Posts Tagged 'State Reps.'

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.


Lawmakers Call for Gov. Kasich to make Prison Privatization Bids Public

As the plan to privatize and sell five state prisons moves ahead there have been multiple questions and concerns about public safety and conflicts of interest for the Kasich administration. State Reps Matt Lundy and W. Carlton Weddington sent a public records request to the Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections and the Governor’s office asking that the bids to privatize five Ohio prisons be made public. Their press release and comments are below.

“I continue to raise concerns over the secretive process in which Ohio’s prisons are being privatized. Previous questions over safety, cost and accountability have gone unanswered and ignored. Unfortunately, it has become clear this is just another example of Gov. Kasich rewarding his friends. It is time the veil of secrecy under which the Kasich administration operates is lifted,” said Rep. Lundy.  “Today we call for the Governor to release the bids that CCA, GEO and MTC have submitted. The public deserves to know what price tag has been put on their safety.”

Corrections Corporation of America, GEO Group and Management and Training Corp. are the three companies that have submitted bids to purchase Ohio’s prisons. Gov. Kasich received contributions for his transition fund of $10,000 each from two of the companies seeking to buy Ohio’s prisons. All three companies hired close Gov. Kasich ties to lobby for their firms’ interest, including Gov. Kasich’s former congressional chief of staff and two political advisors to his gubernatorial campaign.

“I reiterate concerns today over the privatization of five state prisons. The CIIC’s recent report showing massive overcrowding coupled with the announcement of 950 jobs being lost should raise red flags for the public and the Kasich administration. Our safety and the safety of inmates are at risk. It is simply inexcusable that Gov. Kasich continue to keep the legislature and the public in the dark while our safety and security are at risk,” said Rep. Weddington. 

Currently terms of the bids from CCA, GEO and MTC are secret. There has been ongoing concern about the safety records of for-profit correctional institutions. In 1998, six inmates escaped from a CCA-run prison near Youngstown in broad daylight; five of the six escapees had been imprisoned for murder. Last year CCA, former employer of Department of Rehabilitation and Correction Director Gary Mohr, earned record profits of $1.7 billion. [Dayton Daily News, 8/8/2011]

The Correctional Institution Inspection Committee’s (CIIC) recent Quarterly Report for the period April 1 through June 30, 2011 contains findings that five prisons are overcrowded at rates of 214 percent at the Lorain facility, 190 percent in Lebanon, and 174 percent at each of the following: the Chillicothe Correctional Institute, the Warren Correctional Institution, and the Ohio Reformatory for Women.  The overall overcrowding rate is 131 percent system-wide.


Democratic Leadership Emphasizes Open, Fair Apportionment Process

Leader Budish proposes rule changes for more transparency 

COLUMBUS- Sen. Democratic Leader Capri Cafaro and Democratic House Leader Armond Budish urged transparency and public input as the Apportionment Board met for the first time. Leader Budish is the only Democratic member of the Apportionment Board, chosen by House and Senate Democratic Leadership.

“I offered 6 amendments designed to prevent partisan gerrymandering, preserve communities of interest and protect our most basic democratic principle, that every person’s vote should count equally. The amendments were also designed to ensure meaningful public input and oversight. So I am disappointed that every one of my amendments were rejected based on partisan politics. Today it became evidently clear, this process is not getting off on the right foot,” Leader Budish said.

Leader Budish proposed 6 rule changes during the Apportionment Board’s planning meeting. He recommended implementing several of the positive changes passed by the Senate during the last general assembly, including requiring an affirmative vote by a minority member to approve a plan. He also proposed requiring the board to rank their plans according to their compliance with the Ohio constitution, federal law, and any objective criteria the Board chooses to use. Budish sought to allow for public input and feedback on actual maps and not just the process of apportionment during the upcoming regional hearings.

“The top priority of the Apportionment Board should be to establish an open process that is fair to all Ohioans, not just one political party. That’s why Democrats in the General Assembly offered proposals to ensure the apportionment process is fair and fully inclusive of the racial, ethnic, political and geographic diversity of our state. The drawing of Ohio’s legislative districts should respect the democratic process so voters can choose their elected representatives, not the other way around,” said Sen. Minority Leader Cafaro. 




House, Senate Lawmakers Urge Kasich to Consider More Women on JobsOhio Board

Female lawmakers from both the Ohio House and Senate today raised concerns over the lack of women appointed the JobsOhio corporate board and the underrepresentation of women in state government as a whole. 

Sen. Minority Leader Capri Cafaro (D-Hubbard) and State Rep.  Nancy Garland (D- New Albany), Chair of the Ohio House Democratic Women’s Caucus, sent a letter to Gov. Kasich today requesting a woman be appointed to fill the final vacancy on the JobsOhio Board. They also raised concerns about the overall lack of female representation currently in state government.

See the a copy of the letter below:

Dear Governor Kasich: 

We write to you today to express our great disappointment about the seriously deficient representation of women on the JobsOhio corporate board, as well as throughout your administration.

Among the appointments you made last week to the JobsOhio Board, only one of the eight appointees was female.  Yet, nearly 28 percent of small businesses in Ohio are owned by women.  Women play a vital role in Ohio’s economic mix and should be more adequately represented on the JobsOhio board. [Small Business Association, 2/2011]

As you know, equality in the work place has been an enduring struggle.  In recent years, women have surpassed men in the number of advanced degrees, yet they continue to be compensated at 78 percent the rate of their male counterparts. Regrettably, the limited representation of women on this board will only perpetuate this struggle for equality of women in the workplace and in leadership roles here in Ohio. [Times Reporter, 4/27/2011]

Unfortunately, this is not the only example an underrepresentation of women in important leadership roles within state government.  There are 26 members of your cabinet and only four of them are women.  This is far fewer than previous governors.  Moreover, the women you have chosen for cabinet positions are entrusted with smaller agencies, smaller budgets and smaller staffs than their male cabinet members. 

At the same time that we see a lack of women in executive offices and appointments, we look at our legislative chambers and see far fewer women in leadership positions.  In the Ohio House, among the 25 chairs of the standing committees and subcommittees, there is only one female chair.  In the Ohio Senate, there are 14 different committee chairs and again only one is female. 

In addition to this gross underrepresentation of women in state government, it has also come to our attention that the Governor’s Office of Women’s Initiatives and Outreach has been inexplicably dismantled.  This is yet another troubling sign that public policy issues concerning women are not getting the attention or support from your administration.

Not giving women a voice in important decision-making roles is a trend that could do long-term damage to the women in our state and to the state as a whole.  Women are being hit hardest by state and local government budget cuts across the country because women make up a larger proportion of the public sector workforce.  Women are also recovering more slowly than men from the national recession caused by the recklessness of the financial industry.  This is a problem that we ignore at our peril [Chicago Sun Times, 6/15/2011].

Governor, we need your commitment to diversity for our state to advance and succeed.  Fairness, diversity, and inclusion are important values that are keys to building a stronger more vibrant Ohio. The business community has found this to be a formula for success and we must heed their example. 

Please do not let your time in office go down in the history books as the time we marched backwards and undid decades of progress toward a more diverse and successful state.  We ask that you find and appoint a qualified woman to the final open position on the Jobs Ohio Board.


 Sen. Minority Leader Capri Cafaro  State Rep. Nancy Garland
Sen. Edna Brown State Rep. Connie Pillich
Sen. Charleta B. Tavares State Rep. Denise Driehaus
Sen. Nina Turner State Rep. Nickie Antonio
Sen. Shirley A. Smith State Rep. Teresa Fedor
  State Rep. Lorraine M. Fende
  State Rep. Debbie Phillips
  State Rep. Kathleen Clyde
  State Rep. Tracy Maxwell Heard
  State Rep. Barbara H. Boyd

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