1.            DACA and Driver’s Licenses Update

On Tuesday, June 11th, the House Transportation, Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee will hear sponsor testimony on House Bill 155, which would restate Ohio law to specifically grant driver’s license eligibility to recipients of the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program.

This bill was introduced by Representatives Alicia Reece (D – Cincinnati) and Assistant Minority Whip Dan Ramos (D – Lorain). It is a companion bill to Senate Bill 62. The hearing will be held in Room 122 of the Ohio Statehouse at 1:30 pm. 

The Committee once more will not hear opponent testimony on House Bill 114Representative Matt Lynch’s bill which would enumerate those categories of non-citizen Ohioans that are eligible to receive a driver’s license, specifically excluding recipients of DACA. The two bills – House Bill 114 and House Bill 155 – are essentially opposites. Presently, recipients of DACA can obtain an Ohio driver’s license according to a policy announcement from the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

This is the second consecutive week that I’ve incorrectly predicted a hearing for House Bill 114. Going forward, I will update you when the bill receives its next hearing. Please contact me if you would like assistance in preparing or submitting testimony or in contacting your legislator.


2.            The Filibuster in the U.S. Senate

In April the United States Senate votes 54-46 in favor of a bipartisan measure proposed by Senators Joe Manchin (D – WV) and Pat Toomey (R – PA). A majority of the members of the body voted for the measure, which polls indicated was supported by more than 90% of Americans. Even with this majority vote and the overwhelming public support, however, the measure failed. It failed due to a quirk of parliamentary procedure that has famously endured as part of the rules governing debate in the U.S. Senate: the filibuster.

A filibuster is the name given to a procedural tactic designed to delay or prevent a vote on a particular measure. Rules in the U.S. Senate currently allow any Senator to speak indefinitely on the floor on any topic. They can also ask questions and cede the floor to sympathetic colleagues. Senators can only end debate and force a vote by invoking a motion called cloture – but a cloture motion requires a three-fifths majority of those “duly chosen and sworn”  to pass. This is important because this majority requires the same number of votes regardless of which or how many senators are present at the debate. Cloture motions can be filed pre-emptively when there is a threat of the filibuster, or made during debate. To successfully invoke cloture and end a filibuster, 60 (three-fifths) of the 100 senators must vote to end debate and bring the measure to the floor. It is noteworthy that all procedural budget measures are governed under a rules system called reconciliation, which does not allow filibusters.

Filibusters have a long history in parliamentary procedure, though the word was not used in the United States until the 1850s. Ancient Roman Senator Cato the Younger frequently used filibusters to delay or block votes on measures he opposed, as rules in the Roman Senate required that the body conclude its business by dusk. On several occasions Cato used this tactic to frustrate the ambitions of Julius Caesar. The filibuster has since been sparingly employed in legislatures around the world, but nowhere so frequently – nor so powerfully – as in the U.S. Senate.

Initially, the U.S. Senate drafted a rule creating a mechanism for limiting debate and bringing a measure to a floor vote. Some thought the mechanism redundant and unnecessary, however, so in 1806 the U.S. Senate removed the rule, and created no alternative option for forcing a vote. Thus they created the potential for a filibuster. It remained theoretical until the 1830’s, and a very-rarely invoked quirk of parliamentary procedure until very recently. Former Senator Strom Thurmond holds the record for the lengthiest personal filibuster, at 24 hours and 18 minutes, which he delivered in order to delay a vote on a 1957 civil rights bill. Senate democrats also staged a 75-hour filibuster of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which included a 14-hour speech from former Senator Robert Byrd. Filibusters became so problematic for the Senate during this time that it created a “two track” system, whereby the majority can – with the consent of the minority leader – have more than one bill up for consideration, provided each measure is given a specific time of the day for floor time.

Filibusters have become a prime tool of the minority party in the U.S. Senate to block the agenda of the majority party. Use of the filibuster has expanded so rapidly in the last several years that almost every piece of significant legislation moving through the Senate requires the support of 60 Senators – enough to invoke cloture and force a vote. In the 1960’s, Senators saw a handful of cloture motions per two-year term. By contrast, the 110th Congress heard 112 motions for cloture in 2007 and 2008. The U.S. Senate in the 113th Congress (presently meeting) includes 51 democrats, 2 independents who caucus with democrats, and 47 republicans. Thus while the democrats hold the majority in the Senate, they lack the 60 votes required to invoke cloture and avoid the threat of a filibuster.

Filibusters can still be defeated by waiting them out. If the Senate majority puts no other items on the agenda for the Senate to consider, eventually the filibuster must end. This is, in fact, exactly how then-Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson defeated Strom Thurmond’s day-long filibuster mentioned above.  Recently, however, the Senate majority has chosen to pursue other business where a filibuster is threatened or staged and cloture motions have failed.

Scholars argue that filibusters could be removed from the parliamentary procedure of the Senate, but only when changing the Senate rules on the first day of session in January or March. This idea stems from an 1892 Supreme Court of the United States case called United States v. Ballin. Even if such a change were to be proposed, however, the change itself could be filibustered. In this case a motion for cloture requires a two-thirds majority of those present, rather than a three-fifths majority of all senators.

Proponents of filibuster deform decry it as undemocratic – saying that filibusters and some would argue, their misuse) give the minority too much power to obstruct the majority’s agenda. They note the overwhelming public support for universal background checks that was defeated in the Senate even though a majority of Senators (54) supported it. The vote would have been filibustered, and the majority lacked the 60 votes it needed for cloture. Opponents of filibuster reform call the filibuster the “soul” of the Senate, and point to the Senate perceived-and-historical role as the more careful and thoughtful of the two houses of congress.

Neither the U.S. House of Representatives nor either chamber at the state level in Ohio has a mechanism for filibusters, but federal legislation is still important to Ohio Latinos – like the universal background checks bill and upcoming Senate consideration of freezing student loan interest rates. Most visibly, the Senate’s bipartisan immigration bill is set for a floor vote next week, and though Senate republicans have indicated that they will not filibuster bringing the measure to the floor, it’s not yet clear whether the threat of a filibuster has been completely avoided, or whether the bill’s proponents have garnered the 60 votes they would need to overcome a filibuster via cloture, especially with the recent passing of Senator Frank Lautenberg. If you would like to learn more, please see the links below and, as always, I encourage you to contact me.

[Senate Minority Leader] Harry Reid says Immigration bill on floor next week

Rubio: Immigration bill does not have the votes to pass

About filibusters – U.S. Senate

Rules and procedure – U.S. Senate

Robert’s Rules of Order and parliamentary procedure

A great day for the filibuster, and for filibuster reform



Please see a calendar of upcoming events in Ohio’s Hispanic communities here.




Education and Workforce Development


Hite, Turner say process behind Columbus plan should be replicated around State 

A bipartisan pair on the Senate Education Committee said Wednesday the effort behind the creation of a Columbus schools education reform plan should be replicated across the state. Although he didn’t push for the Columbus City Schools legislation (HB 167) to be applied to all districts in the state, Sen. Cliff Hite (R-Findlay) told the bill sponsors the next step is to get all factions in the room together to figure out how to keep doing something similar statewide. “I don’t mean expand what you’re doing – I understand the needs are different everywhere…I’m saying to get education to the point where we don’t have to revisit things every month and every year and a half because of political changes and really come up with something good,” he said. The lawmaker applauded the work of Rep. Cheryl Grossman (R-Grove City) and Rep. Tracy Heard (D-Columbus) on the Columbus Plan and Sen. Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering) and Sen. Nina Turner (D-Cleveland) on a similar Cleveland schools reform. “We’ve seen two examples now of where we can work together and I just applaud all four of you.” Rep. Heard said she hopes this second locally specific bill will force a long-term conversation on reform. “We have wonderful school districts that are performing very well throughout the entire state, but we have far too many that are facing really severe challenges,” she said. Sen. Turner (D-Cleveland) said she wanted to echo what Sen. Hite said about the bill. Alex Fisher, president and CEO of the Columbus Partnership and member of the Columbus Education Commission that developed the bill proposals, said the measure does have a statewide impact as the future of the city has statewide economic consequences and as Ohio’s largest district, CCS has “enormous” education consequences. Sen. Lehner said the “naysayers” are arguing that the creation of district-specific plans is actually the work of some entity in an attempt to take over education in the state. She asked if there were outside sources involved in the Columbus Plan. Mr. Fisher said the work among the business community, district and mayor was with the “purest of motivations.” “While I’ve heard even in our own community in the early days all the various theories about why we might want to be involved, I cannot think of a single opportunity which we have to gain anything from this plan other than building a better life and opportunity for the kids in our community,” he said. “The same people that were skeptical of us in the beginning, we were skeptical of. We had the same misperceptions about what the motivations of the teachers union might be. We had the same misperceptions about what the motivations of the school board might be and what the motivations of the mayor (were).” Sen. Turner said the business community’s commitment to traditional public schools rebuts arguments that there might be an outside push for charter support. Mr. Fisher confirmed the commission’s devotion to traditional schools. The bill would place an issue on the November ballot to create an independent auditor for the district, place a levy on the ballot for a new levy to be shared with partnering charters, and allow the Columbus mayor to sponsor charters. Rep. Grossman also noted the House made two changes to the bill to allow the independent auditor to audit the use of levy dollars in charters and to require an annual report of the independent auditor to be submitted to the General Assembly. Sen. Lehner asked about the sponsors’ comments that 35% of Columbus charter students being in A or B schools while only 25% of district students are in schools with those ratings. She asked if the plan does anything to address D or F charter schools. Rep. Heard said the process involves “squeezing out” the bad schools. Partnering charters will either be invited by the mayor or required to apply and be graded. “Parents will just start making better and better choices because they will be better informed and the other schools will simply go away” via declining enrollment, she said. Sen. Lehner asked what the district plans to do about C schools. Rep. Grossman said part of that would be achieved through the redevelopment of how the district schools operate. There will be a lot more ownership by the school. For mediocre charter schools, she said she expects they will see declining enrollment. Carol Perkins, president of the CCS Board of Education, offered support for the bill but again pushed for changes that were not adopted on her recommendation by the House. She said the bill lists tasks the independent auditor is required to do as well as those he or she has the discretion to do. Among those permissive functions is ensuring the accuracy and reporting of student performance and enrollment data. “Given what the district is currently experiencing with investigations into student attendance data, I do not believe this audit function should remain discretionary,” she said. Ms. Perkins told Sen. Lehner there was no discussion with the commission about the proposed change but did speak with the mayor on the matter. She said she is unaware of any difference of opinion on the amendment. Emmanuel Remy, president of the Northland Community Council, said Northland has the highest concentration of charters in the Columbus district. Many on Northland’s education committee, like himself, had no idea what the mission of charters was. “Through this committee we now understand their purpose, are excited about the growth of the respectable ones and appreciate their willingness to talk with other public and private schools to share ideas and concerns,” he said. He said the Columbus Education Commission identified needs for providing early education preparedness for preschool-age children, hiring and attracting highly skilled teachers and providing technology in schools – things some city charters are already doing. Andrew Boy, founder and executive director of the United Schools Network, testified about the success his charter school – the Columbus Collegiate Academy – has seen and the need for greater funding support. Greater Cleveland Partnership Vice President of State and Local Government Affairs Marty McGann also lent support, saying the Columbus Plan is not the Cleveland Plan, nor should it be. “With the Cleveland Plan, we addressed the specific challenges of our community,” he said. “The provisions of House Bill 167 speak directly to the particular needs of Columbus schools.” 

Gongwer News Service. 6/5/13

Kasich: Ohio colleges must improve job training

Neither Ohio companies nor Ohio universities are doing their part to match job training and available jobs, Gov. John Kasich said Wednesday. Kasich told the Ohio Board of Regents that the state had asked 130 companies for details on the jobs they need to fill, using a tool developed with the consulting giant Accenture. “The problem is that the big companies, or most of them, don’t want to tell us what they need,” Kasich told the board that oversees Ohio’s public colleges and universities. “They will say they can’t find the workers, and then if you ask them what they need, they won’t tell you.” Universities are just as much at fault for a training system that is fractured and inefficient, he said. “I want universities to align their efforts to make sure that when the students come in, they’re trained for the jobs that exist,” the governor said. “The universities all know they need to do a better job of this.” Kasich said the state’s biggest insurance companies have joined together with universities to fund risk management programs. One of the biggest is at the University of Cincinnati, which started a center last year heavily funded by the Lindner family and Great American Insurance Group. Next on Kasich’s list is the energy industry. He said high-paying utility jobs are plentiful for students with two-year degrees. After a day full of bureaucratic talk of online courses, articulation and transfer agreements and computing capacity, Kasich provided a heavy dose of reality. “Wouldn’t it be great if you could just hand them (students) a menu?” he said. “It would be fantastic when they walk in the door if they’re able to see the range of opportunities available to them. “If you’re good at math – anyone here good at math? – math can lead to risk management,” he said. Kasich said counselors and advisers need a bigger role. And he lauded the century-old co-op program at UC. But he said there probably won’t be more state funding for co-op, which the Board of Regents is trying to expand across the state. “The University of Cincinnati did this without any state money,” Kasich said. “I don’t know why the taxpayers need to subsidize that, because the internships should be part of the educational process.” And the governor made clear that universities need to spend their money differently. “I have friends who are on boards of universities who tell me there is so much more that can be wrung out of current operations and applied to something better, you’d be stunned. And I believe that.”

Cincinnati Enquirer. 6/5/13

LULAC responds to the Strengthening America’s Schools Act of 2013

Yesterday, Margaret Moran, National President of the League of the United Latin American Citizens released the following statement regarding the introduction of Strengthening America’s Schools Act of 2013 by Senator Tom Harkin, Chairman of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP). The bill will reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) commonly known as the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). “LULAC appreciates Senator Harkin for introducing legislation that is paramount in addressing the many education challenges that underserved student populations face. We join other civil rights organizations in expressing the need to move beyond the current ESEA waivers system. Of particular importance to LULAC is ensuring that strong accountability provisions are included in the bill which will ensure that Latino students receive proper attention and instruction in our schools. We look forward to working with Senator Harkin as the process continues and urge our membership to keep a watchful eye on the legislation as it moves through the Senate. “According to some estimates, Latino students today make up 11 million of the country’s public education system and compose over 20% of the students enrolled in pre-K through twelfth grade. Today, Latino students are achieving at higher rates but continue to face challenges that can only be addressed by working collaboratively with education advocates and political leaders.” The ESEA was previously introduced in 2010. LULACthe Hispanic Education Coalition, co-chaired by LULAC, and the Campaign for High School Equity, submitted recommendations to the Senate HELP Committee regarding the reauthorization of ESEA. Unfortunately, that bill failed to move out of the Senate.

LULAC. 6/5/13

Gee on way out as Ohio State president following publication of critical statements

      Days after news reports of derogatory statements that he himself described as a “misguided attempt at humor,” Ohio State President Gordon Gee has announced his retirement effective July 1. Mr. Gee announced his plans in a joint release with Robert H. Schottenstein, chairman of the OSU Board of Trustees. Executive Vice President and Provost Joseph A. Alutto will be named interim president. Details on a search for a permanent replacement are pending. “I recently returned from a vacation with my family, during which time I had a chance to consider the university’s phenomenal achievements and the road that lies ahead for it. Ohio State now has a richness of new opportunities that would be the envy of most universities,” Mr. Gee said. “During my days away, I also spent some time in self-reflection. And after much deliberation, I have decided it is now time for me to turn over the reins of leadership to allow the seeds that we have planted to grow. It is also time for me to reenergize and refocus myself.”  President Gee served as OSU president for two terms, from 1990-1997 and 2007 to present. His latest stint came to an abrupt end following the outcry over reports that he had disparaged Catholics, the Southeastern Conference and other universities during a meeting of the Athletic Council in December. The incident cast a shadow over his achievements at the university and in the higher education community, including his recent efforts to help raise more than $1.6 billion and his lead role in developing a new higher education funding model at the behest of Gov. John Kasich. “I began my career at Ohio State in 1990, and I was honored to return as its leader six years ago. I am proud to have played a critical role in the university’s transformation from excellence to eminence. I plan to work closely with the trustees and Dr. Alutto to ensure the smoothest transition possible,” he said. Chairman Schottenstein said he was informed of the president’s decision Tuesday morning. “By any measure, Gordon has been a transformational leader for Ohio State. His service to Ohio State has been superb. This man has been an inspiration to many people, including me, and we all are forever grateful for his friendship,” he said. “His thoughtful and unique leadership style has taken the university to new levels. His engagement with the entire Ohio State community is truly remarkable. Clearly he leaves a rich and lasting legacy and will be missed. On behalf of the board, I would like to express our profound gratitude to President Gee for his service to the Ohio State University. As we go forward, the university board will work in close partnership with Dr. Gee and Dr. Alutto through this period to continue the tremendous success and growth we have seen under his leadership.”

Gongwer News Service. 6/4/13


Justice and Civil Rights


Gay-rights groups at odds over when to attempt repeal of same-sex marriage ban

There’s consensus among national gay organizations to back a campaign to overturn Ohio’s same-sex marriage ban. But unusual events yesterday showed there’s no agreement on when that should happen. Minutes after a meeting of 11 state and national gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender organizations ended in Columbus yesterday, Ian James, co-founder of FreedomOhio, sent out a release saying his group will seek a statewide vote next year to overturn the ban Ohioans approved in 2004. “We have decided to be on the ballot in 2014 to allow for a continuing dialogue with voters across Ohio about why marriage matters,” James said. But shortly after that email, several people who attended the meeting, including Elyzabeth Holford, executive director of Equality Ohio, disputed James’ suggestion that there was consensus about next year — or any specific year. They accused James of “misleading characterizations” of the meeting. “There’s quite a bit of work to be done in Ohio,” Holford said. “Today was really the beginning. “We intend to win and will do everything necessary to secure fairness for same-sex couples and their families.” Holford said it was “absolutely inappropriate for James to infer there was an agreement to move forward next year. … We will move forward when the time is right.” “Ian James must have attended a different meeting than the rest of us,” Marty Rouse, national field director for the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement. He said 10 organizations came away from the meeting with the understanding that no decision was made. “We’re perplexed as to how FreedomOhio came away with a different understanding.” Marc Solomon, of Freedom to Marry, added that the groups are “committed to winning marriage in Ohio as soon as possible … in 2016 or, if possible, sooner.” Gay marriage has been approved in 12 states and the District of Columbia, either through ballot issues or legislative action. James’ group is well on the way to gathering the 385,253 valid signatures of registered Ohio voters needed to qualify for the ballot. But there has been indecision about the best time to put the issue to a vote. James responded to the criticism by saying his group voted to go to the ballot next year. “Our LGBT friends in state and nationally are welcome to join us or they can sit this one out. Either way, we are going to be on the ballot in 2014 and will run a robust and winning campaign. Period.” Groups attending yesterday’s meeting also included the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, the Gill Action Fund, the American Unity Fund and the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center. Phil Burress, head of Citizens for Community Values, the Cincinnati-based conservative group that led the charge for the 2004 constitutional amendment that defined marriage as solely between one man and one woman, said he thinks an attempt at overturning the ban will be unsuccessful in any year. “Putting it on the ballot in 2014 spells victory for John Kasich,” Burress said, referring to Ohio’s Republican governor who will seek a second term next year. “People only need to look back to 2004 when Ohioans sent George W. Bush back to the White House because of this issue.”

Columbus Dispatch. 6/4/13


Health and Safety


Forum looks at ongoing problem of sex trade

Seven years after Toledo police and the FBI uncovered a nationwide sex trafficking ring operating in Toledo, human rights advocates continue to call for heightened awareness and stricter regulations in Ohio. In the first day of a two-day community forum at the Hotel @ UTMC, the Ohio Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights met Wednesday with the state’s leading human trafficking experts to discuss Ohio’s status as one of the five worst states for human trafficking. “This is the biggest human rights issue today in our lifetime,” said Celia Williamson, professor of social work and criminal justice at the University of Toledo. “… If you are not [emotionally disturbed], something may be wrong. Keep this emotional disturbance as a reminder to be moved to action.” The advisory committee had unanimously chosen to investigate the topic after Diane E. Citrino, chairman and 10-year committee member, suggested the committee follow up and monitor the changes made since Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine reconvened the Human Trafficking Commission. Ms. Citrino, an attorney in Cleveland, said the committee chose to convene in Toledo because of its status as a national hub for human trafficking. The panelists explained that 12, 13, and 14 year olds from broken homes are targeted for sex trafficking. While the state has had some success in combating sex trafficking, Melinda Sykes Haggerty, director of children’s initiatives for the Ohio attorney general, said there needs to be better data collection, continued training of prosecutors, judges, and the media, and a greater recognition that children might be victims of crimes rather than simply runaways. Carole Rendon, first assistant U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, also said the state has seen less success combating labor trafficking and that people need to look for it in nail salons, restaurants, and other businesses. The Ohio Advisory Committee is composed of 17 people. They are appointed every two years by the Commission on Civil Rights. Sister Geraldine Nowak of Sylvania, one of seven attendees, said she “resented” what she learned but thought the forum was “comprehensive and excellent.” Darlene Sweeney-Newbern, 54, a lifelong Toledo resident and regional director of the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, said she came to the conference to learn more about human trafficking in Toledo. “This is an American tragedy and we need to come together to combat this problem. These are a hidden group of people that we have to support and learn more about,” she said. Former Toledo trafficker Deric Willoughby — who was convicted seven years ago of federal charges of conspiracy to traffic in prostitution for taking a 15-year-old girl and her 14-year-old cousin to Michigan to be sold for sex — was scheduled to speak Wednesday. However, he canceled after he received negative attention from advocates who believe that he has not truly reformed, said David J. Mussatt, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Midwestern regional office director. After the forum adjourns today, committee members will draft a report that includes recommendations for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Today’s panels start at 9 a.m. and will feature testimony from trafficking survivors, human rights advocates, and state Rep. Teresa Fedor (D., Toledo), whose human trafficking legislation became law last year.

Toledo Blade. 6/6/13

Batchelder says he’d like to see Medicaid bill contain drug testing despite legal uncertainty 

House Speaker Bill Batchelder said Wednesday that he hopes that Medicaid overhaul legislation that comes out of his chamber addresses the impact drug addiction is having on Ohio’s workforce. Specifically, Speaker Batchelder (R-Medina) told reporters that he would like to see language that calls for Medicaid program drug testing, despite uncertainty over whether such a proposal would gain federal approval. “They can turn us down if they want,” he said. “The number of people we talk to every week, who own businesses and so forth, say the single biggest problem they have in hiring is drugs. “We just can’t keep going like that and if we’re going to have a huge rewrite of all of the health bill, we better get that one taken care of.” The idea of drug testing Medicaid recipients has been kicked around the lower chamber as the General Assembly has worked through the executive budget bill (HB 59), which originally contained a provision called to extend eligibility for the program up to 138% of the federal poverty level.  Following the House’s move to strip the measure from the legislation, however, conversation in both chambers shifted to ways the state could overhaul the current Medicaid system to focus on health from a more holistic fashion. While the Senate has largely refrained from consideration of the issue as it works through the budget process, Republican House lawmakers have been developing various Medicaid-related proposals. Rep. Barbara Sears (R-Sylvania), a key lawmaker on this issue, introduced an expansion proposal late last month (HB 176), which she said would serve as the “core” for future changes. Meanwhile, Rep. John Adams (R-Sidney) and Rep. Ron Amstutz (R-Wooster) are also working on Medicaid-related bills. According to Speaker Batchelder, Rep. Adams’ legislation represents the most conservative take on the issue, while Rep. Amstutz’s proposal will include bipartisan and bicameral provisions, as he is working with Sen. Dave Burke (R-Marysville) on the bill. “I met with the president of the Senate this morning and we talked about that… we would look forward to trying to do something that if it’s going to pass one house, it would be likely to pass the other one,” the speaker said. He added that while Rep. Sears’ bill is completed, “it’s not as appealing …as some others might be.” “We want to add drug tests, we want to have a bunch of stuff that will strengthen it and will also help in having public support for the whole concept. And at this point we don’t have that,” Speaker Batchelder said. Rep. Amstutz noted that while there are problems in the current health care system, he hasn’t had any conversation about drug testing Medicaid recipients. “The focus that I have and I think that I’ve been working with with other members across the way have to do with comprehensive assessments of what might be holding back individuals from being successful in their lives both in terms of family life, their work life and so on,” he said in an interview. “So that wouldn’t really be focused on some kind of drug test that would be punitive.” Rep. Amstutz, who chairs the House Finance & Appropriations Committee, stressed that the question at hand is how to best address this issue in a way that “helps lift (Ohioans) up” – a view which he believes is shared by the speaker.

 Gongwer News Service. 6/5/13

Kasich: Reagan expanded Medicaid, why not Ohio?

Gov. John Kasich, in an editorial that ran Sunday in USA Today,  lays out his argument again for expanding Medicaid in his state. In February, Kasich joined a growing contingent of Republican governors to support Medicaid expansion, in spite of his party’s misgivings about what he and other Republicans call Obamacare. Since then, he’s been working to convince members of his own party – which control Ohio’s House and Senate, that expansion makes economic and moral sense. In Sunday’s piece, he offers up another lens for considering the issuing: “What would Ronald Reagan do?”

Cincinnati Enquirer. 6/3/13

Ohio may raise speed limit to 70 on more roads

The speed limits on even more Ohio roads could go up to 70 miles per hour this year. The Ohio Senate Finance Committee has suggested raising the top speed limits on some state freeways “built to the standards and specifications of the interstate system” from 65 miles per hour to 70 mph, and from 55 mph to 60 mph for other state routes. The change was included as an amendment to the state budget proposed by committee members last week. The speed limit hike would add to the 570 miles of Ohio rural interstates that will go from 65 mph to 70 mph under a new law passed earlier this year. That change will take effect next month. The latest proposal does not yet specify which roads would be impacted. But Senate President Keith Faber, R-Celina, said it would apply to rural state and U.S. routes with four lanes and divided highways. Among the roads that could fit this criteria in the Miami Valley: U.S. 35, Ohio 4, U.S. 68 and U.S. 127. Faber used U.S. 30, which runs across northern Ohio through Lima and Canton, as one of the “prime examples” of roads that would be impacted, and said state senators had always intended for U.S. and state routes to be included in the speed limit hike. “If you can tell me what the difference is between U.S. 30 running across the state and (Interstate 75) running across the state… It’s arguably better to drive 70 on U.S. 30 because it’s less congested,” Faber said. “If it’s limited access and safe to do, then we want the speed limit raised,” said Ohio Sen. Bill Coley, R-West Chester Twp., vice chair of the Senate Finance Committee. The Ohio Insurance Institute opposes the last speed limit hike, and it opposes this one too, said President Dan Kelso. Kelso said increasing speeds on state routes poses even more risk than on interstates because some state routes have cross traffic. “The less safe the structure of the road is, if you increase the speed, you’re going to have as a practical matter more accidents. And because people are traveling faster, they tend to be more severe accidents,” Kelso said. The Ohio State Highway Patrol wasn’t involved in developing the Senate’s proposal and is still reviewing it, said spokeswoman Lt. Anne Ralston. While he didn’t know which roads the Senate has in mind, Ohio Department of Transportation spokesman Steve Faulkner said ODOT designates some state routes as “interstate look-alikes,” which means the road has entrance and exit ramps without “definite stopping” intersections with stop signs or stoplights. When asked if ODOT has concerns about the proposed speed limit hike, Faulkner said: “We’re talking to the legislature to see what kinds of provisions would be the most appropriate to keep the motoring public of Ohio the safest.” The speed limit amendment within the state budget is among dozens the Senate Finance Committee proposed last week. Also tucked into the senate finance budget is another amendment that will be of interest to drivers: a proposed 2 percent hike to the state portion of annual vehicle registration fees. Most noncommercial drivers would as a result pay another 62 cents, bringing the total cost to $35.12. The Legislative Service Commission, the nonpartisan research arm of the state legislature, has not yet calculated how much money the fee hike would raise. The new revenues would to go to local BMV deputy registrars, said agency spokeswoman Lindsey Bohrer. The final list of budget amendments is scheduled to be unveiled this afternoon, with a finance committee vote held on Wednesday and a vote from the full state senate on Thursday.

Dayton Daily News. 6/4/13

OSU might add human-trafficking office

Judge Paul M. Herbert, an architect of central Ohio’s strategy for steering women away from prostitution, said he thinks Ohio State University could be a leader in the movement to study and end human trafficking. That’s why Herbert, a Franklin County Municipal Court judge who started the county’s specialty court for former prostitutes in 2009, has proposed the creation of the Ohio State Office of Human Trafficking. There, he said, former prostitutes and trafficked victims could have their traumas and mental-health and addiction issues treated; the psychology and social-work departments could help with societal acceptance and reintegration; researchers could study the larger issue of trafficking; there could be outreach to help other victims escape the lifestyle; and perhaps most importantly, real policy change could start. Sen. Jim Hughes agrees. The Columbus Republican asked for $2 million in startup money for the office in the massive list of amendments the Senate added to the version of the state budget the House had passed. A committee quickly slashed that to $1 million but, so far, that amount remains. The Senate is still negotiating and plans to vote on its version of the budget this week. Then, it all goes to a joint committee of representatives and senators to work out the differences between the two budgets. The deadline for approving a final budget is July 1. Hughes said OSU is an obvious choice for such an office, which probably would be the first of its kind in the country. “At this flagship university, you have all of that expertise and all of those disciplines under one umbrella,” he said. “I think the center is a great idea, and Ohio has an opportunity to have a real impact on this problem.” And the problem isn’t minor. Nationally, more than 100,000 children are thought to be involved in the sex trade. Ohio has been labeled a hub, and it has been estimated that at least 1,000 juveniles are forced into the trade here annually and thousands more are at risk. In Franklin County alone, more than 1,000 solicitation/prostitution charges are filed each year. Herbert, who started CATCH Court (Changing Attitudes to Change Habits) in 2009, said people sometimes get hung up on the words “human trafficking” and think that’s somehow different than the prostitution on the streets. “The reality is that somehow, some way, these women get trapped in a lifestyle that someone won’t let them leave,” he said. “I wholly believe this is a syndrome, and we need to take action to make a difference.” Studies show that nearly all women who have been involved in the sex trade suffered trauma when they were younger, and substance abuse and addiction is nearly universal. Trafficking for labor is of equal concern, Herbert said. OSU spokeswoman Gayle Saunders said discussions about the project have been going on for about six months. She said university officials are excited about the possibility, but it’s too early to discuss what the framework might look like. Herbert said the OSU office would be able to advance the recommendations already made by state Attorney General Mike DeWine’s Ohio Human Trafficking Commission. Hughes said this is a chance for Ohio to make a difference: “This is a problem that hits you in the gut. We need to be the leaders in ending it.”

Columbus Dispatch. 6/4/13

Obama calls for national conversation about mental health

President Obama pressed Monday for a more-open dialogue on mental illness, which has been a focus of his administration since a string of mass shootings last year sparked discussions on bolstering the nation’s mental health services. In remarks at the White House, Obama noted that most mentally ill people are not violent and that many violent people have no diagnosable mental problem. But mentally ill people are more likely to commit suicide, he said, and “when a condition goes untreated, it can lead to tragedy on a larger scale.” Lamenting the stigma associated with mental illness, he said, “Too many Americans who struggle with mental health illnesses are still suffering in silence, rather than seeking help. And we need to see [to] it that men and women who would never hesitate to go see a doctor if they had a broken arm or came down with the flu, that they have that same attitude when it comes to their mental health.” The event occurred more than a month after the failure of one of Obama’s legislative priorities, a bill that would have imposed new gun-control measures in the aftermath of the December school shooting in Newtown, Conn. An amendment to the bill that had broad bipartisan support would have provided grants to teach “mental health first aid” to emergency workers, teachers and others who might interact with someone struggling with mental illness. Advocates are hopeful the measure will be reintroduced in Congress later this year. Obama’s remarks came at the White House-sponsored National Conference on Mental Health, which brought together advocates, elected officials, faith leaders and others to discuss ways to reduce the stigma of mental illness, which the president said is a barrier to those needing help. The conference was also a way for the administration to highlight steps it has taken to bolster mental health services. Those actions include a provision in the 2010 Affordable Care Act requiring health insurers to cover mental health services as an essential benefit, and a White House initiative aimed at mapping the human brain. The administration also has reached out to nonprofit and business groups, which unveiled several new projects in conjunction with the conference. Among them are a new wave of youth-oriented public service announcements to air on MTV; a media campaign targeting veterans; and an effort to disseminate information about mental health services on Internet message boards frequented by video gamers. Advocates say the president’s attention to the issue has been a boon. “To the extent there is now a public discussion on mental health, that is a positive,” said Chuck Ingoglia, a senior vice president at the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare. In his remarks, Obama singled out young people and veterans as groups particularly in need of attention on the issue of mental health. But he described it as a broader problem because one in five Americans suffers from mental illness, touching virtually everyone in one way or another. He said that many physical disorders get attention on television, “some of them very personal,” pausing for effect as the audience laughed at the allusion to ubiquitous erectile dysfunction ads. “And yet, we whisper about mental health issues and avoid asking too many questions,” he said. “The brain’s a body part, too. We just know less about it.” Also appearing at the conference were Vice President Biden, who has been deeply involved in White House efforts on mental health; actress Glenn Close, who has a sister with bipolar disorder and a nephew with another mental illness, and has started a mental health nonprofit group; and former senator Gordon H. Smith (R-Ore.), whose son committed suicide.

Washington Post. 6/3/13

Toledo’s crime rate takes plunge

Crime is down in the city of Toledo, but how far down depends on the source of information. Toledo’s internal crime statistics are markedly different than those reported to the FBI in 2012 and 2011. And the numbers in the police department’s annual report last year differ from those presented to city council in an April 16 memo written by Police Chief Derrick Diggs. Toledo mayoral candidate D. Michael Collins, a city councilman and former Toledo police officer, is waging a war against Mayor Mike Bell’s claims that crime has plummeted. Mr. Collins acknowledges some types of crime have fallen, but alleges the Bell administration has tried to draw attention away from other types, such as aggravated assault. The mayor and his top police officials dismiss Mr. Collins’ claims as political rhetoric. Meanwhile, Mayor Bell has not stopped reminding voters about his record, which he says includes more police hired than his two predecessors combined, action to deal with a failing water system, overcoming a $48 million deficit during his first year in office while not raising taxes, paving streets, demolishing abandoned homes, and decreasing crime. Among his assertions is that crime fell 24 percent during the first three months of 2013 versus the same period last year. But some officials such as Mr. Collins and the leader of the police patrolmen’s union, don’t believe the double-digit drop is possible and question how 2012 numbers were recorded and reported. “The bottom line for me is I find it patently offensive when the true story of what is going on in the city of Toledo is being distorted for political purposes, and the information that is being disseminated is only that which avails itself to the Bell administration in a favorable light,” Mr. Collins said. “The mayor and chief of police are misrepresenting the true circumstances on how safe this city is or isn’t.” According to the FBI numbers, Toledo’s total crime was down 9.49 percent in 2012 over 2011. On the other hand, total crime was down 18.34 percent according to the police annual report, or it was down 17.82 percent according to Chief Diggs’ April 16 memo. The different sources of crime statistics are not easily compared because they offer numbers on different types of crime. For example, the annual report shows 512 “shooting incidents” in 2012, up from 449 in 2011. That category doesn’t appear in the FBI data or the chief’s memo. Instead, the FBI data include aggravated assaults — which show a 29 percent increase in 2012 over the previous year. The chief’s memo does not show data for aggravated assaults or rape, which also increased in the FBI data from 124 in 2011 to 172 in 2012. Chief Diggs, in that April 16 memo to council, warns that the city’s “CrimeStat” numbers and the FBI’s Unified Crime Report data should not be compared against each other. “Unlike UCR crimes, that require a stringent and time-consuming classifications and scoring process, CrimeStat utilizes raw data for comparison and pattern identification,” the chief wrote. “Therefore, these two processes should not be compared to each other.” Burglary, auto theft, robbery, and murder are the only crimes appearing in all three sources — but with different numbers. There were even different numbers for murders: 39 in 2012 according to the FBI numbers and 36 according to the Toledo numbers. The number of 2012 murders were increased after the annual report because three deaths originally not thought to be murders in the city were later ruled homicides here, said police Sgt. Joe Heffernan, the department’s spokesman. Mayor Bell’s spokesman, Jen Sorgenfrei, and Police Capt. Michael Troendle, head of the department’s criminal intelligence section, also said the differing numbers for the same years and categories of crime are explainable. “UCR just has different classifications of the way to title crimes, the way they classify crimes,” Captain Troendle said. “If you trespass on someone’s property and steal something, in the Ohio Revised Code it is called a burglary, but UCR doesn’t call it a burglary. It is called a theft.” Captain Troendle said other classifications don’t match. “UCR does not classify a male-on-male rape as a rape. They call it a sexual assault,” he said. “The point is, UCR is about classifying crimes the same way throughout all the states. … When we do our CrimeStat process, we don’t care about how UCR classifies the crime.” The city’s process allows the department to quickly deploy officers where they are needed more quickly in an attempt to prevent crime, the captain said. “Even though we are not tracking the same exact incidents, we are tracking the same types of crime that correlate to each other,” Captain Troendle said. Internal statistics from other cities also differ from the FBI data. In 2010, Cleveland police issued a report that showed the city had 10,088 burglaries, 2,319 felonious assaults, and 507 rapes. The FBI data said the city had 9,871 burglaries, 1,923 aggravated assaults, and 344 rapes that year. Toledo burglaries were down among all three sources but each showed a different number for 2011 and 2012. The FBI records show 6,739 in 2012, down from 8,366 in 2011. The police annual report said there were 6,490 in 2012, down from 8,369 in 2011. Dan Wagner, president of the Toledo Police Patrolman’s Association, said that 19 to 22 percent drop — depending on where you look — is not believable. “I don’t think it is an accurate portrayal of what has actually occurred here in Toledo,” Mr. Wagner said. “The officers don’t believe burglary is down, because of the number of calls they are responding to,” he said. “We are wondering if some of those were reclassified to make it look better. It’s an election year, and I’m sure if you are on a platform to make Toledo safer, you can make the figures say what you want them to say.” Mr. Wagner said it would be possible to classify a burglary, which is a felony, as a criminal trespassing, a misdemeanor. Michael Dearth, a Block Watch leader and former citywide Block Watch chairman, said the city doesn’t feel safer, regardless of the numbers from this year or past years. “I have seen the stats that are going to the FBI and they are really a lot different than the annual report,” said Mr. Dearth, who last year was one of several people interviewed for the Lucas County Democratic Party’s endorsement to fill a vacant seat on Toledo City Council. “I talk to a lot of people in a lot of different neighborhoods and I don’t hear anyone talking about a safer town,” he said. The other main candidates in the mayor’s race, Councilman Joe McNamara and Lucas County Auditor Anita Lopez, have both promised a safer city if elected. Mr. McNamara said he would increase the police ranks and reopen the department’s Northwest District Police station on Sylvania Avenue, which was closed in 2012 over the objections of the majority of councilmen. Before Ms. Lopez officially announced her candidacy, she called crime an ongoing problem in the city as well as the the condition of neighborhoods. Chief Diggs’ data-driven policing project, called ORION, which stands for Observation Research Intelligence Operations Network, has been at the top of his efforts to reduce crime. Under his watch since taking over the department on Oct. 21, 2011, a new camera system known as “eye in the sky” has been installed along city streets. The chief said data-driven policing helps to deter crime, improves officers’ response, and helps investigators solve crimes. He stressed that burglaries in Toledo declined from 2011 and homicide detectives solved 83 percent of the crimes they investigated, compared to the national average of 52 percent. Ms. Sorgenfrei said Mayor Bell stands by the department’s accomplishment of reducing crime. “We are stopping serial crime faster than we ever have before,” she said.

Toledo Blade. 6/3/13

Ohio considering higher taxes on some tobacco products

 Taxes on most non-cigarette tobacco products would go up under a plan being considered by Ohio lawmakers. Health advocates are calling on lawmakers to raise taxes on tobacco products to fund prevention and cessation programs as they consider other health care reforms. The Ohio House scrapped Gov. John Kasich’s plan to expand Medicaid, the federal- and state-funded medical insurance program for low-income and disabled Ohioans, earlier this year in favor of pursuing reforms to the $19.8 billion a year program. One in four Ohio adults smokes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The rate is much higher — 42 percent— among Ohio’s 2.3 million Medicaid participants. Shelly Kiser, director of advocacy for the American Lung Association in Ohio, said that translates to $1.4 billion spent each year in state Medicaid costs for smoking-related illnesses. Some tobacco products such as hookah and chewing tobacco and cigars are not taxed as much as regular cigarettes and could be impacted by this proposal. Kiser and other health advocates told lawmakers on a Senate panel that equalizing the tax on other tobacco products to 55 percent from 17 percent could raise revenue to help Medicaid participants quit and prevent more people from using tobacco. Ohio allocates no state funds to tobacco prevention and cessation, ranking the state and three others last in the nation for funding. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends Ohio spend $145 million each year from a $25.7 billion settlement between states and tobacco companies. Ohio traded its share in for bonds to fill a budget hole in 2008, leaving local health districts to plan and fund programming. Sen. Shannon Jones, R-Springboro, said she drafted an amendment to the state budget bill to equalize the tax. The amendment was not accepted in the Senate’s first round of revisions to the bill, but Jones said she would try to amend the bill again before it moves out of the Senate Finance Committee and to a full vote of the Senate. Gregory Wellinghoff , owner of wholesale distributor Keilson Dayton, told lawmakers Thursday that raising the tax would not reduce smoking but encourage people to drive to neighboring states with lower taxes. Wellinghoff said stores in Hamilton and south Butler counties can’t sell a significant volume of cigarettes because of their proximity to Kentucky, where cigarettes are taxed 60 cents per pack compared to $1.25 cents in Ohio. “Ohio is still going to have smokers, probably at similar levels as today,” said Wellinghoff, who also owns smoke shops in Southwest Ohio. “These people are going to buy their products out of Ohio. I’ll have to close my stores.”

Dayton Daily News. 5/30/13

Ohio meeting looks at ways to quell urban violence

Former gang members will be among the community and anti-violence activists from across the country meeting at a university in Cleveland this weekend to talk about solutions to violence in urban neighborhoods. “The Call to Universal Oneness Campaign” is a four-day event that began Thursday at Cleveland State University. Leaders of the event, which is being organized by the International Council For Urban Peace, Justice and Empowerment, said they’ll discuss how to deal with poverty, gun violence, gangs and the breakdown of traditional family structure and lack of moral identity in many inner-city communities. One of the organizers, Rashad Byrdsong, tells The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer that one of the main goals is to address the problems in urban communities as a public-health problem instead of as criminal justice challenges. “The research shows that most folks who are incarcerated don’t finish school,” Byrdsong said, and “are people of color who that come from poor communities … and folks who deal with chemical dependency issues.” “We’re going to be talking about disrupting the variables that lead to this kind of behavior,” he said. Khalid Samad, an organizer who directs Cleveland’s Peace in the Hood, said more than 35 different organizations are expected to participate at the conference. They’re coming from Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, New York and other cities. U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge, who represents a northeastern Ohio district, also is scheduled to speak. Other events Friday included a panel providing a historical analysis on urban violence. Former gang members from the Bloods, Crips, Gangster Disciples, Folk Nation and from Ohio’s Heartless Felons, one of the state’s largest prison gangs, are also expected to attend. Part of the event will take place at a Cleveland church. The final day will be marked by a remembrance ceremony, cultural fair and family event at an east side park.

Dayton Daily News. 5/31/13

Texas A.G. shuts down fraudulent “notarios” and unauthorized immigration consultants in south Texas

Earlier this month, the State filed separate enforcement actions against the four defendants and charged each of them with violating the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA) and the Notary Public Act.  At the State’s request, a Hidalgo County district court ordered the four defendants to pay civil penalties for unlawfully representing that they were legally authorized to process immigration cases before federal authorities.  During the discovery process, state investigators discovered that the defendants were neither licensed attorneys nor accredited to offer immigration-related legal services.Under federal law, only licensed attorneys and organizations accredited by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Board of Immigration Appeals may offer immigration consulting services. Texas law authorizes notaries public to witness the signing of legal documents – but specifically forbids them from providing immigration services unless they hold a separate license to practice law.  Scam artists have long exploited the misunderstanding between the term “notary” and the similar-sounding Spanish term “notario público,” which is used in Latin America to describe highly experienced, specialized attorneys.The State’s cases against the four defendants were part of the Office of the Attorney General’s (OAG) month-long crackdown on immigration scams in Hidalgo County.  The OAG’s case against Jairo Romanovich – doing business as Romanovich Charitable Service Inc. – remains pending.  On May 21, a Hidalgo County district court granted the State’s request for a temporary restraining order stopping Romanovich and his firm from offering unauthorized immigration-related legal services.Since assuming office in 2002, Attorney General Abbott has shut down more than 75 businesses for providing unauthorized legal services.  

Texas Attorney General. 5/29/13

Four human-trafficking suspects get prison time

What began last summer as Franklin County’s first human-trafficking indictment ended yesterday with four Chillicothe residents sentenced instead for promoting prostitution and misdemeanor unlawful restraint. Defense attorneys said the trafficking case against their clients fell apart as prosecutors struggled with the cooperation and credibility of the woman who alleged that she had been held captive in 2011 and forced into prostitution by four acquaintances. “Nobody argues there wasn’t prostitution going on,” said Steven Larson, attorney for Craig E. Tackett, one of the defendants. “It all comes down to one question: Was she forced into it, or was she a willing participant?” The indictment alleged that the 25-year-old woman was lured to Columbus by the four, who were acquaintances in Chillicothe, and forced to work as a prostitute at motels around the city. The four convicted were Richard L. Evans, 56; Mara D. Morrison, 22; Tackett, 22; and Roger K. Rider, 29. They were indicted in July on charges of trafficking in persons, kidnapping and promoting prostitution. The men also were charged with rape. But when the four pleaded guilty last month, the felony kidnapping charges were reduced to misdemeanor unlawful restraint, and the rape counts were dismissed. Common Pleas Judge Timothy S. Horton sentenced Evans and Rider yesterday to 14 months in prison, Tackett to 12 months and Morrison to eight months. All four were credited for the time they spent in jail while awaiting trial. Morrison was released, having already served her time; her co-defendants face several more months of incarceration. All four also will have five years of parole supervision and must register as sex offenders for 15 years. Karen Phipps, Rider’s attorney, said defense investigators determined that the woman might have been more of a willing participant than authorities first thought. The woman wasn’t in court yesterday. Assistant Prosecutor Daniel Hawkins said she wasn’t required to be there. In an email yesterday, Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien said the defendants’ pleas to unlawful restraint go against defense claims that the victim was a willing participant. “There were issues with our ability to locate the victim … and for that reason we reduced the charges,” he wrote. The indictments were the first for the Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force. “The task force presented the first case that they had successfully investigated, and the result of a conviction for less than all charges doesn’t lessen their efforts in any way,” O’Brien wrote. “They will continue to work on similar cases.”

Columbus Dispatch. 5/31/13


Politics and Government

Senate to vote on $61B Ohio budget today

The Ohio Senate plans to vote today on a more than $61 billion two-year state budget after making hundreds of changes this week to the version passed by the House in April. The Senate Finance Committee made a few more changes on Wednesday before approving it without the support of the Democrats on the panel. The committee’s chairman Sen. Scott Oelslager, R-North Canton, said the budget focuses on job creation, shown through more money for K-12 education and a 50 percent income tax cut up to $375,000 for business owners and pass-through entities. “Our whole goal this whole budget cycle has been a job creation budget,” Oelslager said. “Job creation is the number one priority of the people of Ohio. If a person has a job they’re likely in pretty good shape.” Wednesday’s changes included removing the 2 percent vehicle registration fee increase and adding a new tax on motor vehicle fuel receipts to replace the commercial activity tax. Sen. Bill Coley, R-West Chester, said the new tax would in effect be revenue neutral and fuel companies agreed to the change. Last year, the Ohio Supreme Court decided the state could not use revenue from the CAT collected on fuel for anything other than highway and road improvement. The change puts that money — $140 million a year — back into the general revenue fund. The general revenue fund is the state’s main pot of money to pay for Ohio’s public schools, colleges and universities, law enforcement, health services and other public services. The Senate plan includes:

* $717 million more in direct aid to school districts than the current budget;

* a $1.4 billion tax cut for pass-through entities;

* new K-12 and higher education funding formulas;

* a slew of earmarks and other provisions requested by individual lawmakers.

Democrats said the budget shortchanges women, schools and communities. Sen. Tom Sawyer, D-Akron, said that investing in those groups would help Ohio’s economy and the best way to do that would be to expand Medicaid, the state- and federally-funded health insurance program for poor and disabled people, to 275,000 Ohioans. “I’m very hopeful this is not the end of this discussion and we will move forward,” Sawyer said. GOP senators rejected Democrats’ attempts to remove language targeting family planning clinics that offer abortive services. One provision puts centers that only offer family-planning services at the end of the line to receive federal family planning dollars and the other provision prohibits ambulatory surgical facilities that perform or induce abortions from having patient transfer agreements — required by law — with public hospitals. Abortion rights groups said both measures would force some clinics to close. Sen. Charleta Tavares, D-Columbus, called the legislation “paternalistic and controlling government” not necessary in women’s lives. Democrats also failed to pass amendments adding more money to K-12 education and food banks. The House is unlikely to agree with all the changes made by the Senate, so members from both chambers will start working out differences in the bill as early as next week before sending it to the governor for his signature before June 30.

Dayton Daily News. 6/6/13

Local governments warn of more cuts, higher taxes

Throughout Southwest Ohio, local governments face the likelihood that recent cuts in state funding will gain permanence when state budget talks end this month, raising the threat of higher local taxes for communities that don’t slash costs further. During the past two years, cities, townships and counties have seen budgets and local services squeezed by cuts in state aid, vanishing state taxes and lower property values. This year, with the state expecting extra revenue from an improving economy, local governments hoped to get help. But neither the Ohio House budget passed this spring nor the Senate version set to pass today include additional funding for local governments, which Republican state leaders say must operate more efficiently. Rather than restore some money for counties or municipalities, legislators have crafted budgets that return to taxpayers the extra tax revenue expected from Ohio’s improving economy, in the form of either a 50 percent small-business tax cut or a 7 percent statewide income tax cut. Each option is worth about $700 million a year, an amount that would essentially cover the losses local governments have sustained since 2010-2011. Meanwhile, many localities say they can’t cut much more and will likely try to raise Ohioans’ taxes in the coming years – in essence, warning of local tax increases as a result of state tax cuts. “Do we look for some sort of tax increase? Do we look for more cuts? But we’ve pretty much cut all that we can cut,” said Steve Husemann, interim village manager in Silverton. State funding cuts have taken $130,000 out of Silverton’s $2.3 million budget each of the last two years, causing the village to cut its police force 20 percent and put off all improvements to roads and buildings. Much of the counties’ and municipalities’ pain started two years ago. Just as local economies started to recover from the Great Recession, the Republican-controlled General Assembly passed a two-year budget to cut in half the Local Government Fund, a pot of state tax revenue long shared with counties, townships and cities. The fund is set to fall from $694.4 million in 2010-2011 to $348 million in 2012-2013 – a funding level last seen in the late 1980s. Then, the fund will see single-digit growth percentages in 2014 and 2015, increasing to $376.5 million in 2014-2015, but General Assembly Republicans have not yielded to pleas for more substantial help. “We were done with the fiscal crisis. We had already been through our wave of cuts. Then the state came through and hit us again,” said John Bruggen, budget director for Hamilton County. The county’s Local Government Fund appropriation fell from $20.7 million in 2010-2011 – 10 percent of Hamilton County’s total budget – to $10.9 million in 2012-2013, down to 5.6 percent of the budget. What’s more, local governments have seen steady declines in state money related to taxes on utilities and business equipment, both stemming from tax cuts in 2005. In January, Ohio’s estate tax ended. Townships and cities had received 80 percent of those proceeds and have suddenly found themselves out another $200 to $300 million. Localities have been warning of possible tax increases. Still, the number of local government levies on ballots has remained constant at about 1,100 to 1,300 a year, according to data from the Ohio Secretary of State’s office. Instead of raising taxes, Republican state leaders say local governments need to cut back and collaborate to adjust to their new reality. After all, overall cuts to local governments have been small compared with the $14 billion they receive from the state, according to the Office of Management and Budget. That amount includes property tax relief, school funding, money for county jails and prosecutors and a fund set aside to give grants to local governments that innovate. For instance, Senate Majority Whip Larry Obhof, R-Medina, sponsored a bill two years ago that allowed townships to create joint police districts. “If townships want to work together, instead of having two police districts, instead of having a different building in every township, they could work collaboratively,” he said. That’s the kind of innovation Southwest Ohio governments should embrace, said Randy Cole, president of the Ohio Controlling Board and policy adviser to state budget director Timothy Keen. For instance, he points to a Warren County decision to join a state radio coalition as it upgrades its emergency radio system. The county is spending $8 million to fix the aging system, but would have spent another $1.2 million if it hadn’t joined the state group. Joining the coalition also will save Warren County $200,000 annually in maintenance costs. But other examples of local government collaborations are rare in Southwest Ohio, especially compared with the rest of the state, Cole said. Southwest Ohio’s township structure and focus on neighborhood identities seem to have made its local governments less open to working together to save money, he said. “Shared services isn’t a project. It’s a cultural change,” Cole said. He suggests cities, townships, counties and schools consider merging fueling and maintenance operations so they can save money through joint facilities and bulk purchases, Cole said. “That’s when they get to the economies of scale,” he said. But many local governments say having their own services provides a benefit that state leaders don’t quite understand. “Down here, people live in townships because they love what townships provide,” said Rocky Boiman, chair of the Green Township trustees, where recent cuts in state money have accounted for a 17 percent hit to the budget. Green Township police officers, for instance, “are active in the community, their kids play on the same baseball team, and I think that shouldn’t be overlooked.” Many localities also say additional cuts would compromise the quality of their services. In Cincinnati, where state funding cuts make up $22 million of the city’s $35 million deficit, firefighters say extra state funding could eventually lead to changes in the daily “brownouts” of five of the city’s 26 fire stations. As it is, the cuts have caused firefighters to drive inefficient routes with longer response times, said Doug Stern, an emergency medical technician from the Camp Washington fire house. For instance, he once responded to a medical emergency that took him from Camp Washington all the way to the edge of the city in College Hill. Local Republican government officials like Green Township’s Boiman have found themselves at odds with Republican legislators and the Kasich administration and aligned with Democratic legislators, who have advocated for more money for local governments. “Before I became a trustee – ‘Should we cut the estate tax and local government fund? Sounds good,’ ” Boiman said. “But when you get down to it, it’s just a lot at once.”

Cincinnati Enquirer. 6/6/13


National campaign to increase federal and state government Latino appointments


Today, the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA), a coalition of 34 preeminent Hispanic organizations in the United States, announced its national advocacy campaign to increase Federal and state-level Latino Appointments. Although Latinos have grown in population and political power throughout the United States, the number of Latinos appointed on the federal and state executive levels remains dismal. The NHLA will undertake a federal appointments advocacy effort and the first-ever national campaign to increase the number of state executive level Latino appointments in key Latino populated states throughout the country. NHLA’s Latino Appointments Program will prioritize four key projects: 


  1. Developing and supporting a talent bank of Latino professionals interested in presidential and state-level appointments.
  2. Launching a four-state pilot program in key Latino-populated states to tackle the state-level appointment gaps.
  3. Cultivating a network of current and former Latino appointees that can serve as a resource to each other and to prospective candidates.
  4. Drafting a report to the community on short-term lessons learned and long-term recommendations for strengthening the political pipeline for the Latino community. 


“At such a critical time in our nation’s history, we must work harder than ever to ensure that Latinos have a seat at the decision-making table,” remarked Hector Sanchez, NHLA Chair & LCLAA President. “NHLA’s Latino Appointments Project is a historic step towards acknowledging long-standing disparities in the government. By building this infrastructure around presidential and state-level appointments, developing a talent bank and investing in a comprehensive leadership development program, we hope to be a catalyst to bring more parity into key public service positions.” Since its inception over two decades ago, NHLA has advocated for increased representation of Latinos in the federal government. While Latinos are nearly 17 percent of the U.S. population, they are just 8 percent of the federal career workforce and as little as 3 percent of the employees in several federal agencies according to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s Eleventh Annual Report on Hispanic Employment in the Federal Government. In addition, in years past, the NHLA Scorecard on Political Appointments has aimed to hold Presidential Administrations accountable for the appointment of Latinos. With a renewed sense of political power after the November 2012 elections, NHLA know that the Latino community is well-poised to play a more active role in government. “Latinos from across the country are ready to put their experience and expertise to work to help move our country forward,” said Alex Padilla, president of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO).”NALEO is proud to work with NHLA to promote the appointment of Latino candidates with the skills and qualifications necessary to serve our country with distinction.” Dr. Juan Andrade, President of the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute (USHLI) said: “The goal is to ensure the Latino community is fostering a generation of professionals who are qualified to follow in the footsteps of former Cabinet Secretaries Ken Salazar, Hilda Solis, Bill Richardson, Federico Pena and others now and throughout Administrations to come” “The lack of Latinos in key decision making positions on the federal and state level prevents access to government and programs that contribute to their well-being and success,” said LULAC National Executive Director Brent Wilkes. “The success of our nation is inextricably linked to the overall success of the Latino community.” Jessica González-Rojas, Executive Director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health added: “The absence of Hispanics, particularly Latinas, at all levels of government shortchanges the government’s ability to produce policies that are inclusive, fair, and responsive to the concerns of our community.” “On issues like the economy, education, health care and immigration, our federal government largely operates without the perspective of a community that encompasses about one in six Americans,” said José Calderón, President of the Hispanic Federation. “Today’s launch of the NHLA Latino Appointments Program is historic step forward toward ensuring that all Americans, including Latinos, have an equal voice in their government. Our country is rapidly changing and building a pipeline for Latinos to serve on this and future presidential administrations is vital to the success of our nation.” Peter Reyes, President of the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA) said, “HNBA is proud to be a part of this national coalition to increase the number of Latino candidates for political appointments. This is an important complement to our work on judicial and executive appointments and we strongly encourage our membership and that of our partners to enlist in this effort.” “Together with NHLA, NACOPRW continues to open doors for Latinos to create positive change in our communities. Through our collaboration, we have created opportunities for Latinos to be part of Obama’s administration through presidential appointments.” Vilma Colom, National President, National Conference of Puerto Rican Women.


National Hispanic Leadership Agenda. 6/5/13

Inside the 2012 Latino Electorate

 A record 11.2 million Latinos voted in the 2012 presidential election, but Latinos’ voter turnout rate continues to lag other groups significantly, according to an analysis of new Census Bureau data by the Pew Research Center. Overall, 48% of Hispanic eligible voters turned out to vote in 2012, down from 49.9% in 2008. By comparison, the 2012 voter turnout rate among blacks was 66.6% and among whites was 64.1%, both significantly higher than the turnout rate among Hispanics. Rapid growth of the nation’s Latino population has fueled quick growth in the number of Latinos eligible to vote (U.S. citizen adults). Between 2008 and 2012, the number of Latino eligible voters grew from 19.5 million to 23.3 million—an increase of 19%. By contrast, the number of Latino voters increased by 15% over 2008. With the number of Latino voters growing more slowly than the number of Latino eligible voters, the Latino voter turnout rate declined between 2008 and 2012—despite a record turnout. The Pew Research analysis also finds that the Hispanic voter turnout rate declined for nearly all major Hispanic demographic subgroups with the exception of three. The voter turnout rate of naturalized Hispanic immigrants who arrived in the 1990s increased from 41.2% in 2008 to 47.2% in 2012. Among Hispanics ages 65 and older, the voter turnout rate increased from 56% in 2008 to 59.9% in 2012, mirroring a similar increase among all eligible voters ages 65 and older. And among Hispanic origin groups, the voter turnout rate of Puerto Ricans increased from 49.7% in 2008 to 52.8% in 2012. The analysis also finds that voter turnout rates differed widely among Latino demographic subgroups. In 2012, the highest voter turnout rates were among those with a college degree (70.8%) and among Cuban-origin Latinos (67.2%). Meanwhile, the lowest were among those ages 18 to 29 (36.9%) and those with less than a high school diploma (35.5%). Latinos were also a larger share of the nation’s electorate in 2012, making up a record 8.4% of all voters, up from 7.4% in 2008. However, while 11.2 million Latinos voted in 2012, an even greater number—12.1 million—chose not to vote even though they were eligible to do so. Overall, among the nation’s 82.1 million nonvoters in 2012, 15% were Latinos. Much of the growth in the number of Latino eligible voters was driven by Latino youth. Among the 3.8 million Latinos who became eligible to vote between 2008 and 2012, 3.7 million were U.S.-born young Hispanics who entered adulthood. Annually, about 800,000 U.S.-born young Hispanics come of age, making them newly eligible to vote (Taylor, Gonzalez-Barrera, Passel and Lopez, 2012). The number of Hispanics who say they were registered to vote in 2012 reached 13.7 million, up 18% over 2008. That was also a record. However, the voter turnout rate among Hispanic registered voters was lower in 2012 than in 2008—81.7% versus 84%. Overall, Hispanics made up 17.2% of the nation’s population in 2012, 10.8% of eligible voters, but just 8.4% of all voters. Much of this difference is driven by the relative youth of the nation’s Hispanic population and the high number of non-citizen adults among its population (Taylor, Gonzalez-Barrera, Passel and Lopez, 2012). Just 43.9% of Hispanics are eligible to vote while more than half (51.7%) of Asians, 69.1% of blacks and 78.6% of whites are eligible to vote. In 2012, Latinos supported Barack Obama over Mitt Romney by a margin of 71% to 27% (Lopez and Taylor, 2012) and were an important part of the coalition that re-elected the president. As the electorate diversifies—with Latinos accounting for much of that change—the importance of the Latino vote will likely grow (Taylor, 2013). The U.S. electorate reached several milestones last year. According to the Census Bureau, 2012 was the first time that the black voter turnout rate1, exceeded that of whites (File, 2013), though there is some skepticism about when or if the black voter turnout rate surpassed the white voter turnout rate (Taylor and Lopez, 2013). In addition, the number of white voters declined for the second presidential election in a row, leading to a decline in the white voter turnout rate. One other finding from 2012 is the decline in the youth voter turnout rate. According to an analysis by the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement, the voter turnout rate among those ages 18 to 29 declined from 51% in 2008 to 45% in 2012 (CIRCLE, 2013). The Latino community is diverse and that diversity is reflected in different levels of electoral participation. While voter participation for Latinos overall declined between 2008 and 2012, that wasn’t true for all sub-groups of Latinos. Latinos who have a college degree and those who trace their family origins to Cuba had the highest voter turnout rates among Latino demographic sub-groups in 2012. Seven-in-ten (70.8%) Latinos with a college degree and 67.2% of Latinos of Cuban origin turned out to vote last year—both substantially higher than the 48% turnout rate among all Latinos. By contrast, some of the lowest voter turnout rates among Latino demographic subgroups were among those with less than a high school diploma (35.3%), young Latinos ages 18 to 29 (36.9%) and those who graduated from high school (39.4%). Voter turnout rates for just about all major sub-groups of Latinos were lower in 2012 than in 2008 with a few notable exceptions. For naturalized Latinos who arrived to the U.S. between 1990 and 1999, their voter turnout rate in 2012 increased 6 percentage points over 2008. For Latinos ages 65 and older, their voter turnout rate in 2012 was up 4 percentage points over 2008. For Latinos of Puerto Rican origin, their voter turnout rate in 2012 was up 3.1 percentage points over 2008. Among Latinos by country of origin group, Cubans were followed by Hispanics of Central or South American origin (57.1%), other Spanish origin (53.7%) and Puerto Rican origin (52.8%). Hispanics of Mexican origin had the lowest turnout rate—42.2%. Hispanic females voted at a higher rate than Hispanic males—49.8% versus 46.0%. And Hispanics who are naturalized citizens voted at a higher rate than Hispanics who are U.S.-born citizens—53.6% versus 46.1%. Finally among Hispanic immigrants, 58.8% of those who arrived before 1990 voted, while voter turnout rates were lower among those who arrived between 1990 and 1999 and those who arrived after 2000—47.2% and 44.1% respectively. Hispanic non-voters in 2012 differed in many ways compared with Hispanics who voted. Overall, Hispanic nonvoters were more likely to be male, young (ages 18 to 29), never married, have a high school education or less, to be of Mexican origin, have annual family incomes of less than $50,000 a year and not be in the labor force compared with Hispanic voters. However, two large differences are evident between Latino nonvoters and Latino voters. The first is the relative youth of Latino nonvoters. Among them, 40% were under the age of 30. By contrast, among all Latino voters, only 25% were ages 18 to 29. The second is the Hispanic origin of nonvoters. Among Hispanic nonvoters, two-thirds (66%) were of Mexican origin in 2012. Among Hispanic voters, half (52%) were of Mexican origin. Hispanic nonvoters were also less likely than Hispanic voters to be Cuban (3% versus 7%), Central or South American (13% versus 19%) or Puerto Rican (12% versus 14%). In 2012, Hispanic nonvoters also differed from other nonvoters. While 40% of Hispanic nonvoters were between ages 18 to 29, 31% of all nonvoters were in the same age group. And while 27% of Hispanic nonvoters did not have a high school diploma, just 16% of all nonvoters did not have a high school diploma. Overall, some 82 million U.S. eligible voters did not vote in 2012. 

Pew Hispanic Center. 6/3/13 

CHCI announces 36th annual Hispanic Heritage Month events


The Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI), the nation’s leading Hispanic leadership development and educational services organization, today announced September 30-October 2 as the dates for its 36th Annual Hispanic Heritage Month celebration in Washington, D.C. with the theme “Our Time: A Strong America.” CHCI hosts the nation’s premier events commemorating Hispanic Heritage Month (HHM), which draw more than 3,000 Latino leaders from across the country to its Public Policy Conference, Reyes of Comedy, and Annual Awards Gala in Washington, D.C. Registration for CHCI HHM events is now available at www.chci.org. Actress, producer, director and philanthropist Salma Hayek Pinault and lifelong educator Dr. Juan Andrade, Jr., president of the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute, will receive CHCI’s highest honors, the Medallion of Excellence, at the 36th Annual Awards Gala on October 2. “This year’s Hispanic Heritage Month theme and events reflect the growing strength of our community and the tremendous impact Latinos will have on the future success of America,” said Rep. Ruben Hinojosa, CHCI Chair. “The significant professional achievements of our Medallion winners, Salma Hayek Pinault and Dr. Andrade, and especially their passion for giving back to the community, symbolize how far Latinos have come and the positive impact we are having in making America a better place for all of us.” CHCI’s Medallion of Excellence awards are presented to an individual who conducts himself or herself in an exemplary manner and who serves as a role model and standard-bearer for the Latino community, particularly Latino youth. The individual must have at least a 15-year record of contributions and accomplishments in his/her field with solid leadership and community involvement. The qualifying factors are philanthropic and civic engagement through the initiation or support of programs that benefit the Hispanic community as a whole in the United States. Salma Hayek Pinault is an international superstar, not only for her Emmy-winning and Oscar nominated talent on and behind the screen, but also for her passion as a philanthropist and community activist. She is highly active in raising awareness about violence against women and discrimination against immigrants, and since the birth of her daughter, she has added campaigns helping children to her list of charity works through the Salma Hayek Foundation.  Dr. Juan Andrade, Jr. is co-founder and president of the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute (USHLI), which engages in nonpartisan civic participation to promote education, research, and leadership development. Originally from Brownwood, Texas, Dr. Andrade’s strong work ethic and perseverance has taken him from picking cotton and working in meatpacking plants, to receiving the Presidential Citizens Medal from President Bill Clinton, and the National Ohtli Award from the Mexican government.  CHCI kicks off its 2013 Hispanic Heritage Month events with its annual Public Policy Conference at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center on September 30-October 1. This year, CHCI Chair Rep. Hinojosa will be joined by administration officials, Congressional Hispanic Caucus members, and national experts and scholars to participate in timely discussions of major policy issues affecting the Latino community. To complement the conference, CHCI’s Ready to Lead (R2L) program educates and engages high school students in policy discussions while preparing them for college. On October 1, CHCI will hold its 13th Annual Reyes of Comedy. This popular event features both established Latino comedians as well as emerging Latino talent for a night of exceptional entertainment. This year’s event is a sponsor benefit only and all proceeds support CHCI’s youth leadership development programs. The closing and premier event of the conference is CHCI’s 36th Annual Awards Gala. This prestigious dinner recognizes CHCI’s highest honorees and celebrates the outstanding accomplishments of Latino leaders who are giving back to their communities. The Gala draws more than 2,500 guests including federal and local elected officials, corporate and nonprofit leaders, and celebrities. Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated annually from September 15 – October 15. For CHCI, it also represents an opportunity to feature its highly competitive and nationally acclaimed Latino youth leadership development programs, including two fellowship programs, a congressional internship program, scholarship awards, and a college readiness program, Ready to Lead (R2L) for high school students.


Important Dates

September 30-October 1: Public Policy Conference

September 30: Ready to Lead (R2L)

October 113th: Annual Reyes of Comedy

October 2: CHCI 36th Annual Awards Gala


All events at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center Washington, D.C.

Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute. 5/21/13

Eye on 2016? Ohio’s Portman going to New Hampshire

In what could be the first step toward a presidential run, Sen. Rob Portman will do an event with the New Hampshire Republican Party later this month. The Ohio Republican, who was on Mitt Romney’s list of potential vice-president possibilities during the 2012 election, is considered a possible presidential hopeful. He’ll be appearing in Salem on June 14. The news was first reported by the New Hampshire Union-Leader, which reported that Portman will join New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte at a private fundraiser that will cost $250 a ticket. Portman, a spokesman said, reached out to Ayotte last week to let her know about the visit, and she suggested he host a fundraiser for the state party. The Portman spokesman said he will already be in the state to attend a Dartmouth College reunion that weekend and will participate in an American Politics panel as part of the class of 1978’s reunion. Portman last visited the state on July 7, 2012, when he appeared at a state GOP fundraiser. That event was timed to a college visit for his daughter, and led to speculation that he might be in the state because it was close to Romney’s Boston home and Wolfeboro, N.H., vacation home.

Dayton Daily News. 6/4/13

Ohio Tea Party infuriated by IRS disclosures

While it’s clear that Ohio Tea Party activists are fired up over recent disclosures that the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative groups, what that will mean to politics in the state is still a little hazy. The investigation into IRS actions has given people opposed to big government and high taxes a rallying focus in recent weeks. The case has extra significance in Ohio because the key IRS office involved is in Cincinnati, and organizations such as the Ohio Liberty Coalition, Dayton Tea Party, and several other groups and activists are among those who complained about being subjected to extra scrutiny in their efforts to gain tax-exempt status. “The Obama Administration should have let sleeping dogs lie,” said George Brunemann, a Cincinnati Tea Party leader who helped organize a forum Wednesday night that brought out hundreds of activists. “They have given people a new reason to be engaged. They were using the IRS as a hammer against us, and they got caught.” The White House has said none of its senior officials was involved in the targeting, which occurred from 2010 to 2012. After helping Republicans win big in Ohio in 2010, including the governorship, the Tea Party saw a Democratic president carry their state in 2012 while GOP Treasurer Josh Mandel fell to Democrat Sherrod Brown in the U.S. Senate race. “Disappointment can lead to a decline in activity; this happens to a lot of groups,” said University of Akron political scientist John Green. The IRS case has led to “a revival,” Mr. Green said, but he added there had been renewed activity in Ohio by Tea Party leaders over other issues — aimed at state Republican leaders. Some Tea Party leaders and other activists are unhappy about GOP Gov. John Kasich’s support for expansion of Medicaid coverage and a severance tax on the oil and gas industry. They are also upset over Republican U.S. Sen. Rob Portman’s change of heart for same-sex marriage after he learned one of his sons is gay. Republican House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio has at times drawn Tea Party criticism on federal budget and debt issues. Tom Zawistowski, leader of the Portage County Tea Party in northeast Ohio, ran unsuccessfully in April against the Kasich-backed candidate for the Ohio Republican Party chairmanship. He said Mr. Kasich wouldn’t have unseated Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland in 2010 without Tea Party help, and he said Tea Party activists think Mr. Kasich should be working to scuttle the Affordable Care Act instead of backing the Medicaid expansion. “People are angry,” Mr. Zawistowski said. “If you don’t think we can go elsewhere, wait and see,” he said. If the governor doesn’t bend, Mr. Zawistowski warned, he will oppose his re-election next year even “if the Democrats run Barack Obama for Ohio governor.” 

Toledo Blade. 6/6/13


Puerto Rican Lawyer speaks at the U.N. Decolonisation Committee seminar


At a UN Decolonisation Committee seminar, Wilma Reveron, a Puerto Rican lawyer said that the U.S. has made it clear that they do not intend to allow a true exercise of self-determination in Puerto Rico. Reveron, who favours independence and is an expert on the political case of Puerto Rico at the UN, said the President Barack Obama’s response to a local plebiscite held on November 6 confirms that this “was another exercise in futility for the people of Puerto Rico “. “America does not evince the slightest intention of encouraging or permitting a true exercise of self-determination in Puerto Rico, as proven by 114 years of colonialism,” she said. Reveron was invited to participate as an expert in the Regional Caribbean Seminar Committee on Decolonisation of the UN, which started yesterday and ends tomorrow in Quito, Ecuador. Although 54% of Puerto Rico voters rejected the extension of the current territorial status, Obama has proposed that the government of Puerto Rico should order another plebiscite – to which the federal government allocated $ 2.5 million- in which the Department of Justice of the United States would be limited to examining the constitutionality of the status alternatives agreed upon. In her presentation Reveron said Obama’s strategy does not recognise the colonial nature of the political relationship of the Island, or the supervision of the international community and does not apply the “procedural and substantive principles of international law”. Furthermore she highlighted the fact that the plebiscite would not be binding to the U.S. government and “does not provide an opportunity for the participation of the Puerto Rican community residing outside Puerto Rico who constitute the majority of Puerto Ricans today.” “To participate in the plebiscite that President Obama now proposed would be playing by United States rules, accepting a process that does not comply with international law and which urges the people of Puerto Rico to a take decision without the precautionary measures provided by international law and education, without proper training and adequate supervision. “

MercoPress. 5/29/13

Armond Budish launches bid for Cuyahoga County executive — with Ed FitzGerald there to endorse him

After months of speculation, Armond Budish showed his cards Thursday and declared himself a candidate in next year’s wide-open race for Cuyahoga County executive. And as it turns out, the state representative from Beachwood had an ace in the hole. Incumbent County Executive Ed FitzGerald, a fellow Democrat who is running for governor instead of a second term, endorsed Budish during a kickoff at the Ernst & Young Tower in Cleveland’s redeveloped Flats East Bank neighborhood. FitzGerald is the county’s first elected executive under a charter aimed to end an era of corruption. Some were surprised by his early endorsement, but FitzGerald said it was necessary to continue the work he started in 2011. “He has the integrity, he has the competence, he has the passion to do what’s right,” FitzGerald said of Budish. Budish chose the Ernst & Young building to tout his role as a leader in the legislature. Elected to his East Side seat in 2006, he served a term as speaker, then became minority leader after Republicans reclaimed the House in 2010. Budish, who is term-limited next year, said he helped secure public funds to finance the long-awaited Flats project. An attorney, Budish also hosts a local Sunday morning TV show aimed at senior citizens. He outlined four goals, three of which were commitments to economic development, education and regional collaboration. He also proposed an initiative to keep young workers in the region and attract others. “We are East Side, and we are West Side,” said Budish, who will turn 60 next week. “We’re urban, and we’re suburban. We’re small business, and we’re working people. We’re Democratic, and We’re Republican. “We are 59 different cities, but we are all Northeast Ohioans. If we work together, our rich diversity can fundamentally improve our community for many generations to come. I’m running for Cuyahoga County executive because I know we have a tremendous opportunity to succeed as a region if we come together and build on our strengths.” FitzGerald was not the only politician there to support Budish. U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, a Toledo Democrat whose district reaches Cleveland’s Wet Side, spoke at the event, as did State Rep. Sandra Williams of Cleveland. State Rep. Nickie Antonio of Lakewood and Cleveland City Councilmen Ken Johnson and Terrell Pruitt also attended. Ex-Sheriff Bob Reid, forced out by FitzGerald in January, is the only other Democrat in the race. Those considering a run include County Council President C. Ellen Connally, State Sen. Shirley Smith and Eric Wobser, head of Ohio City’s development agency. Reid, 61, promotes his executive experience. He served as city manager and police chief in Bedford before becoming sheriff. He offers that as a contrast between him and Budish. Asked about that contrast at his news conference, Budish, asserted that his term as House speaker amounted to executive experience. Reid said Thursday that he was surprised FitzGerald offered such an early endorsement. He later emailed the names of several suburban mayors he said support his bid, including Dan Pocek of Bedford and Mark Elliott of Brook Park. The Democratic nominee will be favored in next year’s general election. Because FitzGerald is the county’s most powerful Democrat, his blessing could be key for Budish if the local party decides to support a candidate in the primary. But FitzGerald’s endorsement also could dent his hometown base in a county where Democrats are split among several factions, some of which might prefer someone other than Budish. The top leaders of Cleveland’s black political establishment have not picked sides yet and might be waiting on Connally or Smith, both of whom are black. Budish has some support from that key bloc, including Williams and the two Cleveland councilmen. His website also lists endorsements from Warrensville Heights Mayor Brad Sellers and State Sen. Nina Turner. “It’s risky, and I acknowledge it’s risky,” FitzGerald said when asked about his decision to endorse early. “The safest thing to do would have been to do nothing, but I didn’t think that would be responsible. If that hurts me, so be it.”

Cleveland Plain Dealer. 5/30/13




111 conservative economists and Rubio fight for Gang of Eight

The conservative American Action Forum, a major player on the pro-immigration reform side of the debate over immigration reform, has released a who’s who list of prominent economists who back immigration reform. The letter was sent to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Among the prominent signatories are Douglas Holtz-Eakin, AAF president and former head of the Congressional Budget Office; R. Glenn Hubbard, former chairman, White House Council of Economic Advisers; supply-side guru Arthur B. Laffer; Edward Lazear, former chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers; Lawrence Lindsey, former director of the National Economic Council and assistant to the president on economic policy; and George P. Schultz, former secretary of state and of Treasury. The conservatives argue: Immigration reform’s positive impact on population growth, labor force growth, housing, and other markets will lead to more rapid economic growth. This, in turn, translates into a positive impact on the federal budget. According to the Congressional Budget Office an additional 0.1 percent in average economic growth will, over a ten-year period, reduce the federal deficit by over $300 billion. We urge you to pass a broad-based immigration reform bill that includes a U.S. visa system more attuned to economic policy objectives. We believe a reformed and efficient immigration system can promote economic growth and ease the challenge of reforming unsustainable federal health and retirement programs. Like all these letters, pro and con, it is unlikely to change minds, but it does provide some cover for conservatives nervous about a right-wing backlash if they vote for the bill. Having a conservative phalanx gives Republicans added protection from the anti-reform groups arguing that reform is a betrayal of American workers. Meanwhile, Rubio continues his 24/7 campaign for immigration reform, stressing that the status quo is unacceptable and also promising further toughening of the bill. On Fox News, he told Neil Cavuto: My argument continues to be if we don’t pass anything, we have amnesty. We have 11.5 million people potentially living in the United States illegally, and they’re going to be here whether we pass this bill or not. Quite frankly there aren’t any consequences to that, there won’t be any consequences to that under this president. And every year that goes by, the more entrenched they get into the American economy, but they’re not paying taxes, they’re not being held accountable for the work they’re doing, etc. So we don’t know who they are – these are the sorts of reasons why we have to pass immigration reform. If you leave the status quo in place, that is amnesty. His office continues to pepper the media with the list of amendments adopted in the Judiciary Committee, including those from GOP Sens. Mike Lee (Utah), Charles E.  Grassley (Iowa) and Jeff Flake (Ariz.), that address concerns about border security, e-verify and visa tracking. Interestingly, Grassley voted no in committee on the bill but says that if “it had been between his vote and moving the bill to the Senate floor, he would have voted in favor.” Perhaps he will be a yes vote when it matters. The House is a different matter, as anti-immigration stalwart and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) blasted the Senate bill. (“While I commend the Senate for their continuing efforts to tackle the extremely difficult task of reforming our broken system, I must observe that S. 744 repeats many of the mistakes of the past. We have serious concerns.”) The solution seems clear: Let them write the border security provisions, pass it through the House and move on to a conference committee. Democrats have shown themselves to be remarkably flexible on many items, so it is very possible the bill will heighten border security even further. The border provisions, certainly, are a red herring for anti-immigration reform advocates like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), who recently fessed up that he opposes a path to citizenship. (If we do secure the border does he plan on deporting those here? Is there any border provision that would be better than the current system of lawlessness and an unsecured border, and, if so, how is that politically attainable without a pathway to citizenship?) The Gang of Eight won’t win over those members who don’t want a bill at all, either because they are wary of giving the president any accomplishment or because they are wary of a more diverse electorate or because they simply cower in the face of exclusionist groups. But then you don’t need everyone to pass a bill, and with bipartisan leadership support and continued salesmanship from Rubio, this might actually win the day. And no one will be able to accuse Rubio of not trying.

Washington Post. 5/23/13

For Medicare, immigrants offer surplus, study finds

Immigrants have contributed billions of dollars more to Medicare in recent years than the program has paid out on their behalf, according to a new study, a pattern that goes against the notion that immigrants are a drain on federal health care spending. Immigrants stood to sing the national anthem at a citizenship ceremony in New York this month. A study by researchers at Harvard Medical School shows that immigrants help cover the growing costs of Medicare and Social Security. The study, led by researchers at Harvard Medical School, measured immigrants’ contributions to the part of Medicare that pays for hospital care, a trust fund that accounts for nearly half of the federal program’s revenue. It found that immigrants generated surpluses totaling $115 billion from 2002 to 2009. In comparison, the American-born population incurred a deficit of $28 billion over the same period. The findings shed light on what demographers have long known: Immigrants are crucial in balancing the age structure of American society, providing an infusion of young, working-age adults who support the country’s aging population and help cover the costs of Medicare and Social Security. And with the largest generation in the United States, the baby boomers, now starting to retire, the financial help from immigrants has never been more needed, experts said. Individual immigrant contributions were roughly the same as those of American citizens, the study found, but immigrants as a group received less than they paid in, largely because they were younger on average than the American-born population and fewer of them were old enough to be eligible for benefits. The median age of Hispanics, whose foreign-born contingent is by far the largest immigrant group, is 27, according to the Brookings Institution. The median age of non-Hispanic whites in the United States is 42. The study drew on two nationally representative federal surveys, from the Census Bureau and the Department of Health and Human Services. Researchers included the contributions of legal residents who were not citizens, a group that is eligible for Medicare if certain requirements are met; unauthorized immigrants; and citizens who were born abroad. It was not clear how much of the surplus was made up of earnings by immigrants in the country illegally, who are ineligible for most government programs. The Census Bureau, whose data was used for the contributions portion of the study, says it attempts to count all immigrants, including those in the country illegally. The finding “pokes a hole in the widespread assumption that immigrants drain U.S. health care spending dollars,” said Leah Zallman, an instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and the lead author of the study. The study, which was published on the Web site of the journal Health Affairs on Wednesday, comes as Congress considers legislation that would eventually give legal status to the country’s 11 million unauthorized immigrants. The legislation has sparked a vigorous debate about whether immigrants ultimately contribute more than they receive from the federal budget. One of the sticking points has been whether immigrants should be eligible for government programs, including health benefits, before they qualify for citizenship, but while they are on the path to getting it. The study was concerned only with Medicare, the federal program that accounts for about a fifth of all American health care expenditures. Experts said that the study’s findings served as a useful reminder that immigrants, at least for now, are extending the life of the beleaguered program, not hastening its demise. “There’s this strong belief that immigrants are takers,” said Leighton Ku, the director of the Center for Health Policy Research at George Washington University. “This shows they are contributing hugely. Without immigrants, the Medicare trust fund would be in trouble sooner.” The belief prevails, for example, among some opponents of immigration reform. The study did not grapple with the health care costs of immigrants over their full lifetimes, a calculation that economists say is critical to understanding their long-term impact on the federal budget. “It’s just a snapshot of a point in time,” said Paul Van de Water, a visiting fellow at the liberal-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Similar calculations have been made for Social Security. The chief actuary of the Social Security Administration, Stephen C. Goss, estimated that immigrants in the country illegally, some of whom assume fake Social Security numbers to provide cover for employers and themselves, among other reasons, generated a surplus of about $12 billion for the Social Security Trust Fund in 2010. But that equation would change if unauthorized immigrants were to gain legal status under a new law and eventually began collecting Social Security once they were of retirement age. One major policy question is how much that might cost, experts said. The Heritage Foundation, a conservative institute, estimated that the legislation’s changes, if implemented, could cost taxpayers more than $6 trillion. Critics of that calculation said it did not take into account the economic benefits that would arise from taking millions of people out of the shadow economy. Mr. Goss, in a letter this month to Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, said that the legislation’s effect on the health of Social Security would be positive in the long term. Gordon Hanson, a professor of economics at the University of California, San Diego, who has worked on migration issues for 20 years, said there was still no comprehensive nonpartisan analysis of the fiscal consequences of putting illegal immigrants on the books. Federal coffers tend to benefit from immigrants in the country illegally, he said, with contributions to programs like Social Security and Medicare that those immigrants cannot draw on later. State and local governments, on the other hand, have to absorb more of the costs, like education for their children and emergency room visits. Immigrants tend to be healthier than American-born citizens, and have lower mortality rates, research has found. Dr. Ku said there was evidence that individual immigrants also use less health care than native-born Americans. He has calculated, for example, that immigrants’ medical costs were 14 percent to 20 percent less than those of native-born Americans, even after controlling for other factors like emergency room visits and insurance coverage, which fewer immigrants have. The study found that average costs to Medicare for immigrant enrollees in 2009 were $3,923, lower than the average $5,388 expenditure for the American-born. The difference, however, was just shy of statistical significance, because of wide variations in medical expenditures and the small numbers of immigrant enrollees, which made the study’s margin of error wide. Robert Rector, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, who was an author of the institute’s report this month, said that looking at Medicare alone was not very useful, as it was just one slice of the entire entitlement pie. And the large immigrant youth population, which the study spends most of its time on, is familiar, he said. “It’s a yawner of a study,” he said. “Young people don’t get Medicare. We don’t need several Ph.D.’s to tell us that.” Others defended the findings, saying that they showed immigrants were helping prop up the country’s retirement funds at the critical point when baby boomers were starting to retire. “They’ll be paying into the system at the very time it is most strained,” said Patrick Oakford, a researcher on economic and immigration policy at the Center for American Progress, a liberal-leaning institute. He estimated that the average undocumented immigrant was 34 and therefore would not retire until 2046.

New York Times. 5/29/13

Immigration bill pins big hopes on dairy cows

From the technology and tourism industries to the fruit growers of California, there is something for almost everyone in the sprawling immigration legislation that the U.S. Senate will start debating this month. But for supporters of this controversial bill who are searching for a solid bloc of votes in the Senate, there might be no better way than through a provision embedded in the law that gives dairy farmers better access to foreign labor. The carefully constructed Senate strategy banks on trying to win over Republican senators representing states scattered throughout the country and where the $35 billion U.S. dairy farm industry contributes heavily to local economies. Backers hope that they will lure these conservative senators – maybe more than a dozen of them – to vote for a bill that they otherwise might not support because of what critics consider its “amnesty” for the 11 million illegal immigrants living in the United States. For example, Wisconsin, Idaho, and Pennsylvania are among the top five dairy-producing states and together there are four Republican senators representing them. “It is a way of giving something to those who may see parts of the bill as undesirable and let them say, ‘At least I’m going to be helping the agriculture industry in my state,'” said former Republican Senator Mel Martinez of Florida, who was a player in a failed, 2007 attempt at passing an immigration bill. “Without it, it goes nowhere,” added Martinez, who now is an executive with JPMorgan Chase & Co. It may seem absurd that the fate of the first major immigration reform effort in 27 years could hinge partially on the country’s 9.2 million lactating cows. But in a deeply divided U.S. Congress where accomplishing anything is difficult, this rare, bipartisan bill is a case study in trade-offs, including the dairy provision. If the gamble pays off in the Senate, supporters hope that the dairy provision might also entice some rural Republicans in the more conservative House of Representatives, where Republicans control the chamber and the battle over immigration will be even tougher. The dairy industry has been lobbying for years for easier access to foreign workers, armed with studies designed to demonstrate the economic harm caused by the current system, which allows visas for foreigners to do seasonal work but not for the year-round needs of dairies. The bill approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee would create three-year visas, renewable for another three years. For a flavor of how important the raging debate over immigration reform is to rural America, one needs to drive only a few hours outside of Washington. Brubaker Farms in south-central Pennsylvania has about 930 cows, mostly Holsteins: those iconic black and white beasts that many consider to be the world’s best milk producers. The Brubaker family has operated the dairy farm on 1,800 acres over the past century, a period that saw the country’s demographics change with more and more young people gravitating to cities. For those staying in rural areas, fewer Americans now want to work on dairy farms “with their arms past the elbow in a heifer when she’s giving birth at 3 a.m.,” said Craig Regelbrugge, co-chairman of the Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform, a farm industry group. Tony Brubaker said enactment of immigration legislation would ensure a steady workforce for his operation. “Before I started hiring immigrant workers, it was nearly impossible to keep all positions full,” he said. By 2009, 62 percent of the nation’s milk supply came from farms using immigrant labor, almost exclusively from Mexico, according to an industry survey. Even so, for Brubaker and other dairy farmers, hiring immigrant labor can be complicated. That is because agricultural immigrant visas are mainly aimed at providing short-term work stints of six to 10 months to accommodate farmers needing field hands to help with seasonal crops. But in dairy operations, where laborers are needed around the clock 365 days a year, the current visa system is clunky at best, Brubaker said. “It takes six months before they’re decent at the job. And it takes two years before they’re really good at the job,” he said of new employees. In response, the Senate bill would let dairy operators hire foreign workers for three years at a time to milk their cows, tend to sick livestock and do other farm chores. Across the country in southeastern Idaho, Tony Vander Hulst of Westpoint Farms said that while he is fully staffed with 55 mostly Hispanic workers tending to 5,000 cows, “At times it (the workforce) gets scarce.” For example, he said, when law enforcement officials conducted a sweep of a local market a few years ago, picking up employees of other farms, “That created a scare among the Hispanic community,” making it harder to find workers. For all of U.S. agriculture, at least half of the 1.1 million farm workers are undocumented, according to government estimates. Republican Senator James Risch of Idaho, asked by Reuters whether the dairy provision could help capture his vote, said he would not decide based on any single issue. But, expressing the sentiment of several Republican senators interviewed by Reuters, Risch added, “Certainly, that’s an important provision. We also have a robust high-tech industry in Idaho and it’s just as important at the upper end as it is at the lower end” of the labor market to update immigration law. The bill is not being powered solely by prospects of easier access to foreign labor to boost U.S. agricultural and high-tech industries. Democrats would achieve their long-sought goal of bringing the 11 million undocumented residents “out of the shadows” where they no longer would have to elude law enforcement. Such people could then put more of their energies into finding legal employment, integrating their families into American society and ultimately gaining U.S. citizenship, advocates argue. Meanwhile, Republicans see a chance to begin appealing to growing numbers of Hispanic voters, while also toughening border security with around $6 billion in new investments. Ranchers who graze cattle and sheep on western range lands also want the agriculture visa system retooled because they face many of the same labor problems as dairy farmers. “The mountain West is in our judgment pretty pivotal” to the Senate successfully passing an immigration bill this year, Regelbrugge said. And so, he hopes, the bill could also put in play senators from Utah and Wyoming, which together have four Republican senators. And then there is Montana, with two Democratic senators maintaining moderate profiles in their Republican-leaning states. In the free-wheeling Senate debate that begins in about a week, nobody is sure which provisions will stand and which might come under attack and be removed. “Every aspect of the bill is in jeopardy of potentially being targeted” for change, Regelbrugge fretted. He included the farm worker provision, which some may argue singles out agriculture for more favorable treatment than other industries. Any major changes to the bill could fracture the coalition of urban Democrats and “dairy” Republicans that supporters see as essential to this legislative fight.

Reuters. 6/3/13

ACLU sues immigration agencies over ‘voluntary departure’ procedures

“Using misinformation, deception, and coercion, Border Patrol and ICE officers have pressured hundreds, if not thousands, of Mexican nationals with deep roots here in the United States into forfeiting their right to a fair hearing and a chance to live here lawfully, alleges the ACLU in a lawsuit being filed today in federal court in Los Angeles.  The lawsuit, Lopez-Venegas v. Napolitano, alleges that as a matter of regular practice, Border Patrol agents and ICE officers pressure undocumented immigrants to sign what amounts to their own summary expulsion documents.  The procedure is formally known as “voluntary departure,” but it regularly results in the involuntary waiver of core due process rights.  An individual who signs for voluntary departure immediately surrenders his or her rights to a hearing before an immigration judge and is usually expelled to Mexico within a matter of hours.”

American Civil Liberties Union. 6/5/13

Federal Appeals Court: Term ‘Alien’ is ‘Offensive and demeaning’

“We recognize that using the term “alien” to refer to other human beings is offensive and demeaning.  We do not condone the use of the term and urge Congress to eliminate it from the U.S. Code.”

Footnote 1, Flores, et al. v. USCIS, et al. June 4, 2013

Immigration reform will ease that entitlements “crisis” we keep hearing about

It isn’t every day that both Republicans and Democrats alike enthusiastically circulate a Wall Street Journal editorial, but that’s exactly what happened today with this WSJ take on the fiscal benefits of immigration reform. And for good reason. The editorial blows up one of the major objections on the right to reform — that creating a path to citizenship will create more in costs than it will in benefits — by pointing out that more immigration will actually improve Social Security’s financial outlook: The crux of the problem is that the ratio of workers to retirees is falling fast. While there were 16 workers for every retiree in 1950, the ratio now stands at a little under 3 to 1 and within 20 years when the baby boomers are age 65 or older the ratio will fall to about 2.5 to 1. Immigrants help ease this demographic problem in three ways. First, most come here between the ages of 18 and 35, near the start of their working years. Second, few come with elderly parents (only about 2.5% of immigrants are over age 65 when they arrive), and the seniors who do come aren’t eligible for Social Security because they have no U.S. work history. Third, immigrants tend to have more children than do native-born Americans and their offspring will also pay into the system. These facts are confirmed in the latest report of the Social Security trustees released last week. They conclude that the program’s long-term funding shortfall “decreases with an increase in net immigration because immigration occurs at relatively young ages, thereby increasing the numbers of covered workers earlier than the numbers of beneficiaries.” How big a bonus are we talking about? Enormous. We asked Stephen Goss, Social Security’s chief actuary, to estimate the value of the 1.08 million net new legal and illegal immigrants that currently come to the U.S. each year. He calculates that over 25 years the trust fund is enriched in today’s dollars by $500 billion and the surplus from immigration mushrooms to $4 trillion over 75 years. With reform increasing the level of immigration, the Journal concludes, “the future fiscal immigration windfall is likely to exceed $4.6 trillion.” Pro-reform operatives aligned with Republicans and Democrats alike both told me today that having the Journal editorial board making this point could be very helpful in continuing to push reform through Congress. “The biggest misperception about immigrants is that they take more than they contribute with respect to taxes and benefits,” Frank Sharry, the head of the pro-immigration America’s Voice, tells me. “This shows what academics have known for a long time but the public hasn’t, which is that over the course of a lifetime immigrants make a huge contribution.” Meanwhile, the office of Marco Rubio — a leading pro-immigration reform conservative — is also circulating the editorial, and praising it in glowing terms. The timing of the editorial is ideal, with members of Congress just returning from recess. It comes as many conservative Republicans continue to claim that Obama has failed thus far to “lead” on entitlements or to otherwise address what they regularly argue, with a great deal of exaggeration, is a looming entitlements “crisis.” Indeed, the Journal editorial says: “More generous immigration is a wise step toward solving the entitlement crisis in Washington.” It’ll be interesting to see how conservative lawmakers handle this one. Indeed, pro-reform forces will try to use the Journal cannon-blast to continue a process that’s already underway — the marginalization of far right voices trying to derail reform by casting it as a huge blow to the taxpayer. The editorial also underscores again just how much some very powerful GOP-aligned voices want reform to happen. It illustrates the fault lines of this debate within the Republican Party, and the ways it has pitted the more pragmatic, business-aligned wing of the party against those playing to a nativist base that appears unwilling to let the party evolve. “It’s sort of like the reformers versus the racists,” Sharry says. “It’s the people who want to modernize the party — really and in fact — versus the people who want it to remain a xenophobic, increasingly marginalized whites-only party.” That’s a harsh assessment indeed, and there are certainly opponents of reform who do not fall into that latter camp. But it remains true that some conservative lawmakers really are demagoguing reform with the claim that it will gouge American taxpayers for the express purpose of sinking anything that offers a path to citizenship.

Washington Post. 6/3/13                           

Gov. Rick Scott vetoes immigrant driver license bill

Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday vetoed a bill that would have allowed children of immigrants who are not U.S. citizens to use a new federal form to get temporary Florida driver licenses. Scott said he vetoed HB 235 because it would have benefited people who are covered by a change in federal policy instituted by President Barack Obama last year that wasn’t approved by Congress. Under the policy known as “Deferred Action Process for Childhood Arrivals,” young people brought to the U.S. illegally as children are not subject to removal if they meet certain criteria. “Deferred action status is simply a policy of the Obama administration absent Congressional direction, designed to dictate removal action decisions using DHS (Department of Homeland Security) agency discretion,” Scott wrote in a veto message. “It was never passed by Congress, nor is it a promulgated rule.” The five-page bill passed the Senate 36-0 and the House 115-2; the lone dissenters were Reps. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, and John Tobia, R-Melbourne Beach. Tobia voted against dozens of bills in the latter part of the decision as an act of protest. Sen. Darren Soto, D-Orlando, sponsor of the bill in the Senate, called Scott’s action “unconscionable,” and predicted that Scott’s veto will seriously hurt his standing with Hispanic voters going into the 2014 election. “This was a chance for him to help out a lot of Hispanics in our state as well as people of Creole descent,” Soto said. “It strikes me as very political.” The Florida Democratic Party excoriated the Republican governor’s action. “Rick Scott continues to alienate and discriminate against thousands of undocumented immigrants. Instead of joining the legislature’s near-unanimous consensus around HB 235, Governor Scott imposed his rigid ideology on Floridians — to the detriment of the young immigrants who are Florida’s future,” said party spokesman Joshua Karp. “This measure would have improved the everyday lives of thousands of undocumented immigrants. With a driver’s license, undocumented young people can drive to school or their jobs without the threat of being thrown into jail or deported.”

Miami Herald. 6/4/13

Energy and the Environment 

Utica shale boom talk not as loud

The warm-up is almost over in Ohio’s Utica shale country. Now, it is time to see whether the flurry of activity, the billions of dollars of investment, and the hyperbole about its potential will produce substantial results. Oil and gas now are being pulled from the layer of rock known as the Utica, located as deep as 9,200 feet under the eastern and central parts of the state. Figures released recently show that energy companies nearly doubled their production in the Utica last year. Based on those results, industry experts now have a better sense of what the Utica is and what it isn’t. Here is what we know:

• While the Utica is beneath eastern and central parts of the state, its sweet spot is a much smaller area that includes Carroll, Harrison, Columbiana and Noble counties in eastern Ohio, not far from the Ohio River.

• Despite early hopes that the Utica would be rich with oil, its most abundant resources are natural gas and natural-gas liquids. Much of the oil is locked away in areas that are difficult to access with current technology.

• Central Ohio is unlikely to see an oil and gas boom. Devon Energy is already giving up on the Utica and is selling its assets there.

Nobody contributed to the high expectations as much as Chesapeake Energy and its now-former CEO, Aubrey McClendon. Two years ago, he told an Ohio audience that shale energy would be the biggest thing in the state “since maybe the plow” and estimated $500 billion in income. His company remains the largest leaseholder and producer in the state, but his successors and other energy executives have toned down the talk. “Early on, there was this hype that [the Utica] was going to be the next east Texas or Saudi Arabia,” said Randy Albert, chief operating officer of gas operations for Consol Energy of Pennsylvania, which is drilling in eight Ohio counties. “It’s not going to be that.” He sees the Utica as having a strong core of resources in just a few counties, with declining levels to the east and west. Much of the early excitement was tied to hopes that the Utica was rich in oil, which is more valuable than natural gas. What companies have found, though, is that much of the oil is hard to get to. “I think everybody continues to believe that the Utica contains prospective amounts of crude oil, but there are technological issues and challenges that need to be addressed,” said Tom Stewart, executive vice president of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association. “That’s a function of technology, and somebody will figure it out.” Energy companies produced 635,896 barrels of oil and 12.8 billion cubic feet of gas last year in the Utica, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. In releasing the figures last month, officials spoke about the “staggering amounts” of energy and issued forecasts showing production would grow by more than 10 times by 2015. This optimism is in contrast to the grumbling of analysts, some of whom are beginning to see the Utica as a disappointment. “There has been a lot of smart money that lost a lot of money in this space,” said Mark Hanson, an energy analyst with Morningstar in Chicago, noting that several regions outside Ohio also failed to live up to their promise. That said, development of the Utica is in its early stages. “People are still trying to figure out where the sweet spots are, where you can get the highest returns with oil content,” he said. He points to one well in eastern Ohio’s Harrison County, operated by Gulfport Energy, as the rare example of substantial oil content. The well, called “Boy Scout 1H,” produced 37,235 barrels of oil and 122 million cubic feet of gas in 32 days. But it is just one out of the 87 wells included in the recent state report. For some perspective, look at Eagle Ford in Texas, a shale formation that gushes with oil. In 2010, when there was drilling on 72 leases, Eagle Ford produced more than 5.5 million barrels of oil (Texas doesn’t list the number of wells per lease). Last year, Eagle Ford had drilling on more than 1,200 leases and more than 135 million barrels of oil, according to the Railroad Commission of Texas, which compiles oil and gas figures. Based on the few numbers available for the Utica, analysts feel comfortable saying it is no Eagle Ford. State officials say that the Utica numbers would have been much higher in 2012 if not for a lack of infrastructure to process and transport the resources. Indeed, companies have announced more than $5 billion in spending on pipelines and processing. The officials also note the continuing pace of drilling permits, with more than one in four of the state’s 660 permits issued so far in 2013. But there is no refuting that some companies are heading for the exits. Devon Energy, one of the largest producers in the country, is the most notable example. A spokesman confirmed that Devon is still planning to sell its assets in Ohio. Devon drilled five wells and got no natural gas from any of the wells and only a small amount of oil from one. Devon’s results are bad news for anyone hoping to sell mineral rights in central Ohio. The company drilled in an area closer to Columbus than anyone else.

Columbus Dispatch. 6/6/13


Business, Commerce and Labor


Right-to-work testimony draws crowd, but Chairman declares bill dead in his committee       

The chairman of a House panel that heard testimony on controversial right-to-work legislation Tuesday said there would be no further hearings on the matter in his committee. The House Manufacturing & Workforce Development Committee hearing on a pair of proposals to prohibit anyone from being required to join a union as a condition of employment quickly galvanized opposition. Union members filled the public seats and spilled over into several overflow rooms in the Statehouse. Primary co-sponsors Rep. Kristina Roegner (R-Hudson) and Rep. Ron Maag (R-Lebanon) said the bill (HB 151) and a similar constitutional amendment (HJR 5) would make the state more competitive in attracting new businesses to improve Ohio’s economy. However, Chairman Rep. Kirk Schuring (R-Canton) said after the hearing that members of the panel had unanimously agreed not to continue deliberations on the proposals. “I’ve surveyed the committee and for a wide variety of reasons, the committee has determined that it would not be appropriate to have additional hearings on the legislation,” he said in an interview. “My individual thoughts are that I’ve been in the legislature now for 20 years and I have not had one union shop – an owner of a company that is a union shop or an executive from a company that is a union shop – has come to me and asked for this type of legislation,” the chairman said. “So I think it’s something that does not need to be addressed at this point in time. There are a whole host of other issues regarding our economy and how we can improve the economic climate in this state that we need to address.” The chairman’s comments reflect the radioactive nature of the issue currently for majority Republicans who saw an attempt to curb union collective bargaining thrown out by voters last session (SB5, 129th General Assembly). Senate President Keith Faber (R-Celina) had already stated he had no interest in moving on the proposals, and Rep. Schuring said earlier this week he had scheduled the measures for a hearing because House rules required as much. The mere mention of the bill’s introduction and the hearing schedule had triggered fundraising pleas from Democrats and cringes amongst the GOP faithful looking ahead to pivotal 2014 elections. Nevertheless, the issue has plenty of support from the Republican right wing. Tea party groups have been circulating a ballot issue proposal since last year, but it has yet to gather steam. During the hearing, Rep. Roegner said the “Workplace Freedom Act” would expand private sector workers’ rights to decide whether or not to join a union or pay dues. “Freedom resonates at the heart of this bill, freedom to decide for yourself if you want to be part of a labor union or not,” she said, prompting sarcastic chuckles from the audience. The sponsor said states with similar measures in place have fared better economically than “their forced unionism counterparts.” She pointed to data from the National Institute for Labor Relations Research showing that private sector employment in right-to-work states grew 12.5% between 2001 and 2011, while other states saw growth of only 3.5%. The 24 states that passed right-to-work laws have a competitive advantage over “closed shop” states, she said, noting that Indiana and Michigan recently adopted similar legislation. “Ladies and gentlemen, right-to-work is on our doorstep. That fact, if for no other reason, should compel us to at least engage in a dialogue whether this this is something our state wishes to pursue or continue to ignore.” Rep. Roegner also argued that public opinion polls show a majority of Ohioans support the idea of prohibiting the practice of forcing workers to join a union. The joint sponsors said they had decided to introduce several variations – two bills focusing separately on private and public sector workers, and a constitutional amendment that would put the issue before voters. Rep. Maag said passage of any one of the proposals would make Ohio the 25th “right-to-work state.” “This legislation promotes economic growth and, above all, personal freedom,” he said. “These two principals go hand-in-hand.” Rep. Tom Letson (D-Warren) said Ohio law already allows employees to choose not to belong to unions and instead contribute “fair share” payments. “It seems as though the freedom you are espousing here is already in the body of the law,” he said, suggesting the proposal was redundant. The Democrat’s statement drew a roar of applause from the audience, prompting Chairman Schuring to slam the gavel and warn spectators to observe proper decorum or be ejected from the room. Rep. Roland Winburn (D-Dayton) questioned whether the measure would allow workers who choose not to pay union dues to benefit from the union’s representation and called it “a right-to-freeload law more than the workplace freedom law.” Rep. Maag rejected the argument, saying there were a lot of workers who would prefer to be able to bargain for themselves rather than through a union. “I think, in some instances, the union could be holding down the worker,” he said. Responding to a question from Rep. John Patterson (D-Jefferson), Rep. Maag said unions shouldn’t be afraid of the proposal if they really are as effective in representing employees’ interests as they say they are. “If unions are doing all these wonderful things, why would anyone not want to be in it?” Rep. Patterson said he believed allowing individual workers to “cut their own deals” with management effectively undermines the efficacy of collective bargaining and asked the sponsors if they thought the measure would weaken labor unions in the state. Rep. Roegner said she didn’t think it would. “I think unions will become stronger because, if you look at it, in some ways there will be competition,” she said, anticipating unions would be forced to prove their value to workers and become more effective. “I believe that unions need to exist. I also believe that individuals have the right to choose whether or not they want to belong to any organization as a condition of employment,” she said. Democratic candidates and leadership blasted out statements condemning the proposal. Rep. Bob Hagan (D-Youngstown), who has announced a challenge U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Terrace Park) in 2016, said the proposals were “an absolute slap in the face of Ohio voters” that overwhelmingly rejected a separate proposal to restrict collective bargaining (SB5, 129th General Assembly) in 2011. “Once again, the Republican caucus has proven itself to be more interested in appeasing big business than standing up for the average worker,” he said. David Pepper, who is running for attorney general in next year’s election, said House Republicans “show a flagrant disregard for the interests and opinions of their constituents.” House Minority Leader Tracy Heard (D-Columbus) suggested the measure was a Republican attempt “to appease the extremist right wing.” “I sincerely hope that my friends across the aisle heard the millions of Ohioans who stood up and spoke out during senate bill 5, and that this will be the only hearing on these anti-workers’ rights bills,” she said. Rep. Armond Budish (D-Beachwood), who recently stepped down as minority leader to pursue a run for Cuyahoga County executive, said Democrats would “work to ensure Ohio does not become the next casualty on the growing list of states that have rammed through so-called right to work legislation in the dead of the night.”

Gongwer News Service. 6/4/13


Fast-growing upscale Latino segment wields nearly half of Hispanic spending power


As part of its Thought Leadership strategy to provide in-depth understanding of the diversity of the Hispanic market, AHAA: The Voice of Hispanic Marketing explores the Upscale Latino segment as part of its research series released during the AHAA 2013 Conference. The study revealed that this viable and sophisticated market boasts 40 percent of Hispanic Spending Power, lives in a world of cultural duality, and provides lifetime value and upside opportunities for many high-end and luxury brands. The most influential segment since the baby boomers, Upscale Hispanics will drive shifts in category consideration, purchasing behavior and brand relationship. In alliance with Nielsen, AHAA conducted a comprehensive study on Hispanic households earning $50-100K annual income dissecting demographics, lifestyle, financial and investment behavior, purchasing habits, media consumption and technological adoption. At the direction of AHAA, this preliminary meta-study mined Nielsen’s responder data, including P$ycle, Homescan, and Nielsen People Meter. In 2012, Upscale Latinos accounted for 29 percent, or 15 million, of the U.S. Hispanic population – that figure is expected to double by 2050. Younger than Upscale Non-Hispanic Whites (33 years old compared to 39 years old), they are living active lifestyles, often with young families – in fact, 85 percent of Upscale Hispanics having a household size of three or more, compared to 65 percent of Upscale Non-Hispanics. While they reside across the country, they are mostly concentrated in urban areas, such as Los Angeles, New York, Houston and Miami, and the surrounding communities. They also are boosting the Hispanic populations of secondary markets, like Jacksonville, Honolulu and Washington D.C., and smaller communities, such as Salt Lake City, Raleigh and Oklahoma City, which has seen its Hispanic populations jump by 191 percent. A force behind new businesses with higher educational and professional attainment, Upscale Latinos are technologically savvy, often seen as trendsetters among their peers. They are more likely to use smartphones, own iPads and subscribe to one of the top four U.S. mobile providers. With more than half having attended college, Upscale Latinos are more likely to be business owners than Upscale Non-Hispanics. Accordingly, the Upscale Hispanic segment has a higher concentration of White Collar professionals than total U.S. Hispanics. They also have a larger share within the work force with only 19 percent currently not working. Heavily involved with wealth creation and preservation, Upscale Hispanics are building a brighter future for their children with a greater emphasis on saving for education compared to Upscale Non-Hispanics. This segment tends to be homeowners and are very financially savvy with half having investments and 86 percent using savings accounts and 50% more likely to manage their financial accounts from their mobile device. Mutual funds and stocks are the most commonly used investment opportunities among Upscale Hispanics with the majority more likely to invest in stock plans provided by their employers. In addition, more Upscale Hispanics use mutual funds compared to total U.S. Hispanics (21 vs. 16 percent). Deeper pockets do not translate to increased assimilation. Upscale Hispanics live in two cultures with three-quarters speaking both English and Spanish. While they are slightly more English-dominant, their strong cultural duality and bicultural behavior is reflected in their media consumption. More than a third of Upscale Hispanics watch content in both languages, with English-language comedies, documentary-style programming and children’s weekly programming as the most watched. However, Upscale Latinos will switch to Spanish-language television for cultural events, concerts and sports. Upscale Latinos have the disposable income to pamper their image, with health and beauty products comprising the overwhelming majority of categories above and beyond Upscale Non-Hispanic Whites and Hispanics overall. Men’s toiletries, women’s fragrances, hair care and cosmetics dominate with an emphasis on brand choices, while alcohol and baby care categories skew to store labels. In addition, Upscale Hispanics over-index on fresh ingredients, as feeding their growing families healthy and nutritious food is a priority. The study also identified sub-segments within Upscale Latinos: Young Accumulators, Young Achievers, Urban Uptowners, and Affluentials. Marketers have a unique opportunity to identify the needs of an evolving Upscale Hispanic household. With an interest in building net worth and simplifying their lives, Upscale Latinos are fueling the growth of America’s middle class, while benefiting from a bicultural lifestyle, streamlining their multi-generational responsibilities and enriching their American Dream. Key touch points for this segment include:


* Bringing financial services to their specific needs.

* Supporting small businesses.

* Expanding investment and retirement education.

* Strengthening higher learning opportunities.

* Aligning with segment’s interest in (image related), beautification and wellness. 

With Upscale Hispanics controlling $4 out of every $10 Hispanic spend dollars, this growing segment will be an essential component not only for Hispanic marketers but also for successful total market upscale marketers. For more information on this study, please visit http://ahaa.org.

 Sacramento Bee. 5/31/13





RIGHT TO WORK (Roegner, K.) Proposing to enact Section 22 of Article I of the Constitution of the State of Ohio to prohibit employees from being forced to participate in a labor organization as a condition of employment.

Committee Hearing in House (6/4/2013; CONTINUED (See separate story))



MARIJUANA (Hagan, R.) Proposing to enact Section 12 of Article XV of the Constitution of the State of Ohio to legalize the production, use, and sale of marijuana under specified conditions and to provide for the regulation and taxation of marijuana.

Referred in House (5/7/2013; State & Local Government)



REDISTRICTING (Sawyer, T.) To revise the redistricting process for General Assembly and Congressional districts.

Referred in Senate (2/13/2013; State Government Oversight & Reform)



SCHOOL FUNDING (Sawyer, T.) To require and fund a high quality education for each student enrolled in a public school.

Referred in Senate (2/13/2013; Finance)


HB 1

WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT (Derickson, T.) To require a local workforce investment area to use OhioMeansJobs as the local workforce investment area’s job placement system, to rename county one-stop systems, and to make other changes to Ohio’s Workforce Development Law.

Committee Hearing in Senate (6/11/2013)


HB 2

UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION (Derickson, T.) To require an unemployment compensation claimant to register with OhioMeansJobs to be eligible for unemployment compensation benefits and to require a claimant to contact a local one-stop office beginning with the eighth week of filing for unemployment compensation benefits.

Committee Hearing in Senate (6/11/2013)


HB 3

INSURANCE NAVIGATORS (Sears, B.) To specify licensing and continuing education requirements for insurance agents involved in selling, soliciting, or negotiating sickness and accident insurance through a health benefit exchange and to make changes to copayments, cost sharing, and deductibles for health insuring corporations.

Signed by the Governor (4/30/2013; Signed: April 30, 2013)


HB 5

MUNICIPAL TAX COLLECTIONS (Grossman, C.) To revise the laws governing income taxes imposed by municipal corporations.

Committee Hearing in House (5/8/2013; CONTINUED)


HB 8

SCHOOL SAFETY (Roegner, K.) To revise the school safety laws.

Committee Hearing in House (6/5/2013; CONTINUED)


HB 10

FISCAL CONTINUING EDUCATION (Hagan, C.) To establish education programs and continuing education requirements for the fiscal officers of townships and municipal corporations, to establish procedures for removing those fiscal officers, county treasurers, and county auditors from office, and to create fiscal accountability requirements for public schools, counties, municipal corporations, and townships.

Committee Hearing in House (5/14/2013; SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD (Sponsor request))


HB 13

VOTING LAWS (Reece, A.) To require a provisional ballot to be remade and counted for the offices, questions, and issues for which the provisional voter was eligible to vote, if the election official assisting that provisional voter failed to direct the provisional voter to the correct precinct, and to revise the portion of the provisional ballot affirmation required to be completed by the election official.

Introduced and Referred in House (1/30/2013; Policy & Legislative Oversight)


HB 15

ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS (Hill, B.) To exempt under certain circumstances a parent or a person acting in loco parentis from the prohibition of the interception of wire, oral, or electronic communications.

Committee Hearing in House (2/6/2013; CONTINUED)


HB 17

LOCAL GOVERNMENT FUND (Cera, J) To require that, for fiscal year 2014 and each fiscal year thereafter, the Local Government Fund must receive the same proportion of state tax revenue that the Fund received in fiscal year 2005.

Introduced and Referred in House (1/30/2013; Finance & Appropriations)


HB 18

SCHOOL METAL DETECTORS (Patmon, B.) With respect to metal detectors in public schools.

Committee Hearing in House (6/11/2013)


HB 21

VOTING (Stebelton, G.) To establish a process to permit an elector who is confined to a health care facility under isolation to vote with the assistance of bipartisan board of elections employees, and to permit the elector’s facsimile signature, provided by the hospital, to be used for signature verification purposes.

Committee Hearing in House (2/26/2013; CONTINUED)


HB 22

MILITARY TRANSFERS (Pillich, C.) To permit persons who quit work to accompany the person’s spouse on a military transfer to be eligible for unemployment compensation benefits.

Committee Hearing in House (2/13/2013; CONTINUED)


HB 31

FIREARMS (Patmon, B.) To prohibit any person from storing or leaving a firearm in the person’s residence unless the firearm is secured in safe storage or rendered inoperable by a tamper-resistant lock or other safety device if the person knows or reasonably should know that a minor is able to gain access to the firearm and to provide criminal penalties if a minor gains unauthorized access to a firearm not so stored or rendered inoperable.

Committee Hearing in House (4/30/2013; CONTINUED)


HB 32

SCHOOL YEAR (Hayes, B.Patmon, B.) To establish a minimum school year for school districts, STEM schools, and chartered nonpublic schools based on hours, rather than days, of instruction.

Committee Hearing in House (5/8/2013; CONTINUED)


HB 34

BWC BUDGET (Hackett, B.) To allow the Administrator of Workers’ Compensation to pay for specified medical benefits during an earlier time frame, to make changes to the Health Partnership Program, to eliminate the $15,000 Medical-Only Program, to make other changes to the Workers’ Compensation Law, and to make appropriations for the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation for the biennium beginning July 1, 2013, and ending June 30, 2015; and to provide authorization and conditions for the operation of the Bureau’s programs.

Signed by the Governor (3/26/2013; Signed: March 26, 2013)


HB 35

TRANSPORTATION BUDGET (McGregor, R.) To make appropriations for programs related to transportation and public safety for the biennium beginning July 1, 2013, and ending June 30, 2015, and to provide authorization and conditions for the operation of those programs.

Committee Hearing in Senate (3/14/2013–Canceled)


HB 39

HOUSE QUESTION TIMES (Foley, M.) To require the Governor to participate in House Question Times.

Committee Hearing in House (3/12/2013; CONTINUED)


HB 40

STATE FUNDS (Foley, M.) To require the Treasurer of State to investigate whether state treasury funds, custodial funds, or funds of state institutions of higher education were lost as a result of fraudulent manipulations to the LIBOR and to declare an emergency.

Referred in House (2/13/2013; Policy & Legislative Oversight)


HB 41

OIL GAS DRILLING (Hagan, R.) To authorize a political subdivision to enact and enforce health and safety standards for oil and gas drilling and exploration.

Referred in House (2/13/2013; Agriculture & Natural Resources)


HB 42

OIL GAS PERMITS (Hagan, R.) To revise the requirements concerning an oil and gas permit application, an oil and gas well completion record, designation of trade secret protection for chemicals used to drill or stimulate an oil and gas well, and disclosure of chemical information to a health care professional or emergency responder, to require an owner to report all chemicals brought to a well site, and to make other changes in the Oil and Gas Law.

Referred in House (2/13/2013; Agriculture & Natural Resources)


HB 48

POLITICAL CONTRIBUTIONS (Milkovich, Z.) To change the age at which an individual may make a political contribution, to reduce the amount of political contributions that may be made by a contributor, and to similarly reduce the amount of contributions that political entities may accept.

Referred in House (2/13/2013; Policy & Legislative Oversight)


HB 50

CUSTODIAL INTERROGATIONS (Heard, T.McGregor, R.) To protect the rights of children before and during custodial interrogations

Committee Hearing in House (2/20/2013; CONTINUED)


HB 51

TRANSPORTATION BUDGET (McGregor, R.) To make appropriations for programs related to transportation and public safety for the biennium beginning July 1, 2013, and ending June 30, 2015, and to provide authorization and conditions for the operation of those programs.

Signed by the Governor (4/1/2013; Signed: April 1, 2013)


HB 56

TIF EXEMPTIONS (Gerberry, R.) To allow a board of township trustees to reduce the percentage or term of a property tax exemption granted to a business under a tax increment financing agreement if the business fails to create the number of new jobs the business agreed to create in the agreement.

Committee Hearing in House (3/12/2013; CONTINUED)


HB 59

BUDGET BILL (Amstutz, R.) To make operating appropriations for the biennium beginning July 1, 2013, and ending June 30, 2015; to provide authorization and conditions for the operation of state programs.

Passed in Senate (6/6/2013; 23-10)


HB 62

DRIVERS LICENSES (Dovilla, M.) To provide that a person who holds a current, valid driver’s license from another state be required to only pass vision screening in order to be issued a driver’s license and to amend the version of section 4507.05 of the Revised Code that is scheduled to take effect January 1, 2017, to continue the provisions of this act on or after that effective date.

Referred in House (2/20/2013; Transportation, Public Safety & Homeland Security)


HB 63

OIL GAS DRILLING (Cera, JO’Brien, S.) To establish a nonrefundable commercial activity tax credit for companies involved in horizontal well drilling or related oil and gas production services that hire Ohio residents or dislocated workers who have enrolled in or completed a federally registered apprenticeship program.

Committee Hearing in House (6/12/2013)


HB 68

SPEED LIMIT INCREASE (Maag, R.) To increase the speed limit on interstate freeways outside urbanized areas from 65 to 70 miles per hour for all vehicles.

Introduced and Referred in House (2/20/2013; Transportation, Public Safety & Homeland Security)


HB 69

TRAFFIC CAMERAS (Maag, R.) To prohibit the use of traffic law photo-monitoring devices by municipal corporations, counties, townships and the State Highway Patrol to detect signal light and speed limit violations.

Committee Hearing in House (4/23/2013; CONTINUED)


HB 78

VOTER REGISTRATION (Stinziano, M.) To require the Secretary of State to create an online voter registration system and to permit data sharing in order to maintain the statewide voter registration database.

Committee Hearing in House (5/7/2013; CONTINUED)


HB 82

CIVIL RIGHTS LAW (Hayes, B.Blair, T.) To exempt religious corporations, associations, educational institutions, or societies from the definition of “employer” for the purpose of Ohio’s Civil Rights law.

Committee Hearing in House (3/6/2013; CONTINUED)


HB 91

HEALTH CARE (Young, R.Thompson, A.) To enact the Health Care Freedom Act.

Committee Hearing in House (4/24/2013; CONTINUED)


HB 92

SYRINGE EXCHANGE (Antonio, N.Sears, B.) To authorize the establishment of syringe exchange programs.

Committee Hearing in House (6/12/2013)


HB 93

OIL GAS LAWS (Hagan, R.) To increase criminal penalties for violations of the Oil and Gas Law relating to improper disposal, transport, and management of brine, to establish a criminal penalty for a negligent violation of certain provisions of the Solid, Hazardous, and Infectious Wastes Law, and to require the revocation of a violator’s permits and registration certificate and denial of future permit and registration certificate applications under the Oil and Gas Law.

Referred in House (3/6/2013; Agriculture & Natural Resources)


HB 99

FIREARM SEIZURES (Retherford, W.) To prohibit any agency and its employees and agents from seizing or authorizing the seizure of any firearm from any person lawfully in possession or control of the firearm except when a law enforcement officer reasonably believes the immediate seizure of the firearm is necessary for the safety of the officer or another person or to preserve the firearm as evidence, to prohibit the establishment of a firearm registry, and to prohibit law enforcement officers and international agents from enforcing a firearms registration requirement or firearm ban.

Committee Hearing in House (4/30/2013; CONTINUED)


HB 100

JOBSOHIO AUDITS (Carney, J.) To allow the Auditor of State to conduct full audits of JobsOhio and to require all nonprofit economic development corporations that receive public funds to make annual disclosures related to both their public and private funds.

Introduced and Referred in House (3/13/2013; State & Local Government)


HB 111

STUDENT TRUSTEES (Duffey, M.Stinziano, M.) To grant student members of the boards of trustees of state universities and the Northeast Ohio Medical University voting power and the authority to attend executive sessions.

Committee Hearing in House (5/8/2013; CONTINUED)


HB 114

DRIVER LICENSES (Lynch, M.) To specify the persons who are not citizens of the United States that are eligible to receive an Ohio driver’s license or motorcycle operator’s license or endorsement.

Committee Hearing in House (5/21/2013; CONTINUED)


HB 151

RIGHT TO WORK (Roegner, K.) To prohibit any requirement that employees of private employers join or pay dues to any employee organization and to establish civil and criminal penalties against employers who violate that prohibition.

Committee Hearing in House (6/4/2013; CONTINUED (See separate story))


HB 153

MEDICAL MARIJUANA (Hagan, R.) Regarding the medical use of cannabis.

Committee Hearing in House (5/29/2013; CONTINUED)


HB 154

EDUCATION FUNDING (Gerberry, R.) To require that a portion of lottery profits be distributed annually on a per pupil basis to public and chartered nonpublic schools.

Referred in House (5/8/2013; Finance & Appropriations)


HB 155

IMMIGRANT DRIVER LICENSES (Ramos, D.Reece, A.) To allow a person who has been approved for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to obtain a temporary instruction permit, driver’s license, or motorcycle operator’s license or endorsement and to amend the versions of sections 4507.05 and 4507.06 of the Revised Code that are scheduled to take effect January 1, 2017, to continue the provisions of this act on and after that effective date.

Committee Hearing in House (6/11/2013)


SB 1

WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT (Beagle, B.Balderson, T.) To create the OhioMeansJobs Workforce Development Revolving Loan Fund, to create the OhioMeansJobs Workforce Development Revolving Loan Program, to allocate a portion of casino license fees to finance the loan program, and to make an appropriation.

Committee Hearing in House (6/11/2013)


SB 2

WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT (Lehner, P.Beagle, B.) To require a local workforce investment area to use OhioMeansJobs as the local workforce investment area’s job placement system, to rename county one-stop systems, and to make other changes to Ohio’s Workforce Development Law.

Referred in House (4/10/2013; Manufacturing & Workforce Development)


SB 3

RULEMAKING (LaRose, F.) To reform rule-making and rule-review procedures and regulatory processes.

Committee Hearing in Senate (3/5/2013; CONTINUED)


SB 5

CALL LOCATIONS (Brown, E.Manning, G.) To require wireless service providers to provide call location information to law enforcement officers or agencies in certain emergency situations.

Committee Hearing in House (6/4/2013)


SB 6

FINANCIAL CONTINUING EDUCATION (Schaffer, T.) To establish education programs and continuing education requirements for the fiscal officers of townships and municipal corporations, to establish procedures for removing those fiscal officers, county treasurers, and county auditors from office, and to create fiscal accountability requirements for public schools, counties, municipal corporations, and townships.

Committee Hearing in Senate (4/10/2013; CONTINUED)


SB 9

HEALTH INSURANCE AGENTS (Bacon, K.) To specify licensing and continuing education requirements for insurance agents involved in selling, soliciting, or negotiating sickness and accident insurance through a health benefit exchange and to make changes to copayments, cost sharing, and deductibles for health insuring corporations.

Signed by the Governor (6/4/2013; Signed: June 4, 2013)


SB 10

ELECTION LAWS (Coley, B.) To revise the law regarding polling places and voting machines.

Signed by the Governor (3/26/2013; Signed: March 26, 2013)


SB 11

SUMMER FOOD SERVICE (Brown, E.) To require school districts to allow alternative summer meal sponsors to use school facilities to provide food service for summer intervention services under certain conditions, to allow the distribution and consumption of meals on a school bus, and to create a healthy food license for child day-care centers and school child programs.

Committee Hearing in Senate (3/6/2013; CONTINUED)


SB 12

OIL GAS EMPLOYEES (Cafaro, C.) To require three-year employment of oil and gas training program graduates who are Ohio residents, and to make appropriations to support oil and gas training programs, including employee training grants to oil or gas well owners.

Committee Hearing in Senate (2/26/2013; CONTINUED)


SB 14

UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION (Kearney, E.) To authorize programs and tax credits to encourage the hiring of unemployed individuals, to make changes to the Unemployment Compensation Law, to authorize grants and tax credits for the rehabilitation of distressed areas and the expansion of broadband connections to rural areas, to create a revolving loan fund and a bonding program for small businesses, to make changes to the Minority Business Bonding Program, to levy taxes, and to make an appropriation.

Referred in Senate (2/13/2013; Finance)


SB 15

EDUCATION FUNDING (Sawyer, T.) To prescribe a system and timeline for the General Assembly to deliberate and determine the components and cost of a high quality public primary and secondary education, to make property tax law changes to fund a high quality public primary and secondary education, and to provide that the provisions of this act take effect only after being approved by the electors.

Referred in Senate (2/13/2013; Finance)


SB 17

OIL GAS PERMITS (Skindell, M.) To revise the requirements concerning an oil and gas permit application, an oil and gas well completion record, designation of trade secret protection for chemicals used to drill or stimulate an oil and gas well, and disclosure of chemical information to a health care professional or emergency responder, to require an owner to report all chemicals brought to a well site, and to make other changes in the Oil and Gas Law.

Referred in Senate (2/13/2013; Energy & Natural Resources)


SB 18

ASSAULT WEAPONS (Smith, S.) To prohibit a person from knowingly acquiring, possessing, carrying, or using an assault weapon and to require the Attorney General to prepare for the establishment of a firearm and ammunition transactions database.

Referred in Senate (2/13/2013; Criminal Justice)


SB 20

ELECTIONS LAW (Turner, N.) To revise the Election Law.

Referred in Senate (2/13/2013; State Government Oversight & Reform)


SB 21

THIRD GRADE READING (Lehner, P.) To revise the requirements for reading teachers under the Third-Grade Reading Guarantee

Signed by the Governor (6/4/2013; Signed: June 4, 2013)


SB 26

YOUTH HEAD INJURIES (Schaffer, T.) To correct a cross reference with regard to concussions and head injuries in athletic activities organized by youth sports organizations and to declare an emergency.

Signed by the Governor (5/28/2013; Signed: May 28, 2013)


SB 34

RENEWABLE ENERGY (Jordan, K.) To repeal the requirement that electric distribution utilities and electric services companies provide 25% of their retail power supplies from advanced and renewable energy resources by 2025.

Referred in Senate (2/13/2013; Public Utilities)


SB 36

FIREARMS (Jordan, K.) To prohibit any agency and its employees and agents from seizing or authorizing the seizure of any firearm from any person lawfully in possession or control of the firearm except when a law enforcement officer reasonably believes the immediate seizure of the firearm is necessary for the safety of the officer or another person or to preserve the firearm as evidence, to prohibit the establishment of a firearm registry, and to prohibit law enforcement officers and international agents from enforcing a firearms registration requirement or firearm ban.

Re-referred in Senate (2/27/2013; Criminal Justice)


SB 39

HPV VACCINES (Brown, E.Schiavoni, J.) To require insurance providers to cover human papillomavirus screenings and vaccines.

Committee Hearing in Senate (2/27/2013; CONTINUED)


SB 42

SCHOOL SAFETY (Manning, G.) To authorize school districts to levy a property tax exclusively for school safety and security purposes.

Committee Hearing in House (6/5/2013; CONTINUED)


SB 44

SEX PREDATORS (Bacon, K.) To authorize the civil commitment of certain sexually violent predators and to provide for the GPS monitoring of sexually violent predators who are released from prison.

Referred in Senate (2/20/2013; Criminal Justice)


SB 47

ELECTION LAWS (Seitz, B.) To revise the Election Law.

Signed by the Governor (3/22/2013; Signed: March 22, 2013)


SB 53

BMV TRANSACTIONS (Kearney, E.) To require the Registrar of Motor Vehicles and all deputy registrars to accept credit and debit cards for transactions of more than ten dollars.

Committee Hearing in Senate (4/16/2013; CONTINUED)


SB 57

EMERGENCY RESPONDERS (Manning, G.) To establish a pilot project in Lorain County from August 1, 2013, to July 31, 2014, pursuant to which qualified emergency responders in that County may obtain and administer naloxone to revive a person suffering from an apparent opioid-related overdose.

Referred in House (5/21/2013; Transportation, Public Safety & Homeland Security)


SB 58

ENERGY EFFICIENCY (Seitz, B.) To review and possibly modify the energy efficiency, peak demand reduction, and alternative energy resource provisions established by Ohio law governing competitive retail electric service.

Referred in Senate (3/5/2013; Public Utilities)


SB 60

PUBLIC RECORDS (Uecker, J.) To eliminate the journalist access exception from the general prohibition on the release of confidential records relative to the issuance, renewal, suspension, or revocation of a concealed handgun license.

Committee Hearing in Senate (6/12/2013)


SB 62

DRIVER LICENSES (Kearney, E.Tavares, C.) To allow a person who has been approved for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to obtain a temporary instruction permit, driver’s license, or motorcycle operator’s license or endorsement and to amend the versions of sections 4507.05 and 4507.06 of the Revised Code that are scheduled to take effect January 1, 2017, to continue the provisions of this act on and after that effective date.

Referred in Senate (3/6/2013; State Government Oversight & Reform)


SB 70

CREDIT HISTORY DISCRIMINATION (Tavares, C.) To specify that discrimination by an employer against any person because of the person’s credit history is an unlawful discriminatory practice under the Ohio Civil Rights Law.

Committee Hearing in Senate (6/12/2013)


SB 86

COUNTY INVESTMENTS (Jordan, K.) To require the Treasurer of State and each county investing authority to invest at least 5% of the state’s total average investment portfolio of interim funds and in each county’s total average investment portfolio of inactive moneys, respectively, in precious metals by June 30th of each year.

Referred in Senate (3/20/2013; Finance)


SB 87

LAKE ERIE DRILLING (Skindell, M.) To ban the taking or removal of oil or natural gas from and under the bed of Lake Erie.

Referred in Senate (4/9/2013; Energy & Natural Resources)


SB 88

HEALTH EXCHANGE (Skindell, M.) To establish the Ohio Health Benefit Exchange Agency and to establish the Ohio Health Benefit Exchange Program consisting of an exchange for individual coverage and a Small Business Health Options Program.

Committee Hearing in Senate (4/10/2013; CONTINUED)


SB 90

BICYCLE HELMETS (Skindell, M.) To require bicycle operators and passengers under 18 years of age to wear protective helmets when the bicycle is operated on a roadway and to establish the Bicycle Safety Fund to be used by the Department of Public Safety to assist low-income families in the purchase of bicycle helmets.

Committee Hearing in Senate (4/10/2013; CONTINUED)


SB 92

PAY EQUITY (Turner, N.Tavares, C.) To enact the “Fair and Acceptable Income Required (FAIR) Act” and to revise the enforcement of the prohibitions against discrimination in the payment of wages.

Referred in Senate (4/9/2013; Commerce & Labor)


SB 110

VOTER REGISTRATION (Turner, N.) To permit sixteen and seventeen year olds to preregister to vote and to revise the law concerning compensated voter registration.

Referred in Senate (4/17/2013; State Government Oversight & Reform)


SB 117

MEDICAID (Smith, S.) To permit the Medicaid program to cover the eligibility expansion group authorized by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and to make an appropriation.

Referred in Senate (5/8/2013; Finance)


SB 119

MINIMUM WAGE (Tavares, C.) To require that domestic workers be paid the minimum wage, as provided in Section 34a of Article II, Ohio Constitution, to require that domestic workers be paid overtime wages, to make certain conduct directed toward a domestic worker an unlawful discriminatory practice, and to require a weekly day of rest for domestic workers.

Referred in Senate (5/8/2013; Commerce & Labor)


SB 121

FIREARM SPECIFICATIONS (Hughes, J.LaRose, F.) To amend sections and enact sections of the Revised Code to double the mandatory prison term for an offender who is convicted of a firearm specification and previously has been convicted of a firearm specification; to similarly double the period of authorized or mandatory commitment to the Department of Youth Services of a delinquent child who is guilty of a firearm specification and previously has been adjudicated a delinquent child for committing an act that would constitute a violation of a firearm specification if committed by an adult; to prohibit violent career criminals from knowingly acquiring, having, carrying, or using any firearm or dangerous ordnance; and to require a mandatory prison term for a violent career criminal convicted of committing a violent felony offense while armed with a firearm.

Referred in Senate (5/8/2013; Criminal Justice)


HR 19

TRAFFICKING VICTIMS (Fedor, T.) To request the Congress of the United States to authorize appropriations for the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 for fiscal year 2013 and later fiscal years.

Passed in House (3/6/2013; 94-0)


SR 90

IMMIGRATION (Tavares, C.) To urge the Congress of the United States to enact comprehensive immigration reform.

Referred in Senate (4/24/2013; Civil Justice)



KEYSTONE PIPELINE (Adams, J.) To urge the United States Department of State to approve the presidential permit application allowing the construction and operation of the TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline between the United States and Canada.

Referred in Senate (4/9/2013; Public Utilities)


HCR 13

SCHOOL HARASSMENT (Antonio, N.) To declare the third Friday in April the National Day of Silence in Ohio to bring attention to anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender name-calling, bulling and harassment in schools.

Introduced and Referred in House (4/17/2013; Education)


Nolan Stevens, J.D.
Public Policy Officer 
Ohio Latino Affairs Commission
Riffe Center – 18th Floor
77 South High Street
Columbus, OH  43215
tel ~ 614-466-8333
fax ~ 614-995-0896
email ~nolan.stevens@ochla.state.oh.us
web ~ http://ochla.ohio.gov


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