House Dems Show Support for Workers’ Rights

Ohio House Democrats stood in solidarity with their Michigan colleagues and friends by wearing red carnations to House session today. Ohio workers faced similar unsafe and unfair attacks on their right to collectively bargain, in Senate Bill 5, which was put to a voter referendum and passed with nearly 62 percent of the vote. State Reps. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) and Matt Szollosi (D- Toledo) released the following statement in support of Michigan workers’ right to collectively bargain.

“Today and everyday we support our brothers and sisters in Michigan and across the nation whose rights are under attack. The ability to collectively bargain for safe working conditions and a decent wage is what has allowed America to build a strong middle class. Right to work is wrong, and we will continue to fight against these anti-working family policies,” said Rep. Fedor.

“We proudly stand with workers, union and non-union, who are under attack today in Michigan. In their zeal to exact political vengeance against labor unions, Michigan’s Republican legislators have lost sight of right and wrong. The right to work legislation will drive down wages for working families, and open the floodgates for out of state workers. It is a shame,” Rep. Szollosi added.

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House Dems Stand in Solidarity with Michigan Workers

Ohio House DSolidarity with Michigan photo 121112  01emocrats stood in solidarity with their Michigan colleagues and friends by wearing red carnations to House session today. Ohio workers faced similar unsafe and unfair attacks on their right to collectively bargain, in Senate Bill 5, which was put to a voter referendum and passed with nearly 62 percent of the vote. State Rep. Connie Pillich (D- Montgomery) released the following statement on behalf of the caucus.

“This is a fight we are all too familiar with in Ohio.  We stand in support of our brothers and sisters in Michigan and across the nation.  Not too long ago men and women fought and died for the right to collectively bargain for safe work conditions and a livable wage, and now that right is under attack again in Ohio and across the nation.  Put simply, so called ‘right to work’ is wrong. Statistics show states with this anti-working family legislation have lower wages and higher poverty rates. We will continue to stand together and fight against these unfair attacks on workers in Ohio, Michigan and across the country.”

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Ohio House Democratic Women’s Caucus Announces New Leadership

The Ohio House Democratic Women’s Caucus recently met to elect new leadership for the 130th General Assembly. Representative Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood) has been elected the Chair for the Ohio House Democratic Women’s Caucus.  Rep. Tracy Maxwell Heard (D-Columbus) was elected Vice Chair, Representative-Elect Heather Bishoff (D-Columbus) will serve as the Secretary, Rep. Pillich (D-Cincinnati) the Treasurer, Rep. Fedor (D-Toledo) Policy Chair, Rep. Driehaus (D-Cincinnati) will serve in a newly created position as the Development Chair.

These women will strive in the next General Assembly to build upon the framework laid by Rep. Nancy Garland (D-Columbus), as she will not be returning for another term. Under her leadership, the Ohio House Democratic Women’s Caucus was active, visible, engaged and worked to further the lives of women in Ohio through policy initiatives. 

“I am honored to be elected to serve as the new Women’s Caucus Chair,” said Rep. Antonio.  “I can only hope to follow the exceptional leadership provided by Rep. Nancy Garland.”

This past General Assembly, the Ohio House Democratic Women’s Caucus met regularly to discuss issues concerning women. Their goal: to develop policies that enhance the livelihood of women such as fair pay, health initiatives and the protection of women’s rights. The caucus organized a Women’s Lobby Day on May 15, 2012 bringing women from across Ohio to lobby Representatives regarding bills in the legislature that impact the lives of women and families. The caucus had annual retreats to advance their agenda and strategize as they worked to promote policies for the welfare of women. 

The Ohio House Democratic Women’s Caucus also uses social media to promote greater public awareness of their work and of bills of interest to the caucus. 

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Democrats Demand Compliance with the Civil Rights Act of 1964

House and Senate Democrats joined together to demand that Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted comply with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and stop rejecting provisional and absentee ballots because of minor paperwork mistakes.

“The Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires that no vote be thrown out because of a simple paperwork mistake made by a poll worker, a voter, or any other person,” stated Sen. Nina Turner (D-Cleveland).  “Yet many provisional and absentee ballots are being disqualified for that very reason.  Secretary Husted must stop creating obstacles, start following the law, and count these votes.”

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 reads, “No person acting under color of law shall . . . deny the right of any individual to vote in any election because of an error or omission on any record or paper relating to any application, registration, or other act requisite to voting, if such error or omission is not material in determining whether such individual is qualified under State law to vote in such election.”  42 USC 1971(a)(2)(B).

“Let’s not turn the clock back and start ignoring provisions of the Civil Rights Act,” stated Rep. Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati).  “We are throwing out provisional ballots left and right because of paperwork errors made by poll workers directing voters to the wrong precinct, and this must stop.”

House Democrats have closely scrutinized the ballot-counting process in two closely contested house races that could determine whether the Republicans have gerrymandered themselves into a supermajority despite losing the statewide popular vote.  Many violations of federal law have been uncovered, including the rejecting of many provisional and absentee ballots because of simple paperwork mistakes.

“Voters’ ballots have been thrown out in Tuscarawas County because poll workers made mistakes in which envelope to use, on paperwork they were required to complete, and in failing to have voters complete required fields,” said Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent).  “Secretary Husted should immediately issue a directive requiring counties to comply with federal law.”

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Rep. Driehaus Calls for End to Misguided Ad Campaign: State should focus on proven job creation methods, not soliciting anecdotes

State Representative Denise Driehaus (D-Cincinnati) today sent a letter to JobsOhio Director John Minor asking for an end to the “ThriveinOhio” ad campaign and a full account of the money used. Rep. Driehaus is Ranking Member of the House Economic Development Committee and a member of the Development Financing Advisory Council and the House 21st Century Manufacturing Task Force.

The text of the letter from Rep. Driehaus to Director John Minor is below.

November 30, 2012

John Minor

President and CEO of JobsOhio

41 South High Street, Suite 1500

Columbus, Ohio 43215

Dear Director Minor,

I write you today to express my concern over JobsOhio’s recent advertising spending. Last Sunday as I read the Cincinnati Enquirer, I was shocked to see the full-page ad, “Thrive in Ohio.”  As someone who has created jobs in this state, job creation and economic development have been my top priorities in the legislature. I have heard from small business owners across the state about what it takes to create jobs, and this ad campaign misses the mark. There is no strategy in marketing lobbied stories about living and working in Ohio to Ohioans. Furthermore, the sheer expense of the campaign is inappropriate given a budget climate which saw good schools and robust communities- two assets that we know foster a business friendly environment- financially decimated by the state.

The advertising that I have seen so far is more of a solicitation for success stories than an effort to create new stories of success. Instead of just haphazardly shopping for personal accounts across Ohio, we should employ a more strategic way to market and brand Ohio as a viable state for business and opportunity. The fact that the bulk of advertising efforts are being done in-state to fellow Ohioans makes me think this is not a job-creating campaign at all. Unfortunately, this marketing strategy takes the form of an entirely different sort of campaign.

How does telling stories about living and working in Ohio attract new business investments in our state? It doesn’t. There’s no way to even measure the success or failure of such an elementary approach. What we know from business owners who do invest in Ohio is that there are a few things that help them create jobs: well maintained and diverse infrastructure, investment in education so that we have a well-educated workforce, and communities that are attractive. Never have I heard any evidence from any successful businessperson that would suggest that anecdotal stories from Ohioans have ever been a determining factor when they consider where to create jobs.

I am deeply disappointed that over 1.4 million taxpayer dollars have been spent on this advertising campaign. In the last budget, the Governor cut $117 million to our schools in Hamilton County and severely impaired local governments from doing their jobs by slashing funding from the Local Government Fund, eliminating the Estate Tax, and the accelerating the Tangible Personal Property phase out. How can you possibly justify spending this kind of money on what seemingly amounts to a political advertising campaign, while ignoring the fact that this money would be better spent on what we know creates jobs? I shudder to think what the department intends to spend in total within the next two years on such a misguided strategy.

Clearly, JobsOhio must critically examine this misguided ad campaign. JobsOhio should turn its attention to investments that have a proven track record of creating new jobs in Ohio. The campaign should be ended immediately, and a full account of taxpayer dollars used for the methods employed in this ad is needed.

Please feel free to contact me any time to discuss this matter.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Denise Driehaus

State Representative, 31st Ohio House District

Ranking Member, House Economic Development Committee

Development Financing Advisory Council

House 21st Century Manufacturing Task Force

House Passes New School Grading System, But What Grade Does Gov. Kasich Deserve?: Gov. Kasich Deserves an “F” for Record on Education, says Rep. Lundy

As the Ohio House rushed to pass House Bill 555 today, which creates a new school grading system, State Rep. Matt Lundy (D- Elyria) gave Gov. Kasich an “F” for his record on education.

“While we can all agree that improving education standards is important but, by rushing to do pass this bill, Gov. Kasich is setting our children up for failure and in the end parents will give the Governor an ‘F.’ Ramming House Bill 555 through the legislature only compounds the problem of too many curriculum and school performance changes without adequate time or constitutional funding,” said Rep. Lundy. 

192 schools had levies on the ballot during this past election, after Gov. Kasich’s budget slashed $2 billion in education funding. While school districts across the state are facing a combined school-funding deficit of over $1.79 billion in fiscal year 2014, the requirements continue to change as funding uncertainty looms.

“Lately the news has been all about Washington and the fiscal cliff, but right here in Ohio Gov. Kasich is driving education off a cliff,” said Rep. Lundy.  “Gov. Kasich’s budget has already forced 192 schools districts to ask for tax increases. Before we cause more damage to schools and communities, we should wait until a new funding formula has been outlined and we know how education funding will be impacted before we change the rules of the road for schools.”

House Bill 30 dismantled education reforms set in place by Democrats taking apart key provisions like all-day kindergarten, and it removed the Evidence Based Model for education, returning us to an unconstitutional funding system that is overly reliant on property taxes. Two years later Gov. Kasich has still failed to introduce his own school funding plan.

Ohio Supreme Court Overrules Challenge to Gerrymandered Districts in Split 4-3 decision

In a closely-divided decision, today the Ohio Supreme Court handed down an opinion that the three justices in the minority, including Chief Justice Maureen O’Conner, said was contrary to both Ohio’s Constitution and its own precedent, thereby highlighting the need for fundamental reform of Ohio’s reapportionment process.  Rep. Dennis Murray (D-Sandusky) stated that “the growing frustration that voters have today with the way in which the majority party cements its control one decade at a time through raw political control of the reapportionment process was also felt in 1947.  And in that year, Ohioans acted decisively to amend our Constitution to take partisan domination out of the process of drawing legislative maps.  In its place, the voters adopted a recipe that requires that certain steps be taken in a specified order, intending to stop the gerrymandering that Ohio witnessed last year.”

Three members of the Court essentially stated that the Court was abandoning its responsibility to ensure compliance with the Constitution regardless of political considerations, instead holding that the voters’ recipe could be followed in any order the majority wishes.  Rep. Murray notes, “that is exactly what the republican-controlled apportionment board did last year when they decided to bake the ingredients in the shape partisan domination before first following the rest of the recipe ordered by the voters.”

In contrast, the minority opinion penned by the Court’s longest-serving member, Justice Paul Pfeifer pointed out that the Constitution mandates “the precise succession of chronological steps” and that in deciding the case the way that it did, the Court rendered itself “a rubber stamp” instead of “the guardian of the constitution that it is designed to be.”  Justice Pfeifer also noted that his colleagues’ decision was founded on arguments that “fail the tests of logic and fairness.”

Rep. Murray stated that, “the decision today serves to underscore the fundamental need to reform the process by which legislative districts are created, so that voters pick their legislators instead of legislators picking their voters, not ensuring one party domination of the legislative process contrary to the popular vote.  That is what happened earlier this month when Republicans won an overwhelming number of House seats under their new maps, even though Ohio voters cast more votes in favor of Democratic House candidates.”  Rep. Murray is and will remain a member of the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission and concluded that, “I look forward to continuing to serving the public in that role, as we look to tackle the systemic problems with Ohio government, chief among them being the way in which legislative maps are drawn.”

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