Posts Tagged 'Rep. Antonio'

State Rep. Antonio Calls on ODNR to Test Toxic Frack Waste

State Representative Nickie J. Antonio joined with other concerned citizens and wrote a letter to the Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Director and Staff calling on the agency to carry out testing of “brine”, as they have the authority to test.  “Brine” is the waste water from the hydro-fracturing process.

According to a report of the recent sampling of “brine” from the Hazel-Ginsberg injection well, the results show the sample contains high levels of alpha particles, arsenic, barium, and toluene, among other contaminants. The test was performed by Ben Stout, professor of biology at Wheeling Jesuit University and not ODNR.  Rep. Antonio is asking ODNR to start testing all “brine” and if the fluid is shown to be harmful to people it should be labeled a hazardous waste.  Pennsylvania hauls its fracked waste water to Ohio to dispose of in Ohio’s injection wells while ODNR receives 20 cents per gallon of “brine” for allowing them to dump it here.

The letter calls on ODNR for stewardship to ensure safety and the health of our environment.  “This is a public health concern which you have the responsibility and the authority to protect with regard to the environmental threats to the community health and wellbeing,” said Rep. Antonio. “As a state agency you should uphold transparency and public safety above all else.”

 A copy of the letter can be seen below:

July 11, 2012 

James Zehringer
ODNR, Director
2045 Morse Rd, Building D
Columbus, OH 43229-6693

Dear Director Zehringer:

I write today to respectfully request the Department of Natural Resources to test all “brine” waste water from the hydro-fracturing process.  According to a report of the recent sampling of brine from the Hazel-Ginsburg injection well by Ben Stout, biology professor at Wheeling Jesuit University, the results have shown the sample contains hazardous materials.  My understanding is that this is the first ever testing of “brine” by an outside source.  “Brine” is chemical laden produced “water” which is the end result of horizontal fracturing otherwise known as fracking.  As a public health precaution, “brine” should always be tested to determine the chemical components of the fluid before injecting it into a well in the earth. 

It should be noted that, Pennsylvania currently is hauling its fracked waste water to Ohio to dispose of in Ohio’s injection wells.  They are paying more than one million dollars a year to dump their waste here as they do not allow it in their own state.  As more wells in our Ohio are horizontally fracked, it is imperative to test brine before putting it into the earth again.

As you are aware, ODNR has authority to order testing of brine before it is injected under section 1509.06 of the Ohio Revised Code.  As your role is to carry out the testing of brine to protect Ohioans from pollutants that could harm them, the citizens of Ohio expect nothing less.  After testing, if any brine waste fluid is shown to be harmful to people it should then be labeled a hazardous waste.  Hazardous waste is dangerous and potentially harmful to our health or the environment. Hazardous wastes can be liquids, solids, gases, or sludges. They can be discarded commercial products, like cleaning fluids or pesticides, or the by-products of manufacturing processes.  This will ensure that if there is a spill or leak the proper procedures will be in place to remedy the situation.  This is a public health concern which you have the responsibility and the authority to protect with regard to the environmental threats to the community health and wellbeing.  As a state agency you should uphold transparency and public safety above all else.

The people of Ohio depend on your stewardship of Department of Natural Resources to ensure the safety and health of our environment now and in the future, and so I urge your action on this matter sooner than later. I appreciate your consideration and would also appreciate your timely response to this request.

Sincerely,

Nickie J. Antonio
State Representative
House District 13

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Teacher Appreciation: by State Rep. Nickie Antonio

Recently we celebrated National Teacher Appreciation Week; the reality that many teachers face in the classroom is anything but appreciation.  Teachers are forced to deal with the results of state budget cuts while at the same time, expected to perform to perfection with limited resources in order to meet state mandates.

In Fiscal Year 2013, Ohio’s schools are facing a budget deficit of over $1.13 billion.  The financial outlook becomes bleaker in Fiscal Year 2014, when the combined budget deficit reaches over $1.78 billion.  These unprecedented cuts have led to teacher and staff layoffs and potential reductions in curriculum across the state.

School districts have taken massive hits on Governor Kasich’s watch. Lakewood City Schools’ projections for the next two fiscal years are short by about $13-15 million. If we want to just get by, the money will have to come from somewhere. Lawmakers can’t keep crying wolf about our schools, saying we have to defund them to “fix them”.  Not only does doing so work against students, families and teachers, but it builds a narrative that public education is so askew that we should settle on privatizing tax dollars for education without acknowledging the excellence that also exists in many of our public schools.

Just a few weeks ago, Cleveland City Schools announced that 508 teaching positions would be lost at the end of this year while another 200 teachers took retirement packages. The district plans on shortening the school day and cutting music and arts programs. At the same time, the district has devised a transformation strategy and will ask voters to further subsidize public education in the area due to some $60 million that was slashed from our district in the biennium budget. Surely we can all agree that there are cost savings measures which could put in place. Teachers consistently take pay cuts, pay for supplies with their salary, and see reductions in benefits. Already, teachers in Cleveland have settled on a 5-6 percent pay cut next year. There’s no compromise from the state.

I want to state here that I support Mayor Jackson’s plan as presented to the Legislature through HB 525. I participated in many of the planning meetings in a process nothing short of amazing. A group of concerned leaders from the Mayor, school superintendent, business and philanthropy made room at the table to include teachers and legislators to refine a plan in hopes of reinventing the CMSD.  I support the legislation as introduced because sometimes exercising leadership requires taking a risk, and this plan gives hope to our children and their future beyond partisan rhetoric.

In this challenging climate other casualties emerge that give me pause. Women are disproportionately affected by education budget cuts as they make up the majority of teachers in our state.  According to the Cleveland Teachers Union, 63% of those who will lose their job with the Cleveland City Schools are women.  The Department of Education states that 85,045.00 of the total 113,123.00 teachers in Ohio are women.  Defunding education certainly will have a negative impact on women and their families. Not much appreciation felt here.

Today, as we continue to face economic challenges, budget deficits, and competing requests for funds such as quality education for all, the public may begin to place blame and point to quick fixes.  But in the spirit of National Teacher Appreciation Week, let’s remember that our teachers are actually investing in Ohio and our children. Maybe the state should think about doing the same.

Reps. Garland & Antonio Fight to Protect Women from Gender Discrimination

State Reps. Nancy Garland (D- Columbus), Chair of the Ohio House Democratic Women’s Caucus, and Nickie J. Antonio (D- Lakewood) held a press conference in coordination with Innovation Ohio to discuss gender discrimination by health insurance companies, and introduce HB 551 to prohibit so called “gender rating.”

Currently, health insurance companies determine premiums based on a variety of factors, one of which is the gender of the policy holder. Women are consistently charged significantly higher rates than men, even when factoring out maternity coverage.  The legislation introduced today would eliminate gender discrimination in healthcare premiums. Ohio’s women would no longer have to unfairly pay more for equal coverage.

“Women deserve to be treated equally to men, and this legislation will make that possibility closer to a reality,” Rep. Garland stated. “Ohio’s women cannot be forced to pay higher insurance premiums any longer. Not only does this put a financial strain on individuals, but on small businesses that are owned by or employ women. This injustice must end.”

Innovation Ohio released a report today that shows the disparity between men and women for insurance premiums in Ohio. According to their report, a typical 40-year old Ohio woman buying an individual policy pays anywhere from 20 to 50 percent more than a 40-year old male and 60 percent of insurance plans sold in Ohio charge non-smoking women higher premiums than male smokers.  The difference in insurance premiums varies so greatly, there is not a clear justification of the premium differences.

“The status of being a woman should not be a pre-existing condition,” said Rep. Antonio. “Ending ‘gender rating’ by health insurance providers is another step towards equality. By continuing practices like this we are implicitly tolerating discrimination and hurting families in which women are often the health care decision makers in households around the state.”

Rep. Antonio Gives Sponsor Testimony on Equal Housing Equal Employment Act

State Representative Nickie J. Antonio recently gave sponsor testimony on House Bill 335, the Equal Housing Equal Employment Act, in the House Commerce and Labor Committee. The EHEA is about fairness and equality. State law currently prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age, ancestry, military status and disability.  The bill merely expands existing Ohio Civil Rights Laws so that they apply to discriminatory practices on the basis of “sexual orientation” or “gender identity.”  In Ohio, people can lose their jobs or be denied housing, solely because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“I believe that every person deserves these fundamental protections in order to fully participate in our society free from fear, harassment and discrimination. We have the opportunity to make this a reality with HB 335. This is not a Democrat or Republican issue. This is an issue of fairness and equity and a bright future for the people of Ohio, all the people of Ohio,” said Rep. Antonio.

Ohio Summit on Women and HIV/AIDS Video Now Available Online

The Ohio Summit on Women and HIV/AIDS, led by State Representative Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood) was held on March 15, 2012, and is now available to watch online via the Ohio Channel’s website. The summit was meant to build strategic connections to battle this critical women’s health issue. Rep. Antonio is proud to announce that the event was a great success.

HIV/AIDS is increasingly becoming a “women’s epidemic” in the United States. Some women, especially those living in poverty or at-risk situations, such as domestic violence or human trafficking, are more likely to face barriers in accessing HIV prevention, treatment and care. The Summit provided an opportunity to bring together professionals from women serving organizations around Ohio. Professionals who work in human services fields such as social work, health education, mental health and chemical dependency attended.

We had attendees from various organizations in Ohio and some from across the country. We also had 12 speakers present during the event.  There was an abundance of educational materials and business cards exchanged. We shared personal stories along with informational ways to spread awareness and how to work within human service fields. Since the summit, already new collaborations have been made.

Women’s Caucus Calls for Focus on Policies to Support Women & Families

The Ohio House Democratic Women’s Caucus today held a press conference to discuss several pieces of legislation focused on advancing rights and opportunities in all aspects of women’s lives.

“Women are a majority of the population and can make a difference when we unite behind legislation that will improve lives of women and families,” said State Representative Nancy Garland (D-New Albany), Chair of the Women’s Caucus. “Women’s History Month is a great time to refocus our attention on common-sense policies designed to support, benefit and encourage the advancement of women here in Ohio.”

Several bills recently introduced by members of the Women’s Caucus help ensure all women have access to quality healthcare, including HB 419, the CARE Act; HB 281, the Prevention First Act; and HB 412, to establish health insurance exchanges in Ohio. All three bills were introduced by State Rep. Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood).

“We must continue to support Ohio women’s right to access basic healthcare and accurate information regarding their healthcare decisions,” Rep. Antonio said. “These rights should not be legislated away nor used as a political football. Women’s lives hang in the balance.”

Members of Women’s Caucus have also introduced legislation to protect Ohio women and families from violations of their right to safety and security. HB 262, sponsored by State Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo), aims to stop human sex trafficking in Ohio and to protect young women and girls from being forced into sexual slavery.

“Human trafficking victims are more likely to have HIV and other sexually transmitted infections and are more likely to suffer from mental illness,” Rep. Fedor said. “And the average trafficking victim wants to leave prostitution but can’t.”

A woman’s right to security also extends to security in her own home. State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) is cosponsoring HB 103, a bill to protect victims of domestic violence by keeping their home addresses confidential. Additionally, State Rep. Denise Driehaus (D-Cincinnati) is cosponsoring HB 105, legislation to protect and support domestic violence victims by guaranteeing their rights to safety at home and at work.

“Survivors of domestic violence deserve to live safe from their abusers. I truly hope Ohio can join 37 other states by enacting this important Address Confidentiality Program legislation,” said Rep. Clyde.

“Victims’ advocates have said that stability in housing and employment are the largest hurdles in keeping their lives together, staying safe and protecting their children,” said Rep. Driehaus. “We need to empower victims so they know it’s okay to ask for help, it’s okay to ask for time off, it’s okay to ask for new locks, and it’s okay to leave when their safety or their children’s safety are at risk.”

In addition to discussing the many pieces of women-focused legislation, the members of the Women’s Caucus reinforced their commitment to creating good-paying, long-term jobs for Ohio’s women through job creation measures such as the Local Government Jobs Fund and the Small Business Working Capital Loan Program.

Reps. Antonio & Garland Introduce Sexual Assault Legislation

State Representatives Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood) and Nancy Garland (D-New Albany) along with Senator Nina Turner (D-Cleveland) today introduced legislation to ensure sexual assault survivors are provided with medically and factually accurate, unbiased information from hospitals.

“Make no mistake, this is not a democratic or republican issue, nor is this an issue of ideology,” said Rep. Antonio. “This is an issue of fairness, compassion and the right of survivors of sexual assault to have full access to emergency care and treatment—something that should resonate with all Ohioans.”

The Compassionate Assistance for Rape Emergencies Act requires all hospital emergency rooms to provide survivors of sexual assault with treatment that can prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, if the survivor wishes to use them. The bill would place the responsibility on the hospital to have policies in place to ensure access for survivors with the medical treatment they need by requiring immediate safe, effective methods of pregnancy and disease prevention following an assault.

“Comprehensive and compassionate care helps women in crisis move from victim to survivor,” said Rep Garland. “The C.A.R.E. Act is a common-sense approach. It will help ensure sexual assault victims are given accurate, unbiased information in a timely manner when they visit the hospital, allowing them to make informed choices about their lives.

The House Bill will go to the Rules and Reference for a committee assignment. Senator Turner introduced companion legislation, which is Senate Bill 283.


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