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    COLUMBUS, OHIO –Today, following a national search, Chairman Chris Redfern announced that effective January 21st, Liz Walters will begin as the newly hired Executive Director for the Ohio Democratic Party.

    “As a Congressional staffer, deputy field director in the fight against Senate Bill 5, and political director for the Ohio Democratic Party, Liz has shown time and again that she has both the experience and background to lead the largest state party in the nation,” said Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern. “Without a doubt, Liz will serve as an aggressive advocate for the middle class, seniors, and women throughout our state as we work to hold Governor John Kasich and the rest of the Republican ticket accountable in 2014.”

    Walters hails from Silver Lake, Ohio and is a graduate of Cuyahoga Falls High School, earning her BA in History from Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. In 2008, Liz completed a Masters in Public Administration at Cleveland State University.

    After years of volunteering on political campaigns, Liz joined Obama’s Campaign for Change in Ohio as a field organizer. Following the 2008 cycle, she went to work for her hometown Congresswoman, Betty Sutton, eventually serving as District Director for the 13th Congressional District. She took a break from the Congresswoman’s office during the 2010 cycle, serving as a regional GOTV Lead for the Ohio Democratic Party Coordinated Campaign.

    Liz joined the Ohio Democratic Party as Political Director in November of 2011 after six years of legislative and political work in Northeast Ohio. Prior to joining ODP, she served as the Deputy Field Director for Northeast Ohio for the We Are Ohio campaign that defeated Senate Bill 5 – Issue 2 – by a more than twenty percent margin. In 2012, Liz was a crucial part of the team that helped secure Senator Sherrod Brown’s re-election, and Democratic wins up and down the ballot.

    “Liz brings outstanding energy and experience to this role, and our campaign is excited to continue to be able to work so closely with what is hands down the strongest state party in the country, holding Governor Kasich accountable and building a foundation to win in November,” said Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald.


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    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    December 23, 2013
    Contact: Jerid Kurtz, 216-392-8198
    jkurtz@ohiodems.org

    Chris Christie’s Open Ohio Invitation?

    Today, attention turns to Republican Governors Association (RGA) Chairman and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie as a scandal embroils him and his top political lieutenants.

    Considering this scandal, Governor Kasich has yet to state whether he will still take Christie up on his offer to “come to Ohio for John as frequently as he wants me to, and as frequently as I can” as RGA chairman in support of his re-election campaign.

     

    ‘I love John Kasich,’ Chris Christie says
    Columbus Dispatch // by Joe Vardon

    SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – John Kasich and Chris Christie are officially bros. 

    “I love John Kasich,” Christie said today at the Republican Governors Association conference at the picturesque Phoenician resort.

    The New Jersey governor’s comments came a day after Kasich, Ohio’s governor, said of Christie: “Chris and I are friends. He texts me, we laugh, we bust each other’s chops.

    “He’s like a big teddy bear, he’s just, I like him,” Kasich said here.

    All of the public, mutual admiration in the desert this week between the two governors has been brought on by a few factors, primarily Christie’s skyrocketing status as a national power for Republicans and an early frontrunner for the GOP’s 2016 presidential nomination (should he run).

    Kasich, by contrast, is also mentioned as a possible entrant into the party’s nomination fight, but in the meantime he was kind of a magnet in Scottsdale for national reporters looking for insight.

    There’s also something else that binds them: Christie today became the RGA’s chairman, making him chiefly responsible to raise money and help Republican governors win election next year. Kasich, of course, is up for re-election.

    “I’ll come to Ohio for John as frequently as he wants me to, and as frequently as I can, given the balance” required of helping other GOP governors and running his own state, Christie said.

    Kasich predicted great success for Christie in his new role.

    “Christie is going to do great out there. Are you kidding?” Kasich said. “Christie, he is like a force now. People want to be around him. He came out to Ohio during my last campaign, people just loved him. He said if you don’t elect this guy I am coming back here New Jersey style. They liked it.”

    Kasich also said Christie “has one other thing going for him — it’s called celebrity.

    “In case you hadn’t noticed, that’s a big darn deal in America today.”

    To reporters, Kasich said “you all can’t get enough of him.”

    Christie said he Kasich “get along very well because we have very similar approaches to governing.

    “We’re both very direct, we say what we believe, and we do so enthusiastically,” Christie said.


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    COLUMBUS, OHIO – Today, State Rep. Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) condemned Attorney General Mike DeWine for filing an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in Conestoga v. Wood, a case involving a Pennsylvania company.

    DeWine’s brief, which allows for employers at for-profit corporations to deny a female employee access to birth control under her own health insurance, is part of his nationwide campaign against women’s healthcare.

    “It’s an embarrassment to Ohio families that our Attorney General believes that anyone other than a woman and her doctor should be in control of private medical decisions.   I am astonished that the Attorney General can argue that an employer has more rights to dictate a patient’s medical choices than the patient,” Antonio said.

    Since taking office in 2011, DeWine has led a national campaign to deny women the right to birth control under their employer-provided health insurance.

    DeWine has been involved in at least five cases nationally, most of which do not even involve Ohio residents. He has filed briefs or been a plaintiff in cases in Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina, and Illinois.

    “Mike DeWine should be using his office to focus on the critical issues facing Ohioans, not as a platform to push his dangerous and extreme personal agenda.”

    State Rep. Antonio is the Chair of the Ohio House Democratic Women’s Caucus. She is also the Ranking Member of the House Health and Aging Committee and serves on the House Finance and Appropriations Committee. Rep. Antonio is serving her second term representing the 13th Ohio House District.

    BACKGROUND:

    Mike DeWine endorsed Rick Santorum for President.  In 2012, Mike DeWine switched his endorsement from Mitt Romney to Rick Santorum before the Ohio GOP primary. [Source: Columbus Dispatch (2/18/2012), “In a shift, DeWine backs Santorum.”]

    DeWine attempted to inject his office in a contraception case in Nebraska.  The week following his endorsement of Santorum, DeWine filed an amicus brief on behalf of seven Republican state Ohio Attorney Generals seeking to challenge the Affordable Care Act’s provisions mandating contraceptive coverage.  [Source: Reuters (2/24/2012), “DeWine joins lawsuit over Obama birth-control rule.”]

    The Nebraska lawsuit was dismissed by a federal court judge for the parties’ lack of standing.  In July 2012, a federal judge dismissed the Nebraska lawsuit holding that the plaintiffs did not have legal standing to bring a lawsuit to challenge the contraception provisions of the Affordable Care Act. [Source: Lincoln Journal Star (7/17/2012) “Judge tosses out contraception lawsuit filed by Nebraska, six other states.”]

    In September, the United States Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected DeWine’s challenge to the same contraception provisions in a Michigan case.  In Autocam v. Sebelius (6th Cir. Case No. 12-2673, an unanimous panel ruled that the plaintiffs, like the district court did in the Nebraska case, lacked standing.  [Source: U.S. Sixth Circuit Opinion, Autocam v. Sebelius (9/17/2013), Case No. 12-2673. As found: http://www.ca6.uscourts.gov/opinions.pdf/13a0278p-06.pdf.]

    DeWine filed an amicus brief with the United States Supreme Court in Conestago Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius challenging the contraception provision in a Pennsylvania case.  Earlier this year, the Third Circuit held that a for-profit corporation’s challenge of the conception coverage provisions of the federal Affordable Care Act in Pennsylvania failed as for-profit corporations cannot engage in religious exercise.  Yesterday, DeWine joined in an amicus brief challenging that ruling after filing an initial amicus with the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals.  [Source: U.S. Third District Court Opinion, Conestoga Wood Specialties Corporation v. Sebelius (7/26/2013), Case No. 13-1144.  As found: http://www2.ca3.uscourts.gov/opinarch/131144p.pdf.]

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    As DeWine’s Pay-to-Play Unfolds, OHLEG Task Force

    Facial Recognition Program Safeguards Largely Ignored

    COLUMBUS – In response to today’s Cincinnati Enquirer story about Attorney General Mike DeWine’s OHLEG panel looking at his controversial facial recognition program, Ohio Democratic Deputy Communications Director Brian Hester released the following statement:

    “Mike DeWine apparently is too busy raising campaign money in his pay-to-play schemes to safeguard Ohioans from having their personal records abused.  David Pepper’s plan to fix this was largely endorsed by DeWine’s hand-picked panel, but it’s been four months with virtually zero progress.  Ohio needs an Attorney General that will protect Ohioans’ private records from abuse.”

    BACKGROUND

    After published reports that the facial recognition program was launched months ago, without any public notice or Attorney General Mike DeWine’s knowledge, DeWine publicly claimed that there were adequate safeguards in place.  In response to the Cincinnati Enquirer’s initial report that the facial recognition program was launched in June without any public notice or even Mike DeWine’s own knowledge, DeWine told the paper that he believed there were already adequate safeguards in place to prevent abuse.  Internal e-mails of his staff suggested otherwise. [Source: Cincinnati Enquirer (8/26/2013), “WATCHDOG: Ohioans not told how license photos used.”]

    Then, DeWine announced he would appoint a task force to review the safeguards in OHLEG and report back to him in 60 days.  While still maintaining publicly that adequate safeguards were in place, DeWine announced he would appoint a panel to review OHLEG and the facial recognition program and report back to him with any recommendations in sixty days.  [Source: Toledo Blade (8/26/2013), “Ohio A.G. DeWine defends facial recognition program.”]

    DeWine’s panel recommended that DeWine remove the facial recognition from the standard OHLEG search engine, just as David Pepper already recommended.  According to today’s Cincinnati Enquirer, the panel would like DeWine’s office to separate “facial recognition from the standard OHLEG search engine so that its access can be restricted.”  [Source: Cincinnati Enquirer (10/25/2013), “Face-check access goes beyond Ohio.”]

    David Pepper made the same recommendation when he announced his own plan weeks earlier.  [Source: David Pepper for Attorney General Campaign Blog (10/8/2013), “Facial Recognition Plan.”]

    DeWine’s panel recommended to restrict access to law enforcement, similar to David Pepper’s Plan.  According to the Enquirer, the panel is in agreement to recommend that “[l]aw enforcement officers, no matter how small their department, should keep access to facial recognition.  But the board has favored cutting off court employees’ access.”  [Source: Ohio Attorney General Website (10/25/2013), “OHLEG Advisory Group Report of Recommendations.”]

    David Pepper made a similar recommendation when he announced his own plan, but his plan would have limited access to a select number of law enforcement officers as most states have done.  [Source: David Pepper for Attorney General Campaign Blog (10/8/2013), “Facial Recognition Plan.”]

    The panel also supports Pepper’s plan to implement random audits of use. The Enquirer  also reported that “members want to see random audits, likely performed by police chiefs who could look over recent OHLEG or facial recognition searches.” [Source: Cincinnati Enquirer (10/25/2013), “Face-check access goes beyond Ohio.”]

    Again, David Pepper has advocated that the technology’s use should be subject to outside audits.  [Source: David Pepper for Attorney General Campaign Blog (10/8/2013), “Facial Recognition Plan.”]

    The panel requested a permanent panel be created, just as David Pepper has recommended.  The panel asked DeWine to create a permanent advisory committee.  [Source: Ohio Attorney General Website (10/25/2013), “OHLEG Advisory Group Report of Recommendations.”]

    Again, David Pepper has advocated that the technology’s use be overseen by an independent, transparent, and public oversight panel.  [Source: David Pepper for Attorney General Campaign Blog (10/8/2013), “Facial Recognition Plan.”]

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  • 02/19/14--14:49: Jon Husted Fails Ohio Voters
  • Republican Secretary of State has turned the office into a partisan lapdog, not a watchdog for voters’ rights

    COLUMBUS – In response to Secretary of State Jon Husted failure to speak out publicly today against SB 205 or SB 238 as they passed the Ohio House of Representatives, Ohio Democratic Party Deputy Communications Director Brian Hester released the following statement:

    “After the 2004 elections, there was a bipartisan agreement that Ohio’s election laws needed reform.  Since then, Republicans have worked nonstop to roll back those reforms to prevent people who don’t support Republicans from voting.  As Secretary of State, Jon Husted took an oath to protect Ohio voter’s right to vote, but has clearly failed to lead.  Instead, Husted yet again chose to be a lapdog for his own party.”

    BACKGROUND

    Three major Ohio editorials have recently made it clear that these bills were being passed for no other reason than deny likely Democratic voters the vote before the 2014 election.  The Cleveland Plain Dealer’s editorial today said that the measures “aim to limit voting by Ohioans who might vote for Democrats” and called passage of the bills “an affront to democracy” that allowed politicians to “pick their own voters.”  [Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer (2/19/2014), “Ohio House Republicans should walk away from bills aimed at decreasing the ease of voting in Ohio”]

    The Toledo Blade editorial said the bills “would make it harder to vote among citizens whom GOP politicians would rather keep away from the polls.” On the GOP argument that the bills were need to fight “voter fraud,” the Blade noted “[t]hat argument would be more credible if those who make it could point to specific examples of fraud in Ohio voting that their measures would prevent. But they can’t offer evidence of systematic fraud, because it doesn’t exist.  These bad measures aren’t as blatant as the poll taxes and literacy tests that Southern elections officials used during the civil rights era a half-century ago to keep African-Americans from voting. But their effect is largely, and intolerably, the same, and their approval would seem to invite court challenges under federal voting rights law.” [Source: Toledo Blade (2/19/14), “Don’t suppress the vote”]

    The Akron Beacon Journal editorial noted that the Republicans decided that “[r]ather than work in a bipartisan way on a comprehensive overhaul of election laws, the Republican-run legislature has proceeded on its own unfortunate course. This week, the Ohio House is working on bills that push aside important priorities and contain flaws that would make voting more difficult.” [Source: Akron Beacon Journal (2/18/2014), “Election partisans”]

    Jon Husted supports cutting early voting days by a week.  According to the Columbus Dispatch, Secretary of State Husted recommends that “early voting would instead start 29 days before the election” but it end during the afternoon “the Sunday before the general election.”  Currently, Ohio law permits early voting for thirty-five days before the general election.  [Source: Columbus Dispatch, (10/24/2013), “Husted promotes limits on early voting.”

    Federal courts already ruled that Husted’s attempts to cut general election early voting days are illegal.  In 2012, the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Ohio ruled that Ohio could not cut off early voting the Friday before the general election.  Republicans attempted to reduce the number of days of early voting, but the Ohio General Assembly reversed them after HB 194 was threatened with a referendum campaign.  [Source: Reuters (8/31/12), “Court overturns Ohio early voting restrictions in win for Democrats.”]

    The decision to declare Republicans’ attempt to cut off early voting before Election Day was upheld by federal appellate courts.  The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s decision declaring the restriction “unconstitutional.”  “The court acknowledged an argument that ‘low-income and minority voters are disproportionately affected by elimination’ of the three days of polling for many voters and said ‘there is no definitive evidence… that elections boards would be tremendously burdened’ by returning poll access to the standard before recent changes to the state’s laws.” [Source: CNN (10/5/2012), “Federal court upholds Ohio early voting ruling.”]

    According to official records maintained by Jon Husted’s own office, more than 600,000 Ohioans used Early Voting in 2012. [Source: Ohio Secretary of State’s website, 2012 “Absentee Ballot Report.”]


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    DeWine brief argues that discriminating against
    female employees’ health rights is “as American as apple pie.”

    COLUMBUS – In response to this morning’s arguments from Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine in favor of allowing employers to deny female employees access to birth control through their health plans, Ohio Democratic Deputy Communications Director Brian Hester released the following statement:

    “Nearly 50 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled States could not prevent married couples from being counseled on birth control.  Now, DeWine and his band of Republican Attorneys General are attempting to reverse that decision by allowing for-profit corporate employers the ability to deny women access to medically prescribed birth control care.  A woman’s personal health decision belongs between her and her doctor, without the intrusion of her employer, or politicians like Mike DeWine. This is another case of Mike DeWine being wrong on the issues, and wasting Ohioans’ tax dollars to pursue his partisan, political agenda.”

    A recent national poll found that 53% of Americans say employers should not be exempt from the birth control mandate, even if the employer claims it has religious objections.

    BACKGROUND

    The U.S. Supreme Court held it was unconstitutional for a State to ban counseling married couples regarding birth control in 1965.  The United States Supreme Court held in the 1965 case, Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479 (1965), that the U.S. Constitutional conferred an individual right of privacy that forbade the State from interfering with the private right of a patient to discuss medical issues, such as birth control, with a health professional.

    DeWine’s amicus brief is signed by 19 other State Attorneys General—all Republicans.  The amicus brief filed in the Hobby Lobby case lists Mike DeWine’s Office as the lead counsel representing 20 States, all of whom enter the case on behalf of their Republican Attorney Generals.   DeWine has been participating in such cases even when they have not involved any Ohio law or Ohio party. [Source: Brief of Amici Curiae States of Michigan, Ohio and 18 Other States for Conestoga, Hobby Lobby, Mardel in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby, U.S. Supreme Court Case No. 13-354, 13-356.]

     

    DeWine’s brief argues that allowing secular, for-profit corporations to deny female employees access through their health insurance to birth control care is as “American as apple pie.”  After equating denying health insurance coverage of birth control to a Jewish-owned deli that does not sell non-kosher foods, DeWine’s brief claimed: “The idea is as American as apple pie.” [Source: Amicus Brief at pg 3.]

    DeWine’s brief largely rests on claiming that the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) permits for-profit, secular companies to deny female employees access to birth control.   DeWine’s main argument is that Congress meant for the RFRA to apply to for-profit corporations when it comes to their employee health insurance benefits.  [Source: Amicus Brief at pg 5.]

    Arizona and Ohio recently rejected enacting a State version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.  Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed SB 1062, which would have given corporations in Arizona the ability to assert religious reasons for engaging what otherwise would be considered discriminatory actions.  [Source: AZ Central (2/26/2014), “Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoes Senate Bill 1062.”]

    In response to the controversy over Arizona’s legislation, the Ohio sponsors of HB 376, which also would have enacted a State version of the federal RFRA, withdrew the legislation from consideration by the General Assembly.  [Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer (2/26/2014), “Bill sponsors agree to scrap Ohio version of Arizona's controversial religious freedom bill.”]

    53% of Americans oppose exempting employers from the birth control mandate, even if the the employer objects for religious reasons.  The latest NBC/WSJ poll taken March 5-9 found that 53% of American adults “say employers should not be exempt from the requirement that their health plans offer birth control and other contraceptives even if they have religious objections.”  [Source: NBC News (3/19/2014), “Poll: Majority Opposes Employers Opting Out of Contraception Mandate.”]

    DeWine attempted to inject his office in a contraception case in Nebraska involving no Ohio parties.  The week following his endorsement of Rick Santorum for President, DeWine filed an amicus brief on behalf of seven Republican state Attorneys General seeking to challenge the Affordable Care Act’s provisions mandating birth control coverage.  [Source: Reuters (2/24/2012), “DeWine joins lawsuit over Obama birth-control rule.”]

    The Nebraska lawsuit was dismissed by a federal court judge for the parties’ lack of standing.  In July 2012, a federal judge dismissed the Nebraska lawsuit holding that the plaintiffs did not have legal standing to bring a lawsuit to challenge the contraception provisions of the Affordable Care Act. [Source: Lincoln Journal Star (7/17/2012) “Judge tosses out contraception lawsuit filed by Nebraska, six other states.”]

    In September, the United States Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected DeWine’s challenge to the same contraception provisions in a Michigan case.  In Autocam v. Sebelius (6th Cir. Case No. 12-2673, an unanimous panel ruled that the plaintiffs, like the district court did in the Nebraska case, lacked standing.  [Source: U.S. Sixth Circuit Opinion, Autocam v. Sebelius (9/17/2013), Case No. 12-2673. As found: http://www.ca6.uscourts.gov/opinions.pdf/13a0278p-06.pdf.]


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    Three years ago today, Governor Kasich signed SB 5 into law

    COLUMBUS – Today is the third anniversary of Governor Kasich’s signing of SB 5 into law.   As Democratic statewide candidates campaigned throughout the State as part of our “Working Families Tour” today, they issued the following statements in honor of today’s anniversary.

    Gubernatorial Candidate Ed FitzGerald:

    “Three years ago today, Governor Kasich began an assault on hardworking Ohioans. And while he lost that fight, it is clear that the Governor’s position on the right of workers to bargain for healthcare and a living wage remains unchanged. Just last week, he ‘scoffed’ at the impact of his cuts on firefighters and flew to Vegas to meet with one of the largest anti-union donors in the country. Ohio’s families can’t risk another four years of John Kasich.”

    Ohio Attorney General Candidate David Pepper:

    “Senate Bill 5 was a betrayal of the first responders, teachers, and other hardworking public employees who dedicate themselves to the people of Ohio. The Attorney General, as the state’s top legal officer, has a special duty to look out for these people and for all hardworking Ohioans. I will never stand silently by while the livelihood and safety of police, teachers, firefighters, or any Ohioans are under attack.”

    Secretary of State Candidate Nina Turner:

    “Three years ago, Governor Kaisch signed SB 5 into law. The grassroots campaign that followed demonstrated to the nation the power and importance of making every voter matter and every vote count.”

    State Auditor Candidate John Patrick Carney:

    “Public employees, like firefighters and teachers, provide critical services for all Ohioans. As public servants and pillars of our community, they each deserve fair wages and benefits to make their mortgage, put food on their table, and care for their family.”

    State Treasurer Candidate Connie Pillich:

    “Today is a reminder of why we must never forget the worker. I was proud to be a part of defeating SB 5 – which would have led to fewer firefighters responding to our emergencies, fewer police officers protecting our neighborhoods, and fewer resources for our schools.  As State Treasurer, I will continue to fight for working families, safeguard Ohioans’ hard earned tax dollars, and help protect and strengthen seniors’ retirement and pension security.”

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    Expected to Make Another Flawed Prediction About GOP Ground Game

    SALEM, OHIO- Tonight, Friday, April 4th, 2014, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus will fly into Ohio to headline the Columbiana County GOP’s Lincoln Day dinner. In advance of the RNC Chairman’s speech, Ohio Democratic Party Communications Director Meredith Tucker released the following statement:

    “Tonight, we’re sure to hear a lot of bravado about the Republicans’ plans for a new ground game in Ohio. So while they start from scratch, we’re building on our successful, already-proven Get Out The Vote strategy. Reince was wrong on Ohio then, and he’s wrong on Ohio now.”

    A few things to keep in mind as the national Republican leader comes to Ohio to talk 2014 “strategy”:

    FLASHBACK: Priebus wrongly predicted in 2012, “We’re going to crush them in Ohio.”

    NewYork Observer // “RNC Chairman Reince Priebus: ‘We’re Going to Crush Them in Ohio’”

    That’s the one thing that I think that is a narrative out there that I just think is blatantly uninformed, which is the fact that the Democrats have this great ground game. I think we’re going to crush the Democrats on the ground,” Mr. Priebus said. “I just don’t think they’ve got a very good ground game. I’ve looked through it, I’ve seen it. It’s all smoke and mirrors. It’s a lot of talk, but when you go around the neighborhood and you look at who’s getting absentee ballots in the municipal clerks’ offices and you figure out who’s hitting their goals, in our case, we’ve got a sophisticated program around our GOP universe and we check that every single morning with municipal clerks’ offices that are hooked up to our system. And I just know that we’re better than them on the ground, and I think that we’re going to crush them in Ohio.”

    REALITY:

    The Wire // Romney’s Get Out The Vote Plan Was a Complete Disaster

    “As Republicans continue to deconstruct the failure of the Romney campaign, volunteers have revealed that there were serious problems with the candidate’s whiz-bang tech solution for getting people to the polls.”

    BUT, SERIOUSLY:

    The Boston Globe // ORCA, Mitt Romney’s high-tech get-out-the-vote program Crashed on Election Day

    “Mitt Romney’s online voter-turnout operation suffered a meltdown on Election Day, result­ing in a crucial 90-minute “buckling” of the system in Boston […]”


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    Misspending Already Documented Years Ago

    COLUMBUS –On Tuesday, Dave Yost released three audits regarding Elite Academy of the Arts, which was closed by the Ohio Department of Education in 2012, concerning spending from 2009 until it closed, Ohio Democratic Deputy Communications Director Brian Hester released the following statement:

    “Yost should explain how the public is served when his office’s obvious backlog prevents relevant information about how tax money is being misspent from being uncovered in a timely manner.  If this is the best Yost can do, he’s proven to be a poor watchdog for Ohio taxpayers.  Because of Yost’s inability to timely release these audits, wrongdoers have years of a head start to avoid apprehension by law enforcement.”

    Questions raised by Yost’s delayed release of these audits:

    1. Why was Elite Academy never audited by the State when it was open?
    2. Why did it take Yost’s office two more years to complete the audit of an already closed school over spending that occurred nearly five years ago?
    3. Why did Yost’s office not make it a priority to complete these audits once it was announced that the school was being closed due to poor academic performance?
    4. What became of Yost’s referral to the Ohio Ethics Commission in 2012 over this failed closed charter?
    5. What steps has Yost’s office taken to avoid further delays in completing audits of poor performing or closing charter schools?

    BACKGROUND

    The Ohio Department of Education ordered Elite Academy of the Arts closed before the State Auditor’s Office had ever audited it.  In 2011, the Ohio Department of Education ordered the Elite Academy of the Arts charter school to close in FY 2012. [Source: Ohio Department of Education.]

    Prior to its closure, the Auditor’s Office apparently had never audited the charter school, but months after it closed released two audits concerning its activities in 2007-2009.  [Source: Ohio Auditor’s website.]

    The first audit of the charter school Yost released in 2012 already showed the charter school had allegedly misspent money in buying alcohol on multiple occasions,  had poor support to justify cash withdraws,  and had poor financial reporting and recording safeguards.  The 2012 audits also alleged that the superintendent had an unlawful interest in the district’s contract with its operator since he was also the operator’s owner.  These are virtually the same findings Yost made in the audits he released on Tuesday.  [Source: State Auditor’s Audits for Elite Academy of the Arts released on 8/21/2012 and 4/1/2014 (five audits in total.)]


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    As Ohio loses jobs, labor market continues to shrink

    COLUMBUS – This morning, the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services released the July jobs report and revised June figures for Ohio. After losing nearly 3,000 jobs in May, the revised June job creation figure was reduced by almost a third.  July’s report showed Ohio lost 12,400 jobs overall with 2,900 jobs lost in manufacturing.  Ohio’s unemployment rate increased by .2% even though 6,000 Ohioans dropped out of the labor market—the 5th consecutive month Ohio’s labor market has shrunk.  In July, Ohio’s labor participation rate fell below the national rate.   This is third straight month that the number of employed Ohioans has shrunk.

    In response to this month’s economic data, Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern released the following statement:

    “Under John Kasich, Ohio’s job growth continues to drag behind the rest of the nation, and more people give up on finding a job in our state each month. These numbers reveal a frightening reality about Ohioans struggling in a weak economy. Kasich’s policies have failed to create the jobs Ohioans need, all while shifting the tax burden onto middle class families.”

    WHAT OTHERS HAVE BEEN SAYING ABOUT OHIO’S LAGGING ECONOMY:

    Once again, Ohio had a subpar gain to that of the United States for 20 consecutive months,” he said. “What this means is that more than 100,000 Ohio workers can’t find a job because our recovery is too slow.” – Economic Research Analyst George Zeller. [Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer (7/18/2014), “Ohio’s unemployment rate 5.5%; state gained 12,700 jobs in June.”]

    “Ohio hasn’t had the big rebound like other states.”—Michael Wolf, an economist with Wells Fargo & Co. [Source: Columbus Dispatch (6/21/2014), “Ohio's jobless rate of 5.5% lowest since April 2007.”]

    BACKGROUND

    For the 20th straight month, Ohio’s job creation rate has been lower than the national average.  In reaction to the June jobs report, economic research analyst George Zeller noted, “Ohio had a subpar gain to that of the United States for 20 consecutive months.” [Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer (7/18/2014), “Ohio’s unemployment rate 5.5%; state gained 12,700 jobs in June.”]

    Job creation under John Kasich in Ohio has lagged U.S. job growth.  In fact, at least 8 other governor’s terms since 1959 have seen stronger job growth than Ohio has seen so far under John Kasich.  [Source:  Cleveland Plain Dealer (8/5/2014), “Ohio lags U.S. jobs growth, as it has under a half-century of governors from John Kasich to Michael DiSalle.”]

    When Kasich was elected Governor, Ohio’s job creation rate was nearly twice that of the national rate.  Now, Ohio’s ranked 38th in job creation.  In November 2010, Ohio’s job creation rate was 1.02% compared to the national average of  .54%.  Now, Ohio is ranked 38th in the nation with a job growth rate  (.83%) lower than it was in 2010. [Source: Arizona State University, W.P. Carey School of Business, “Job Growth USA” website (accessed 6/23/2014)]

    In 2010, Ohio created over 55,000 new jobs — more than it did in 2013 under Kasich.  According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, Ohio created 55,100 jobs in 2010, a year before Kasich took office, while only creating 50,400 jobs last year.  [Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, CES Survey, seasonally adjusted (accessed 5/8/2014)].

    Job gains under Kasich are in lower paying industries than the jobs lost in the recession.  “Weekly hourly earnings in the industries that showed employment gains since the recession in Ohio range from $12 to about $25 per hour,” [Veronica Kalich, an economics professor at Baldwin Wallace University] said, adding that professional and business services came in a little higher. “Employment has not recovered in the higher paying jobs.”  [Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer, (7/7/2014), “Ohio has not recovered 120,000 jobs lost since the recession: some say number higher.”]

    Unemployment rate drop has been fueled by people leaving the workforce, not job creation.  Since Kasich took office, Ohioans labor market has shrunk by 91,000.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statics, 91,000 Ohioans have dropped out of the labor market since Kasich took office. In 2014 so far alone, over 43,000 Ohioans dropped out of the labor market. [Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, LAUS Survey, seasonally adjusted (accessed 8/15/2014)]

    Nationally, the country now has more jobs than it did at its pre-recession level.  With today’s national jobs report for May, the country now has more jobs than it did before the 2008 recession.  [Source: New York Times (6/6/2014), “In Jobs Report, Two Milestones.”]


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    I am excited to announce that we will begin utilizing the ODP’s blog to regularly feature thoughts and opinions from leaders around Ohio. Our goal is to keep Ohio Democrats informed on the critical issues in our state and its communities, as well as introduce those Ohioans who are making a difference on these issues every day, at all levels.

    Our first submission is from Senate Minority Leader Schiavoni and House Minority Leader Strahorn, explaining the deep problems with Governor Kasich’s budget proposal.

    -David Pepper


     

    Governor Kasich calls his budget a Blueprint for a New Ohio, but it’s really more of the same. The Governor continues his quest to lower the state income tax by raising taxes that disproportionately impact lower and middle income Ohioans.

    Kasich has proposed increasing the state sales tax for the second consecutive budget—this time by 0.5% to 6.25%–and he wants to broaden it to include other services. So, if you think your cable TV bill is too high, it would go even higher and the next time you take a vacation that might cost more too. That’s because cable television subscriptions and travel packages and tours would be taxed.

    The tax increases don’t end there. The Governor’s budget calls for raising the tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products by $1.00 per pack. While there are public health benefits to reducing smoking, this increase impacts poor Ohioans more than other groups. Increases to the tobacco tax should go to smoking cessation programs not to further income tax cuts.

    Even businesses and some senior citizens would not be spared. Larger businesses would be hit with a $691 million increase in the Commercial Activities Tax and senior citizens would have to pay $318 million more because of new means testing for the Social Security deduction and other tax credits.

    All of this is being done so people in the top tax brackets can reap the largest benefits from another income tax cut. Democrats in the General Assembly have been calling this misguided policy a “tax shift”. Fortunately, more and more people across the state are waking up to this reality and the negative impact it is having on Ohioans.

    Now, even Republicans are beginning to question the Governor’s policies. At a recent media briefing that we attended with reporters from the Associated Press, both the Senate President and the Speaker of the House spoke out against tax shifting. That’s progress, but we have much more work to do.

    We urge the citizens of Ohio to get involved and speak out against this continuing tax shift. Call, write or email your elected officials and let them know how you feel. The state budget should reflect priorities that benefit all Ohioans, not just a fortunate few. You can count on Democrats in the general Assembly to stand up for your interests as the budget is debated over the coming months.

     

    Senator Joe Schiavoni, Ohio Senate Minority Leader

    Representative Fred Strahorn, Ohio House Minority Leader


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    Tuesday, Governor Kasich delivered his annual State of the State address in Wilmington, Ohio.

    I was deeply appreciative of his honoring of Cincinnati’s Lauren Hill, who has inspired so many across the country, along with other Ohioans who showed tremendous courage over the past year.

    And I agree with the Governor on our state’s many great strengths.

    But for many Ohio families, the state of Ohio and its economy—as they are directly experiencing it—is not nearly strong enough. Indeed, a poll last week found that despite several years of a robust national recovery, more than half of Ohioans still do not feel like their own financial situation has improved. Almost a third said it’s gotten worse over the past year!

    When you look at budget decisions in the state over the past several years—as well as the Governor’s most recent tax proposal—it’s clear why the majority feel that way.

    Unfortunately, the formula since 2010 has been clear: 1) trickle-down tax shifts that ask more of families who are struggling economically, but give generous tax breaks to those who are doing the best; 2) budget gimmicks that have transferred dollars from our local governments and schools to state coffers, leading to higher local taxes combined with layoffs of hard working public servants.

    The latest tax proposal is more of the same. Ohioans making an income of $58,000 or below will actually see a tax INCREASE, and those making less than $89,000 will have no change at all. In Wilmington, where the Governor touted his plan, the average family is looking at an overall tax increase of $122.

    Where have years of this trickle down philosophy gotten Ohio? Not far. Ohio’s recovery lags other states, ranking 37th in the country for job growth. Wages remain stagnant, and our median income is less than the national average. We’re still 80,000 jobs under where we were before the recession. No wonder so many working families continue to struggle.

    As Leaders Schiavoni and Strahorn have made clear, the path to prosperity in Ohio requires the opposite approach. Focus on middle class prosperity—increasing wages, improving schools, investing in infrastucture, respecting working families, restoring the commitment to communities—and then the state of the state will ultimately be strong.

    Democrats across the state, at all levels, will continue pushing for policies that return to these priorities.

    For more analysis on the impacts of the state budget, visit Innovation Ohio at www.innovationohio.org.


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    As a Democrat, I’m a firm believer that we need to be a party that stands up for our values, and for the rights of the citizens of our state.

    And when we stand up, I want to do so in a way that shows we are both serious and deeply passionate about the issues we care about.

    Along those lines, I am proud to let you know that today, the Ohio Democratic Party today filed an Amicus Brief at the United States Supreme Court urging the court to reverse the unfortunate Sixth Circuit ruling upholding Ohio’s ban on marriage equality. Moreover, I am thrilled that in putting this brief together—working hand in hand with the Michigan Democratic Party—we have united hundreds of officials from all four states of the Sixth Circuit (Kentucky, Tennessee, Michigan and Ohio) to speak up in one voice for the rights of those who these “bans” have unconstitutionally targeted for a decade.

    We are especially called upon to play this role because Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, among others, has been all too eager to defend these bans at every level. Our aim is to not simply criticize him from afar for doing so, but to go to the highest court in the land and forcefully rebut his deeply flawed legal reasoning.

    You can read the Amicus Brief by clicking here. As a lawyer who has been involved in many appellate briefs (and as a former law clerk who reviewed many), I can say that it is one of the most well-argued legal documents I’ve encountered—thanks to a team of nationally respected attorneys who worked on the project.

    Finally, this will not be an isolated action. It has become crystal clear that as in this case, Attorney General DeWine seems far too eager to go to court on behalf of his political party or ideology while too often ignoring the rights and interests of the Ohioans who pay his salary. So we have created a new Advocacy Committee at the Ohio Democratic Party, guided by respected lawyers from around Ohio, and we will file more such briefs whenever courts need to be reminded that Attorney General DeWine is failing to represent Ohio, and failing to understand the law.

    We will keep you posted on future cases.

    David Pepper
    Chairman, Ohio Democratic Party


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    Last weekend, our nation commemorated the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama, where brave men and women were attacked for marching in support of voting rights.

    One hundred members of Congress joined yesterday’s march, and in one of the most powerful moments of his speech, President Obama challenged them to not simply march there, but to restore the Voting Rights Act back in Washington:

    “One hundred Members of Congress have come here today to honor people who were willing to die for the right it protects. If we want to honor this day, let these hundred go back to Washington, and gather four hundred more, and together, pledge to make it their mission to restore the law this year.”

    Unfortunately, while Ohio Senator Rob Portman was marching, he was not listening.

    Think Progress reported, while in Selma, Sen. Portman was asked if he planned to support the proposed fix to the Voting Rights Act that is required due to the U.S. Supreme Court striking down Section 4 of the Act.

    His response? “I haven’t looked at it. Is there a Senate version?”

    Yes, Senator, there is. But it has no Republican sponsors.

    “This day is about more than just tweaks to the Voting Rights Act. This is about ensuring equal justice and learning from the lessons of the past,” Portman continued to Think Process.

    ODP Chair of Party Engagement Nina Turner took objection when learning of Sen. Portman’s remarks:

    “Actions speak louder than political rhetoric. If Sen. Portman truly believes in equal access to the ballot box, he can take immediate action by pledging to support the VRA Amendment that has been introduced by his Democratic colleagues in both chambers of the U.S. Congress.”

    “Unfortunately, research shows a continued increase in voting restrictions across the country, and more often than not they impact America’s minority and low-income populations.”

    “We have learned many important lessons from the past; the question is, does Sen. Portman have the courage to stand up and protect our right to vote in the present,” stated Turner.

    Along with not supporting the current fix to the Voting Rights Act, Senator Portman has not supported legislation to increase participation in elections including the Voter Registration Act of 1993, commonly known as the Motor-Voter legislation.

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    Paid for by the Ohio Democratic Party, David Pepper, Chairman, 340 East Fulton Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215


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    Put American workers at the table in trade deals and keep them off the menu

    By Tim Burga  Burga_Headshot_web

    As Congress begins debate on whether to give President Obama unilateral authority to negotiate a new round of international trade agreements (“Fast Track” Trade Promotion Authority), Ohioans would be well served to look at the catastrophic results of recent such arrangements. Between 2000 and 2014, American manufacturing employment dropped by 4 million jobs.  Fast Track authority and flawed trade agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), along with the inclusion of China in Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR), have blown up our import/export deficit and have led to the loss of over 300,000 Ohio manufacturing jobs and numerous additional losses in feeder and supply related work.

    Fast Track circumvents Congressional oversight, limits transparency and has resulted in trade agreements that have benefitted global corporations at the expense of workers and their families.  Fast Track needs to be replaced with a new process for negotiating and approving trade agreements that increases Congressional and public oversight so that we can harvest the benefits of expanded trade without undermining the basic tenants of American democracy.

    America’s working families cannot afford more flawed trade agreements that hollow out our industrial base, drive down wages, increase inequality, and add to our unsustainable trade deficit.  Congress should reject any legislation that allows trade negotiations to be done in secret which prevent federal, state and local elected officials or the public from being able to meaningfully participate in trade policy making.   Our most recent trade negotiating practices have hurt our economy in profound ways and we simply cannot afford to keep making those same mistakes.

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    America’s workers understand that global trade is a necessary part of economic growth. They also understand that the evidence is overwhelming that a new U.S. trade model is desperately needed- a new “gold standard” model that prioritizes raising wages and shared prosperity for workers.  ”Buy American” should be much more than just a slogan- it should be the centerpiece of every decision that Congress and the President make.

    Sign the petition and tell Congress that America needs jobs, not bad trade policy. Put the brakes on the “fast track” bill.

    Tim Burga is President of the Ohio AFL-CIO.


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    Seelbach headshot

    When I moved to Ohio from Kentucky in 1998 to attend college, I never imagined the possibility of marriage equality in all 50 states in my lifetime.

    As a kid, I’d often dreamt about a wedding ceremony with my future partner, surrounded by friends and family and legally sanctioned by our government.  I wondered who would be my “best man,” who my husband might be and, embarrassing enough, what colors we’d pick for our reception!  But it felt like just a childhood dream.  That it just wasn’t possible in my lifetime.  Not as a gay man.

    And then it started.  In the spring of 2004, the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled it was unconstitutional under the Massachusetts constitution to allow only opposite-sex couples to marry.  The ruling started a conversation.  For the first time for so many, people began to talk about gay and lesbian equality, marriage and what it means to be treated fairly under the law.

    The road wasn’t smooth.  Later that year 13 states, including Ohio, Michigan and Kentucky passed constitutional amendments, barring marriage equality in their respective states. Others followed, including Tennessee.  While the conversation had started, we were on the defense, fighting constitutional amendments across the country.

    And then the strangest thing happened: more and more people began coming out.  Nurses, firefighters, moms, and dads.  Regular folks.  And people realized marriage equality wasn’t some legal idea or theory.  It wasn’t just a political talking point meant to divide us.  It wasn’t going to “destroy the sanctity of marriage,” or hurt families, but was about celebrating people we know (Our friends, family, co-workers, neighbors) and their love and commitment for one another.

    We began to see a monumental shift in public opinion. The first African American President of the United States came out in support of marriage equality.  Then, more and more judges, appointed by both Republican and Democratic Presidents, issued opinions in support marriage equality.

    And the tide officially turned.  With marriage equality legal in almost 40 of our 50 states, we are on the verge of a historic decision from the United States Supreme Court.  Today, I am proud to stand with almost 200 elected official from across the 6th Circuit, gay and straight, in support of full marriage equality, nationwide.

    But it is important to understand that our work doesn’t end today and doesn’t end after the court issues a ruling in June.

    The Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed, but racism, sexism and bias towards people of different religions and national origins exist every day.  The Americans with Disability Act passed in 1990, yet access to buildings is still difficult for people with different abilities.

    Our fight for true equality does not stop with laws being passed, judges issuing rulings or politicians getting elected.  It will not end until all people are truly treated equally and fairly.

    But, given that I will celebrate my 10th year anniversary with my partner Craig on June 12 (several weeks before the Supreme Court’s ruling), I have started thinking about who my best man might be…and what colors we’ll have at our reception.

    Chris Seelbach serves on the Cincinnati City Council.


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    NinaTurner

    In 2012, Congressman John Lewis came to the Buckeye state to encourage Ohioans to exercise their right to vote. At a dinner in Youngstown, Ohio he told the story of his march across the bridge from Selma to Montgomery. The Congressman recalled having a backpack filled with an apple, an orange, two books, a toothbrush and toothpaste. Having been part of this non-violent movement for social change for so long, he knew he was going to be arrested. Never did he imagine, however, the level of brutality that ascended upon him and his fellow marchers that day.   Congressman Lewis told us his story to remind us of the sacrifices of life and limb that were made for free and unfettered access to the ballot box.

    A few weeks ago, on the 50th Anniversary of the Selma Civil Rights March (also known as Bloody Sunday), Congressman Lewis went back to that same bridge in Alabama to remind the country and the world of the sacrifices made to ensure the passage of the historic Voting Rights Act of 1965.

    Tragically, the very gains made by these freedom fifty years ago was stripped away the moment the United States Supreme Court issued its ruling in Shelby vs. Holder in 2013. The decision to strike down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act immediately opened the floodgates to voter suppression legislation targeting minority and low-income voters in Arizona, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

    The manipulation of the electorate is nothing new, but in recent years its scope has expanded dramatically. And it’s no longer relegated to traditional southern states. In 2012, Ohio gained national attention for all the wrong reasons when our “Secretary of Suppression” Jon Husted appealed all the way to the US Supreme Court to take away the last three days of early voting. He wielded the power of his office to create an atmosphere of confusion, chaos and intimidation, intent upon discouraging participation in the electoral process.

    In 2014, Husted and the GOP-controlled legislature doubled-down on their voter suppression tactics, from the use of directives that confused and complicated the voting process to the passage of legislation denying early voting opportunities.

    These twenty-first century, Jim Crow-like attempts to thwart access to the ballot box must be stopped. The truth is, our democracy is stronger when more people participate and when everyone’s views are heard. Making it harder for the most vulnerable voters to participate in the political process inevitably leads to policies and policymakers that do not represent the interests of all people. This is why Congress must act to restore and strengthen the Voting Rights Act.

    Our nation is eroding the progress made from battles fought and won generations ago. This is unacceptable. We are a nation built on the premise of justice and equality for all. The ballot box is the symbolic manifestation of that promise. It is the only place where our gender, race, sexual-orientation, religion, or socio-economic status does not matter. We must protect this great equalizer.

    As President Lyndon B. Johnson said, “At times, history and fate meet at a single time in a single place to shape a turning point in man’s unending search for freedom.”

    Fifty years later, we are at another turning point. Members of Congress can turn their backs on history, or they can continue the forward march that began in Selma, Alabama on March 7, 1965. We cannot rest until the Voting Rights Act is restored and strengthened. We owe this to ourselves, to future generations and to the men, women and children who sacrificed their bodies on the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

    Click here to sign my friend State Representative Emilia Sykes’ petition to support voting rights.

    Nina Turner is the Ohio Democratic Party Chair of Party Engagement


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    It is no secret that young people turn out to vote at lower rates than the population at large. About 35 percent of all eligible Ohio voters turned out for the 2014 general election, according to data from the United States Election Project—about par for a midterm election, but still dishearteningly low. However, according to an estimate from The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), national voter turnout among Americans age 18-29 was just 21.5 percent.
    Think about that. Barely one-fifth of young people voted last fall. We should be encouraging young people to vote, not discouraging them! State and local politics arguably has more impact on our day-to-day lives than national politics, and young people deserve a say in our self-governance. And you can draw a direct line from youth voter turnout to how easy it is to vote: according to CIRCLE, seven of the top 10 youth turnout states last fall had ambitious pro-voting measures, including Election Day registration and voting by mail.
    That’s why last week’s GOP rider to the state transportation budget is so problematic. It would require out-of-state college students to pay up to $150 dollars to get a new driver’s license and register their vehicle within 30 days after they register to vote. This smacks of a poll tax on some young people.
    This does not have to be a partisan issue. The percentage of young voters who consider themselves liberals or Democrats is actually on the decline. Last year Pew Research found a new-high 50 percent of millennials identified themselves as political independents. This is an ever-more-knowledgeable demographic who’s votes Ohio Democrats and Republicans should be competing for on the basis of our platforms, not suppressing with 11th-hour amendments! Ohio Republicans suppress the youth vote at their peril.
    Ohio is home to leading universities and businesses, flourishing-but-affordable cities, great culture and a high quality of life. We should want young people to come here and stay here, particularly if they were already attracted enough to seek their education here. Governor John Kasich was himself among just this group four decades ago, coming to The Ohio State University from Pennsylvania and staying to great success here. But passing restrictions that make it harder and more expensive to vote is exactly the opposite of rolling out the welcome mat.
    We join the numerous organizations and editorial boards from around the state calling on Governor Kasich to line-item veto the GOP transportation budget provision aimed at blocking out-of-state students from voting.
    Taylor Myers, Marietta College, Outgoing President of College Democrats of Ohio
    Mike Brill, University of Dayton, Incoming President of College Democrats of Ohio 

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    ODP Political Director Nelson Devezin

    “All politics is local.”

    This phrase, popularized by House Speaker Tip O’Neill, has so embedded itself in the political lexicon, we hardly stop to consider what it means. It means electoral success depends on staying responsive to constituents. But it also means achieving our goals depends on races all up and down the ballot: mayors, city council and school board members, local judges—the elected officials who most directly impact Ohioans’ day-to-day lives.

    Winning these local offices is an important end in itself; the impact of local government is immediate, and a party with representation in local government is better positioned to work for its values, regardless of the situation at the statehouse or in Washington.

    Winning local offices also strengthens a party’s ‘bench’—the pool of younger elected officials who are potential future candidates for higher office. A strong bench is a leading indicator of success down the road, like a Major League Baseball team with lots of good minor league prospects.

    LOGO_MSI_blue

    Winning these local offices is therefore vital to the success of the Ohio Democratic Party. That’s why three months ago, under the leadership and direction of our new Party Chair David Pepper, we announced the Main Street Initiative. Through this effort, we will focus on down-ballot races across Ohio, defend incumbents and open seats, pick up new positions, and develop and highlight the party’s brightest stars.

    Last month, we hosted our first day-long training session in Columbus. The room was packed with Democrats from across the state: candidates for mayor, school board and city council. The group was diverse in background, but they had in common a high regard for public service and Democratic values—exactly the kind of people you want serving in your local government. Some are running their first-ever political campaign, but an opportunity to hear from experienced Party staff means no one will have to re-invent the wheel this fall. Everyone left excited to hit the trail and fight for our values.

    We’re working to grow the Main Street Initiative and hold more training sessions for local Democratic candidates. Success in 2015 will position us to do well in 2016, 2018 and beyond. Investing time and effort in local politics may not get the most press or produce the flashiest campaign commercials, but those with an eye on the long term success know it generates among the highest returns. The future is bright for Ohio Democrats.

    If you or someone you know is running at the local level and want to apply to get involved in our Main Street Initiative, please email me at nelson@ohiodems.org

    Nelson Devezin is the Ohio Democratic Party Political Director


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    Every Woman Matters.

    Every Dollar Matters.

    The Wage Gap Matters.

     I write today to remind Ohioans about the important issue of not just fair wages, but equal wages.  The pay gap is one of THE MOST important issues facing women and families today.

    So what IS the pay gap and WHY is it so important?  The pay gap is the disparity in pay based on a side-by side comparison of median wages of men and women’s typical earnings.  The hard truth is that Ohio women workers earn 77 cents for every dollar a man earns.  Which means it would also take the average woman an additional 100 days of work just to come out on equal financial footing as her male counterpart. Clearly, 77 cents is a shameful statistic when you consider that women make up half the total work force.  The pay gap only gets more dramatic if you are a minority woman – nationally, African American women earn 64 cents and Latinas only 56 for every dollar.

    The pay gap is real and pervasive, and it affects all women.  Today is Equal Pay Day, Tuesday, April 14th, 2015 – is a symbolic date of action that points out the inequity that exists in our workforce.  And it won’t change unless we DO something about it.

    equal pay badge

    Many critics of the pay gap speak about choices women make that may have a direct effect on their earnings like working part-time, leaving the workforce to have children, or even their choice of college majors – these choices may account for some of the salary differences, but they aren’t the whole picture.  It is important to note that earnings do increase with advanced education, but it does not eliminate the pay gap.  Just think about how this gap in earnings short changes families.  The pay gap translates into $10,876 less annually which could mean a five month supply of groceries, three months of childcare, four months of student loan payments, or even all of these things combined.

    Legislation like the Paycheck Fairness Act and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay act are so important.  The Paycheck Fairness Act would expand equal pay by requiring employers to prove that wage gaps between men and women exist, it would allow for wage comparisons between employees to determine fair wages and prohibit employer retaliation against workers who inquire about wage practices or disclose their own wages. AND 84% of voters supported a law that would provide women more tools to receive fair pay in the workplace.  Let’s get this done –Contact your member of Congress, or better yet, contact Congressional Leadership and tell them how important Fair Pay is to you.

    We can make a difference by speaking up, and raising awareness.  Please take a moment to stand with Democrats in support of Equal Pay – share this badge on social media.  Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper (a sample letter can be found here).

    Show your solidarity with women across the country by wearing red – a symbol of how far women are ‘in the red’ with their pay. 

    You can also join the Fair Pay Campaign led by the American Association of University Women in conjunction with NOW, National Women’s Law Center and over 250 plus organizations.  There is no expiration date on your actions in support of Equal Pay, but if we don’t act now, at the rate of recent progress the pay gap won’t close for another 124 years, until 2139!  Demand change – urge Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act.

    Kathy DiCristofaro is Chair of the Ohio Democratic Women’s Caucus


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