Posts Tagged 'State Rep. Tracy Maxwell Heard'

State Rep. Tracy Maxwell Heard Introduces Bill to Guarantee Minors Access to Counsel

State Representative Tracy Maxwell Heard has introduced legislation to clarify the General Assembly’s intent regarding juvenile access to legal counsel after the Ohio Supreme Court issued a 4-3 split decision in the case of In re M.W.

“This is a bill I started working on about a year ago and discovered that the Court was deliberating In re M.W. In deference to the Court, I held the bill pending their ruling,” said Rep. Heard. “The decision is not what I had hoped, but understandable. It is the judiciary’s responsibility to interpret the law as conflicts arise. When the law is interpreted to not protect children, it is a legislator’s job to write a law that does.”

The bill would require that any child under the age of 18, unless emancipated, be read, in their own language, their rights in regard to interrogation. Accused youths would also not be required to answer any questions, and gives them the right to speak to their parents or legal counsel prior to answering questions. “It is now clear that in order to give the same minimum equal protection to minors that we give to adults as they engage our law enforcement and court systems – we must legislate,” said the Representative. “When I first became aware of this issue, I challenged it because I found it incomprehensible that we so poorly managed juveniles in this process.”

Rep. Heard agrees with Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor’s dissent, which was joined by Justices Paul E. Pfeifer and Yvette McGee Brown, where the Chief Justice held that the majority’s definition of “proceeding” is inadequate, and is contrary to the General Assembly’s intent found in the Ohio Revised Code. Rep. Heard also feels that she is heeding Justice Judith Ann Lanzinger’s concurrent opinion where Justice Lanzinger opined that the question of when a “proceeding” begins is a policy matter to be addressed by the legislature.

The bill will be formally introduced on the floor of the Ohio House of Representatives on Wednesday, October 10th in a non-voting session.

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Rep. Heard Applauds New System But Warns it Will Not Solve Problems for All Voters

State Rep. Tracy Maxwell Heard released the following statement in response to the Ohio Secretary of State’s new online change of address system.

While this new system will make it easier for some Ohioans to update their registration information, many voters without access to the internet or knowledge of this new system will still show up to vote needing to change their address on election day.  And thousands of voters will still have their provisional ballots thrown out due to poll workers’ innocent errors.

“I applaud the Secretary of State’s attempt to make it easier for registered voters to update their registration information hopefully resulting in fewer provisional ballots.  Sadly, full online registration for all was passed by the legislature this session and then repealed by Republicans,” said Rep. Heard.

Plaintiffs in a lawsuit in federal district court seek to have Ohio’s provisional ballot counting law declared unconstitutional and to have a solution implemented involving a simple poll worker checklist.  This solution will allow poll worker error to be easily documented and allow voter’s ballots to be counted instead of thrown out when an innocent error has occurred.  The court’s decision is expected to be issued soon. 

“This online system is a step in the right direction, and I urge Secretary Husted to also implement a system that will deal with the inevitable human errors that will occur on Election Day in a way that counts every eligible voter’s vote,” Heard added. “No citizen’s vote should be thrown out because of error.  We must ensure every vote counts.”

During his press conference today, Secretary Husted referred to a report called “Counting the Vote” and it’s high ranking of Ohio. The report scored only Ohio’s voting technology and notes that Ohio doesn’t do reckless things like vote without a paper trail, or internet voting which would put us at risk of cyber-tampering.  However, the report fails to mention the shamefully high number of votes being rejected in Ohio.  Ohio is in fact a leader in the country for throwing out ballots.   

Secretary Husted has repeatedly talked about mailing absentee ballot applications to all registered voters in all 88 counties across the state. However, the directive on the mailing only contains plans to mail applications to voters that are registered by Sept. 28, 2012, meaning voters who register during the final 11 days of voter registration will not be sent a ballot application. 

“Secretary Husted promised the people of Ohio that every voter would receive an absentee application mailed to them, and I encourage him to live up to that promise and make sure voters registering during the final 11 days also receive an absentee ballot application,” said Rep. Heard.

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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.


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