Archive Page 2

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

Women Lawmakers Fight Renewed Efforts to Strip Funding from Planned Parenthood

State Reps. Nancy Garland, Chair of the Ohio House Democratic Women’s Caucus, and Nickie J. Antonio in coordination with NARAL and Planned Parenthood, held a news conference to fight the renewed efforts by Republicans and Gov. Kasich to strip funding from Planned Parenthood. Chants of “Hear us now” broke out in the halls outside of committee where the bill was being heard and during the press conference.

House Bill 298, which is scheduled to be voted out of the Health and Aging Committee today, creates a tiered system for funding family planning health centers. Planned Parenthood will fall in the final tier, only to receive support if there are funds in the budget after all other centers receive funding. This plan essentially defunds Planned Parenthood, and with it, will eliminate access to healthcare for thousands of women who rely on Planned Parenthood’s services.

“Extreme politicians across the nation lost on election night because of their anti-women and anti-family agenda,” said Rep. Antonio. “Women across Ohio and the nation stood up and made their voices heard in this election telling extreme politicians to keep government out of their personal health choices and start focusing on jobs, education and equal pay; Ohio legislators should listen and trust women.”

This extreme agenda hurts women and families, by seeking to limit a woman’s family planning options and preventative care. The constant attacks on women and failure to act on protective and preventative policies is bad for economic development and bad for women.  For every dollar invested to help women avoid unintended pregnancies, $4.12 is saved in Medicaid expenditures.

“Simply put, this is about preventive care. Women who have access to preventive care are able to lead healthier lives, to enable them to work and to care for their families which benefits society.  Let’s get back to work on legislation that will help women, not hurt women,” Rep. Garland added.

This bill, if passed, could place a larger burden on local county health departments who often rely on Planned Parenthood to provide services to women in their communities. Many county health centers refer patients to Planned Parenthood for affordable preventive care.  HB 298, would take away affordable quality health care from women.

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State Rep. Tracy Maxwell Heard Urges Voting Assistance for Ohio’s Emergency Responders to Superstorm Sandy

State Representative Tracy Maxwell Heard (D-Columbus) has been in contact with staffers of Ohio Governor John R. Kasich and Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted’s offices, after discovering that emergency responders from Ohio may not be able to vote in this year’s general election as a result of their participation in emergency response and clean-up activities related to Hurricane Sandy’s devastation of the eastern seaboard.

“After scrambling to figure out if we could do anything for these first responders, I read that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is allowing displaced residents to vote electronically via e-mail or fax. A New Jersey elections official promised to conduct his county’s election come hell or high water – well, hell and high water are here, and the brave men and women of Ohio have stepped forward to bail out the East Coast,” said Rep. Heard. “We, back home in Ohio, have to ensure that their sacrifice does not cost them their vote.”

Many of the first responders have not voted early, anticipating that they would be able to participate in early voting or traditional Election Day voting this year. When Hurricane Sandy hit on October 29, these men and women headed to the impacted areas. The nature of the clean up will most likely keep first responders out of the state until after November 6.

Rep. Heard is hopeful that Gov. Kasich and Secretary Husted will be able to work with her to accommodate the precarious situation that some voting Ohioans face due to this natural disaster.

Rep. Clyde Urges Immediate Action to Help Voters Find Polling Location

This week, the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals halted an order by the district court requiring ballots cast in the wrong polling place due to misdirection by the poll worker to be counted.  State Rep. Kathleen Clyde today sent the following letter to Secretary of State Jon Husted about the decision urging him to provide voters with the tools they need to get their ballot counted.

A cop of the letter can be seen below:

November 2, 2012

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

Dear Secretary Husted,

The recent decision by the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals requiring ballots cast in the wrong polling place to be thrown out even if poll worker error causes the problem disenfranchises Ohio voters.  The Court indicated that voters receive notification of where they vote and can look up their polling location on your website.  However, both statements are false for the vast majority of provisional voters – those who have moved and not yet updated their address.  These voters are not notified of where they must vote because they have moved and the Boards have their old addresses on file.  Nor can these voters find their polling place on your website because your website only shows the voter’s polling location for the voter’s old address.  Many county websites also provide no way for voters who have moved to find their new polling place. 

I ask that you quickly provide the capability for voters to find their polling location on your website now that these voters are at greater risk of having their ballot thrown out if they rely on a poll worker’s instructions.  Both tools on your website only help those who updated their address before Oct. 9.  Tens of thousands of voters will show up across the state on Election Day who have moved and who are still entitled to vote under our laws. 

The tools on your website also will not help the 33,000 voters who used your online registration update system but have not yet had their registration updated because of a major mistake made by your office.  Given the extreme delay by your office in updating their information and the inadequate public outreach done to educate voters about the problem, you owe it to the voters to provide useful tools on your website so they know where to vote.   

While we disagree on how to treat votes cast in the wrong place because of poll worker error, hopefully we can agree that the right thing to do is provide this large group of provisional voters the information they need to properly cast their vote and have it counted. 

This problem will affect tens of thousands of voters, and the need is urgent.  I hope you will respond accordingly.

Sincerely, 

Kathleen Clyde
State Representative                                                                
House District 68

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