Columbus – Today, Senator Edna Brown (D-Toledo) and Senator Frank LaRose (R-Hudson) announced the reintroduction of Senate Bill 118. The bill would enable peace officers, firefighters, and emergency medical workers diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) arising from employment without an accompanying physical injury to be eligible for compensation and benefits under Ohio Workers’ Compensation Law.
“Every day, we rely on our first responders to protect and save the lives of Ohioans,” said Senator Brown. “During the course of their careers, these brave men and women can be exposed to horrific situations, resulting in PTSD. They willingly put aside their own safety to secure ours; we owe them the ability to receive the proper treatment and care that they need.”
Post-traumatic stress disorder can occur after an individual experiences a traumatic or life-threatening event. PTSD can happen to anyone; however, the percentage of people diagnosed with the disorder tends to be especially high among veterans and first-responders due to the nature of their work. PTSD can severely interfere with an individual’s ability to live normally, potentially leading to substance abuse, alcohol addiction, depression, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping. If left untreated, the condition can worsen.
In the 131st General Assembly, Senator Brown and Representative Thomas Patton (R-Strongsville) introduced similar legislation (Senate Bill 5).
“Our first responders take care of us. Now it’s time for us to take care of them,” added Senator Brown. “This is a bipartisan issue, and I’m grateful that Senator LaRose has taken interest in pursuing passage of Senate Bill 118 with me. I urge my colleagues to recognize all of the good this bill does for an invaluable group of people.”
Columbus—Today, all the members of the Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus voted for the state transportation budget (House Bill 26) after more funding for public transportation was added to the bill. The version of HB 26 that unanimously passed the Senate included an additional $30 million over the next two fiscal years for public transportation investments. Those investments include new buses for transportation systems across the state.
After the vote, Democratic Senators issued the following comments:
Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni
“This year’s transportation budget provides a long overdue funding increase for Ohio’s public transit systems. However, I am concerned about the change made by the Senate that would allow the Public Utilities Commission to approve increases to the fees gas companies can collect for economic development. The state should play a bigger role in paying for natural gas infrastructure development – not the ratepayers.”
Assistant Senate Minority Leader Charleta B. Tavares
"The Senate Democratic caucus wanted a budget that would provide support to our existing infrastructure while also expanding public transportation. We appreciate that an additional $15 million each year will be provided to help fund public transit throughout the state. We are also proud of the 19% increase in funding for construction and maintenance of roads in our metropolitan parks. However, the budget still falls short in finding a way to ensure that vehicles that run on alternative fuels contribute to the infrastructure needs of our public roads, securing permanent state funding for public transit, and taking the necessary steps to make Ohio ready for a multi-modal transportation system that includes passenger rail. Despite the missed opportunities, what is in the transportation budget represents a true bi-partisan effort to provide for the transportation needs of the residents of Ohio."
Minority Whip Edna Brown
“Our transportation budget funds crucial aspects of Ohio, such as our port authorities, our bridges, our buses, and our roads. And while I am happy today to have helped pass this budget, I believe that our state can do more and needs to do more to invest in our transportation infrastructure. Public transportation needs special attention in our rural, suburban, and urban places. I, along with my fellow Democratic members, fought hard for adequate funding—funding that we know creates economic growth.”
Senator Kenny Yuko
"While there is certainly room for improvement, I am proud of the progress we've achieved. I am disappointed that the committee did not fully acknowledge the Statewide Transit Needs Study’s advice that we increase funding for public transit. I will continue to find a way to improve the funding for all public transportation, which is incredibly important for all citizens of Ohio, and will help attract new businesses and people to work and live in our state."
Senator Michael Skindell
"I am glad to see the additional $30 million included in the Transportation Budget for public transit. However, a better investment in affordable public transportation will best serve the needs of all citizens. By providing a more robust system, the state can more adequately promote self-sustainability and independence. "
COLUMBUS – Today, Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) introduced legislation that would create a dedicated funding source to support green infrastructure projects in Ohio.
“Too often we find ourselves using our limited financial resources to fix 19th century infrastructure problems with outdated solutions and technology,” said Senator Schiavoni. “Green infrastructure projects are both cost-efficient and low impact to the environment – a win-win for all parties involved. The establishment of a state fund will help local communities finance these worthwhile projects.”
Under Senate Bill 112, the state would create a $10 million grant program to help fund projects related to dam removal, natural stream channel and floodplain restoration, storm water retention wetlands, green streets and parking lots, green roofs, urban reforestation projects, and rainwater harvesting. This program will be modeled similar to the very popular Ohio EPA Surface Water Improvement Fund (SWIF). The Ohio EPA will assist in the review of applications and the Ohio Public Works Commission will administer the grant dollars.
“We applaud Senator Schiavoni for promoting green infrastructure as a cost-effective and low-maintenance solution to the challenge that Ohio’s cities face in managing storm water,” said Josh Knights, Executive Director of The Nature Conservancy in Ohio. “The creation of a green infrastructure fund will give municipal leaders more flexibility in how they tackle this problem while expanding green space and wildlife habitat for the enjoyment of all Ohioans.”
Columbus –Today, State Senator Edna Brown (D-Toledo) announced that she will soon introduce legislation which will help prevent more gun violence by keeping firearms away from domestic abusers.
“Support for the 2nd Amendment should go hand-in-hand with keeping guns out of the hands of people we know are dangerous,” said Senator Brown. “Guns in a domestic violence situation do not make anyone safer. The presence of a firearm at such a time makes it five times more likely that a woman will be killed. My legislation will help keep domestic violence survivors safe from gun violence.”
Every year in the United States, women suffer from 5.3 million incidents of domestic violence. But 26 states and Washington DC already have laws that prohibit people who have either been convicted of domestic violence or are subject to a domestic-violence restraining order from owning firearms. Ohio does not. The laws passed by those 26 states have reduced gun violence against women, because we know that the presence of a gun in a situation of intimate-partner violence makes it five times more likely that a woman will be killed.
Recently, Ohio experienced another incident of this type of violence. James Ramey is charged with killing his intimate partner Amanda Mangas with a gun on March 14th. He had previously been convicted of domestic violence against her—for holding a knife to her throat when she said she might leave him.
“Along with Constitutional natural rights comes great individual responsibility,” Senator Brown added. “If a person has been convicted of violent domestic abuse or is under a protection order for the safety of another human being then that person has forfeited his or her right to own a gun.”
Overall one in two American women who are killed with guns is killed by a romantic partner or family member. Moreover, roughly 4.5 million women alive today have been threatened with a gun by an intimate partner. According to Gallup, over 60 percent of Americans are dissatisfied with United States gun laws. And a second poll from Gallup shows that a majority of Americans agree that laws limiting gun access should be stronger.
“If we value the lives of our mothers, wives, and daughters, we have a responsibility to act,” emphasized Senator Brown. “Millions of Americans have spoken and deserve to be heard: Ohio needs common-sense gun laws, and this means keeping firearms away from violent domestic abusers. I wish we could have acted sooner to help protect Amanda Mangas.”
Today, State Senator Michael Skindell (D-Lakewood) introduced Senate Bill 101 to provide struggling employees with predictive scheduling and fair treatment in the workplace. Ohioans are known for their hard work ethic and dedication to their jobs. The Retail and Employee Rights Act is necessary to pay Ohio workers the same respect that they put into building a stronger and greater Ohio.
In today's post-recession economy, many large retailers are employing part-time workers at relatively low wages, forcing many employees to work multiple jobs. At the same time, retail employers are utilizing "just in-time" scheduling practices and changing schedules the "day of" an employee's work shift. These practices make it difficult for the employees to hold that crucial second job. Employees can only work for multiple employers if they have predictability in scheduling and are treated fairly. The bill also covers workers in fast-food restaurant franchises.
"Predictive scheduling protects our most vulnerable workers, those who need to rely on more than one job – either part-time or full-time – to make ends meet,” said Deb Kline, Director at Cleveland Jobs With Justice. “It is impossible for a low wage earner to seek more than one place of employment unless they know the hours their employers are going to require them to work. Erratic scheduling also negatively impacts workers in need of child care or those who have become caretakers of aging or disabled family members. Cleveland Jobs with Justice hopes that the Ohio Legislature will take action now to protect our workers by passing predictive scheduling."
Senate Bill 101 outlines provisions employers must follow in order to make schedules predictable for their employees. Employers will be required to post their employees’ schedules publically at least 14 days in advance. If employers cancel a worker’s shift close to it taking place, that employee will be paid some compensation for setting aside their time for work. In addition, the legislation outlines pay for on-call shifts. The legislation also includes provisions requiring part-time and full-time employees to be treated more equally regarding hourly wages, access to time off, and eligibility for promotions.
“The proposed legislation would provide hours and retention protections for fair and predictable scheduling and treatment of part-time employees of some chain stores and fast food restaurants. It is imperative that we work toward increasing economic security and providing strong worker protections at the state level,” said Senator Skindell.
COLUMBUS – This week, State Senator Michael Skindell (D-Lakewood) recognizes National Sunshine Week and the importance of access to public information. This year, Sunshine Week takes place from March 12th-18th. It brings together nonpartisan organizations to inform Americans about public records laws in government. The week’s events focus on accountability, transparency, and open dialogue to foster an environment where government works for the people.
“Transparency helps hold our public officials accountable. It provides valuable information for citizens to make informed decisions about their legislators,” said Senator Skindell. “Open government is the cornerstone of our democracy.”
Senator Skindell has taken the issue of government accountability and transparency very seriously throughout his career in public service. In 2014, he worked to pass Senate Bill 270, which requires the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities to post inspection and compliance reports for service providers online. Allowing families to easily access these reports helps them make the best decisions for the care of their loved ones.
In 2015, Senator Skindell introduced a bill to clarify that public money paid from a charter school to an operator or management company still retains its status as public money. This bill was accepted as an amendment into another bill and signed into law. Previously, the Ohio Supreme Court had decided that Ohio law lacked language to keep these dollars public, and ruled that for-profit operators could sell property and keep the funds. With the passage of HB 2 and Senator Skindell’s provision, taxpayer dollars are safeguarded in the event of a school closure.
“Public trust can only be earned when the sun is allowed to shine upon government dealings. Our public officials must turn on the lights, open the shutters and raise the blinds,” Senator Skindell added. “Only sunshine will guard our public assets. Only transparent government will protect the people's interests. Only accountability will restore public trust. “
COLUMBUS - Today, State Senator Michael Skindell (D-Lakewood) and Assistant Senate Minority Leader Charleta B. Tavares (D-Columbus) reintroduced legislation to expand Ohio Civil Rights Law to LGBTQ Ohioans. Senate Bill 100 would extend employment, housing, and public accommodations protections to include sexual orientation and gender identity or expression to the covered areas currently identified as unlawful discriminatory practices.
“As we work to grow our economy and lower unemployment, we must not allow discrimination of any form to occur,” said Senator Skindell. “Qualified and competent employees can currently lose their jobs because of who they are or whom they love. Ohio should be a welcoming place to attract and retain the most talented workers. SB 100 will also provide equity and fairness in the housing market.”
Ohio is currently one of 28 states that do not provide housing and workplace protections for sexual orientation or gender identity or expression in a clear, consistent manner. Sixteen Ohio cities have passed non-discrimination ordinances and 80 of the top 98 employers in Ohio have policies that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. Senate Bill 100 would extend these protections to every person who lives and works in Ohio.
“It is far past time for Ohio to join the 22 other states that have decided to stand up for the rights of their LGBTQ residents,” stated Senator Tavares. “Ohio must continue to strive for inclusivity; our state should be a place where anyone can come to live and seek employment regardless of their race, ethnicity, age, gender orientation, or sexual identity.”
"I hear from people every single day who have experienced discrimination because of who they are or whom they love. This bill would give victims of discrimination a voice," said Alana Jochum, Executive Director of Equality Ohio. "Ohio is home to employers of considerable size––we need to keep talent here in Ohio, not push it away because our state is unwelcoming to LGBTQ people. I'm thankful the Senators have introduced this important legislation."
Columbus—Today, members of the Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus released the following statements regarding the consequences of repealing the Affordable Care Act and replacing it with “Trumpcare.” The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has determined that 24 million Americans would lose their healthcare coverage as a result of the Republican plan now being debated in Congress.
Senator Joe Schiavoni, (D-Boardman), Senate Minority Leader:
“Trumpcare would be a disaster for Ohio and the nation. Millions would lose their health insurance and many others, especially older Americans, would face higher premiums and out-of-pocket expenses. We can’t go back to the bad old days before the Affordable Care Act when too many Ohio families were just one illness away from bankruptcy. Everyone deserves access to quality, affordable healthcare.”
Senator Charleta B. Tavares, (D-Columbus), Assistant Minority Leader:
“The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) ensured that care was available to all, provided preventative services and screenings, and required all of us to pay based on our earnings to fairly compensate for our care. The American Health Care Act reduces services and care for millions of Americans, does not provide preventative and cost-effective health screenings, and does not ensure that all of us are fairly paying towards our health care. This new bill reduces the number of Americans who will receive care and provides no protection for life-saving screenings, fair premiums, and Medicaid Expansion that has helped millions of Americans receive vital health care services. The essence of the president and the GOP's bill is: Trump Dumps Care.”
Senator Edna Brown, (D-Toledo), Minority Whip:
“As non-partisan analysis shows, Trumpcare fails on all sides. It will inevitably cost more while insuring 24 million fewer Americans. In the next six years alone, Ohio would have to spend $25 billion.”
Senator Cecil Thomas, (D-Cincinnati), Assistant Minority Whip:
“I am disappointed—but not surprised—by the report of the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) on the impact of Trumpcare. I am not surprised because any person in the ‘real world’ has either benefitted from Obamacare or they know someone who has. Perhaps those in “Wall Street World” may not understand how many Americans need affordable healthcare.”
Senator Michael Skindell (D-Lakewood):
“The report from the CBO confirms our worst fears – repealing the Affordable Care Act would be devastating to Ohio’s families, particularly low-income workers and seniors. We need to be strengthening healthcare for Ohioans, not saddling them with higher costs for less coverage or kicking them off their current insurance plans. I believe that it is imperative we work together in our state to provide quality healthcare for every Ohioan.”
Senator Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights):
“I represent some very poor communities and some very wealthy communities, and I’m getting concerned calls from all of them, with good reason. Diseases don’t care how much money you make or what kind of insurance you have. Everyone needs affordable comprehensive health care, and Trumpcare threatens that.”
COLUMBUS—Today, State Senator Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights) condemned the bomb threats made against Mandel Jewish Community Center in Beachwood.
“These threats against our Jewish friends must stop, not just here in Ohio, but all across the country where other threats have been reported,” said Senator Yuko.
The community center received a second bomb threat during observance of Purim yesterday, March 12th. The building’s security and local law enforcement searched the building extensively. The teams determined that the threat was not credible and that the premises were safe.
“I greatly appreciate the rapid response of the security team and law enforcement. It is horrible that emergency services are necessary to protect against those spreading fear and hate,” Senator Yuko added.
This is the second bomb threat the Mandel JCC has received in less than a month; the center previously received a bomb threat on February 20th. According to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, there have been at least 156 bomb threats to Jewish institutions in the United States and Canada this year.
COLUMBUS - Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) and members of the Senate Democratic Caucus have launched a series of trips around the state to gather opinions from parents and educators on ways to improve education in Ohio.
Columbus—Next week, Assistant Senate Democratic Leader Charleta B. Tavares (D-Columbus) will introduce legislation aimed at protecting citizens who record law enforcement and civilian involved incidents. The Eyewitness Protection Act will give a person the right to lawfully record any incident involving law enforcement or the public and to maintain custody and control of that recording and the device used to record the incident.
Columbus—Today, State Senator Cecil Thomas (D-Cincinnati) testified before members of the State and Local Government Committee on Senate Concurrent Resolution 4 to urge Commissioner Robert Manfred to reinstate Pete Rose to Major League Baseball. The resolution also encourages the Baseball Writers' Association to consider Pete Rose for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Cleveland—Today, Senator Sandra Williams (D-Cleveland) released the following statement calling for accountability after Judge John O'Donnell found Officer Michael Brelo not guilty of voluntary manslaughter charges in the deaths of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams: