Posts Tagged 'Working families'

Reps. Lundy & Gerberry Introduce Two-Day “Back-to-School” Sales Tax Holiday

State Representatives Matt Lundy (D-Elyria) and Ron Gerberry (D- Austintown) introduced House Bill 581, which would create an annual two-day “Back to School Sales Tax Holiday” period in August.  During this time sales of “back-to-school” clothing, school supplies, personal computers and computer accessories, up to a certain limit, would be exempt from sales and use taxes.

“Back -to-school shopping can be very expensive for Ohio families.  It is my hope that this tax break will help to ease the expense of properly preparing our children for the school year, and allow families to invest in the necessary supplies for students,” said Rep. Lundy.  “I hope that this brief tax holiday can act as an incentive to generate more retail activity in our state.”

This legislation seeks to provide tax relief for working families and increase revenues for local retail businesses.  The tax exemption would extend to clothing priced under $100, school supplies priced under $100, personal computers less than $750, and computer accessories priced less than $100.

“I am happy to sponsor this legislation with Representative Lundy.  I believe this bill will encourage eastern Ohio residents to do their back-to-school shopping in our state rather than going across the border to Pennsylvania where they do not have to pay sales tax on clothing”, stated Representative Gerberry.

The bill now awaits assignment to a House committee for formal hearings.

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Reps. Celeste & Heard “Stand their Ground” On Overreaching Gun Legislation

State Reps. Ted Celeste and Tracy Maxwell Heard held a press conference highlighting the litany of current and pending gun-related bills under consideration in the General Assembly that put public safety and law enforcement officers in harms way.  They were joined by Toby Hoover, Executive Director of the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence; Brian Rothenberg, Executive Director of Progress Ohio; and Rev. Tim Ahrens of the First Congregational Church.

Under the backdrop of a “Machine Gun Social” fundraiser flyer sent out by State Rep. Margaret Conditt in which supporters are invited to shoot automatic firearms – including an M60 machine gun – Rep. Celeste expressed his concern over the message conveyed by the flyer so soon after three students were killed by an armed gunman in Chardon High School.  This was the deadliest school shooting in the U.S. since 2005.

The speakers have signed onto a letter they plan to send to Rep. Conditt requesting that she cancel the event.  The letter will also be sent to Governor John Kasich, House Speaker William Batchelder, and Ohio Republican Party Chair Bob Bennett.

“In this General Assembly alone, we’ve seen at least nine separate bills that pose a danger to public safety,” said Rep. Celeste.  “To parade about a fundraiser where supporters can shoot semi-automatic weapons for pleasure is distasteful and offensive to the memory of those students who were senselessly killed.”

Rep. Heard echoed his statements, and spoke to House Bill 263, legislation she’s introduced that would close a “gun show loophole” that allows criminals to purchase firearms at gun shows without undergoing a background check.

“I am not opposed to private citizens owning guns.  I am, however, gravely concerned about the escalating incidents of gun violence in this state and specifically in urban areas like my district – District 26,” said Rep. Heard. “It is our responsibility to ensure safety in our communities, and to fail to address what we know to have been an oversight that created a loophole which allows criminals and even terrorists to purchase guns illegally that end up on our city streets is a reckless disregard of our charge as legislators.”

Toby Hoover, Executive Director of the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence, said current legislation under consideration in Ohio poses a serious threat to the safety of children and law enforcement officers who risk their lives everyday.  “Our families have the right to be free from gun violence,” said Hoover.  “The gun lobby’s vision for Ohio is any gun, anyone, anywhere, and then let them be judge and jury if they feel threatened.  These laws are threats to our freedom from violence.”

Brian Rothenberg, Executive Director of Progress Ohio, referenced statistics from a March 2012 report by the Children’s Defense Fund, pointing out that more children and teens died as a result of gun violence in 2008 and 2009 – 5,750 – than the number of US military personnel killed in action in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.

Rothenberg also took aim at the fundraiser flyer, pointing out the insensitivity of the phrase “Bring Your Own Gun.”  “There is a level of maturity and common sense that is lacking in this invitation,” said Rothenberg.  “It hasn’t been done before and there is a reason for it. Legislators need to be cognizant that this type of radical single issue politics leads to irresponsible laws like ‘Stand your ground’ in Florida.  She should really cancel this event, it demeans the office.”

Rev. Tim Ahrens of First Congregational Church also cited the report, and argued that lawmakers must stop gun violence if Ohio’s children are going to have a prayer of hope and a future without fear.  “In a nation where number of preschoolers killed by guns in 2008 (88) and in 2009 (85) was nearly double the number of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty in 2008 (41) and 2009 (48), we don’t need to arm more people and allow for more freedom to carry individual weapons of mass destruction.”

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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.

Republican Budget Cuts Responsible for More than 700 Teacher Layoffs this Week Alone

State Representatives Denise Driehaus and Mike Foley urged the Republican legislature and Gov. Kasich to take a serious look at the Kids and Communities First Fund announced by House Democrats this week.  The fund would help offset historically deep budget cuts after the layoff of more than 700 teachers that was disclosed over the course of two days.

Cleveland City Schools announced that 508 teaching positions would be lost at the end of this year while another 200 teachers take retirement packages.  The district will also shorten the school day and cut music and arts programs.  These layoffs come even as the district will place a $65 million levy on the ballot in the fall to close the budget hole created by the $59 million the district will lose due to state budget cuts. Additionally, the Cleveland Teachers Union agreed to a 5.6 – 6 percent pay cut for next year.  [Cleveland Plain Dealer, 4/17/12]

“These kinds of cuts will only continue statewide if we do not take action to curb Gov. Kasich’s massive budget cuts.  This week’s news is incredibly disheartening,” said Rep. Foley. “While unemployment rates slowly go down more than 700 teachers were laid off this week in two of the state’s largest districts.”

Cincinnati City Schools, the highest ranked urban district in the state, announced 237 teacher layoffs this week due to $43 million dollars in budget cuts.  The district says the layoffs are due to funding cuts. Cincinnati City Schools faces a projected deficit of more than $53 million ($53,868,502) in fiscal year 2013 and a frightening $115 million ($115,099,388) in fiscal year 2014.  Julie Sellers, President of the Cincinnati Federation of Teachers was quoted in the Cincinnati Enquirer as saying, “This year already most of our grievances were about overloaded classrooms…” [Cincinnati Enquirer, 4/18/12]

“These layoffs will not only hurt our children’s education and future, they will hurt the families of those losing jobs, predominantly women,” said Rep. Driehaus. “Gov. Kasich’s policies are bad for economic development and bad for women.  Our communities deserve better, but unfortunately we’re seeing that women and families are being disproportionally affected. I urge my Republican colleagues and Gov. Kasich to put partisan politics aside and do what is right for our children and their teachers by passing the Kids and Communities First Fund.”

This week, House Democrats announced the Kids and Communities First Fund will be offered as an amendment to Gov. Kasich’s Mid-Biennium Review (HB 487).  This fund will help keep teachers in the classroom and cops and firefighters on the streets in communities all across Ohio. 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 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.

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Rep. Clyde Disappointed with Disrespectful Comments by Ohio Right to Life

As an Ohio Right to Life advocate was testifying in the ongoing Finance Committee hearings on the Mid-Biennial Budget Review (HB 497), which now includes a provision to defund Planned Parenthood, State Representative Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) was taken aback by the inappropriate comments made about young women. 

During her testimony before the committee, the Ohio Right to Life advocate stated, “We know why Planned Parenthood clinics are in places like Kent.”  The statement was made as if there is something wrong with locating a Planned Parenthood clinic near a college campus, where thousands of young women would be in proximity to the clinic’s important, life-saving services.  That sentiment was expressed further during questions and answers.    

“These insinuating comments are completely out of line and disrespectful to young women around this state,” said Rep. Clyde.  “Many college students are away from home, do not have a primary care physician on campus, and are not insured or are out of their network while away at school.  They often do not have the financial means to go elsewhere for these very basic and private healthcare needs such as annual pap smears.”

The Planned Parenthood clinic in Kent does not perform abortions.  However, like all Planned Parenthood clinics, they provide basic preventative health services for thousands of women and men.  If Ohio follows through with this attempt to defund stand-alone family planning clinics, such as Planned Parenthood, we risk losing millions in federal funding putting women’s health at great risk.  Recently, Texas lost all federal family planning funding, which totaled $39 million last year, for blocking Planned Parenthood from receiving any state or federal funding.  Federal law already prohibits funding for abortion services.

During Rep. Clyde’s questions, Committee Chairman Ron Amstuz abruptly cut off all questioning, calling this an “emotional” issue for some members of the committee and ended the hearing. 

“This war on women is offensive and degrading.  This is not simply a women’s issue or an issue about a women’s choice, this is a family issue,” said Rep. Clyde.  “Many mothers depend on services such as cancer screenings that Planned Parenthood provides.  If we take these critical services away, we put these families at risk of losing a mother, a daughter, grandmother or aunt.  That is simply unacceptable.”

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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 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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