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Secretary Husted: One Vote Can Make a Difference

112 elections have been decided by just one vote or tied in last three years.

COLUMBUS – Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted today announced that three local issues were decided by a single vote or tied during the Presidential General Election held on November 8, 2016. In total, 112 elections in Ohio have been decided by a single vote or tied in the past three years.

“I regularly remind voters that every Election Day, we find more examples where just one vote could have made a difference, which is why it is important that every eligible voter take the opportunity to know what will be on their ballot and participate in the process,” Secretary Husted said.

Ahead of the 2015 General Election, Secretary Husted announced a new, statewide initiative giving every voter access to an online voter toolkit where they could view a sample of the ballot they would receive on Election Day or in the mail as an absentee ballot. This allows voters to know the choices that will be in front of them when they cast their ballot so they won’t find any surprises in the voting booth. The online voter toolkit also gives voters the ability to track their absentee ballot, find their polling location and check their voter registration.

One local utility issue in Holmes County (Village of Killbuck) passed by only a single vote. Residents in both Delaware (Marlboro Township Tax Levy) and Summit (Akron Local Liquor Option) Counties tied on local questions. Issues and ballot questions require a majority vote in order to pass, so in the case of tie votes, the matter fails.

Secretary Husted’s goal has been to make it both easy to vote and hard to cheat in Ohio. Secretary Husted implemented the online change of address system on the Secretary of State’s website to make it simpler for Ohioans to keep their registration up-to-date and was the driving force behind the establishment of Online Voter Registration in the state (coming January 2017). Over 459,000 Ohioans have used the online change of address system since it was implemented in August of 2012.

Secretary Husted has also been a strong supporter of accurate and up-to-date voter rolls so Ohioans experience fewer problems at the polls on Election Day and can be assured that only ballots cast by eligible, registered voters are counted. More than 523,000 deceased voters have been removed from the rolls since Secretary Husted took office and 1.5 million duplicate registrations have been corrected. Complete information (last four digits of social security numbers, dates of birth and drivers’ licenses) is now had on 90 percent of registered voters in Ohio, up from just 20 percent in 2011, which helps elections officials more accurately identify a voter so that more ballots can be counted.

County Candidate or Issue Jurisdiction Vote Difference
2016 General
Delaware Tax Levy Marlboro Township 0
Holmes Gas Aggregation Village of Killbuck 1
Summit Local Liquor Akron City 4-J 0
August 2016 Special
Darke Tax Levy Mississinawa Valley School District 1
2016 Primary Geauga Tax Levy Parkman Township (roads) Tie
Greene Rep. Central Committee Xenia City Pct. 311 Tie
Hancock Rep. Central Committee Precinct 2D 1
Lake Rep. Central Committee Madison Village BB 1
Lawrence Local Liquor Option Burlington 3 – (Speedway) Tie
Medina Rep. Central Committee Guilford Township A Tie
Medina Rep. Central Committee Brunswick City 3-D Tie
Montgomery Rep. Central Committee Washington T Tie
Morrow Dem. Central Committee Harmony Township South 1
Union Rep. Central Committee Dover 2 Tie
2015 General Ashtabula Tax Levy Andover Township (Cemetery) 1
Brown Tax Levy Higginsport Village (Expenses) Tie
Cuyahoga Local Option Cleveland 02-S (Issue 40) Tie
Cuyahoga Local Option Cleveland 02-C (Issue 22) Tie
Cuyahoga Local Option Cleveland 02-C (Issue 25) Tie
Erie Council Member Milan Village 1
Gallia Trustee Huntington Township Tie
Hamilton Mayor Arlington Heights Village 1
Hocking Trustee Ward Township 1
Lawrence Mayor Proctorville Village 1
Lawrence Board Member Symmes Valley Local School Dist. 1
Lorain Tax Levy Carlisle Township (Fire & EMS) 1
Morrow Tax Levy Marengo Village (Expenses) Tie
Perry Mayor Junction City Village 1
Scioto Trustee Madison Township Tie
Summit Council Member Penisula Village 1
Summit Local Option Akron 3-G (Copley Mini Mart) 1
Trumbull Trustee Mecca Township (Unexp Term) Tie
Vinton Council Member McArthur Village 1
Warren Council Member Franklin City 1
Washington Trustee Marietta Township 1
Wayne Tax Levy Baughman Township (Roads) Tie
Wood Mayor Weston Village 1
2015 Primary Columbiana Tax Levy – roads Butler Township 1
Hardin Mayor City of Kenton 1
Lorain Dem. 2nd Ward Council City of Lorain 1
Lorain Rep. 3rd Ward Council City of North Ridgeville Tie
Scioto Bond Issue-Community Serv. Bldg. Valley Township 1
2014 General Clermont Tax Levy – Cemetery Franklin Township 1
Delaware Tax Levy – Expenses Galena Village 1
Hocking Bond Issue – Pool City of Logan 1
Licking Tax Levy – Expenses Utica Village 1
Mahoning Liquor Option Youngstown 1
Summit Issue 59-Local Option Springfield Township A-ElDorados Pizza 1
Wayne Liquor Option Congress Village 1
2014 Primary Ashland Rep Central Comm Montgomery #1 1
Athens Dem. Central Comm Athens 4-2 1
Brown Tax Levy Higginsport Village Tie
Clermont Rep Central Comm Union Township U1U Tie
Cuyahoga Dem. Central Comm Cleveland 7-M 1
Fairfield Dem. Central Comm Lane 4D Tie
Hamilton Member County Central Committee Tie
Lucas Rep Central Comm Oregon 4 Tie
Marion Tax Levy Pleasant Twp 1
Montgomery Dem. Central Comm Precinct Dayton 16-D Tie
Pike Rep Central Comm Ward 2 1
Scioto Tax Levy Green Township 1
Seneca Rep Central Comm Hopewell B Tie
Summit Rep Central Comm Akron 7-J 1
Summit Rep Central Comm Stow 3-E 1
Trumbull Dem. Central Comm Niles City 3-A 1
Trumbull Rep Central Comm McDonald Village B Tie
Trumbull Rep Central Comm McDonald Village C Tie
Trumbull Local Option Niles City 4-F Sunday Sales Tie
Trumbull Rep Central Comm Howland Township 1
2013 General Adams Township Trustee Sprigg Township 1
Allen Member of Council Beaverdam Village Tie
Ashtabula Township Trustee Jefferson Township Tie
Athens Member of Council Glouster Village Tie
Auglaize, Shelby School Board Member Botkins LSD 1
Champaign Local Option Urbana 3-B 1
Columbiana Township Trustee Hanover Township 1
Cuyahoga Member of Council Cuyahoga Hts Village 1
Cuyahoga Member of Council Woodmere Village 1
Darke Township Trustee Liberty Township 1
Darke, Miami, Shelby School Board Member Bradford Exempt VSD 1
Geauga Member of Council Middlefield Village 1
Guernsey Local Option 2-A Tie
Guernsey Tax Levy Wheeling Twp Cemetery 1
Highland Member of Council Hillsboro City 2nd Ward Tie
Hocking Starr Township Trustee Starr Township 1
Holmes Township Trustee Berlin Township 1
Holmes Township Trustee Walnut Creek Township 1
Licking Mayor Hanover Village Tie
Licking Township Trustee Jersey Township 1
Lucas Member of Council Ottawa Hills Village 1
Madison Member of Council Mount Sterling Village 1
Monroe Township Trustee Bethel Township 1
Monroe Township Trustee Salem Township 1
Montgomery Local Option Dayton 11-C (Smith’s Liquor) 1
Morgan Township Trustee Bristol Township Tie
Noble Township Trustee Buffalo Township Tie
Perry School Board Member New Lexington CSD Tie
Perry Member of Council New Straitsville Village Tie
Pike, Scioto School Board Member Scioto Valley LSD 1
Portage Tax Levy Paris Township 1
Preble Township Trustee Gratis Township 1
Preble Tax Levy Village of New Paris Tie
Scioto Tax Levy Otway Village Tie
Scioto Township Trustee Rarden Township Tie
Scioto Township Trustee Vernon Township 1
Seneca Township Trustee Thompson Township 1
Stark Member of Council Waynesburg Village Tie
Van Wert Township Trustee Hoaglin Township 1
Vinton Member of Council McArthur Village 1
Wayne Township Trustee East Union 1
Williams Tax Levy Millcreek-West Unity LSD 1
Wood Member of Council Weston Village 1

Brown Expressed Concern over Potential Cuts Last Week in Letter to EPA Administrator

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) issued the following statement on the elimination of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative in President Trump’s budget blueprint.

“Taking an ax to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative will cost Ohio jobs and jeopardize public health by putting the well-being of Lake Erie at risk. As a kid, I remember seeing how polluted Lake Erie was, and we can’t put an end to our cleanup efforts when we’ve made such progress. My colleagues in the Ohio delegation and I will not stand for a budget that zeroes out this critical program”

Conservative Leaders Unite Behind Josh Mandel’s U.S. Senate Bid

Sens. Rubio and Cotton, FreedomWorks and Senate Conservatives Fund Join Mandel’s First to Fight Movement

Conservative leaders across the country signaled they are uniting behind Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel’s announcement that he will challenge Sherrod Brown for Ohio’s U.S. Senate seat in 2018:

“Josh Mandel is always the first to fight when it comes to defending conservative principles… He is also the only candidate who can unify the Republican Party in Ohio to win the seat from the Democrats and send a strong message to any obstructionists who would stand in the way of the sea change underway in Washington.”

-Senator Marco Rubio

“We need more leaders with boots on the ground experience who can give real insights into the national security challenges we face…Ohio needs a leader like Josh who is driven, disciplined, and not afraid to challenge the political class in order to do what’s right for the people.”

-Senator Tom Cotton

“Josh Mandel is a proven conservative whose leadership is needed in the Senate…By electing Josh Mandel, we can send that message once again that we’ll will drain the swamp in Washington and move the country in a fiscally conservative direction.”

-FreedomWorks PAC Chairman Adam Brandon

“This matchup pits a relic of the Obama-Clinton era who has a liberal 40-year career of being out of touch with Ohio against a next generation conservative leader who shares our vision for restoring America’s greatness.”

-Senate Conservatives Fund President Ken Cuccinelli

WHAT THEY ARE SAYING IN THE PRESS…

“If you’re Sherrod Brown, you’ve got to feel like the floor has buckled out from under you.” (Washington Examiner)

“Mandel said he is running to help transfer power from politicians to the people of Ohio…Brown has held elected office for 40 years, basically as long as Mandel has been alive.” (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

“An outsider within the Ohio Republican establishment…Mandel maintained that outsider tone, taking credit as treasurer for making Ohio government ‘more transparent and accountable to the people.’” (Akron Beacon Journal)

“Brown, who’s served in the Senate since 2007, will be one of Republicans’ top targets in the 2018 cycle. He’s one of 10 incumbents up for reelection that serve in a state that Trump won in November. Trump won Ohio by 8 points.” (TheHill)

View Josh Mandel’s U.S. Senate Campaign Launch Video – “First to Fight” here.

For more information visit: www.joshmandel.com.

Legislator calls for payday lending reforms in Ohio

as pastor launches coalition to support effort

Payday lenders charge Ohioans the highest prices in the nation – an average of 591 percent annual percentage rate (APR) – to take out these short-term loans. Today State Rep. Marlene Anielski, R-Walton Hills, announced she is working on a bi-partisan effort to make sensible payday loan reforms to save Ohioans millions of dollars each year and ensure a fair marketplace in Ohio. Faith, consumer and veterans leaders echoed the need for reform, and one pastor is working to form a statewide coalition to press for payday loan changes.

“An APR of 591% isn’t fair or reasonable for the one in 10 adults, about 1 million people, in Ohio who have taken out a payday loan,’’ said Rep. Anielski. She wants the General Assembly to address reform in early 2017. “Reforms we are looking at would still give these consumers wide access to credit, but set rates and payback periods that are fair for borrowers and viable for lenders. Those reforms could save Ohio borrowers more than $75 million each year. That’s money that would go back into Ohio’s economy in other forms.’’

Rep. Anielski noted that in 2008, a bipartisan group of legislators and community leaders worked to reform payday lending by capping interest rates. The legislation was passed, signed into law and reaffirmed by Ohio voters. But lenders found a way around the law by issuing loans under other Ohio statues, and average APRs have increased by 200 percent.

“It’s time to close those loopholes, because they impact a wide cross-section of Ohioans – rural, urban, white, black, veterans and others,’’ she said.

Rep. Anielski is looking at a solution like the one Colorado lawmakers enacted in 2010 that required all short-term loans to be repayable over time at lower rates. Six years later, the reforms have a track record of success, prices have been reduced by two-thirds and borrowers have saved more than $40 million a year.

The Pew Charitable Trusts’ small-dollar loans project has done extensive research on the payday loan market, said Nick Bourke, Pew’s small-dollar loans project director.

“Payday loans in Ohio are the most expensive in the country,” Bourke said. “A $300 payday loan on average costs $680 in fees over five months for Ohioans. That’s higher than it costs to borrower the same-sized loan in any neighboring state. Further reforms are clearly needed to make payday loans affordable for the roughly 1 million Ohioans who have taken out these high-cost loans.”

Statewide and community groups support reform efforts. Pastor Carl Ruby, of Central Christian Church in Springfield, was so concerned about payday lending in his town that he organized a community forum about it this past spring that included Michael McDorman, President of the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce. Ruby is working to form a statewide coalition to support reform efforts.

“I got involved in this issue as a pastor because I view it as a moral issue and because I see the toll that is taking on people in my community,’’ said Pastor Ruby. “When I learned that there are twice as many payday loan centers in Springfield than McDonalds, and that the typical borrower would end up paying nearly 600 percent interest, I had to get involved. You don’t have to be a faith leader to be angered by what these places are doing to our communities. Any person of conscience should be alarmed and appalled.’’

“Borrowers take out a two-week loan for $300, but paying it back will stretch out to five months and can cost them up to $680 in fees alone,’’ said Phil Cole, Executive Director, Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies. “Cutting that $680 by three-fourths can be the difference between heating a home or putting food on the table, and there still would be a profit for lenders.’’

Mike Kehoe, President of the Franklin County Veterans Service Commission, said veterans are impacted by expensive payday loans in Ohio. “One of the Franklin County Veterans Service Commission missions is to work with financially challenged veterans. As such, we often encounter veterans who turn to payday loans as a solution to a desperate situation, but wind up in an on-going trap that appears to have no exit and is very costly.’’

Social Security payments

According to research from SmartAsset, a financial technology company, Delaware County residents are receiving among the highest annual Social Security payments in Ohio. The research is a key factor in SmartAsset’s second annual study Social Security, which also includes cost of living data and taxes as factors in addition to the annual payments.

Check out the table below to see how the top counties in Ohio stacked up:

Rank County Cost of Living Annual Social Security Social Security Taxed? Annual Social Security Index

1 Geauga, OH $17,860 $20,144 No 80.27

2 Delaware, OH $18,319 $19,310 No 74.51

3 Warren, OH $17,562 $18,981 No 72.23

4 Medina, OH $17,907 $18,865 No 71.43

5 Fulton, OH $16,587 $18,577 No 69.44

6 Defiance, OH $17,544 $18,574 No 69.42

7 Ottawa, OH $16,729 $18,531 No 69.13

8 Shelby, OH $16,751 $18,473 No 68.73

9 Henry, OH $16,931 $18,391 No 68.16

10 Union, OH $17,783 $18,306 No 67.57

President Trump’s Budget Blueprint Would Disinvest in Proven Programs that Foster Innovation, Promote Public-Private Collaboration and Protect Vulnerable People

Media Statement from Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director for the Ohio Association of Foodbanks:

“The budget blueprint released earlier today by the Trump administration proposes eliminating a long list of programs that have been critical parts of the fabric of our country and local communities. The administration has proposed these cuts in a desire to reduce spending, but as Ohio’s largest charitable response to hunger, we know that these cuts will actually result in increased burdens on state and local governments, increased poverty, hunger and homelessness, and increased suffering for the least among us.

“We have been proud to lead an AmeriCorps VISTA program in partnership with the Corporation for National and Community Service for more than a decade. In that time, more than 400 national service members have spent a year working full-time on projects that fight hunger and poverty in local communities. Right now, we have members working on everything from fundraising to install new irrigation systems for community gardens, to developing and implementing year-round nutrition education programming for low-income families, to mapping food deserts and social service capacity for an entire county. Our members are fostering real change and making big impacts, and they’re doing it in exchange for a living allowance of about $970 per month and an education award that helps them pay down student debt or go back to school. AmeriCorps is a longstanding, bipartisan approach to making modest investments in local communities that generate lasting results. We strongly object to the administration’s proposal to eliminate funding for the Corporation for National and Community Service.

“The budget blueprint also proposes eliminating key programs in the Office of Community Services. In Ohio, more than 400,000 low-income households would lose one-time, yearly payments that help with heating their homes due to the elimination of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. In real terms, that means that hundreds of thousands of low-income families and seniors may face having their utilities shut off in the coldest winter months. Unfortunately, the budget would also eliminate the Community Services Block Grant, which is the core funding for Community Action Agencies. Those agencies are, in many cases, one of the few places left in rural Ohio where low-income Ohioans can turn for basic help with food, shelter and other resources.

“This proposal is an attack on core American values. It disinvests in programs like AmeriCorps, Senior Corps and the Senior Community Services Employment Program that empower people to better themselves and their communities. It puts more than 400,000 Ohio households – nearly 9 in 10 of which contain either elderly or disabled individuals or children under 5 – at risk of literally being left out in the cold. We encourage Congress to firmly reject this approach to balancing the budget and funding defense spending on the backs of the poor.”

About the Ohio Association of Foodbanks

The Ohio Association of Foodbanks is Ohio’s largest charitable response to hunger, representing Ohio’s 12 Feeding America foodbanks and 3,300 member charities including food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters. In SFY 2016, the association and its member foodbanks were able to acquire and distribute over 208 million pounds of food and grocery items. The association also serves as the home of The Ohio Benefit Bank and operates the state’s largest navigator program for the Affordable Care Act. Follow the association on Twitter, stay connected on Facebook and visit them on the web at www.ohiofoodbanks.org.

TIBERI STATEMENT ON FEDERAL RESERVE INTEREST RATE ANNOUNCEMENT

U.S. Congressman Pat Tiberi, vice chair of the Joint Economic Committee, issued the following statement regarding the decision by Federal Reserve officials to increase the target federal funds rate to between 0.5 percent and 0.75 percent:

“Today’s step by the Fed toward more normalized interest rates is welcome as is its outlook for a strengthening economy. The more clarity the Fed can provide about their intent, the better for private investment and job growth. More than seven years after the start of a shallow recovery, we know there is a better way. In the coming year, I look forward to working with my colleagues to overhaul our tax code and reduce overly burdensome federal mandates. Pro-growth legislation combined with more transparent monetary policy will help drive our economy forward and open up opportunity for all Americans.”

Note: The last time the Fed raised the federal funds rate was in December of 2015 when it increased the rate by 0.25 percent. Previously, the Fed lowered the rate to near zero in December 2008 where it remained for seven years.

Tiberi Statement on Federal Reserve Interest Rate Announcement

U. S. Congressman Pat Tiberi (R-OH), chairman of the Joint Economic Committee, issued the following statement regarding the decision by Federal Reserve officials to increase the target federal funds rate to between 0.75 and 1.0 percent:

“The Fed’s step toward more normalized rates indicates growing confidence that our economy will strengthen as the Administration and Congress follow through on our promises to lift artificial constraints on economic growth such as overly burdensome regulations, an outdated and uncompetitive tax code, and a collapsing health care law. I am encouraged that we are moving beyond slow, uneven growth toward a period of prosperity for all.”

New Analysis Shows Women Would be Hardest Hit Under GOP Healthcare Plan

COLUMBUS – Women would suffer the most under the GOP’s Obamacare replacement plan, according to a new analysis by the Women’s Public Policy Network (WPPN) of Ohio.

Dr. Anita Somani, an obstetrician-gynecologist and the president of the Columbus Medical Association, agreed with the analysis and said many of the increased health risks would come from the plan’s call to defund Planned Parenthood.

“By defunding Planned Parenthood, the proposal would limit care and contraception – especially in underserved areas,’’ she said. “This will cause an increase in HIV rates and unintended pregnancies. This already happened in Indiana and Texas.’’

Indiana’s GOP-led state legislature was among the first to declare war against Planned Parenthood in 2011 when it passed a bill to cut off money to the popular family planning provider because some of its clinics offer abortion services. A federal judge later blocked the law from taking effect but the state’s continued cuts to Planned Parenthood left many rural regions without an HIV testing center, prompting an exploding HIV outbreak. Texas saw a similar public health crisis.

Under the Obamacare replacement, called the American Health Care Act, low-income women, women of color and women living in rural areas would be hardest hit because they tend to rely more heavily on Planned Parenthood for their reproductive care, according to WPPN.

Other anti-woman provisions cited by the WPPN analysis:

Deep, permanent cuts to Medicaid and the elimination of Medicaid expansion would threaten coverage for the millions of low-income women and families, pregnant women, women with disabilities, and elderly women that depend on the program for coverage. These cuts would shift costs to the states, likely leading to more limited eligibility for enrollment and cuts to coverage benefits. Women of color would be disproportionately impacted by these cuts as black women and Latina women are more likely than white women to be insured through Medicaid.

The House GOP bill would jeopardize the Essential Health Benefits (EHB) standard provided under the ACA, which has made groundbreaking advancements for women in healthcare such as guaranteed maternity coverage. The EHB would “sunset” by 2020, meaning that it would be left up to states to decide whether or not insurers are required to cover these services. Without the EHB standards, women would be forced to pay out-of-pocket for maternity care, potentially costing them thousands of dollars to deliver a child.

Women may be forced to pay out-of-pocket for mental health treatment or substance abuse services. As the new proposal would phase out both Medicaid and eliminate the guaranteed Essential Health Benefits (EHB) standard which includes mental health services and substance abuse treatment, many women would no longer be covered for everything from opioid addiction to depression. These individuals would now be forced to pay out-of-pocket to treat any mental health or substance abuse issues.

Expanded restrictions on abortion coverage for both public and private insurance plans could potentially dismantle insurance coverage for abortion. Insurance coverage for abortion already faces dangerous restrictions, but the House GOP bill would create further barriers to accessing.. abortion coverage. Women would no longer be able to use tax credits to purchase insurance plans that cover abortion, with exceptions for rape, incest, or life of the pregnant person. The loss of tax credits to afford policies covering abortion would make them too expensive for many individuals and businesses. This cost-prohibitive provision would then drastically shrink access women have to abortion coverage, or possibly even lead to insurance providers completely dropping abortion coverage from their plans. It would cause women to have to either buy an unsubsidized, far more expensive plan or purchase a separate “rider” on their healthcare plan for abortion coverage.

“As anti-choice members of Congress and the Trump administration are stepping up their assault on abortion rights, they are simultaneously crafting policies to block access to family planning services,’’ noted NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland. “Local health departments and federally qualified health centers have said they are not equipped to provide care to the people who will lose their insurance coverage if the ACA is repealed and the contraceptive mandate is reversed. Women of color, young women, and low-income people will be most seriously harmed by this dangerous political agenda.”

Experts also insisted that the proposed changes would undercut Ohio efforts to lower the state’s shamefully high infant mortality rate.

State Sen. Charleta Tavares, helped win passage of Senate Bill 332 – last year’s landmark infant mortality reduction law.

“The passage of S. B. 332 provided important education on safe-spacing and long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARC) to ensure women are safely getting pregnant when they and their bodies are ready,” Tavares said. “The changes proposed in the AHCA would drastically undercut our efforts to reduce infant deaths and post-partum depression.”

Although some causes of infant death are unknown, access to prenatal care and proper spacing between pregnancies are proven ways to improve maternal health and lower infant mortality. While calling for defunding Planned Parenthood and proposing drastic cuts to Medicaid, which would force the state to make benefit cuts or reductions in eligibility, Trumpcare would reduce access to the very programs that are essential to combat infant mortality.

According to the Ohio Department of Health, 7.2 of every 1,000 babies born died before their first birthdays. The numbers are even more chilling for black infants, who died at a rate of 15.1 per thousand live births — nearly three times the rate of white babies.

The Ohio Women’s Public Policy Network (WPPN) is a coalition un-like any other group in the state. Formed in 2015 and convened by Innovation Ohio Education Fund, the WPPN pulls together 25 key advocacy organizations focused on promoting policies that create economic security for women and strengthen Ohio families.

Member organizations of the Women’s Public Policy Network include: ACLU of Ohio; ACTION Ohio; American Association of University Women of Ohio (AAUW Ohio); Catholics for Choice; Hadassah Columbus; Innovation Ohio; Education Fund; Jobs with Justice, Cleveland Chapter; Main Street Alliance of Ohio; Majority Ohio; NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio; National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Central Ohio Chapter; National Council of Jewish Women, Cleveland Chapter; Nyla’s Angels Fund; Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence; Ohio Domestic Violence Network; Ohio NOW; Ohio Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice; Ohio Urban Resources Systems (O.U.R.S.); Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio; Policy Matters Ohio; ProgressOhio; The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio; The Women’s Fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation; United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 75; Working America Education Fund, Ohio Chapter.

Husted Convenes Electoral College, 18 Electoral Votes Transmitted to Congress

COLUMBUS– Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted convened the 54th Electoral College from Ohio, officially assigning victory of the state’s electoral votes to President-Elect Donald J. Trump on Dec. 19. This meeting marks the end of the 2016 Presidential Election in the Buckeye State.

In the General Election held on November 8, 2016, Donald J. Trump received 2,841,005, equaling 51.69 percent of the total vote cast in the Presidential race. Pursuant to Section 3505.40 of the Ohio Revised Code, which requires Electoral College Members from Ohio to cast their vote for the winner of the state’s popular vote, Ohio’s 18 electoral votes were cast in favor of Donald J. Trump.

“Today is a celebration, not just of one person, but a celebration of all of us,” Secretary Husted said. “Whether you like the outcome of the election or not, it is an occasion to celebrate freedom, democracy, and the hopefulness that living in a freedom-loving nation provides.”

Each state is entitled to a number of electoral votes equal to the total number of U.S. Representatives to Congress, plus the state’s two U.S. Senators. Based on the most recent federal census, Ohio has 16 Members of Congress, giving the state 18 votes in the Electoral College.

The Electoral College met in the Senate Chamber inside the Ohio Statehouse. Video footage of the meeting is archived here, provided by the Ohio Channel.

The Members of the Electoral College are elected when their political party or nominating committee’s chosen candidate for President receives a majority of the state’s popular vote. Their names are submitted by their political party or nominating committee. Today’s electors were chosen ahead of the 2016 Presidential Election by the Ohio Republican Party.

Members of the 2016 Electoral College from Ohio: District 1: Alex Triantafilou; District 2: Mary Anne Christie; District 3: Cory Schottenstein; District 4: Jim Dicke II; District 5: Cheryl Blakely; District 6: Marilyn Ashcraft; District 7: Rob Scott; District 8: Hon. Richard Jones; District 9: Hon. Tom Coyne; District 10: Judy Westbrock; District 11: Ralph King; District 12: Leonard Hubert; District 13: Robert Paduchik; District 14: James Wert; District 15: Brian Schottenstein; District 16: Curt Braden; At-Large: LeeAnn Johnson; At-Large: Ed Crawford.

U.S. Senators put politics ahead of children by voting to confirm DeVos

Statement by Ohio Federation of Teachers President Melissa Cropper

“Despite partisan differences, we are aghast that members of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee would vote for politics in the face of what is clearly the better interests of our children. The vote was 12-11 on strict party lines with Republicans supporting DeVos.

“In confirming someone who has no education experience, no concept of basic education issues, and no ideas for advancing an education agenda other than expanding school choice, the Senate members who supported DeVos clearly demonstrated that they put politics ahead of children. This type of failed decision-making will have long term consequences for our children.

“We urge people to continue to call Sen. Rob Portman and ask him to put children first by voting no when the DeVos nomination comes to the full Senate. “

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ Prepared Remarks to the National Lieutenant Governors Association, March 15

Thank you, Chairman McKee for that kind introduction. And thank each of you for the hard work you do on behalf of your states.

I’m glad to see you all made it despite the snow. I’m getting used to the weather here in Washington, but I must say, by Michigan standards, this could be considered a balmy March day!

Before we delve into policy, I wanted to tell you a bit about myself. …

For me, these experiences have combined to form my views:

I believe in kids; I trust parents; I trust teachers; and I want to empower state and local leaders to do what’s right for the children they serve.

I believe any student can grow and thrive if given the chance to receive a quality education.

For me, this is just common sense.

My views have been shaped by my work in Michigan and in states across the country, just as each of yours have been formed through the lens of your own state. You deal with the challenges facing your state every day. You know the unique needs of your economy and your citizens.

That’s what makes you – state leaders – so well equipped to solve these problems.

Federalism isn’t an antiquated idea. Our nation’s founders reserved most powers, including education, for the states to exercise because they knew all too well that a distant central government cannot adequately address the needs of its people.

I share the founders’ belief that those closest to problems usually know best how to solve them.

We want to empower the states, the “labs of democracy,” to innovate and solve the tough challenges they confront.

That’s precisely the idea behind the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), and it’s why I’m a strong proponent of this bipartisan law.

As you’ve likely heard, this week we reiterated that the Department of Education will implement ESSA as Congress intended — by doing what’s best for children. We’re rolling back the intrusive involvement of the federal government while restoring the freedom and flexibility state and local leaders deserve.

No two states are identical. You know this better than anyone. The problems facing Rhode Island are different than those of South Dakota or California. We shouldn’t insist the same solution will work everywhere, every time.

Each of your states will submit state ESSA plans, and I expect each of them to be quite different.

And they should be. The plans should reflect the diversity of the states you serve and the unique challenges and opportunities they face.

I don’t want Washington to smother your innovation. You should be able to unleash your creative thinking to set children up for success. You should compete – with each other, and with every other country in the world – to find the best ways to deliver an excellent education to every child in your state.

That’s what ESSA sets up the freedom to do, but more importantly, it’s what the parents in your state expect you to do. Politicians can be blamed for many things, but I don’t believe anyone will ever fault you for trying too hard to make sure every child has an equal opportunity for a great education.

For me, this starts by ensuring parents have the right to choose the educational setting that’s best for their child.

Many of you share this belief. In fact, most of the states represented here today have school choice programs. The longest-running program in the country, Milwaukee’s Parental Choice Program, is located in Lt. Gov. Kleefisch’s state of Wisconsin.

That program started in 1990, and is now one of four private choice programs in Wisconsin, serving more than 33,000 students in that state. If you add to that the population attending the state’s public charter schools, more than 76,000 students in Wisconsin are able to attend a school of their parents’ choosing.

One of these schools is St. Marcus Lutheran School in Milwaukee, which serves almost exclusively students from low-income families.

One of those students, Jeffrey, described his education experience prior to attending St. Marcus as “setting him up to fail.” His traditional schools simply didn’t meet his academic needs.

When he enrolled at St. Marcus everything changed for him.

Jeffrey’s teachers took special interest in him, and today he’s a college graduate and works as an architectural designer. And he credits his success to the support of his family and his teachers at St. Marcus.

This is but one example of why we must do everything in our power to allow every child – every child – to have access to a safe and nurturing learning environment where he or she is able to grow and thrive. Choice has given Wisconsin’s students a chance to succeed that would not have otherwise been available to them without the state’s choice program.

As state leaders, you intimately recognize the innate ability a quality education can have to break the cycle of poverty, and you understand the value of an educated workforce.

Education is the pathway to bring our economy into the 21st century. The current reality, however, is that too many high-paying, skills-based jobs remain vacant, and the general trend of entrepreneurship and new startups has been very slow to recover since the end of the Great Recession.

The unemployment rate may be down, but research shows that a historically high number of able-bodied men – nearly one in eight – are unemployed or no longer looking for work.

The jobs exist. We just need to connect those willing to learn the requisite skills with the businesses ready to hire them.

And we need to foster a new generation of entrepreneurs, inventors and job creators who will unleash their ingenuity to solve the challenges of the day.

This development starts in grade school with hands-on, experiential learning and continues by encouraging students to explore different postsecondary education paths. The menu of options is long and varied, but too often, young people are only aware of, or pushed toward, four-year colleges or universities.

We should break the stigma that career education options are not valid paths to learning and success. One of the options is community colleges, an essential engine of workforce and economic development — both locally and regionally. Effective community colleges help identify and close the skills gap between employers and job-seekers.

And, even better: community colleges don’t demand students adhere to the school’s schedule – they adjust to the needs of the student instead. From employees who seek new skills and credentials to further their careers, to students who need some extra help preparing to do further college-level work, community colleges are often a great fit. We should empower and encourage schools that are student-centric.

Of course, many of you have already taken the lead in promoting workforce development programs that fit the economic needs of your state.

In my home state of Michigan, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley joined forces with state Supreme Court Justice Richard Bernstein to level the playing field for a group that’s consistently underrepresented in the overall workforce: people with disabilities.

The initiative, MI Hidden Talent, provides training and resources to help businesses adopt inclusive hiring practices.

The cause is personal for Brian, whose daughter, Reagan, is autistic. He knows firsthand the immense value and diverse perspectives that individuals with differing abilities can bring to the table.

In Rhode Island, your chairman, Lt. Gov. Daniel McKee, has championed expanding school options both as a mayor and now as lieutenant governor. I appreciate your leadership on this issue and thank you for promoting these reforms.

States have led the way in improving education. This is why the Trump administration has committed to return power to the states wherever and whenever possible.

Under my leadership, the U.S. Department of Education will do everything in its power to support students’ growth and achievement. We must not get in the way of creative thinking and any action that promises positive results for kids. We want to give you as state leaders the latitude to develop talent and improve outcomes.

Make no mistake: This is a clear opportunity for you and your states. You have the power to chart a course that will benefit the families in your state for decades to come.

So I want to challenge you to pursue what some would call impossible. Remember that, not so long ago, putting a man on the moon and a computer in every home were unthinkable ideas.

And an even shorter time ago, ordering and having almost anything promptly delivered with the click of a button on one’s phone, and getting into a self-driving vehicle, were thought to be impossible.

We owe it to the rising generation to always encourage and cultivate its ability to thrive academically, and expand its access to new and innovative ways to learn.

It is possible for every child to have an equal opportunity for a great education. We just need the will to make it happen. And I believe, with your help, we will rise to the challenge.

Thank you again for all that you do, and for your commitment to the states and the people you serve. I look forward to working with you on behalf of our nation’s future – our students.

Thank you.

DeVos hearing makes it even more clear she is not qualified to be secretary of education

Yesterday’s (Jan. 17) U.S. Senate committee hearing on the nomination of Betsy DeVos for secretary of education confirmed concerns that she is a poor choice to lead the education of our nation’s children.

DeVos has zero experience in public education. She has never worked in a public school. She sent her children to private school. DeVos has spent her career privatizing public education. She advocates that public dollars be taken out of public schools and be used to pay tuition for students attending private schools via vouchers. She is also a strong advocate for charter schools, the vast majority of which are poor-performing and many of which are run by for-profit companies.

“The U.S. Secretary of Education’s role is to support and strengthen our valued public schools, not hurt them by expanding poor-performing charters and vouchers,” said Melissa Cropper, president of the Ohio Federation of Teachers.

“In yesterday’s hearing, DeVos refused to commit to holding all schools accountable to the same standards. That is alarming here in Ohio where there are numerous poor-performing charters and several charter operations embroiled in scandal. Our neighborhood public schools should be strengthened with additional resources so that children can learn and grow to their full potential. We fear this will not occur if DeVos is confirmed.”

DeVos refused to answer Sen. Tim Kaine’s question as to whether all schools receiving federal funding should have the same accountability systems.

DeVos failed to say she would not privatize public schools or cut public education.

In response to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, DeVos would not commit to enforcing rules on for-profit colleges that have been proven to cheat students, give worthless degrees.

Warning about grizzly attacks, DeVos suggested guns should be allowed in schools.

DeVos personifies the threat to public education from those who would defund and privatize our schools. She has spent two decades championing the expansion of poor-performing charter schools and vouchers at the expense of our neighborhood public schools.

She has a history of failing to be accountable herself. DeVos owes a record $5.3 million in fines to the Ohio Elections Commission, according to the Columbus Dispatch. The anti-public education organization All Children Matter Inc. was directed by DeVos when it ran afoul of Ohio campaign-finance laws in 2008.

“DeVos should be made to pay the fine,” Cropper said. “The fact that she hasn’t is one more reason she should not be put in a position of such power.”

DeVos’ policies have consistently undermined public schools. Parents want schools where children are respected and nurtured, where there is a focus on the joy of learning and on developing creativity, critical thinking and 21st-century skills—schools that educate the whole child. DeVos’ extreme, profit-driven approach to education policy ignores those aspirations and what’s best for children.

“Our children need a secretary of education who will focus on promoting children’s well-being, supporting powerful learning, building teacher capacity and fostering cultures of collaboration,” Cropper said.

President Trump Requests $11.6 Billion for Interior Department’s FY 2018 Budget

Budget Blueprint Furthers the Administration’s Strong Support for Responsible Energy Development on Federal Lands, Protects and Conserves America’s Public Lands, and Fulfills DOI’s Trust Responsibilities

WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced President Trump’s $11.6 billion Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 budget blueprint request for the Department of the Interior. The budget meets the Department’s core mission while also saving taxpayers $1.5 billion or 12 percent reduction from the FY 2017 Annualized Continuing Resolution level.

The President’s budget blueprint prioritizes strengthening America’s energy security by increasing funding for programs that support responsible development of oil, natural gas, coal, and renewable energy on public lands and offshore waters. The blueprint also sustains funding for DOI’s collection and disbursement of roughly $10 billion annually for mineral development, an important source of revenue to the Treasury, states, and Indian mineral owners.

The President’s blueprint directly supports funding for land management operations for the National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, and Bureau of Land Management, ensuring streamlined operations and greater access to public lands for multiple uses, including recreation, conservation, and responsible development of natural resources. The budget ensures National Park Service assets are preserved for future generations by increasing investment in deferred maintenance projects.

“America’s public lands are our national treasures and the President’s budget sends a strong signal that we will protect and responsibly manage these vast areas of our country ‘for the benefit and enjoyment of the people’,” Secretary Zinke said. “Before serving in government, I served on the front lines for 23 years as a military officer. I can say for certain that this budget allows the Interior Department to meet our core mission and also prioritizes the safety and security of the American people. From supporting tribal sovereignty and self-determination across Indian country to investing more than $1 billion in safe and reliable water management in the western U.S., to budgeting for wildland fire preparedness and suppression, and streamlining access to the energy resources America needs, this budget enables the Department to meet its core mission and prioritizes programs that will put Americans’ security first.”

The President’s budget blueprint also eliminates some duplicative programs, including discretionary Abandoned Mine Land grants that overlap with existing mandatory grants, National Heritage Areas that are more appropriately funded at the local level, and National Wildlife Refuge fund payments to local governments that overlap with other payment programs. The budget reduces land acquisition funding by more than $120 million and focuses available discretionary funds on investing in and maintaining existing parks, refuges and public lands.

BROWN STATEMENT ON BUDGET

WASHINGTON, DC — U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) issued the following statement March 16 on President Trump’s budget blueprint.

“Any Ohio family sitting around the kitchen table knows that making a budget is about choosing priorities, and this blueprint shows that Ohio’s working families are not President Trump’s priority,” said Brown. “President Trump made bold promises to Ohioans that he’d fight for them – but instead he is slashing infrastructure funding he promised to invest in and waging a fight against programs that grow Ohio manufacturing jobs, support rural communities working to create new jobs, help seniors heat their homes, keep workers safe, find cures for disease and protect our clean water.”

The blueprint proposes:

· Eliminating the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which provided more than $145 million to Ohio last year.

· Eliminating the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

· Eliminating the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Economic Development Administration, which together provide assistance to Ohio’s rural communities for job creation, infrastructure, and public works.

· Cutting the Department of Health and Human Services’ budget by approximately $15 billion and cuts National Institutes of Health funding by $6 billion.

· Cutting the Department of Labor budget by 21 percent.

· Eliminating the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, which is a public-private partnership consisting of 50 MEP centers throughout Ohio. They provide technical expertise to small and medium-sized enterprises to help them become more competitive.

· Eliminating funding for new projects under DOT TIGER Grant, which provides multimodal investments to revitalize cities and promote freight movement, and the Capital Investment Grant program, which expands rail and bus transit services. Multiple Ohio communities have benefited from these programs, and new applications, like Columbus’s Rickenbacker Inland Port Interstate Connector and Youngstown’s Smar2t Corridor, would be prevented for applying for funds.

· Eliminating wastewater grants at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Brown applauded part of President Trump’s budget blueprint, which “Strengthens the International Trade Administration’s trade enforcement and compliance functions, including the anti-dumping and countervailing duty investigations, while rescaling the agency’s export promotion and trade analysis activities.”

Brown has reached out to President Trump and the Administration to work together on trade.

Not surprised. Just disappointed. So we’re out.

Like most people my age, Disney movies were central to my childhood.

Now that my wife and I have a daughter of our own, Disney movies are something we look forward to sharing with her as she grows.

It’s why the news that Disney has decided to inject a dose of politics into their upcoming live-action Beauty and the Beast remake is disappointing and incredibly frustrating. According to the movie’s director Bill Condon, the movie (which debuts March 17) has an “exclusively gay moment.”

Reports say the moment comes between the main villain of the movie, Gaston, and his sidekick LeFou.

I always figured sooner or later something like this was going to come from Disney. It doesn’t come as a surprise. But now that we’re here, what should we do?

Perhaps one of the most important voices for Christians on the culture today is John Stonestreet, who runs the Chuck Colson Center. John also has daughters and has decided that he will take his daughters to see the movie:

“We’re going to watch the movie, but instead of hoping my daughters miss the moment, we’re going to point it out to them and then have a conversation. After all, we’ll be confronting real-life moments soon enough just walking down the street right here in Colorado Springs. We might as well be ready.”

I appreciate John’s humble and realistic view to the issue.

Yet my family is going to take a different approach. We’re not going to see the movie.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no illusions that we’re going to be able to shelter our daughter from a hyper-sexualized culture – it’s the world we live in. John is right that the best strategy for Christian families in this culture is conversation with each other. And I also want to make clear that we’re not sitting this movie out merely because it is positively portraying a sinful relationship. If we really want to nit-pick, I’m sure we could find that in every movie.

Rather, we’re sitting this movie out because Disney has made a proclamation that they are using it to target our kids with a political agenda. That’s not for us, and we’re not going to reward them with our money.

Copyright © 2017 Citizens for Community Values, All rights reserved.

International Women’s Day Inspires Calls to Preserve ACA’s Benefits for Women

COLUMBUS – Before the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies often paid for Viagra but not birth control pills, and some insurers added extra fees for maternity care. But the myriad of benefits the ACA provides to women would be lost under a Republican plan to replace it with one that experts say is unfair and unhealthy.

“When women lose access to reproductive care, maternal health declines and infant mortality rises,’’ Dr. Elinor Brown said during a teach-in today at Capital University. “The Republican repeal plan is dangerous and downright mean.’’

Echoing her criticism was Rev. Susan Smith, a founder of Crazy Faith Ministries, who said she has personally counseled women who credit the ACA with dramatic improvements in their health and the health of their families. She urged Congress to keep its many benefits.

The Women’s Public Policy Network lists those benefits and they include:

Increasing access to care for women of color, which helps to reduce health disparities;

Banning women from being charged more for health coverage simply because they are women;

Guaranteeing coverage for preventive services such as birth control, cervical cancer screenings, and annual well-women exams without copays, deductibles, or other out-of-pocket costs.

Dr. Brown, a resident in obstetrics and gynecology at The Ohio State University College of Medicine, noted that many ACA benefits are aimed at lowering infant mortality rates. Ohio has one of the nation’s highest rates, and the rate for black babies continues to outpace the rate for whites.

The state’s 2015 infant mortality rate, calculated as the number of deaths of a live-born baby before age one per 1,000 live births, is 7.2. That’s about 21 percent higher than the most recently reported national rate and up from 6.8 the year before. Black babies continue to fare the worst in Ohio, dying at a rate of 15.1 per 1,000 births in 2015, compared with 14.3 in 2014. It marked the second year in a row that the rate rose, after two years of declines.

One proven way to lower the rate is to give women access to long-acting, reversible contraception and proper prenatal care – services that Planned Parenthood provides in abundance.

Yet when Republicans rolled out their long-awaited ACA replacement Tuesday, it included a provision to defund Planned Parenthood unless it stops offering abortion services – even though federal dollars already are prohibited from being use on abortion. The proposal prompted a torrent of criticism.

“The plan continues the Republican Party’s obsession with Planned Parenthood and any other provider of abortion services,’’ said ProgressOhio Executive Director Sandy Theis, who joined the teach-in. “Supporters of the repeal want to ignore the millions who marched in the streets, called members of Congress and flooded town halls. Don’t let them ignore you.’’

The GOP replacement bill states that Medicaid cannot directly or indirectly fund any health-care organization that “provides for abortions” (a swipe at Planned Parenthood). Low-income women would be most affected by the proposal because Medicaid recipients typically earn far below the federal poverty line.

Theis urged those who want to preserve the ACA benefits to visit www.progressohio.org for advice on how to contact members of Congress, writes Letters to the Editor or find community events of like-minded activists.

International Women’s Day includes a nationwide general strike called “A Day Without A Woman.” The event is being hosted in solidarity with International Women’s Strike USA events taking place today across the country. The Women’s Strike aims to highlight the universal struggles that women face and encourage citizens to work together for equality.

Ohio’s 2016 Human Trafficking Hotline Case Data Released

WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 31, 2017) – Polaris released national and state-by-state human trafficking case data for 2016 today from the National Human Trafficking Hotline (1-888-373-7888), showing a significant jump in cases nationwide. For Ohio, 375 cases of human trafficking were reported to the National Hotline in 2016, which included 277 cases of sex trafficking and 42 cases of labor trafficking. In 2015, 289 human trafficking cases were reported. Since 2007, the National Hotline has received reports of 1,203 cases of human trafficking in Ohio.

Polaris also released its combined data for the National Human Trafficking Hotline and the BeFree Textline (233733) for the entire United States and cases originating overseas. Those 2016 statistics show a 35% jump in reported cases. Together, the Polaris-operated hotlines handled a record 8,042 cases of human trafficking in 2016. The data from the National Human Trafficking Hotline constitute one of the largest data sets on human trafficking for the U.S. Comprehensive case and call data for the U.S., all 50 states, and D.C. are here. Data for the BeFree Textline are here.

Key highlights from the 2016 data from Polaris-operated hotlines for the entire U.S. and international locations include:

Cases of reported human trafficking continue to increase each year, with the most significant increase last year. In 2016, 8,042 cases were reported to the hotlines, which include 7,572 cases to the National Human Trafficking Hotline from within the U.S. and 301 reported cases from overseas, as well as 169 cases reported to the BeFree Textline. This number compares to 5,961 reported cases in 2015. Polaris largely attributes this increase to greater awareness of human trafficking and the National Hotline, especially as more people become aware of its effectiveness in connecting people to a broad range of services. Additionally, more recognition of the various types of sex and labor trafficking serves to better reach and identify specific victim populations.

More survivors than ever reached out for help. The 2016 data reflect the importance of ensuring survivors are aware that help is available so they can actively reach out for options to stay safe. In 2016, 2,042 survivors reached out to the hotlines for help, a 24% increase over the 1,641 survivors who did in 2015. The 2016 data better illuminate how survivors were most often recruited for sex trafficking (through intimate partners, family members, and those posing as benefactors) and labor trafficking (through fraudulent job offers and false promises). Demographic data also show that reported victims were predominantly people of color, and U.S. citizen victims outnumbered foreign nationals.

Reports of labor trafficking to the National Human Trafficking Hotline soared by 47% within the U.S. In 2016, 1,057 labor trafficking cases were reported to the National Hotline, compared to 717 in 2015. The types of labor trafficking most often reported included domestic work, agriculture, and traveling sales crews. Even with this increase, Polaris strongly believes labor trafficking cases in the U.S. are chronically underreported due to a lack of awareness about the issue and a critical lack of recognition of the diverse vulnerability of workers in labor sectors across the U.S. By identifying and effectively targeting the specific sectors and venues where labor exploitation and trafficking occur, more success can be realized with prevention by increasing outreach to specific groups of vulnerable workers.

“Not only did the National Human Trafficking Hotline handle a record number of reported cases and hear directly from more survivors than we ever have before, but the data from the thousands of calls received each month are better illustrating the various types of sex and labor trafficking present in the U.S. The more we are able to target efforts at specific types of trafficking, such as domestic work or sex trafficking in cantinas and bars, the more effective we can be in reaching survivors and preventing exploitation in the first place,” said Bradley Myles, CEO of Polaris.

The National Human Trafficking Hotline (1-888-373-7888) is a confidential, multilingual service that provides survivors of human trafficking with vital support and a variety of options to get help and stay safe. It offers a robust 24/7 infrastructure with highly trained staff able to field crisis calls and report actionable tips to law enforcement. The National Hotline is operated by Polaris and funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and other private donors. Polaris’s BeFree Textline offers the same services via text. Currently, the BeFree Textline operates from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. EST.

“Human trafficking hotlines are lifelines for survivors, providing them with an outlet to be connected with the services and resources they want and need along their long path of recovery. While gaps in services remain, the success of the National Hotline is a reflection of the incredible dedication of our more than 3,100 service provider and trained law enforcement contacts, as well as the agencies and government officials that continue to work tirelessly to help survivors and strengthen a victim-centered safety net,” said Caroline Diemar, National Hotlines Director.

Polaris will be releasing a groundbreaking report on the various types of human trafficking that exist in the U.S. later this spring. Polaris emphasizes that the data are not intended to represent the full scope of human trafficking, but rather the incoming communications received only through the National Human Trafficking Hotline and BeFree Textline. Breakdowns of case data available online are non-cumulative because cases may involve multiple victims, and callers do not always provide specific demographic information.

People can receive help or report a tip of suspected human trafficking by calling the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or by sending a text to Polaris at “BeFree” (233733).

Democratic fundraising email

By now, I’m sure you’ve heard about the executive order on immigration and refugees that the President signed on Friday. It bans Syrian refugees from entering our country, suspends the entire refugee program for 120 days, cuts in half the number of refugees we can admit, and halts all travel from certain Muslim-majority countries.

I felt I had no choice but to speak out against it in the strongest possible terms.

This is a cruel measure that represents a stark departure from America’s core values. We have a proud tradition of sheltering those fleeing violence and persecution, and have always been the world leader in refugee resettlement. As a refugee myself who fled the communist takeover of Czechoslovakia, I personally benefited from this country’s generosity and its tradition of openness. This order would end that tradition, and discriminate against those fleeing a brutal civil war in Syria.

There is no data to support the idea that refugees pose a threat. This policy is based on fear, not facts. The refugee vetting process is robust and thorough. It already consists of over 20 steps, ensuring that refugees are vetted more intensively than any other category of traveler.

The process typically takes 18-24 months, and is conducted while they are still overseas. I am concerned that this order’s attempts at “extreme vetting” will effectively halt our ability to accept anyone at all. When the administration makes wild claims about Syrian refugees pouring over our borders, they are relying on alternative facts — or as I like to call it, fiction.

The truth is that America can simultaneously protect the security of our borders and our citizens and maintain our country’s long tradition of welcoming those who have nowhere else to turn. These goals are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, they are the obligation of a country built by immigrants.

Refugees should not be viewed as a burden or as potential terrorists. They have already made great contributions to our national life. Syrian refugees are learning English, getting good jobs, buying homes, and starting businesses. In other words, they are doing what other generations of refugees — including my own — did. And I have no doubt that, if given the opportunity, they will become an essential part of our American fabric.

By targeting Muslim-majority countries for immigration bans and by expressing a clear preference for refugees who are religious minorities, there’s no question this order is biased against Muslims. And when one faith is targeted, it puts us all at risk.

I will never forget sailing into New York Harbor for the first time and seeing the Statue of Liberty when I came here as a child. It proclaims “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” There is no fine print on the Statue of Liberty, and today she is weeping.

This executive order does not reflect American values. If you agree, make your voice heard now.

Thanks,

Madeleine Albright

Former Secretary of State

Nobody ‘stealing’ your jobs, you spend too much on wars, Alibaba founder tells US

Chinese billionaire and Alibaba founder Jack Ma believes that improper distribution of funds and hyper inflated US military spending, not globalization or other countries “stealing” US jobs, is behind the economic decline in America.

The Chinese business magnate earlier in January met with US President-elect Donald Trump, who has bemoaned the loss of American industry and jobs due to the outsourcing of labor to countries like Mexico and China. Ma, however, has a different view of what is behind the US economic decline.

“Over the past thirty years, the Americans had thirteen wars spending 40.2 trillion dollars,” said Ma, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos. “What if they spent a part of that money on building up the infrastructure, helping the white-collar and the blue-collar workers? No matter how strategically good it is, you’re supposed to spend money on your own people.”

“And the other money which I’m curious about is that when I was young, all I heard about America was Ford and Boeing and those big manufacturing companies. The last 10-20 years, all I heard about is Silicon Valley and Wall Street,” he continued.

“And what happened? The year 2008: the financial crisis wiped out 19.2 trillion dollars in the USA alone and destroyed 34 million jobs globally. So what if the spent on Wall Street and the Middle East was spent on the Mid-West of the United States, developing the industry there? That could change a lot.”

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute , the United States spent $596 billion, or 3.3 percent of its GDP, on military expenditure in 2015, which is higher than any other country in the world. In Ma’s opinion, this is partly responsible for the loss of jobs in America’s Rust Belt.

“So it’s not that other countries steal jobs from you guys, it is your strategy! You do not distribute the money in a proper way,” he summarized.

Ma also expressed the view that overall globalization was a positive thing as it had brought many benefits to both China and the world. However, it should be improved by making more room for small businesses rather than the current system run by the World Trade Organization (WTO), which was developed to protect corporate interests.

“The WTO was great but it was mainly designed for developed countries and big companies. There’s no opportunity for small business. We want to build up an EWTP – an Electronic World Trade Platform – to support young people, small business.”

“And the other thing is that the WTO is a very interesting organization. When you put 200 government officials in one room, ask them to agree on something – it’s impossible! I can never imagine that they agree on something together. Business should be designed by business people, so we believe the EWTP should have businessmen sitting down together, agree on something, negotiate on something, then get endorsement from the government.”

Ma founded Alibaba, one of the world’s largest online retailers and e-commerce platforms, back in 1999. According to Forbes, Ma has a net worth of approximately 27.7 billion dollars, making him the second-richest man in China.

BROWN, PORTMAN, STABENOW INTRODUCE BILL TO SUPPORT U.S. MANUFACTURERS, PROMOTE MORE AMERICAN JOBS

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Rob Portman (R-OH) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) today (March 15) introduced legislation – the Promoting More American Manufacturing Jobs Act – to clarify the domestic manufacturing tax deduction for U.S. manufacturers. The legislation clarifies the intent of Congress in enacting the domestic manufacturing deduction, section 199 of the tax code, to ensure that in contract manufacturing situations, any party to the arrangement that makes a substantial contribution to the manufacture of qualifying goods through its U.S. employees is entitled to claim the deduction.

“When U.S. manufacturers provide American jobs with good benefits, they should be rewarded,” said Brown. “This simple fix will promote job creation by making sure American manufacturers can get the tax deduction they need to grow.”

“This legislation will help ensure our tax code encourages good-paying manufacturing jobs right here in the United States,” said Portman. “The IRS’s interpretation of the section 199 regulations has resulted in unnecessary disputes and litigation between the IRS and contract manufacturers and, as a result, it has diminished the law’s intended purpose of promoting more American manufacturing. This bill will end those disputes so that businesses can get back to focusing on creating more jobs.”

“We don’t have an economy or a middle class unless we make things and grow things,” said Stabenow. “This bill makes a commonsense change to our tax policies that will encourage manufacturers to create more jobs here at home.”

NOTE: Congress added the Domestic Manufacturing Deduction (DMD) to the Internal Revenue Code as part of the 2004 Jobs Act in an effort to encourage U.S. manufacturing and domestic job creation. Application of the DMD to fully integrated manufacturers is relatively clear, however, the IRS has implemented and applied regulations relating to the domestic manufacturing deduction in a manner that does not benefit most U.S. manufacturers that rely on contract manufacturing, even though both types of domestic manufacturers make similar contributions to U.S. job creation. The bill would eliminate the unfair different treatment of manufacturers with vertically integrated and non-vertically integrated supply chains.

Senators Say Nontariff Barriers Make it Tough for Ohio Auto Manufacturers to Compete

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Ahead of President Donald Trump’s meeting with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) told the president that any bilateral trade talks with Japan must focus on securing a commitment from Japan to address trade barriers that leave Ohio’s auto manufacturers at a competitive disadvantage.

“Japan’s auto market is the third largest in the world, but it is also the most closed among developed countries,” said the Senators in the letter. “The U.S.-Japan auto-trade relationship hurts American companies and workers and should be addressed with urgency.”

While foreign autos accounted for only 6.7 percent of Japan’s market share in 2015 as a result of nontariff barriers that make it impossible for foreign automakers to compete, 70 percent of America’s $70 billion annual trade deficit with Japan is related to motor vehicle trade.

Brown and Portman spoke out on behalf of Ohio’s automakers during negotiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in 2015 to urge then-U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman to level the playing field for U.S. automobile manufacturers and workers.

Full text of the letter is available below.

President Donald J. Trump

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We write in advance of your meeting with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. We greatly appreciate the strong and lasting U.S. relationship with our ally. However, we urge you to make Japan’s longstanding unfair trade practices in the auto sector a priority for the bilateral meeting. In particular, we urge you to address currency manipulation and auto-related non-tariff barriers.

Japan’s auto market is the third largest in the world, but it is also the most closed among developed countries. In 2015, foreign autos accounted for only 6.7 percent of Japan’s market share as a result of nontariff barriers that make it impossible for foreign automakers to compete. Currency undervaluation has been one of Japan’s most effective trade barriers. In the last 30 years, Japanese authorities regularly intervened in their currency markets to weaken the value of the yen against the U.S. dollar. In addition, the government has mandated onerous and complex testing and certification procedures for foreign automakers.

The effectiveness of Japan’s unfair practices is clear: America has a nearly $70 billion annual trade deficit with Japan, 70 percent of which is related to motor vehicle trade. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, in 2015 Japan exported over 4.5 million passenger or commercial vehicles globally. Nearly 1.6 million of these units were exported to the United States. In the same year Japan imported 285,000 vehicles, only 20,000 of which came from the United States.

The U.S.-Japan auto-trade relationship hurts American companies and workers and should be addressed with urgency. In any bilateral talks with Japan, the U.S. should secure reform of Japan’s practices that hurt U.S. automakers, including currency manipulation, and achieve significant access to Japan’s auto market.

Thank you for your consideration, and we look forward to working with you on this important matter.

Golf Central Blog by Will Gray — Langer: Trump ‘apologized’ for story mix-up

President Donald Trump called Bernhard Langer to “apologize” for involving the two-time Masters champ in a recent story surrounding potential voter fraud.

“We talked on the phone, and he was very clear … if there was anything that hurt me, he apologized,” Langer told reporters Thursday at the Allianz Championship. “It was fun talking to him briefly, and I thought that’s a great gesture from him because he’s got a lot of other things to be concerned about, not just, you know, this golfer Bernhard Langer.”

Langer’s name was splashed in headlines last month when a New York Times report indicated Langer relayed a story to Trump about witnessing possible fraud while in line to vote during the general election in November.

Langer is a German citizen, and as a permanent resident living in Florida he is not eligible to vote in U.S. elections. He later released a statement explaining that the president didn’t hear the story directly from his mouth.

“I didn’t say anything to the president,” Langer told TCPalm.com. “We never talked. I told a story to a friend, and the friend told the story to another friend, and another friend and another friend. Somewhere down the line, six people later, somebody knew somebody at the White House and that’s how it went, OK?”

Langer is teeing it up near his home in Boca Raton, Fla., in what will be his first PGA Tour Champions start since winning the season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship. He’s ready to return the focus to his on-course performance, but also believes his daughter, Christina, was mis-quoted in the original report when stating that her father is “not a friend of Mr. Trump.”

“I was very disappointed with the article, the way it was written and what happened,” he said. “It’s not the first time, and it may not be the last time because it’s out of my control.”

Senator: Ohioans are Working Too Hard for Too Little, Let’s Do Something about It

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) unveiled a new plan to restore the value of work in America during a speech at The Ohio State University’s Glenn College of Public Affairs today. The plan, entitled, WORKING TOO HARD FOR TOO LITTLE: A Plan for Restoring the Value of Work in America, is available here.

Brown’s plan will make hard work pay off once again by doing four things:

1. Raising workers’ wages and benefits

2. Giving workers more power in the workplace

3. Making it possible for more workers to save for retirement

4. Encouraging more companies to invest in their work forces

“Hard work doesn’t pay off like it used to. Wages and benefits have declined or stagnated for American workers for decades. People earn less, people can’t save for retirement, and people feel less stable – all while working harder and producing more than ever before. We need to update our economic policies, our retirement policies, and our labor laws to reflect today’s reality,” Brown said.

“When I talk about workers, I’m talking about all workers –whether you punch a time sheet or make a salary or earn tips. Whether you’re a contract worker or a temp. Whether you work in a call center or a bank or on a factory floor.

“When we talk about work, we talk to everyone. When we restore value to work, we will make our country a better place for every single American. That’s what this plan aims to do.”

For more than a year, Brown and his office have studied the challenges facing workers in Ohio and across the country and found compiled a comprehensive agenda of solutions.

“We need to change the way we think about the American economy. It’s not businesses who drive the economy – it’s workers. We grow the economy from the middle class out,” Brown said. “If work isn’t valued, Americans can’t earn their way to a better life for their families – no matter how hard they work. And without a strong, growing middle class to consume goods and services, our economy simply can’t grow.”

Brown and his office have been working on this plan since the fall of 2015. Some of the policies outlined in Brown’s plan are new ideas. Others Democrats have talked about before, but they’ve never been laid out as part of a broader agenda to restore the value of work for all Americans.

Over the next several months, Brown will be introducing specific pieces of legislation to implement his plan.

Summary

WORKING TOO HARD FOR TOO LITTLE:

A Plan for Restoring the Value of Work in America

Read the complete plan here.

1. Raise workers’ wages and benefits:

· Raise the federal minimum wage to $15.

· Pay overtime to executive, administrative, and professional workers making less than $47,476.

· Make sure workers are able to earn up to seven paid sick days.

· Establish 12-weeks of paid family and medical leave through a national paid leave fund.

2. Give workers more power in the workplace:

· Provide workers in key service sectors with advanced notice of their schedules.

· Expand collective bargaining rights to give workers a stronger voice in the workplace.

· Redefine what it means to be an independent contractor by preventing large employers from using the independent contractor classification to get around labor laws and boost profits. Specifically, require employers with more than 500 independent contractors and $7.5 million in annual receipts to pay employer payroll taxes for independent contractors.

· Crack down on wage theft. Wage theft can take many forms, including: forcing people to work off the clock, refusing to pay workers the minimum wage, denying workers overtime pay even after working more than 40 hours a week, stealing workers’ tips, or knowingly misclassifying workers to avoid paying fair wages.

· Fight back against employers who misclassify workers as independent contractors to avoid paying taxes and fair wages by strengthening IRS enforcement authority.

3. Make it possible for more workers to save for retirement:

· Expand access to retirement programs for part-time workers, low-wage workers, and small business owners.

· Create better retirement savings opportunities for independent contractors.

· Give workers a tax credit to match their retirement contributions.

4. Encourage companies to invest in their workforces:

· Require corporate freeloaders to reimburse taxpayers when their employees have to rely on federal assistance programs because their wages are too low.

· Give companies a tax break when they commit to staying in the U.S., hiring in the U.S., and providing good wages and fair benefits for their workers.

Claim your “Don’t tread on me” flag today

Fellow Conservative,

You’re running out of time to claim your reserved Gadsden flag!

Due to the heavy demand, I can only reserve your Gadsden flag for 7 more days before I have to offer it to another conservative.

With this flag, you tell the Washington establishment — “Don’t Tread on Me.”

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Best,

Jim DeMint

President

The Heritage Foundation

Teaching Tolerance Initiative Inspires Students to Write Donald Trump

Students Across America Offer Advice; Teachers Call for Trump to Set Example

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Days before Donald Trump took office as the 45th president of the United States, hundreds of students across America offered advice to the president-elect as part of an initiative by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance project.

The #StudentsSpeak initiative, launched in November after the highly divisive presidential election, encouraged teachers to ask students in grades K-12 to submit their advice to the president-elect. Students responded with essays, letters, drawings and other art – and shared it all on social media. Teaching Tolerance mailed more than 1,000 submissions to the president-elect. The submissions are expected to be delivered to Trump Tower in New York City this week.

“We wanted students to know that even though most of them were unable to vote in the presidential election, they can still make their voices heard,” said Teaching Tolerance Director Maureen Costello. “The #StudentsSpeak initiative offered a productive way for students to share their thoughts with the new president. It was also an opportunity for students to process their emotions after a contentious election that affected children as well as adults.”

Many students advised Trump to choose his words carefully before speaking. They also encouraged the president-elect to use the power of the presidency to better the country for everyone. A compilation of student submissions can be viewed on Facebook.

Here are a few examples of what the students had to say:

  • “The advice I would [give] to President-elect Trump: Think before you speak because you can really hurt people.”
  • “My advice would be to not have your actions only be based on how you live your life but how everyone else lives theirs. You have to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. You have to realize that every one of your actions can affect so many people’s lives in a major way.”
  • “My advice to [P]resident-elect Trump is to not hang with racists and not build a wall between America and Mexico.”
  • “Please make America a place where girls can walk around not afraid.”
  • “Use the power of your role in this nation to better it and to eliminate the sense of separation in the world. To create a country where we can really say we are free. After all, your slogan is to make America great again. And I believe many people would love to see that happen.”

The election also inspired three winners of the 2016 Teaching Tolerance Award for Excellence in Teaching to write a letter to the president-elect. The teachers called on Trump to “be a president for all Americans.”

“Our students represent the great breadth of diversity in this nation, and each student should feel valued, welcomed and loved,” they wrote. “Comments and actions that undermine our commitment to equity and inclusion are and always will be swiftly condemned and reversed. We hope our classrooms can serve as models for our nation at large. We hope that you, too, will set an example for the people of our nation.”

The educators also encouraged Trump and his administration to engage educators in a productive dialogue about how the nation can move forward and support all children. A video of the teachers reading the letter aloud can be viewed at: http://www.tolerance.org/blog/dear-president-elect-trump.

In late November, Teaching Tolerance reported that 90 percent of educators who responded to its online survey about the impact of the presidential election on schools said that their school’s climate has been negatively affected by it. Eighty percent described heightened anxiety and concern among minority students.

The report, After Election Day, The Trump Effect, also found an increase in the use of slurs and derogatory language, along with disturbing incidents involving swastikas, Nazi salutes and Confederate flags. More than 2,500 teachers said they knew of fights, threats, assaults and other incidents that could be traced directly to election rhetoric.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, based in Alabama with offices in Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi, is a nonprofit civil rights organization dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry, and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of society. For more information, see www.splcenter.org.

New legislation spells out reforms that would make payday lending fair and affordable in Ohio

Reps. Koehler and Ashford say sensible changes would save residents tens of millions of dollars annually and have strong public support; Ohio groups support efforts and join growing statewide momentum for reform

COLUMBUS — State lawmakers Kyle Koehler (R-Springfield) and Mike Ashford (D-Toledo) today (March 8) introduced legislation to reform a payday lending market that charges the highest rates in the nation, drains money from the state’s economy and harms Ohio consumers.

The legislation has the support of a growing grassroots coalition of Ohio consumer, business, veterans and faith groups. Supporters include the Ohio Job & Family Services Directors Association, Ohio Council of Churches, Catholic Conference of Ohio, Ohio Poverty Law Center, Franklin County Veterans Service Commission, Central Ohio Fair Housing Association and Ohio CDC Association.

“Our proposed reforms would bring stratospheric borrowing costs back down to earth from their hyper-inflated current levels,” Rep. Koehler said. “These adjustments are long overdue. They will help our state’s hard-working consumers using a proven model that will still preserve access to credit in Ohio.”

More than a million Ohioans have taken out high-cost payday loans. Ohio today has the highest payday loan rates in the nation—an average annual percentage rate (APR) of 591%. A typical Ohioan who has a $300 payday loan out for five months must pay back more than double the amount ($680) in interest and fees alone.

The legislation introduced today makes loans affordable by ensuring monthly payments do not exceed 5% of a borrower’s gross monthly income. The bill also sets a maximum on how much payday lenders can charge, limiting the annual interest rate to 28% plus monthly fees of 5% on the first $400 loaned, or $20 maximum.

Rep. Ashford said the legislation will ease financial hardships on Ohio families. “Unfortunately, many payday lenders are geared toward taking advantage of households that are living paycheck-to-paycheck,” Ashford said. “For too many families, this makes it impossible to pay off the 591 percent loans and, as a result, Ohioans are living behind the financial eight ball for a long time. We hope to change that with this legislation.”

Added Carl Ruby, Senior Pastor, Central Christian Church, Springfield, and Director for the Ohio Coalition of Faith Leaders for Lending Reform, “Now is the time for us to end practices that prey upon the most vulnerable members of our communities. I, and many other faith leaders from across Ohio, strongly support this bill because it ends practices that price-gouge families, trapping them in long cycles of debt.” Ruby is one of the founders of Ohioans for Payday Loan Reform, the growing statewide coalition.

A number of veterans’ service groups have voiced support of reform efforts, noting that veterans who can’t pay off payday loans have turned to them for help. “Many of the veterans we assist at the commission find themselves trapped into a cycle of borrowing money that has no easy exit and can be very expensive,’’ said Robert C. Bramlish, executive director of the Franklin County Veterans Service Commission. “We are hopeful that today’s proposed legislation will result in reasonable lending programs that provide relief to financially challenged veterans as well as all Ohio citizens.’’

Rick Williams, President & CEO of the Home Ownership Center of Greater Cincinnati, said, “We need to increase all Ohio residents’ financial independence. That simply can’t happen for people who are caught in an expensive payday loan cycle. Let’s provide them a more fair, transparent product that they can pay off in a reasonable amount of time.’’

Brown’s Bill Would Fix Current Policy that Forces Seniors – simply based on their hospital status – to Pay for Care that Medicare Should Cover

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) reintroduced legislation to update a current loophole in Medicare policy that would help protect seniors from high medical costs for the skilled nursing care they require after hospitalization. The Improving Access to Medicare Coverage Act, would allow for the time patients spend in the hospital under “observation status” to count toward the requisite three-day hospital stay for coverage of skilled nursing care.

Under the current Medicare policy, a beneficiary must have an “inpatient” hospital stay of at least three days in order for Medicare to cover post-hospitalization skilled nursing care. Patients that receive hospital care under “observation status” do not qualify for this benefit, even if their hospital stay lasts longer than three days.

“Seniors should be able to focus on their recovery instead of billing technicalities and sky high medical bills, or worse yet – trying to recover without the medical care they need because they can’t afford it,” said Brown. “This legislation would improve access to the medical care seniors need, and saves money on hospital readmission costs. It’s a simple fix and the least we can do to protect our seniors from outrageous medical costs that they have no control over.”

Specifically, Brown’s bill would:

· Amend Medicare law to count a beneficiary’s time spent in the hospital on “observation status” towards the three-day hospital stay requirement for skilled nursing care; and

· Establish a 90-day appeal period following passage for those that have a qualifying hospital stay and have been denied skilled nursing care after January 1, 2017.

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), outpatient classification is intended for providers to run tests and evaluate patients in order to arrive at appropriate diagnoses and treatment plans, or to provide brief episodes of treatment. In a December 2016 report, the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services found that an increased number of Medicare beneficiaries classified as outpatients are paying more for care that is substantively similar, and have limited access to skilled nursing facility care due to their patient status. For the purposes of counting inpatient days, CMS considers a person an “inpatient” on the first day that the patient is formally admitted to the hospital because of a doctor’s order; the last is the day before discharge.

Joining Brown on a conference call to discuss the importance of passing this legislation was Edie Horvat, of Lakewood, whose 90 year old mother was ambulanced to the emergency room and subsequently had to stay in the hospital for four nights. But because she was under “observation status,” Medicare wouldn’t pay for the necessary nursing home care she received after discharge.

“After my mother was sent to the hospital by ambulance for intense pain, the hospital kept her under observation status for four nights. When she was released from the hospital, we soon discovered that the nursing home care she needed was not covered under Medicare. This legislation is important so that patients like my mother can get the care they need without worrying about the high cost of the medical care they require,” said Horvat.

The Improving Access to Medicare Coverage Act has been endorsed by more than 30 organizations, including: AARP, Alliance for Retired Americans, American Case Management Association, American Health Care Association, AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine, Center for Medicare Advocacy, LeadingAge, National Association of Elder Law Attorneys, National Association of State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Programs, National Center for Assisted Living, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care, and the Society of Hospital Medicine.

Anti-union legislation

Right now, Congress is working on two bills that attack the union rights of our Federal Employee sisters and brothers. We need your help to stop these bills from getting to Donald Trump’s desk! These bills represent some of the most extreme union-busting, pension-stealing bills we’ve seen from this Congress.

These attacks focus on “official time,” one of American Federal Government Employees (AFGE) core union rights that allow them to help employees get fair representation in workplace disputes. Anti-government employee lawmakers are trying to rush through bills that limit their union rights and silence their voice in the workplace. This is nothing more than union busting from our elected officials.

Here’s what you need to know about H.R. 1364, the Government-wide Anti-Union Representation Bill:

It eliminates the use of official time for union purposes.

It revokes AFGE’s ability to stand up for workers who have been wrongfully fired, disciplined, harassed or intimidated

It steals the pension of any federal worker who exceeds a limited amount of time spent representing employees who have been disciplined, harassed, or intimidated

Wait until you hear about H.R. 1259, the VA Anti-Union Representation Bill:

This bill takes away all grievance rights for workers facing a removal, demotion or suspension

It gives agency officials the power to take back compensation workers have already earned

The bill gives management the upper-hand by radically shortening the time unfairly fired VA workers can prepare their case

Please call 1-855-976-5397 and urge your Congressperson to oppose both H.R.1364 and H.R. 1259. Encourage them to focus on creating good jobs, not attack the basic rights of working people.

We must continue to work together to stop attacks on worker’s rights. When labor comes together, there is not stronger political force. After all, it was us that stopped the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and now we need to join together again to stop these attacks on our federal workers.

In solidarity,

Tim Burga, President

Ohio AFL-CIO

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Staff Reports