Archive for February, 2012

Rep. Stinziano Introduces Legislation to Hold Landlords Accountable for Negligent Homicide

State Rep. Michael Stinziano announced that he will introduce legislation to hold criminal landlords accountable for negligent homicide.

Rep. Stinziano’s proposed legislation would allow a property owner, property manager or landlord to be charged with negligent homicide if that person rents a property they know is deemed uninhabitable by the municipal authority and a death occurs due to the victim’s actions to alleviate the uninhabitable condition.

“Recent tragic events have highlighted that there are bad actors who rent property that is unsafe and uninhabitable,” said Rep. Stinziano, who represents residents of Franklinton and the Hilltop. “They do so knowing they are in violation of the law with complete disregard for the safety and wellbeing of others. My legislation will hold these bad actors accountable by giving our prosecutors another tool through which to seek justice. The overwhelming majority of landlords go above and beyond their legal obligations and this legislation will not impede or dissuade anyone who is following the law.”

Currently, ignoring an order to vacate a property is a misdemeanor crime punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine, if convicted. The charge of negligent homicide is a first degree misdemeanor which, if convicted, is punishable by 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

A Christmas Eve fire killed three people in a Franklinton home on Wisconsin Avenue. Authorities say a space heater ignited a mattress in the home. Gas service had been shut off because of a leak inside the house, according to news accounts. News reports say the city had issued orders to vacate the house more than two years ago after inspectors found no gas service to heat the house, open electric boxes, leaking plumbing and a defective water heater and electrical outlet.

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Reps. Stinziano and Garland Tour Universal Design Living Laboratory

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Rep. Stinziano and Rep. Garland with Rosemarie Rossetti at the Universal Design Living Laboratory.

State Representatives Nancy Garland (D-New Albany) and Michael Stinziano (D-Columbus) recently toured the Universal Design Living Laboratory to see first-hand the types of home improvements that could be made if House Bill 332 is implemented. As drafted, the bill would provide state tax credits for building, purchasing or remodeling homes and incorporating accessibility and universal design features.

“I am grateful I had the chance to tour Rosemarie and Mark’s home with Rep. Garland,” said Rep. Stinziano, who is sponsoring the bill with Rep. Cheryl Grossman (R-Grove City). “To see firsthand the positive impact visitability features have when incorporated into a home reaffirms my strong belief in the need for this legislation. HB 332 is a step in the right direction to ensure accessible housing is available now and in future years. I call on my colleagues to pass this important legislation.”

Construction began on the Universal Design Living Laboratory, a 3,500 square foot ranch-style home on Clark State Road in Jefferson Township, in September 2009. Universal design is a framework for the design of living and working spaces and products benefiting the widest possible range of people, regardless of size, age or ability level. It provides for accessibility by removing barriers such as steps and integrating features like wider doors and hallways to allow people who use wheelchairs equal access to the house and the rooms within it.
 
“Not only is the Universal Design Living Laboratory a beautiful home but it is also a testament of what can be done to ensure a home truly meets the needs of its residents,” said Rep. Garland, a co-sponsor of the legislation. “HB 332 will help make it more affordable for all types of families to make their houses a home.”

The homeowners, Rosemarie Rossetti, a wheelchair user, and her husband, Mark Leder, open their home to builders and the public to show how universal design and green building can be included in new homes and remodeling projects.
 
House Bill 332 is pending in the House Ways & Means Committee.

Dem Lawmakers Disappointed in Husted’s Decision to Fight Counting Votes

State Representatives Kathleen Clyde and Alicia Reece expressed disappointment in Secretary of State Husted’s decision to appeal the federal court ruling to count provisional ballots in the undecided Hamilton County Juvenile judge race.

“I am incredibly disappointed in Secretary Husted’s decision to continue to drag out this voting debacle by once again appealing the federal court ruling to count the votes. The continued delay in resolving this case will cost citizens more of their hard earned tax dollars and further undermines confidence in Ohio’s election process,” said Rep. Reece. “Every citizen deserves to have their vote counted, and we will continue to fight for what is right and just.”

Last week, the Hamilton County Board of Elections came to a tie vote on whether to pursue yet another appeal of the federal court’s decision in favor of counting the provisional ballots.  Siding with the GOP board members, Secretary Husted voted late yesterday to appeal the decision. 

“Ohio has a provisional ballot crisis and Secretary Husted’s decision will only continue to prolong it in a crucial presidential election year,” said. Rep. Clyde.  “Secretary Husted has voted in favor of throwing out citizens’ votes even where poll workers admit they made a simple mistake and sent a voter to the wrong table. This is simply unacceptable.  It is the government’s job to tell voters where to vote and to count their votes.”

Last year, at an earlier stage of the 15-month long litigation, Secretary Husted voted with the GOP members of the Hamilton County Board of Elections to appeal an earlier order from the federal district court to count the provisional ballots.  The United States 6th Circuit Court of Appeals then said that Ohio’s provisional ballot laws operate in a way that is “fundamentally unfair to the voters of Ohio, in abrogation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of due process of law” and refused to overturn the district court’s decision to count the votes.  Likewise, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of the 6th Circuit’s ruling.

Rep. Sykes Calls for Speaker Batchelder to Apologize for Disrespectful Comments

State Rep. Vernon Sykes  called for Ohio House Speaker Bill Batchelder to apologize for comments he made suggesting that President Obama should be sent to jail.

“Speaker Batchelder’s recent comments are absolutely deplorable.  I call on the Speaker to apologize for such distasteful remarks immediately,” said Rep. Sykes. “The unprecedented disrespect we have seen for President Obama only serves to undermine and threaten our democracy.  I would expect my longtime friend, colleague and the Speaker of the Ohio House to respect the office of the President of the United States regardless of party affiliation.”

This past weekend, while introducing Republican Presidential candidate Rick Santorum Ohio House Speaker Bill Batchelder (R- Medina) told an audience of more than 1,000 at the Summit County Republican Lincoln Day Dinner that he thinks President Obama should be sent to jail.  Speaker Batchelder is quoted in the Washington Post as saying, “The liberals are asking us to give Obama more time. And I think 25-to-life would be a good start.”

Democrats Announce Jobs Bills while Republicans Attack Women’s Rights

Ohio House Democratic Leader Armond Budish (D-Beachwood) released the following statement after the passage of House Concurrent Resolution 35, which urges the President of the United States to direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to rescind the rule requiring religious employers to include contraceptive services in health insurance plans.

“While Republicans continue with their divisive partisan priorities that would limit access to contraception, Democrats are fighting to put working and middle class families first.  Today, at the very same time that the House Health Committee was taking up this politically charged resolution, Democrats announced several common sense initiatives to protect Ohio jobs. Ohioans need good paying jobs, but Republicans have once again demonstrated that there is no end in sight to their extreme radical and divisive social agenda.
“Democratic members of the House announced three new jobs bills, expanding on our recently announced legislative priorities. These bills the Buy Ohio, Hire Ohio and Keep Jobs in Ohio Act will work to support and protect Ohio jobs. They will prevent state funds—tax dollars—from being used to outsource jobs, they will work to create and maintain Ohio jobs and will give preference to Ohio based companies.  I urge my colleagues in the majority to stop the political pandering and start focusing on the real issues—like putting Ohioans back to work.”

“Nitro’s Law” Animal Cruelty Bill Passes Ohio House

The Ohio House of Representatives yesterday evening approved “Nitro’s Law,” House Bill 108, sponsored by State Reps. Ronald V. Gerberry (D-Austintown) and Robert F. Hagan (D-Youngstown), to crack down on animal abuse. The bill passed the House in 2010 as HB 70, although the Senate failed to take action on the legislation.

“For too long, kennel owners have been getting by with a slap on the wrist when they inflict pain and harsh living conditions on the pets left in their care.  This bill makes animal abuse by a kennel owner a fifth degree felony,” said Rep. Gerberry in a speech to colleagues on the House floor during debate on the bill. “I believe this legislation will encourage kennels to do what is morally right when it comes to protecting companion animals left in good faith with those who are supposed to take care of them.”

The measure gives local prosecutors the authority to charge the owner, custodian or caretaker of a registered kennel with either a misdemeanor or a fifth degree felony if animals are abused in their care.

“Often times, animal abuse is indicative of how the abusers treat fellow human beings. House Bill 108 will give local prosecutors a much needed option to ensure the seriousness of these abuses is reflected in the charges and subsequent punishment for violations,” said Rep. Hagan. “People all over the nation have been calling to voice their support; citizens understand we need this bill. Now we just have to convince the Senate and Governor that this law is desperately needed,” said Rep. Hagan.

The legislation stems from an incident that occurred in Youngstown in October 2008.  At that time, a local kennel owner was arrested because he clearly was not taking care of animals that he was boarding and training.  Humane agents were called to the premises where they found horrific living conditions.  Fifteen dogs were discovered dead or dying.  The remaining animals were suffering from starvation and dehydration.   

The owner was taken into custody and the nineteen counts of cruelty to animals he was originally charged with were reduced to four due to legal missteps.  At the time of sentencing for this individual, it was determined that Ohio only provides misdemeanor penalties for animal cruelty regardless of the brutality. 

“Nitro’s Law” now goes to the Ohio Senate for consideration.

House Dems Fight to Support and Protect Middle Class Ohioans’ Jobs

State Reps. Denise Driehaus (D- Cincinnati), Connie Pillich (D-Montgomery), Roland Winburn (D- Harrison Township) and Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights) held a press conference today building upon House Democrats’ Compact with the Middle Class and recently introduced legislative priorities for 2012 focused on jobs, communities, rights and opportunities for all Ohioans.  The bills discussed today include Buy Ohio, Hire Ohio and the Keep Jobs in Ohio Act that will work to support and protect Ohio jobs. 

“Rep. Pillich and I recently introduced our Hire Ohio legislation that would limit outsourcing for state funded projects,” said Rep. Driehaus. “By doing so we will encourage projects to be located in Ohio, utilizing Ohio workers, and create new jobs that will work to rebuild communities and strengthen working and middle class families.”

House Bill 342 will define the requirements that companies must meet in order to be considered for any contracts within the state which would privatize state property, facilities, services or functions.  Requirements will include (1) The entity with which the agreement is to be made is located and has its principle place of business in the State of Ohio, (2) The agreement does not result in the transfer of jobs or other employment opportunities to a location outside of Ohio, and (3) Any privatization agreement the state or a state agency enters into that does not meet the requirements of this section is void.

“This legislation will work to ensure private companies do not take state tax dollars and resources and then fire Ohio citizens in order to outsource good jobs to companies outside our state and national borders.  These are jobs which Ohioans are able and willing to perform, and should be given the chance to do just that,” said Rep. Pillich.

House Bill 403, or the Keep Jobs in Ohio Act, would require all labor and services performed under or effected by any contract paid for with state funds be performed in the United States.  This legislation will ensure state tax dollars are used to create state jobs and to stabilize the state tax base by prohibiting Ohio from contracting with or providing economic development assistance to companies that ship service work offshore.

“The bill will strengthen our position in America’s 21st century economy while providing well-paying, stable employment for Ohio’s middle class, and it will ensure hard working Ohioans aren’t seeing their tax dollars used to ship their own jobs overseas,” said Rep. Yuko.  “In order to keep our recovery moving forward, we need effective policies that ensure Ohio’s place at the top of the manufacturing sector.  For this reason, Rep. Hagan, in conjunction with myself and other House Democrats, has introduced House Bill 403, the Keep Jobs in Ohio Act.”

“Our tax dollars should be putting Ohioans back to work, and as legislators we must work to ensure that we are investing right back into our local economies and not handing state funds over to out-of-state or overseas companies,” said Rep. Winburn.

Rep. Winburn will soon be introducing the “Buy Ohio” Job Creation or Retention Preference bill.  This legislation will strengthen current “Buy Ohio” provisions which give preference to Ohio businesses selling products or services that will create or retain Ohio Jobs.  The bill specifies that when the lowest responsive and responsible bid is an out-of-state bidder, an Ohio bid that demonstrates that the contract will create or retain Ohio jobs shall be selected if the Ohio bid is not greater than 10 percent of the lowest out-of-state bid.


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