The Ohio House Democratic Caucus today announced its leadership team for the 134th General Assembly. In an all-caucus vote, Democrats re-elected Rep. Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) as Minority Leader.


“I’m humbled to have again earned the support of this caucus and look forward to working with this leadership team, members, staff and our Republican colleagues to meet the incredible challenges facing our state, from a worsening pandemic and economic uncertainty to systemic racism and an economy rigged against hardworking Ohioans,” said Leader Sykes. “The work we do these next two years will be critical to restoring Ohio’s promise of opportunity for this and future generations.”


Current members of House leadership, Assistant Minority Leader Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus), Minority Whip Rep. Paula Hicks-Hudson (D-Toledo) and Assistant Minority Whip Rep. Richard Brown (D-Canal Winchester) were re-elected to their respective roles.


“I thank my colleagues for their continued support and look forward to building on our work to improve the lives of our constituents,” said Rep. Boggs. “That work begins with a real plan to control the virus, get Ohioans back to work safely and build our economy back better than before – with better wages, better benefits and more opportunity for all Ohioans to get ahead.”


“The challenges facing Ohio are many, but our focus remains the same: working hard for you, the taxpayers, to renew Ohio’s promise of better lives, better jobs, and brighter futures with a plan to control this virus, get our people back to work, tackle systemic racism and get our economy back on the right track. This team, this caucus – they’re the right people to get it done,” said Rep. Hicks-Hudson.


“I am humbled by the support of my colleagues and am eager to continue our work as a caucus to support an agenda that renews the promise of opportunity for all of us, not just some of us,” said Rep. Brown. “Together, we can improve the lives of our constituents and forge a new path forward, one that cuts workers in on the deal and rewards work – not wealth.”


Joining the Democratic leadership team for the 134th General Assembly as Caucus Chair is Rep. Phil Robinson (D-Solon).


“It’s an honor to continue my work advocating for working people and families as part of this leadership team, a team committed to coming together to deliver results for the taxpayers of our great state,” said Rep. Phil Robinson. “Our priorities are your priorities—improving our children’s education, providing for the health and well-being of our neighbors, and making sure Ohio workers and businesses have the tools they need to compete. We can renew Ohio’s promise of better lives and brighter futures, and we’ll get there together.”

 
 
  
 
Leader Sykes Calls On DeWine To Veto Bill She Says "puts All Ohioans In Danger"
Says SB 311 will undermine state's response to COVID-19, leading to more deaths and further destabilizing economy
November 23, 2020
 
 

Ohio House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron), today sent a letter calling on Governor Mike DeWine to veto Senate Bill (SB) 311, legislation Democrats say will slow the state’s coronavirus response, ultimately leading to more deaths and further destabilizing Ohio’s economy. Statehouse Republicans fast tracked SB 311 last week, voting along party lines to pass the controversial bill that would strip executive power from the state’s Health Director during public health crises. The bill now awaits the governor’s signature.


“Stripping the State Health Director from the ability to take action during a public health crisis puts all Ohioans in danger. It will only lead to more deaths and will further destabilize our economy. As members of the General Assembly, we want to get through this crisis and reopen our economy, but that can only happen if the health and safety of our citizens are part of those decisions. That means listening to health experts, implementing strategies to control the virus, protecting workers and restoring consumer confidence. This bill will slow our response, cost more lives and force more businesses into financial ruin,” wrote Leader Sykes.

 

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Rep. Leland Statement Following Resignation Of PUCO Chairman Sam Randazzo
Blasts House Republicans for still not repealing HB 6
November 20, 2020
 
 

COLUMBUS— Ranking Member of the House Select Committee on Energy Policy and Oversight Rep. David Leland (D-Columbus) today issued a statement following reports that Sam Randazzo had resigned from his position as Chairman and a member of the Ohio Public Utilities Commission (PUCO) effective immediately. 


“The dominoes continue to fall as Ohioans keep learning just how deep the corruption that created HB6 is,” said Rep. Leland, “So far, we have had five federal indictments, two guilty pleas, five energy executives that have been terminated and now the top utility regulator in the state and an architect of HB 6 has resigned. But what hasn’t happened? House Republicans still stand in the way of repealing HB 6.


Enough already. How many more need to be arrested, charged, fired and resign before we repudiate this corruption that has engulfed Ohio.? The only way we can show that Ohio is not for sale is to repeal HB 6—and Republican leadership is the only thing keeping that from happening.”


 

 
 
  
 
Franklin Co. House Dems React To Passage Of SB 311 As County Reaches "Purple" Designation
Blast House GOP for ignoring health experts' advice and passing dangerous bill that undermines health director's power as pandemic reaches dangerous peak
November 19, 2020
 
 

Today, Franklin County representatives Assistant Minority Leader Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus), Assistant Minority Whip Richard Brown (D-Canal Winchester) and State Reps. Adam Miller (D-Columbus), Mary Lightbody (D-Westerville), David Leland (D-Columbus), Dr. Beth Liston (D-Dublin), Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington), and Erica Crawley (D-Columbus) reacted to House passage of a bill (Senate Bill 311) to undermine the director of health’s authority at a time when the state has reached a dangerous peak, with Franklin County being the first county designated purple status. Announced by Gov. Mike DeWine Thursday, Franklin County is the first in the state to be elevated to purple status since the state began using this alert system.


“In the last 24 hours, Franklin County has been elevated to ‘purple status,’ our schools are returning to remote learning, our hospitals are now unable to do elective surgeries due to lack of resources, and a Republican House staffer has tested positive for COVID-19. Yet, none of these events has elevated the concerns of many in the Majority caucus enough to mask up while in the Statehouse and pass bills that help to stop the spread of COVID-19.


“SB 311 is dangerous. We will never be able to get a handle on this pandemic if we keep politicizing masks and urging noncompliance in ODH’s orders. This bill is opposed by medical experts throughout this state and those are the voices lawmakers should be listening to on this issue.


“This is not about checks and balances. This bill, plain and simple, makes Ohioans less safe.”


Today, House Republicans also voted down a resolution that would require them to wear masks inside the Ohio Statehouse. On May 7, Republican lawmakers rejected a similar measure sponsored by Rep. Michael Skindell (D-Lakewood) that would have required members and staff to follow best health practices by wearing a mask during committees or while on the House floor.


Franklin County’s “purple” status comes on the heels of the City of Columbus and Franklin County issuing a stay-at-home advisory Wednesday, urging residents to only leave home for essential purposes. Earlier this week, nationwide guidance released by the Centers for Disease Control (C.D.C.) urged Americans to avoid traveling for Thanksgiving and to take precautions if gathering with individuals who don’t live in the same household.

 
 
  

Ranking Democrat Rep. Brigid Kelly (D-Cincinnati) today issued a statement as the House State and Local Government Committee voted to fast track Senate Bill (SB) 311, which would curb executive authority from the state health director to issue orders during public health emergencies like the coronavirus pandemic.


“Stripping the State Health Director from being able to take action during public health crises will only lead to more deaths and further destabilize our economy. We all want to get through this crisis and reopen our economy, but that can’t happen unless we do it right, and that means listening to the health experts to implement strategies to control the virus, protect workers and restore consumer confidence.


 “Fast tracking dangerous fantasies when we should be prioritizing what we know works isn’t just bad policy, it threatens the lives and livelihoods of thousands of our fellow Ohioans. This bill will only slow our response, cost more lives and force more businesses into financial ruin. We can’t have a healthy economy without healthy Ohioans to power it.”

 
 
  
 
Dems Say GOP's Misplaced Priorities Threaten Health, Safety Of Ohioans And Abuse Taxpayer Trust
Call on Republicans to act on coronavirus plan, HB 6 repeal
November 18, 2020
 
 

Following House session Wednesday, Democratic leaders condemned Republican lawmakers for continuing to refuse to act on proposals to slow the spread of coronavirus, financially assist working families and small businesses, and repeal House Bill (HB) 6, tainted corporate bailout legislation at the center of an alleged multi-billion dollar corruption scheme involving then-Republican House Speaker Larry Householder and close associates.


“This surge threatens the lives and livelihoods of thousands of Ohioans, yet the legislation being prioritized by the Republican Majority today doesn’t do anything to slow the spread of this virus that’s devastating families, businesses and communities across Ohio,” said Assistant Minority Leader Rep. Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus). “Over the past month, we’ve seen the results of exclusively focusing on reopening businesses—a dangerous surge, falling consumer confidence and health systems pushed to the brink. We need to act with the same urgency to enact a plan to contain the virus, equip our healthcare workers, and keep employees safe on the job so that we can beat this virus, save lives and get our economy back on track.”


In yesterday’s Rules and Reference Committee, Rep. Boggs asked that Speaker Cupp reconsider a resolution introduced by Rep. Michael Skindell (D-Lakewood) in May that would require members wear masks in the Statehouse. Speaker Cupp refused. Today on the House floor, many Republicans were not wearing masks despite COVID-19 cases skyrocketing across Ohio. All House Democrats wore masks and have consistently for months.


 Additionally, Republicans are pushing a bill in committee that would weaken the authority of the Governor and State Health Director during public health emergencies, which Democrats say will slow the state’s coronavirus response and ultimately cost lives, jobs and shutter more businesses.


 House Democrats also called out Republican leaders Wednesday for blocking a Democratic attempt to repeal HB 6 during the House’s scheduled voting session. 


 “House Bill 6 was bought by corporate interests and paid for by Ohio taxpayers. The longer Republicans wait to repeal this bill, the stronger message they send that corruption is fair game in Ohio—it’s not,” said Rep. Casey Weinstein (D-Hudson). “Right now, the only thing standing in its way of being repealed is Republican House leadership. We are beginning to question why Republicans are holding this up, and truthfully, so are Ohio taxpayers. They deserve better.”


 Republicans rejected the Democratic HB 6 repeal amendment in a largely party-line vote.

 
 
  

COLUMBUS— Ohio State Representative Casey Weinstein (D-Hudson) issued a statement today following reports of FBI agents executing a search warrant at the home of Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) Chairman Sam Randazzo yesterday morning. PUCO regulates Ohio utilities and was currently auditing FirstEnergy Corp, the company at the center of the House Bill (HB 6) controversy that led to a nearly $1 billion bailout.


“Two months ago to the day, PUCO Chairman Sam Randazzo refused to answer my questions about a conflict of interest in HB 6 when he appeared before the Select Committee on Energy Policy and Oversight. Now we know why.


The culture of corruption that has long flourished under unified Republican control in Columbus must come to an end to restore faith in our government. That means no more games in repealing HB 6.


A majority of the Ohio House of Representatives has already signed on to legislation that would do just that. Let us show that we mean it.”

 
 
  
 
Rep. Brigid Kelly Statement On Latest GOP Attempt To Stymie State's Covid Response
Says bill is a "threat to the lives and livelihoods of Ohioans" as cases surge
November 17, 2020
 
 

COLUMBUS –Ranking Democrat Rep. Brigid Kelly (D-Cincinnati) today issued the following statement as the House State and Local Government Committee prepares to hear testimony on House Bill (HB) 618, Republican-backed legislation to curb executive authority from the state’s health director during public health emergencies:


“HB 618 is a threat to the lives and livelihoods of our fellow Ohioans. This surge is taking a toll – on families, on frontline workers and on our economy. We all want to get through this crisis and reopen our economy, but that can’t happen until we get this virus under control, ensure the health and safety of workers and restore consumer confidence. That means listening to best health practices and heeding advice from the experts, not casting it aside simply due to petty politics. Ohioans are counting on us to do the work we need to do so that we can control the spread of this virus, get Ohio open for business again and build our economy back better than before. This bill will only slow our response, cost more lives and force more businesses into financial ruin. We can’t have a healthy economy without healthy Ohioans to power it. HB 618 is bad policy, plain and simple.”

 
 
  
 
Leader Sykes, Rep. Russo Issue Statement Following Gov. DeWine Evening Address
Two lawmakers with degrees in public health rebuke the governor's lack of action
November 11, 2020
 
 

COLUMBUS —Ohio House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron)and State Reps. Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington), two lawmakers with degrees in public health, today issued a statement following the Wednesday evening address from Governor Mike DeWine.


All 88 counties in Ohio have a high rate of spread and the state remains in a state of emergency. DeWine called this the “most dangerous phase of the pandemic.”


“Tonight, I hoped to hear a science-based, statewide plan to protect Ohioans from COVID-19 from this dangerous third wave NOW, but instead we just got another stern admonishing, a rehash of how dire the numbers are in our state and what appears to be a final warning that he may take steps to slow this down in a week,” said Leader Sykes. “We needed him to stand up to the bullies within his own party as he did in the spring. We needed him to stand up for our communities, our small businesses, our health care professionals and our front-line workers. I agree with the Governor, we are tired – tired of our neighbors, family and friends getting sick because he appointed a health director that is not medically trained and without significant public health experience, tired of watching our economy continue to free fall, and tired of leaders who acquiesce to politics at the expense of human life.”  


“We needed plans, not platitudes and Churchill quotes. What we need right now is leadership in mask wearing from our elected officials. Leaders lead by example. House Democrats have consistently shown up for work at the Ohio Statehouse wearing a mask and many House Republicans continue to defy the governor’s mask mandate, endangering the lives of lawmakers, our staff and the public,” said Rep. Russo. “I worry this most recent pep talk will make no difference if Ohioans are getting conflicting messages from their elected leaders. All state and community leaders should be speaking with a unified voice about the importance of wearing a mask and following public health guidance, and right now, Republican leadership at the Statehouse is the biggest obstacle to that.” 


After consulting with local health officials earlier today, Leader Sykes and Rep. Russo offer these suggestions to Governor DeWine on what he should implement immediately:



  • Statewide conformity for enforcement of health orders. Currently, 113 health jurisdictions across the state are all enforcing differently without clear ODH directives regarding standards and coordination between jurisdictions.

  • Increased investment in public health infrastructure, including data systems and contact tracing resources. The systems are overburdened because it is poorly resourced.

  • Additional targeted testing for essential services -schools, first responders, essential businesses. These employees and students should have a fast and reliable source of testing followed by comprehensive contact tracing.

  • Resources for Ohioans without paid sick or family leave to allow them to comply with quarantine orders.

  • A focus on high-risk communities with special consideration of health disparities.

  • Expanded educational campaign about the risk of informal and indoor gatherings; this is currently the largest source of spread.

  • Leadership on mask wearing - ALL elected and community leaders should speak with one voice about the importance of wearing face coverings.

 
 
  
 
Rep. Russo Renews Call For House Leadership To Enforce Mask Mandate As COVID-19 Cases Surge
Despite record-breaking COVID-19 cases, majority of House Republicans refuse to follow best health practices like wearing a mask
November 10, 2020
 
 

COLUMBUS – State Rep. Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) issued a statement Tuesday blasting House Republicans for continuing to disregard best health practices to prevent the COVID-19 during the first full day of House committees since September. Since the House of Representatives last convened, Ohio has exploded by more than 325% to record levels, prompting Gov. Mike DeWine to say Ohio is reaching a “critical stage.”


Ohio recorded 6,508 cases COVID-19 cases today, the highest number to date.


“For weeks, Ohio has recorded day after day of record-breaking COVID-19 numbers,” said Rep. Russo. “While the governor has continued to plead with Ohioans to “do the right thing” and wear a mask, not even his fellow Republicans at the Statehouse are following his advice. How are Ohioans supposed to take the threat of COVID-19 seriously if their elected officials refuse to wear masks and follow best health practices? This lack of leadership puts Ohioans in danger.”


For months, House Democrats have called on Republican House leadership to require masks inside the Ohio Statehouse. Most recently, State Representative Kent Smith (D-Euclid) called on Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) to implement a mask mandate.

 
 
  
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House Democrats Announce Leadership Team For 134th General Assembly

 

The Ohio House Democratic Caucus today announced its leadership team for the 134th General Assembly. In an all-caucus vote, Democrats re-elected Rep. Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) as Minority Leader.



 
 

Leader Sykes Calls On DeWine To Veto Bill She Says "puts All Ohioans In Danger"

 

Ohio House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron), today sent a letter calling on Governor Mike DeWine to veto Senate Bill (SB) 311, legislation Democrats say will slow the state’s coronavirus response, ultimately leading to more deaths and further destabilizing Ohio’s economy. Statehouse Republicans fast tracked SB 311 last week, voting along party lines to pass the controversial bill that would strip executive power from the state’s Health Director during public health crises. The bill now awaits the governor’s signature. 



 
 

Franklin Co. House Dems React To Passage Of SB 311 As County Reaches "Purple" Designation

 

Today, Franklin County representatives Assistant Minority Leader Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus), Assistant Minority Whip Richard Brown (D-Canal Winchester) and State Reps. Adam Miller (D-Columbus), Mary Lightbody (D-Westerville), David Leland (D-Columbus), Dr. Beth Liston (D-Dublin), Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington), and Erica Crawley (D-Columbus) reacted to House passage of a bill (Senate Bill 311) to undermine the director of health’s authority at a time when the state has reached a dangerous peak, with Franklin County being the first county designated purple status. Announced by Gov. Mike DeWine Thursday, Franklin County is the first in the state to be elevated to purple status since the state began using this alert system. 



 
 

Rep. Kelly Calls GOP Bill To Strip Power From Health Director A "dangerous Fantasy" That Will Lead To More Deaths, Further Destabilize Economy

 

Ranking Democrat Rep. Brigid Kelly (D-Cincinnati) today issued a statement as the House State and Local Government Committee voted to fast track Senate Bill (SB) 311, which would curb executive authority from the state health director to issue orders during public health emergencies like the coronavirus pandemic.