio - are now at risk of deportation. The President’s decision is as heartless as it is reckless. We cannot restore the American Dream by denying it to children who came here through no fault of their own. Congress must pass legislation immediately that will restore the program and provide the protections these young people need and deserve. We must then focus on comprehensive immigration reform that will treat all with dignity and respect while providing a path to citizenship." 

Senators Schiavoni And Hite Introduce Bipartisan Legislation To Give More Ohioans Access To Broadband Internet
Grant program will build infrastructure and expand economic opportunities
September 06, 2017

Columbus—Today, State Senators Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) and Cliff Hite (R-Findlay) announced bipartisan legislation to enable more Ohioans in rural areas to gain access to broadband internet service.  The bill would create a $50 million per year grant program using existing funding from Ohio Third Frontier bond revenue. Ohio Third Frontier is an economic development initiative administered by the state.

“This legislation is incredibly important to Ohio’s future,” said Senator Schiavoni. “Without access to broadband internet service, businesses can’t reach their customers, students can’t do their homework and workers have difficulty searching for jobs.”

It is estimated that the grant program would expand broadband coverage to approximately 14,000 Ohio households per year without raising taxes or using money from the state’s General Revenue Fund.  Currently, 300,000 rural households and 88,500 Ohio businesses do not have broadband access. This hinders economic development and limits employment opportunities. 

“We are woefully behind in expanding broadband access in the State of Ohio, including my district,” said Senator Hite. “This legislation is crucial for improving a situation that will continue to be a problem for many of my constituents if something is not done.”

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.  The grants could not cover more than half of a project’s cost.

The legislation calls for the Director of DSA to award grants based on applicants that best address community needs.  Those needs include providing technical support and digital literacy training, with a special emphasis on unserved, vital community institutions like schools, hospitals and police and fire departments.

The grant program is modeled after a highly successful broadband infrastructure funding program in Minnesota.  Rep. Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell) and Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire) will introduce companion legislation in the Ohio House of Representatives.


Columbus—Today, State Senator Charleta B. Tavares (D-Columbus) spoke out against the Trump administration’s announcement to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
“The Trump administration is cruelly ending the DACA program because of campaign promises and mean-spirited rhetoric," said Senator Tavares. "These are children who were brought to this country by their parents for a better life. The children had no control in how or when they were brought to the United States. They have matriculated through our education system, participated in sports, work and civic activities along with other American children. We must encourage Congress to be fair, just, and compassionate in developing a policy for these children who have done nothing wrong."
An end to the DACA program, which was originally enacted under the Obama administration in 2012, would not only lead to an increase in deportations, but would also have harmful effects on the economy. The Center for American Progress estimates that an elimination of DACA would lead to a cumulative GDP decrease of $433.4 billion over the next ten years.


Columbus – Today, Senator Michael Skindell (D–Lakewood) introduced Senate Bill 184, which would return wind farm setback standards to what they previously were before the passage of House Bill 483 in 2014. 
The standard established in House Bill 483 was inserted in the bill at the last minute and had no public hearings.  The legislation more than doubled the distance wind turbines have to be from “the nearest, habitable, residential structure.”  The change significantly reduced the number of turbines that could be placed in a wind project.
“Current restrictive setback standards have created a barrier to wind development in Ohio,” said Senator Skindell. “Since 2014, our state has seen a sharp decline in the number of new wind farm applications. Because of such stringent standards, we have lagged behind neighboring states, losing out on local economic development and jobs for our communities. Ohio should be embracing the renewable energy industry and securing clean energy for our future.”
Senator Skindell’s bill would simply measure the setback distance from the nearest habitable residential structure rather than the property line.
Many of the biggest companies such as Google, Amazon, and Facebook have made renewable energy a priority when looking for places to expand. In 2016, a representative from Amazon, John Stephenson, testified to the House Public Utilities Committee that the current requirements “have significantly diminished the attractiveness to further investments in wind generation in Ohio.”


COLUMBUS – Today, Senator Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) announced a comprehensive plan to increase job growth and employment through targeted investments. This legislative package is the latest in a series of bills the Senator has introduced to improve Ohio’s small business climate and bolster job growth.

“We’ve spent too long waiting for the Republicans’ plan to work,” said Senator Schiavoni. “It’s time to proactively invest in our state to expand small businesses, strengthen our economy, and create good paying jobs right now.”

This legislative package, which will be formally introduced soon in the Ohio Senate, will help grow Ohio’s economy by investing in small business tax credits, worker training programs and initiatives to rebuild our state’s crumbling infrastructure.  Senator Schiavoni drafted the bill based on meetings and conversations with workers and business leaders from across Ohio. 

Here are the key parts of the bill:

Train skilled workers and create pathways to employment

  • Identify local skill shortages and work with educational agencies to develop programs to meet workforce demands.
  • Create grants to help low income individuals pay for union apprenticeship programs and establish jobs programs for youth in urban and high poverty areas including summer employment opportunities.

Rebuild our state

  • Combat urban blight by creating a 5-year property tax exemption for the increased value of a distressed residential or commercial property that is remodeled within the first year of ownership.
  • Invest $50 million per year into infrastructure for local governments to repair roads and bridges based on the most urgent need.
  • Invest $50 million in public transit per year to help keep Ohioans working and self-sufficient.
  • Create the Neighborhood Assistance Program to promote community collaborations among residents, nonprofits and businesses to improve distressed neighborhoods.

Help veterans find good-paying jobs

  • Create a $2,000 income tax credit for businesses that hire and employ veterans. The tax credit increases to $2,500 for businesses that hire disabled veterans.

Help minority businesses expand and grow

  • Authorize certain small businesses to bid or enter into a contract with the state or a political subdivision without being required to provide a bond.

Help small businesses grow and thrive

  • Establish a Small Business Revolving Microloan to help businesses with fewer than 500 employees to meet capital needs, expand operations, and create and retain jobs.

The legislation repeals the “LLC Loophole,” which benefits fewer than 14% of Ohioans and costs more than $1 billion annually. This is money that can be better spent on programs that directly invest in workers, communities and all types of small businesses. Closing the LLC loophole will save the state enough money to put each of the pieces of the jobs package into place and leave funds leftover for future investments.

“This massive tax loophole for the rich has failed to create the jobs we were promised,” said Senator Schiavoni. “We need to shift our priorities away from tax breaks for the wealthy to a more comprehensive approach that will give Ohioans real pathways to job opportunities. 

In the coming weeks, Senator Schiavoni will be introducing more legislation aimed at creating jobs and economic opportunities across Ohio.




Senate Minority Leader Yuko Denounces Acts Of Hate And Violence
Senator Yuko calls for unity in opposing racism and discrimination
August 23, 2017

Columbus—Today, Senator Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) issued the following statement after the board for the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) voted to convert the troubled online school into a "dropout recovery" school effective immediately:

"If the state allows ECOT to become a dropout recovery school, they will get exactly what they want: your tax dollars with fewer strings attached. Through their lawsuits and failure to track attendance, the leaders of ECOT have made it clear they're not interested in improving students' education. Now they're asking us to trust them with children who need even more attention and support. This proposed change would have very real consequences for thousands of struggling students. 
"ECOT also continues to harm their remaining teachers, voting this week to raise healthcare costs for staff. Their blatant efforts to prioritize money over people should not be rewarded."


Columbus—Today, the Ohio Senate voted to override six of Governor Kasich’s line-item vetoes of the state budget (HB 49).  Senate Democrats strongly objected to three of the veto overrides that threaten to undermine Medicaid expansion in Ohio by limiting the ability of the state to fund the program which is part of the Affordable Care Act.

“Since we passed the state budget earlier this summer, the United States Senate failed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.  But, there’s still a lot of uncertainty about the future of Obamacare,” said Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights).  “The last thing we should do is create more uncertainty for doctors and hospitals by undercutting Medicaid expansion here in Ohio. Lives are at risk.”

The three Medicaid related overrides place new limits on the authority of the State Controlling Board to approve funding for Medicaid expansion and prevent the Department of Medicaid from covering new groups of Ohioans unless “expressly permitted by statute.”

“This is simply another attack on Medicaid expansion that would see the General Assembly refusing to grant coverage to any new, optional groups should they become eligible,” said Senator Edna Brown (D-Toledo). “It appears that the majority wants sole power to decide who is worthy of coverage and who is not.”

“The State Controlling Board has been around for a century and this is the most drastic restriction of the Board’s authority in 100 years,” added Senator Michael J. Skindell (D-Lakewood).

All the members of the Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus supported three other veto overrides that will increase Medicaid reimbursement rates for nursing homes and neonatal and newborn services as well as a delay adding behavioral health services into managed care until July 1, 2018.

“While I support increasing neonatal newborn services reimbursements to meet national levels at 75%, it is coming at a cost to other healthcare providers and services – they will get a decrease in reimbursements – except nursing homes,” said Senator Charleta B. Tavares (D-Columbus). “This is unconscionable as these healthcare providers are woefully under-funded.”



COLUMBUS— Today, Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights) voiced strong opposition to the Trump administration’s decision to eliminate sleep apnea tests for truckers and train operators. Sleep apnea can cause daytime drowsiness and an inability to concentrate.  

“The Trump administration is again playing games with our safety. By eliminating sleep apnea screening for truck drivers and train engineers, the administration not only ignores the risks to these workers, but to every American family in their path,” said Senator Yuko. “This decision is misguided and frankly difficult to comprehend.”

At the state level, State Senator Michael Skindell (D-Lakewood) and Senator Yuko have introduced three separate bills this General Assembly to address rail and truck safety and protect the lives of Ohioans. 

The unifying theme of the senators’ bills is workplace safety, but each touches on a different component. Senate Bill 74 would require all freight trains to be operated by a crew of at least two individuals. Senate Bill 89 would establish standards for lighting in a rail yard and create penalties for railroad companies that are in violation. Senate Bill 90 would establish standards for walkways in rail yards and create penalties for railroad companies in violation of those standards.

“Several our Democratic colleagues have also introduced rail and driver safety legislation over the past few years,” continued Senator Yuko. "Despite the administration’s actions and the lack of movement for these bills at the state level, Democrats will continue to push for safer travel for our citizens.”

More information about the Ohio Senate Democrats’ efforts to improve rail and driver safety can be found here, here, and here.


Columbus—Today, Senator Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) released the following statement in response to the State Auditor's announcement that charter schools found to have been overpaid due to lack of verified student participation should seek repayment from their sponsors and management companies:

"I'm glad the Auditor's office listened to our advice and called on overpaid charter schools to seek reimbursement from their sponsors and vendors. No charter school should do what ECOT (Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow) has done – firing teachers first before anyone else takes a hit. Services for our students should be the last thing cut, especially while vendors and executives are overpaid with your tax dollars.

"This is an important step forward as the state finally begins to claw back money that was wrongly taken from local school districts and given to charter schools. I will continue to push this issue in the Statehouse and in the media until our students receive the funding they deserve."

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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.