Posts Tagged 'Rep. Reece'

Democrats Applaud Decision of Federal Court to Restore the Last 3 Days of Early Voting to All

Today, a federal court decided that the GOP legislature violated equal protection of the laws by cutting off the final three days of early voting for some but not all voters.  The judge found that it was in the public interest to restore the last three days of early voting and to treat all voters equally.  The decision emphasized all parties’ strong interest in protecting active duty military voting rights. Here is what Democrats had to say:

Ohio House Democratic Leader Armond Budish released the following statement:

“Today’s decision reinstates fairness for Ohio’s busy working voters.  Weekend voting has been a success in Ohio and helped us recover from the failed election in 2004 when long lines caused tens of thousands of voters to leave the polls without casting a ballot.  Some 93,000 voters came out to vote on the final 3 days before the election in 2008 and the court has refused to allow these days to be cut off by partisan legislative trickery.”

Democratic Whip  Tracy Maxwell Heard released the following statement in response to the ruling:

“This is what fairness looks like.  Excellent decision by the court.  This will reduce confusion and increase access.  That’s how a democratic elections process works.”

State Rep. Kathleen Clyde released the following statement in response to the ruling:

“The last three days of early voting are the three busiest, and it is a huge victory for all Ohio voters that these important voting days have been restored. First the Republicans tried to take them away in House Bill 194, but Ohioans fought back and put that legislation to referendum. Then the Republicans cemented the vote suppressing change by again inserting the language into SB 295.  Well, Ohio voters shouldn’t have to stand for the GOP’s tricks any longer.  Thank goodness for this ruling which protects the right to vote for all Ohioans on these 3 busiest days.”

State Rep. Fedor issued the following statement:

“More than 300,000 people signed the petition to keep the final weekend of voting that helped alleviate pressure on the polls after the long lines of 2004.  The Republicans tried to override the voters by reenacting the early voting cuts and then pulling the referendum from the ballot.  Today, the court rightly restored full early voting rights to all Ohioans, including veterans, helping to ensure that we will not return to the 3 and 4-hour lines of 2004.” 

State Rep. Alicia Reece released the following statement:

“Once again, federal courts have issued a ruling to create a balanced voting system in Ohio. I would urge Secretary of State Husted not to appeal the decision and to comply with the orders of the court which will ensure all Ohio voters have equal opportunities to get to the polls and have their voices heard.”

State Rep. Michael Stinziano released the following in response to the ruling:

“I applaud Judge Economus’ decision in the federal court case involving the restriction of voting hours. This is a win for the voters of Ohio and I’m pleased that the judge moved to restore voting rights to all Ohioans so that they can have every opportunity to cast their ballot when it is convenient for them including the last few days before Election Day when unplanned conflicts can arise.  As the former Director of the Franklin County Board of Elections, I have seen and experienced firsthand the importance of an efficient early voting period.  In 2008, roughly 93,000 voters appeared at their early vote center during the last three days of early voting prior to Election Day. Unfortunately, instead of building on this success and a desire for a smooth election day, there are individuals who prefer the long election lines encountered in 2000 and 2004 and are fighting to limit voting rights instead of expanding them.”

State Rep. Sandra Williams released the following statement:

“Judge Economous’ injunction correctly pointed out that that there was no compelling reason for the Ohio Secretary of State to prohibit county boards of elections from allowing early voting for the three days before election day, especially when most county boards were open for early voting during those times in 2006, 2008, and 2010.   Reversing Secretary Husted’s decision will level the playing field as some 93,000 Ohioans took advantage of early voting to avoid long lines in 2008. The people of this state are well-served by having more time to vote, rather than fewer days and shorter hours to cast a ballot.”


Relief Fund for Schools and Communities Proposed by House Lawmakers

Ohio House Democratic lawmakers announced a new proposal today to help offset the impacts of last year’s historically deep state budget cuts to schools and local communities.  The Kids & Communities First Fund uses surplus revenue to make up to $400 million available to schools and communities this year, and another $500 million once Gov. John Kasich’s proposed severance tax increase takes effect.  

“The Kids and Communities First Fund will help keep teachers in the classroom, and cops and firefighters on the streets in communities all across Ohio,” said House Minority Leader Armond Budish (D–Beachwood). “Additionally, this fund will help curb the growing need for local tax levies due to state budget cuts and provide relief for local property taxpayers.”

The Kids and Communities First Fund will be offered as an amendment to Gov. Kasich’s Mid-Biennium Review (HB 487).  The fund will make up to $400 million available this year from surplus revenue (currently $265 million), a portion of the Budget Stabilization Fund ($120 million), and $15 million from Gov. Kasich’s proposed severance tax increase.  The fund would be replenished after fiscal year 2013 by increased severance tax revenue.

“It’s been 15 years since the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that our school funding system is unconstitutional because it relies too heavily on local property taxes,” said State Rep. Debbie Phillips (D-Albany).  “Today, instead of finding ways to reduce this over-reliance, the state of Ohio is walking away from that responsibility and leaving the burden of educating our children squarely on the backs of local property taxpayers.”

Lawmakers calculated that districts are facing a combined school-funding deficit of over $1.79 billion in fiscal year 2014.  This is based on a calculation of each school district’s five-year projection of finances, which is required to be submitted to the Ohio Department of Education.  Policy Matters Ohio also estimates that school districts in “Fiscal Watch” or “Fiscal Emergency” could spike by 300 percent this year, from 14 to 43.

“Stories of communities cutting or privatizing critical safety services and in some cases even considering dissolving all together are pouring in from across the state,” said State Rep. Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati).  “If we don’t protect our communities, we undercut our economic recovery and hurt working and middle class families.”

Compared to fiscal year 2011, the state budget (HB 153) cut nearly $1.1 billion from communities last year.  Specifically, the Local Government Fund was cut by $463 million; state funding provided to offset previously eliminated business property taxes were cut by $492 million; and state funding provided to offset previously reduced utility property taxes were cut by $135 million.

“Failing to address last year’s deep budget cuts will hurt our schools and make Ohio less economically competitive.” said Rep. John P. Carney (D- Columbus).  “Doing nothing will keep forcing local taxes to go up and put more pressure on middle class Ohioans.” 

According to Matt Mayer, the former head of the conservative think-tank the Buckeye Institute, local property taxes have gone up in Ohio under Gov. Kasich because of state budget cuts.  In a recently published column, Mayer states, “net taxes on Ohioans have gone up under Governor Kasich, making our state even less competitive.”

“Our state is only as strong as our schools and our local communities,” State Rep. Matt Lundy (D- Elyria). “If we do nothing we will hurt our children’s education, weaken safety services in our communities and create even more pressure on local property taxpayers.”

The Kids & Communities First Fund would be available as early as July 2012, when the current fiscal year ends.  It would make up to $400 million available for schools and communities to apply for an emergency relief grant. After fiscal year 2013, the fund would be supported by the severance tax increase as proposed by Gov. Kasich and a portion of that funding would be available to protect local communities that are most affected by hydraulic fracturing though a local impact grant.


House Democrats Respond to State of the State Address







House Democrats responded to the Governor’s State of the State address given in Steubenville on Tuesday afternoon.

Leader Armond Budish (D-Beachwood):

“While unemployment is at its lowest rate since January 2009, Gov. Kasich’s attempts to take credit for rescuing the economy are farcical.  He stood up and spoke out against policies such as protecting the auto industry, which saved over 8,000 manufacturing jobs in Ohio alone.  Almost all jobs created in 2011 were created in the first six months, before the governor’s policies took effect. During the last six months, the state actually lost jobs and many people have stopped looking for work but are still unemployed. And I encourage him to remember, Ohio’s unemployment rate dropped two full percentage points from 10. 6 percent to 8.6 percent before his policies even took effect.”

Rep. Theresa Fedor (D-Toledo):

“The issue of de-funding public education was not even addressed.  Funding charter and voucher schools only exacerbates a problem of under-funded public schools that then have to resort to levies.  Charter and voucher schools are not the right way to go.  Governor Kasich’s budget cut over $2.8 billion in state aid to schools and to date, nothing has been done to remedy Ohio’s unconstitutional method of school funding.”

Rep. Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati):

“Unfortunately, Governor Kasich’s State of the State did not address the many tough issues my constituents face every day, such as how to keep their homes and pay their utility bills, funding for education, and how to reduce barriers to gainful employment. Governor Kasich did highlight the need for bipartisan cooperation; therefore, I stand willing and ready to work with his administration on the issues that affect the middle class and working poor in my district.”

Rep. Matt Lundy (D-Elyria):

“It’s important that this governor recognize that public education must always be tied to economic development. Sadly, our schools continue to suffer because he promotes an agenda to essentially privatize public education by expanding vouchers. Right now his actions speak louder than his words.”

Lawmakers Propose Common Sense Solution to Controversial HB 194

State Reps. Kathleen Clyde (D- Kent), Tracy Maxwell Heard (D- Columbus) and Alicia Reece (D- Cincinnati) announced on Friday a common sense legislative solution to increase voter access, establish a more accurate voter database, and improve that ballot counting process. This week, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted called for the repeal of the controversial House Bill 194, which is currently facing a voter referendum in the fall.

Democrat’s election law reforms would restore the requirement that poll workers direct voters to the correct polling place. It would ensure early voting lasts thru the Monday before Election Day and it would restore less burdensome vote-counting rules.

“In response to the colossal failure in legislative leadership by the Republicans, we again are saying work with us. Here are our priorities for creating better elections in Ohio that promote more participation in our elections, and ensure that more ballots are counted.  We were shut out of the process last time, but we hope that the Republicans learn from their mistakes and work with us,” said Rep. Clyde.

This bill will fix Ohio’s provisional ballot problem by reducing the number of reasons for making voters cast provisional ballots, and it will make it clear that election officials will be held responsible for mistakes instead of blaming and tripping up voters.  Votes will be counted unless there is clear evidence that a vote is invalid, and it will add college ID’s and passport to the acceptable voter ID list.

“Our proposal will trust Boards of Election to determine a voter’s clear intent where a candidate’s name is written in and possibly spelled wrong.  If a bipartisan board can determine the voter’s clear intent, that vote will count.  We will not allow literacy tests to be part of Ohio law,” said Rep. Heard.  “Our bill will apply the same rules for all voters.”

“This week, I called for federal elections monitors in Cincinnati due to a still unresolved 2010 Hamilton County Juvenile Court race.  This bill will ensure situations such as this do not continue to happen,” said Rep. Reece.  “Our proposal will ensure all votes are counted, and it will reduce the number of provisional ballots due to poll worker error or change of address.”

The proposed legislation will also ensure Motor Voter compliance – Currently, Ohio is not meeting its obligation to update voter registrations when voters change their address with the BMV.  There is no excuse for this; by not complying we risk losing federal Help America Vote Act funds by failing to meet the conditions to receive the funds. The BMV and Secretary of State must work together to make Ohio complaint now.

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