Posts Tagged 'Partisanship'

MUST READ: House Republican’s Sneak Attack on Women and Families

While House Democrats 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. Excerpts of an article by the Huffington Post are below:

“The GOP may insist that there is no war on women, but the campaign against Planned Parenthood, which provides health care to one in five American women each year, is gaining ground in the Midwest.

“Republican state representatives in Ohio slipped an amendment into the state’s substitute budget bill on Tuesday that puts family planning clinics like Planned Parenthood at the bottom of funding priorities and blocks them from receiving funding for cancer screenings and HIV and domestic violence services.

“Defunding Planned Parenthood through Ohio’s budget bill is a way for GOP lawmakers to pass the measure without having to vote on a separate bill, which would likely cause controversy. The Planned Parenthood amendment, introduced by Republicans in the House Finance Committee on Tuesday, puts family planning clinics that provide abortions in the bottom tier of priority for Title X funds, making it more likely that the state will run out of money before it can provide any funding to Planned Parenthood.

“The amendment further prohibits federal funds from the Minority HIV/AIDS Initiative, the Violence Against Women Act, the Breast and Cervical Cancer Mortality Prevention Act and the Infertility Prevention Project from going to Planned Parenthood or any other family planning clinic that provides abortions.

“The GOP-controlled House is expected to vote on the budget bill next week and pass it, with the amendment attached.

“’This House seems to stop at nothing to attack women and their reproductive rights, and in this case, their access to basic health care and cancer screenings,’ State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent), a member of the House Finance Committee, told HuffPost. ‘It’s just a very tough legislature to be a part of.’

“Planned Parenthood Affiliates of Ohio said that of its 37 health centers, only three perform abortions, and none of the $1.7 million it receives in federal funding annually is used to pay for abortions. Opponents of the amendment are concerned that many of the rural and low-income women in Ohio who rely on Planned Parenthood clinics for basic health and family planning services will not have any nearby alternative if Planned Parenthood is stripped of funding.

“Republicans on the Finance Committee, however, ‘seem to be burying their head in the sand on that issue,’ Clyde said. ‘We’ve heard some pretty clear testimony that the services are not available — there’s already wait times, not enough doctors out there offering these services — but the Republicans seem to think that other types of health centers can pick up all of the extra demand and absorb all of these patients. I think that is completely false.’

“House Finance Chairman Rep. Ron Amstut (R-Wooster) and state Rep. Kristina Roegner (R-Hudson), who are pushing the amendment, did not respond to calls for comment.

…”

Read the full article here.

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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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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.”

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.

House and Senate Leaders Question Inspector General Meyer’s Participation in GOP Fundraiser

Ohio House Democratic Leader Armond Budish and Senate Democratic Leader Capri Cafaro sent a letter to Gov. Kasich questioning the conduct of Inspector General Randall Meyer after news he participated in the most partisan of activities – fundraising for the Republican Party. The Ohio Inspector General is a non-partisan agent responsible for investigating fraud and corruption of state officials.

“In order to maintain the integrity of the Inspector General’s office, I am calling on Gov. Kasich to immediately suspend Mr. Meyer.  I believe this suspension will give the Governor the opportunity to review the facts and make an informed decision about Mr. Meyer’s future ability to fairly and objectively carry out his duties,” said Leader Budish.

Leader Cafaro added that, “Inspector Generals are expected to hold themselves to a higher standard and that includes avoiding partisan political activity in order to protect the integrity of the office.”

A copy of the letter can be seen below.

January 19, 2012

The Honorable John Kasich, Governor
77 S. High Street, 30th Floor
Columbus, OH  43215

Dear Governor Kasich:

It is with great concern that we write to you today regarding Ohio Inspector General Randall Meyer’s participation in a political fundraiser last week.  We believe this to be an extremely serious breach of protocol for a public official charged with objectively investigating wrongdoing in state government.

In fact, we do not believe that the Inspector General should be participating in political fundraisers for either party, as his office has suggested.  The Ohio Inspector General’s appearance at political fundraisers undermines the credibility of this office and weakens the public’s trust of its investigatory findings. 

Mr. Meyer’s participation at a Clinton County Republican fundraiser comes on the heels of a separate report highlighting the lack of meaningful investigations by his office.  At a time when people on both sides of the aisle are raising questions about the potential for corruption and misconduct by lobbyists and special interests, we believe the role of the Ohio Inspector General has never been more important.

Current law allows the Governor to appoint his own Inspector General.  You selected Mr. Meyer, who is a registered Republican and former employee of Lt. Governor Mary Taylor.  You’ll note that we did not raise these concerns about Mr. Meyer’s partisan leanings when his appointment was announced last year.

However, there is growing concern that Mr. Meyer’s partisanship is impairing his ability to objectively investigate potential wrongdoing in state government.  We have heard from a number of individuals who have raised the following concerns:

  • As reported by the Columbus Dispatch, Mr. Meyer has only conducted 12 investigative reports, the fewest from the Inspector General’s office since 2007. 
  • An investigation was requested regarding a possible conflict of interest between Ohio Superintendent Stan Heffner and one of the nation’s largest education testing companies and nothing has been done.
  • Instead of focusing on wrongdoing in state government, Mr. Meyer has targeted the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act by placing a link on his office’s homepage to encourage complaints about this program. 
  • Also, a question has arisen about the possibility that a relative of former Republican House Speaker and current chair of the Casino Control Commission Jo Ann Davidson has been employed at the Inspector General’s office.  If so, how might that impair the impartiality of potential investigations into the Commission?

The Inspector General is the state’s watchdog and must maintain a reasonable distance from the political activity and interests of those he is charged with potentially investigating.  We believe his participation in the most partisan of activities – political fundraising – and other questionable partisan activities warrants immediate action.  Lack of action will further weaken the integrity and credibility of the Inspector General’s office and it will reinforce the idea that state government is unaccountable to the people of Ohio.

Respectfully,

Armond Budish
Minority Leader
Ohio House of Representatives

Capri Cafaro
Minority Leader
Ohio Senate


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