Posts Tagged 'Voter equality'

Leader Budish Praises President Obama’s Efforts to Re-build the Economy

Ohio House Democratic Leader Armond Budish released the following statement on President Obama’s visit to Lorain County Community College in Elyria:

“I welcome President Obama to Ohio today to see his economic policies at work, rebuilding our economy and creating jobs.  Lorain County Community College is a great example of a higher education leader preparing working and middle class Ohioans for the jobs of today and the future in manufacturing, clean energy production and technology.

“While President Obama and Democrats here in Ohio are working to create and maintain good paying jobs through programs focused on education like our Kids and Communities First Fund, just introduced, Republicans continue their partisan agenda attacking women’s rights, workers’ rights and voter’s rights.  Their effort to defund Planned Parenthood is just the latest example. This overreaching partisan agenda only continues to demonstrate the clear difference in priorities between President Obama and the Republican majorities in the Ohio House and in Washington.”

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House Dems Urge Caution with Unprecedented Legislative Repeal

Ohio House Democrats held a press conference to urge caution as House Republicans look to move forward with an unprecedented partial legislative repeal (SB 295) of HB 194.   The measures also includes additional language beyond repealing HB 194, which lawmakers contend will make this unprecedented legislative maneuver is ripe for a constitutional challenge.

“This theme is playing out across the country. In the 2008 presidential election, record numbers of young people, lower income people, and minorities voted.  Since then, Republicans have been executing a strategy to make it more difficult for those populations to vote, thereby trying to ensure their success at the ballot box this November – not by winning a clean campaign on the issues, but by gaming the system, creating voter confusion and chaos, and pursuing a set of punitive rules that hurt voters.  It is outrageous, and we will continue to speak out about their dirty tricks and tactics,” said State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D- Kent).

Most recently Reps. Clyde and Gerberry reached out to Speaker Batchelder over the legislative spring break, urging caution with the Republicans’ unprecedented legislative repeal bill of HB 194 through SB 295.  In a letter to Speaker Batchelder they laid out three consensus-building steps on how Democrats can work with the Republican leaders to ensure a smooth election this fall. First, any bill should contain a clean repeal of HB 194, not a partial repeal like SB 295. Second, bi-partisan support and consent of the petition committee would be required. Third, Republicans would have to make a firm public commitment not to make other election law changes at any point before November.  A copy of the letter to the Speaker is attached.

“Time and time again we have given Republicans the opportunity to work with us to improve our elections system, but they refuse and at every turn Republican leaders of this state prove they will stop at nothing to disenfranchise voters,” said State Rep. Ronald V. Gerberry, ranking member of the State Government and Elections Committee (D-Austintown).  I am incredibly disappointed in my colleague’s decision to continue to pursue yet another lawsuit; it is a complete abdication of our duty to the people of this state to use their hard earned tax dollars in an attempt to make their voices silent and their votes unheard.” 

 “A pre-emptive legislative repeal to a law that has been certified for a citizen’s referendum has never occurred in the Ohio General Assembly’s 209-year history.  Pursuing such an unprecedented maneuver with broad partisan opposition will only strengthen a potential constitutional challenge,” said State Rep. Vernon Sykes (D-Akron).  “Furthermore, continuing to pursue lawsuits at the federal and state level on the taxpayer’s dime in an effort to receive a different outcome is simply unacceptable.”

Yesterday, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals again ruled against Secretary of State Jon Husted and Hamilton County Republicans, ordering that provisional ballots in the undecided 2010 Hamilton Country Juvenile Court judge’s race be counted.  In response, Senate President Niehaus and Rep. Blessing filed a suit in the Ohio Supreme Court against Secretary Husted in another desperate attempt to throw out registered voters’ provisional ballots.  Using taxpayer dollars to argue against counting eligible voters ballots, often cast due to poll worker error, shows just how out of whack Republicans’ priorities are.

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House Democrats Outline 2012 Priorities to Strengthen Middle Class

Ohio House Democratic Leader Armond Budish and members of the House Democratic Caucus at a press conference announcing their legislative agenda for 2012. They will focus on jobs, communities, rights and opportunities to help Ohioans restore the American Dream.

Ohio House Democrats announced the beginning of their legislative agenda for 2012 to strengthen working and middle class families.  The priorities build upon the Compact with the Middle Class announced last year and focus specifically on four categories – jobs, communities, rights and opportunities.

“While Statehouse Republicans continue their overreaching partisan priorities, House Democrats are committed to common-sense solutions that put working and middle class families first,” said House Minority Leader Armond Budish (D-Beachwood).  “We will place a renewed focus this year on creating jobs, rebuilding Ohio communities, protecting the rights of Ohioans and improving education and workforce training opportunities.”

The legislative initiatives are a mix of new proposals and several bills that have already been introduced by House Democrats. The new bills include a Local Government Jobs Fund, a Community Foreclosure Protection Fund, a Voter’s Bill of Rights and the Ohioans Back to Work Program.  House Democrats will be introducing additional legislation in the coming weeks focused on putting working and middle class families first. 

“For the last year, Statehouse Republicans have been turning over state assets to private companies and giving away state tax dollars to special interest friends,” said Minority Whip Tracy Heard.  “Instead of leaving behind working families and hurting local communities, our priorities will help Ohioans restore the American Dream. 

Creating jobs continues to be a top priority for House Democrats.  The Community Jobs Protection Fund will help communities return cops and firefighters to the streets by dedicating every new dollar of state revenue back to local communities.  House Democrats have also developed the JobsOhio Accountability Act to ensure oversight and accountability of taxpayer dollars going to companies seeking state support. 

“Rather than balancing the budget on the backs of local communities and taking away workers’ rights, women’s rights and voters’ rights, our priorities will restore some balance in Ohio between Republican special interests and middle class families,” said Assistant Minority Leader Matt Szollosi (D-Oregon). 

Additionally, House Democrats have also proposed a new Ohio Voter’s Bill of Rights, improvements to help workers and new protections for healthcare patients against rate increases and claim denials. Greater protections for education funding are addressed through increased accountability measures and a new workforce training program has also been proposed.

“These priorities represent a continuation of our efforts to stand up for working and middle class families throughout Ohio,” said State Rep. Debbie Phillips. 

An outline of the House Democratic priorities is listed below.  Additional bills focused on jobs, communities, rights and opportunities will be introduced in the coming weeks.

MUST READS: House Dems Forge Redistricting Compromise

Newspapers around the state reacted to the redistricting compromise agreed to by House Democrats yesterday. Common themes included relief at the end of a “long, messy process” (Columbus Dispatch) marred by “political wrangling and voter confusion” (Toledo Blade).

“The pact… consolidates what would have been two primaries into one on March 6. Holding one primary will save taxpayers an estimated $15 million” notes Aaron Marshall of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

On a local level, several constituencies saw improvements over the previous redistricting map. “The city of Toledo will be represented by two members of the U.S. House instead of three,” says the Blade, while the Dayton Daily News observes that “A major change in the new map from one passed in September was putting all of Montgomery County in one congressional district.”

Read the full articles:

 “State will have one primary March 6,” Columbus Dispatch

Redrawn map puts Toledo in 2 districts instead of 3,” Toledo Blade

Ohio lawmakers reach deal on congressional redistricting and single primary election,” Cleveland Plain Dealer

State, with 16 new U.S. House districts, will have 1 primary next year,” Dayton Daily News

See also articles here and here.

Rep. Phillips Statement on Redistricting Agreement

Assistant Minority Whip Debbie Phillips (D-Athens) released the following statement on the compromise to reunite the primaries and end the redistricting standoff. The compromised redistricting plan makes some improvements to congressional districts, takes the first steps towards necessary long-term reform and saves taxpayers from footing a more than $15 million bill for two primaries.

“After months of tough negotiations, I’m glad that we were finally able to get to a resolution on the impasse created by majority Republicans hyper-partisan redistricting process. We were able to include the creation of a task force to take real steps towards redistricting reform, and to reunite Ohio’s 2012 primaries,” said Rep. Phillips. “The map is slightly better than the one originally proposed by majority Republicans, but still splits many communities. Last week’s report, indicating the secret meetings in the ‘bunker’ with Republican operatives and donors, make it plain that their goal was not to create fair districts that represent the people of Ohio, but to protect their political cronies.”

“At the end of the day, I felt that it was my responsibility to protect Ohio taxpayers by finding a way to clean up the mess caused by this flawed process,” Rep. Phillips emphasized. “Redistricting has been badly mismanaged, and I urge the Inspector General and the Legislative Inspector General to investigate these abuses of the process. In the meantime, in order to reduce confusion for the voters, take steps towards reform, and save scarce resources, we came to a compromise yesterday.”

House Dems Stop GOP from Wasting Millions on Two Primaries and End Redistricting Standoff

Assistant Minority Leader Matthew A. Szollosi (D-49-Toledo)

Ohio House Assistant Minority Leader Matthew A. Szollosi released the following statement on the compromise to reunite the primaries and end the redistricting standoff.  The compromised redistricting plan makes some improvements to congressional districts, takes the first steps towards necessary long-term reform and saves taxpayers from footing a more than $15 million bill for two primaries.

“This fight has been about giving Ohioans a voice in the redistricting process and force a meaningful debate. We have seen this year just how badly this process is in need of change and are pleased that part of the agreement will include the first steps towards a meaningful bi-partisan reform.

“Creating two primaries was fiscally irresponsible and would have cost the state millions in precious funds at a time when funding to education, police and fire, and local government is being slashed.  By reuniting the primaries, Democrats have prevented voter confusion, likely legal chaos and saved the state more than $15 million in taxpayer dollars.”

Ohio gerrymander another GOP overreach

The Toledo Blade’s weekend editorial “Ohio gerrymandering another GOP overreach” is exactly what is happening here in Ohio.   The Republicans have rammed through countless extreme bills with Gov. Kasich at the helm and there is no sign of them slowing down. 

The new congressional redistricting map introduced and passed through the House in less than 48 hours and the proposed GOP drawn legislative maps will likely only further the political dysfunction we see in Columbus and Washington.  Blade Editor Dave Kushma wrote, “…The Republican elected officials in the Statehouse who are redrawing the districts for Ohio’s U.S. House delegation and General Assembly have made clear that their priority is making their party even more dominant. Promoting fair, competitive, and effective representation of Ohio voters for the next decade — especially in our part of the state — isn’t their concern.”

Democratic voters are being quarantined into roughly a third of the legislative districts and four congressional seats.  The result being some group votes will count significantly more than others.   In this broad and diverse state this kind of gerrymandering “turns the notion of proportional representation into a sick joke.”

Kushma continues writing, “On this issue and too many others, Gov. John Kasich and GOP lawmakers have adopted an “in your face — we’ve got the votes” approach that defies opponents to do anything about their overreaching.

“They identified worthwhile changes to the state’s collective-bargaining process for public employees and included them in Senate Bill 5. But then, because they could, they larded the law with union-busting provisions that have nothing to do with saving money or running government more efficiently. That generated a ballot challenge in November.

“Similarly, GOP lawmakers passed an election “reform” law this year aimed at voter fraud that doesn’t exist. The real intent of the measure is to make it harder for folks who generally don’t vote Republican to vote at all.

“And now the map flap. Although the controversy over the new congressional districts has dominated the debate in Columbus, the state Apportionment Board plans to vote this week on new legislative districts.

…”

Read the full editorial here.

Districts that GOP Once Admitted Hurt Ohioans, Now Becoming Reality

Ohio House Democratic Leader Armond Budish (D-Beachwood) said  that congressional districts that Republican leaders once said would ‘hurt Ohioans’ are now becoming a reality under the GOP’s new congressional redistricting plan (HB 319). In an effort to defeat a non-partisan redistricting reform ballot measure in 2005, Republican leaders decried districts that snaked across the state and broke apart communities.

“By their own admission, the Republican’s new partisan gerrymandered congressional districts will hurt Ohioans,” said Budish.  “In 2005, Republican leaders said that districts that ‘snake’ from one end of the state to the other do not serve the interest of Ohio voters, yet that is exactly what they are creating in their new congressional districts.”

In an effort to defeat State Issue 4 in 2005, then-State Rep. Kevin DeWine published a map to demonstrate what could happen under the proposed redistricting reform plan. In a press release titled, “DeWine Explains it All: New Proposal Would Hurt Ohioans,” he said that the reform plan would “break apart communities and neighborhoods, dilute the voting power of minorities and disenfranchise voters all across the state.”

Under the new GOP redistricting plan (HB 319), the 9th Congressional District snakes from Toledo to Cleveland along a narrow stretch of land, and sometimes water.  DeWine mocked the possibility of such districts in 2005: “I don’t think districts that snake from one end of the state to another serve the interests of the voters of Ohio.” (Gongwer, 9/29/2005).

“The map that DeWine and Republicans devised six years ago to scare voters out of nonpartisan redistricting reform has a remarkable resemblance to the new redistricting map Republicans have produced.  It carves up communities and snakes districts all across the state, allowing politicians to choose their voters,” Budish said.

In 2005, Republicans made an all out effort to stop a non-partisan plan for redistricting supported by the League of Women Voters and a coalition of “good government” groups.  As part of their effort to protect partisan redistricting, they created a scare tactic map which sliced and diced political subdivisions around the state.  However, the new partisan gerrymandered congressional map (HB 319) MORE egregiously splits apart counties (68) compared to the current district maps (44).  The new gerrymander is closer to the county splits proposed (89) in the scare-tactic map used to defeat Reform Ohio Now.

DeWine is now the Ohio Republican Party chairman.  His 2005 press release can be seen here, and the scare-tactic map used to defeat Reform Ohio Now can be seen here.

Click here to see House Bill 319, the proposed GOP congressional redistricting map.

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New maps create more dysfunction, says Leader Budish

Ohio House Democratic Leader Armond Budish released the following statement on the passage of House Bill 319, the Congressional Redistricting bill.

“These new districts split up communities, carve up counties and drown out the voices of middle class Ohioans who want pragmatic solutions, not partisan politics.  When a Democrat cannot credibly challenge a Republican or a Republican cannot credibly challenge a Democrat, and the only real challenge can come in a primary from an extreme wing of the same party then the system drives politicians to the fringes.  Extremist policies are not good for Ohio or the nation.” Budish said.

Yesterday, Leader Budish and members of the State Government and Elections Committee held press conferences re-iterating the need to slow down this process, now that a map has been made public, and allow for meaningful public input amongst the more than 200 county, city and township splits that make up this map. The bill was passed through committee along party lines 26 hours after being introduced and placed in front of the full General Assembly for a vote today.

“I am deeply disturbed by the House’s passage of new Congressional districts without the openness and accountability that Ohioans deserve. After introducing a proposed map a mere 48 hours ago it has been railroaded through the legislature without adequate time for discussion and public input. Sadly, this has become common practice in this legislature. The Republican majority has irresponsibly rushed this bill through the legislature – in direct violation of their pledge to conduct the process in a fair and transparent way,” Leader Budish said. 

Earlier this week, in light of the partisan, secretive method of redistricting that Republican House leadership has chose, and previously promised to avoid, Leader Budish decided to withdraw Democratic support for HB 318 which would change the primary date from March to May.  The agreement to move the primary was originally reached to allow time for public input on Redistricting maps, which the Republicans have clearly ignored.

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Dems Call for Slow Down of Redistricting Process

State Rep. Kathleen Clyde sent a letter to Rep. Matt Huffman, Chairman of the State Government and Elections Subcommittee on Redistricting, calling for a slow down on the process to pass a new congressional redistricting map.  In the letter Rep. Clyde states, “We need to step back and take the time to do this right with bipartisan support for whatever plan the legislature adopts.  We’ll need an emergency clause to act no matter our course of action, so there is no reason why we cannot take additional time for hearings and discussion.  Failure to do so ensures protracted legal battles, public confusion and uncertainty for voters and candidates across the state.”

A copy of the full letter appears below.

Dear Chairman Huffman,

I write to call your attention to the legal chaos that we are heading for at high speed.  With success looking more and more likely on the effort to referendum HB 194, we are almost certain to have a big problem with the timeline of upcoming election deadlines.  Without bipartisan cooperation, we will hit the December 7 candidate filing deadline for next year’s elections without first having the new congressional district lines in place.  Candidates will be required to file their candidate petitions by December 7 under the old congressional district plan and there is no provision in law to prevent this paradox. 

The primary is scheduled for March 6, 2012.  HB 194 would have moved the primary to May but that bill is likely to be on hold until November 2010.  The candidate filing deadline will be December 7, 2011, only 86 days away and within the typical 90-day waiting period before bills take effect.  Only a bipartisan vote of 66 members of the House can make a law take effect immediately and avoid the legal chaos that will ensue if changes are not made in time. 

Redistricting is moving fast and, despite the pleas of the public that we all heard when we traveled the state for regional hearings, the map under consideration has not been released to the public nor to members of the State Government and Elections committee.  Meanwhile, we have a possible vote scheduled for less than 48 hours from now. 

We need to step back and take the time to do this right with bipartisan support for whatever plan the legislature adopts.  We’ll need an emergency clause to act no matter our course of action, so there is no reason why we cannot take additional time for hearings and discussion.  Failure to do so ensures protracted legal battles, public confusion and uncertainty for voters and candidates across the state.  Politicians’ drawing the lines for maximum political advantage is not fair and has delivered extreme policies in Ohio and partisan posturing in Washington.  We can do better. 

Respectfully,

Kathleen Clyde
State Representative
House District 68

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