Posts Tagged 'Ohio'

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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Rep. Alicia Reece Requests Federal Election Monitors for General Elections

State Representative Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati) along with area clergy and community leaders have urged Attorney General Eric Holder to send federal election monitors to Ohio for the general election this November in a letter they sent yesterday. Rep. Reece called the Attorney General’s attention to two federal court decisions in Ohio that have the potential to cause confusion for voters with in-person early voting and casting provisional ballots. Both decisions have been appealed by the Ohio Secretary of State, leaving voters unsure of their voting rights for this election.

Representative Reece, area clergy and community leaders announced the letter at a press conference in Bond Hill yesterday. In addition to Rep. Reece, Reverend Doc Foster, President of the Cincinnati Baptist Ministers Conference and Reverend Gene Ellington, President of the Clergy Empowerment Group, also spoke at the press conference. There was bi-partisan support for the letter with the participation of local Republican talk show host, Ken Anderson, and President of the Cincinnati Chapter of the League of Women Voters, Shirley A. Jason.

“We need to ensure that Ohio has a smooth and fair election this November. These two federal court decisions are a step in the right direction for voters in Ohio, but the appeals processes are confusing for voters. The presence of federal election monitors will help restore the integrity of the voting process. The entire country is looking at Ohio. We must get it right!,” says Rep. Reece.

Rep. Reece sent a letter to US Attorney General Holder which resulted in observers in Hamilton County during the primary. Rep. Reece and clergy are asking for monitors in the General Election.

 

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The full text of the letter can be seen below:

Attorney General Eric Holder

U.S. Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Ave, NW

Washington, DC 20530-0001

September 24, 2012

Dear Attorney General Holder,

I am writing to make you aware of the urgent and troubling issue in Ohio regarding extended in-person early voting hours and provisional ballots. As you may know, there have been two federal court decisions recently that will have enormous impacts on voting in Ohio this November.

The first is a decision ruling that Ohio’s provisional ballot counting process is unconstitutional. The judge ordered the simple solution that provisional ballot envelopes include a checklist for poll workers to follow. This would remedy the high numbers of ballots thrown out in 2008 due to poll worker error by documenting poll worker errors and allowing the votes of eligible voters to be counted in this election. Almost, 40,000 provisional ballots were thrown out in the 2008 election. Additionally, a juvenile court race in Hamilton County that was voted upon by citizens in my district in 2010 was not decided until May of this year because of problems with the way provisional ballots were counted. The State of Ohio and the Ohio Secretary of State have filed an appeal in the case, continuing to push the issue even though a common sense solution has finally been found.

The second decision regards the issue of in-person early voting. A federal judge ruled that Ohio must re-instate the last three days of in-person voting the weekend and Monday before the election. The Ohio Secretary of State is also appealing this decision. He sent a directive ordering Boards of Elections not to set hours for the last three days until after the appeal was decided. He only rescinded the order after the judge ordered him to appear in court because of issuing the directive. In 2008, 93,000 Ohioans took advantage of in-person early voting on the three days in question.

I would ask for your help in bringing a fair and balanced approach to the election in Ohio this November. Both of these decisions have been appealed which has created an atmosphere of uncertainty and confusion for voters in Ohio. I am concerned that problems will arise in the election this year. Thus, I am requesting the United States Department of Justice send federal election observers to Hamilton County and all of Ohio to monitor the upcoming 2012 election. The presence of federal observers will help restore the integrity of the voting process and will prevent the citizens of Ohio from being denied their democratic right to vote.

I look forward to hearing your response to my request soon.

Sincerely,

Alicia Reece

State Representative- 33rd District

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.

Rep. Fedor Sponsors 3rd Annual Human Trafficking Awareness Day

State Representative Teresa Fedor and the National Association of Social Workers hosted the Third Annual Human Trafficking Awareness Day at the Columbus Statehouse.  Special guests included Attorney General Mike DeWine, Amy Allen of the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Attorney James Moroney, Lucas County Judge Connie Zemmelman, Franklin County Judge Paul Herbert, Montgomery County Judge Gregory Singer, and Theresa Flores, survivor and Director of Awareness and Training for Gracehaven. 

Representative Fedor has been organizing Human Trafficking Awareness Days to bring light to this important issue.  Cases of human trafficking have been reported in every county in Ohio – from forced labor at massage parlors, to parents selling their children for drugs, to a highly-organized gang operation that recruited and moved underage girls from one location to another selling them for sex.  Human trafficking is a very real problem that is affecting more than 1,000 Ohio children every year.  More than 3,000 Ohio children are considered to be high risk for trafficking.

Representative Fedor has also introduced new legislation, H.B. 262 or the Safe Harbor Act, which aims help minor victims of human trafficking.  “When a minor is being sexually exploited, that minor is often arrested on prostitution charges and is sent to jail.  Quite simply, this does not solve the problem.  If the arrested minor is instead provided with needed services to recover, that minor will be able to break the cycle of abuse and become a contributing member of society.  Without some form of intervention, 77 percent of sexually exploited youth simply continue to be prostitutes in adulthood,” said Rep. Fedor.

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.”

MUST READ: Beacon-Journal “Here’s a map”

Over the weekend, the Akron Beacon-Journal published this editorial on the unfair, uncompetitive, politics-driven redistricting map rammed through the Ohio House by Republican leadership. Excerpts from the editorial follow:

“After holding multiple hearings on congressional redistricting, the job requiring a reduction in the number of Ohio seats from 18 to 16, Republicans last week sprung their plan, never before seen by Democrats, let alone voters. Introduced Tuesday in the House, the redistricting bill passed two days later, along party lines, Republicans using their majority to hustle it through.

“An independent group called the Ohio Campaign for Accountable Redistricting put forward several [alternative] versions, a winning map generated through an open competition that awarded points for compactness and competition.

“How different the results were.

“Under the group’s formula, just six of the current 18 districts are considered competitive. The measure is a generous one, requiring no more than a 10-point spread between the parties. Most challengers would find that difficult. Still, under the right circumstances, one could break through.

“The plan passed by the Ohio House would make matters worse, even though presidential elections in the state swing back and forth. Just two districts met even the broad definition of competitive.

“Then consider the winning plan from the Ohio Campaign for Accountable Redistricting. Drafted by Mike Fortner, a Republican state representative from Illinois, it resulted in 11 competitive districts, all well within the 10-point spread.

“Over 50 maps were submitted to the competition won by Fortner. If House Republicans had submitted theirs, it would have scored dead last, testimony to the triumph of raw partisanship.”

Read the full article here.


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