Archive for November, 2012

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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Leader Budish’s Statement on Re-apportionment Lawsuit

Ohio House Democratic Leader Armond Budish (D-Beachwood) released the following statement upon the 4-3 decision by the Ohio Supreme Court in the re-apportionment lawsuit.

“Today’s Ohio Supreme Court decision is a victory for partisan political gerrymandering and a significant loss for Ohio voters. The court’s narrow majority in its 4-3 decision simply legalized the process of putting political interest ahead of the preservation of communities of interest.  The Constitution clearly requires that the apportionment board minimize splits to counties, townships, cities and wards. The map that was adopted slices and dices governmental units 255 times, while alternative maps divided governmental units fewer than 100 times.

“The majority decision ignores the clear mandate of Article XI of the Constitution. Instead, the current legislative maps were drawn with the intent of maximizing political opportunity for one party. As a result, Republicans in the 2012 elections won a large majority in the House, while losing the statewide vote for state House candidates. This does not serve the broad interest of Ohio voters, instead it perpetuates a broken political system which will continue to favor extremism, not responsible governing.

“The court’s decision today points to the urgent need to adopt a new, fair system of redistricting.”

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Rep. Clyde Seeks Immediate Action to Ensure Counting of Valid Votes

State Rep. Kathleen Clyde today sent the following letter to Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted urging compliance with federal law.  The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (the “Motor Voter” law) requires the counting of certain ballots cast in a voter’s former precinct.

See the letter below:

November 21, 2012

Secretary of State Jon Husted
180 E. Broad Street, 16th floor
Columbus, Ohio 43215

Dear Secretary Husted,

County boards of election are now meeting to count provisional ballots and must certify their official canvass results by Tuesday of next week.  It has come to my attention that a category of ballots protected by federal law is not being counted in some or all counties.

At a meeting of the Tuscarawas County Board of Elections on Monday, November 19, 2012, the board staff recommended that all ballots cast in the wrong precinct and wrong polling location be rejected.  The board members initially tie voted but, after receiving input from your office, later adopted the staff recommendation of rejection of all but one of these ballots.  The deputy director of the board stated that these ballots are mostly cast by people who have moved but return to their former precinct to vote.  Under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, such ballots must be counted so long as the voter’s former precinct and new precinct are in the same county and same congressional district.  See 42 USCS § 1973gg-6.

Your office has continually fought the counting of ballots cast in the wrong precinct even when poll worker error is at fault.  But on this point, there can be no dispute: federal law clearly requires the counting of this particular subset of ballots cast in a voter’s former precinct.  I ask that you issue a directive today telling counties to comply with federal law and count these ballots.

Respectfully,

Kathleen Clyde
State Representative

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State Representative Tracy Maxwell Heard Honored to Serve House Democrats

State Representative Tracy Maxwell Heard is making history in the legislature as a member of the only Democratic team to serve three consecutive terms in Leadership in the Ohio House of Representatives since the establishment of term limits.

Going into her fourth and final term in the Ohio House, Heard will again serve as Minority Whip during the 130th General Assembly placing her in leadership for three of her four terms having held the previous leadership positions of Assistant Majority Floor Leader and Majority Floor Leader during the 128th General Assembly.  The later position had not been held by an African American since its first African American occupant, Representative William L. Mallory, Sr. some 15 years ago.

“It is a great privilege to have an opportunity to serve as a member of our Democratic Caucus Leadership Team for a third General Assembly. I am so proud to serve as Minority Whip alongside Leader Armond Budish, Assistant Leader Matt Szollosi, and Assistant Whip Debbie Phillips.”

Asked why she has had this distinction, “Leaders have to be willing to put themselves out there and do a little extra – usually a lot extra.  I have said many times that this opportunity to serve in the Ohio House has been the best thing I have ever done professionally.  Leadership is a further extension of that opportunity. Getting to do it with Armond Budish, Matt Szollosi and Debbie Phillips has made it a pleasure”

Heard says it has been the best and worst of times.  “Budish, Szollosi and I came into Leadership the year Democrats took the majority back for the first time in 16 years.  We had to learn fast and build quickly along with a new Democratic Governor and figure out how to work with and support our Democratic partners in the Ohio Senate who were still in the minority.”

Though an exciting time, Heard says it couldn’t have been a more challenging time coming in after the Republicans had been running the state for over a decade and in the midst of the most severe recession in a lifetime.

The Democrats were unable to hold the majority in the Ohio House, and were hit hard by the storm that took out countless Democrats across the country but they have remained relevant and delivered victories for Ohio’s citizens. Consider the fall of Senate Bill 5 – the Republican attack on collective bargaining and House Bill 194 – the Republican attack on voting rights.

“My personal successes this General Assembly have been in the area of sentencing reform with the passage of both House Bill 86 and Senate Bill 337 addressing the increasing expense of our current prison system, its absence of legitimate rehabilitation and the reaffirming the need to manage juvenile offenders separately from adults. Part two was addressing the obstacles to successful re-entry for returning citizens.

“This wasn’t work I intended to take on, it found me and I am so proud of not only the legislation we put forward but that we were successful at taking on a difficult subject in a bipartisan fashion.  I am hoping we have established a new model of working together to ensure all voices are heard.”

Going forward Heard plans to focus on reintroducing two bills that are currently in play in this lame duck session but unlikely to reach a conclusion.  House Bill 597, regarding juvenile custodial interrogation; and House Bill 263, closing the gun show loop hole. She further hopes to resolve the current obstacles in the Department of Administrative Services for minority businesses.

“I am hopeful that by the time I take my leave we will have addressed the challenges we have within minority inclusion since Ohio first established its set aside and minority business enterprise programs.  We’ve never done it right, but I am working with everyone from the Governor to small businesses and contractors to implement the law we’ve had on the books for over forty years now.”

Heard said, “Though it is a great honor for our team to stand with the support of our caucus, as we move forward into the 130th General Assembly, I hope we are joined by the House Republican Caucus in the business of governing and addressing the legitimate issues and concerns of Ohio’s citizens in sincere bipartisan fashion. The races are over. Our responsibility now begins and that responsibility is to all our constituencies. We must be mindful that our oath is to govern to ‘the best of our ability as we shall answer unto God.’”

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Reps. Carney and Antonio Issue Open Letter to Kasich Administration: Bipartisan action urged for Health Insurance Exchange in Ohio

COLUMBUS—State Representatives John Patrick Carney (D-Columbus) and  Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) released an open letter following reports that the Kasich administration will not be setting up a state based health insurance exchange, as directed under the Affordable Care Act.

The letter was sent to the Governor, Insurance Director, Ohio Medicaid Director and Health Transformation Director.

Dear Governor Kasich,

For the past year, we have been urging your administration to move forward with setting up a Health Insurance Exchange. We introduced legislation (HB 412) and held several meetings with representatives of patients, physicians, insurers, agents, hospitals, nurses and other stakeholders. Through these discussions, we were able to craft a sensible compromise bill that was agreeable to all stakeholders.

In spite of the broad consensus we have achieved in our compromise bill, you have declared that Ohio will not be establishing its own Health Insurance Exchange. Instead, you will leave the job to the federal government.

Ohioans will be worse off if you allow the federal government to set up a Health Insurance Exchange. Instead of catering to the distinct needs of Ohio’s consumers, insurers, and health care professionals, a federally-run exchange would impose upon us a one-size-fits-all model, over which we would have little to no control. Most importantly, a federally-run exchange is an open invitation for federal bureaucrats to run a program that would be better administered by our citizens who are undoubtedly more familiar with Ohio’s healthcare marketplace.

Fortunately, there is still time to change course and reach a bipartisan solution, as the deadline has been extended to December 14.  There are still federal grants available to establish a state based exchange and your administration should be working to recoup as many of our federal tax dollars as possible. I urge you and your administration to call upon your allies in the legislature to move forward and do the right thing.

We stand ready to work with you or any of our Republican colleagues in the Ohio House or Senate who are interested in forging a compromise with the Obama Administration on the best way to create a marketplace for Ohioans to purchase health insurance. After all, the ability to provide quality, affordable health insurance for Ohio families is not a Democratic or Republican issue, it is a human rights issue.

Sincerely,

John Patrick Carney

State Representative 22nd Ohio House District

Nickie Antonio

State Representative 13th Ohio House District


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