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Manatees at Fort Myers

Manatees at Fort Myers


On Saturday, April 1, Vice President Mike Pence traveled to Columbus, Ohio to hear from small business owners and local job creators. The Vice President will speak with business leaders convening at DynaLab, Inc., an American owned-and-operated electronic manufacturing services company. Following the listening session and a tour of the facility, the Vice President will conclude his visit with formal remarks.

Vice President Mike Pence participated in a listening session and gave remarks in Columbus, Ohio. Saturday, April 1, 2017. Dynalab, Inc., 555 Lancaster Avenue, Reynoldsburg, OH 43068.

Secretary Husted Announces April as “Powering Ohio” Month.

COLUMBUS– Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted today announced the Ohio Business Profile program will feature businesses that help power Ohio throughout the month of April.

Ohioans daily rely on many different power sources including, coal, natural gas, nuclear power, petroleum and renewable energy. The state’s natural gas and crude oil industry provides over 193,000 direct and indirect jobs each year and is responsible for more than $700 million a year in Ohio salaries.

“How we power Ohio is important to all of our lives,” Secretary Husted said. “From the car we drive, to the home we heat and the business we work at, a reliable supply of energy is important to every aspect of our lives.”

Companies profiled this month include:

  • Marathon Petroleum Corporation (Findlay, Ohio) is the nation’s third-largest refiner, with a crude oil refining capacity of approximately 1.8 million barrels per day. Marathon brand gasoline is sold through approximately 5,500 independently owned retail outlets across 19 states.
  • The Dayton Power and Light Company (Dayton, Ohio) is an electric utility that serves 515,000 customers with a service territory spanning 6,000 square miles in 24 counties across west central Ohio.
  • Suburban Natural Gas Company (Lewis Center, Ohio) serves residential, commercial and industrial natural gas customers in central and northwest Ohio.
  • Creekwood Energy (Cincinnati, Ohio) focuses on advancing their client’s transition to a clean energy economy. They believe energy customers should be able to reduce environmental impacts while improving financial results.
  • Duck Creek Energy, Inc. (Brecksville, Ohio) started in 1983 and has successfully drilled over 150 wells throughout northeast Ohio. They are committed to finding and developing local natural gas and oil to help reduce Ohio and America’s dependence on foreign energy.
  • Powers Oil and Propane Company (Alliance, Ohio) is an independent fuel and propane company specializing in the delivery of heating oil, propane, gasoline, racing fuels, lubricants and diesel fuels.
  • IGS Energy (Dublin, Ohio) is a leading provider of retail energy supply, home services products, distributed generation, and compressed natural gas services. With over 25 years of experience, the company leverages extensive in-house expertise to bring innovation to the energy industry.
  • Prism Propane (North Baltimore, Ohio) offers environmentally clean propane gas services including commercial heating, forklift cylinders and autogas fueling.
  • Hancock-Wood Electric Cooperative (North Baltimore, Ohio) is an electric distribution cooperative that services Hancock and Wood counties. Their goal is to provide quality services and economically-priced electricity.
  • Ohio Gas Company (Bryan, Ohio) is a natural gas service that started in 1914 and currently employees 80 people. They provide gas service to approximately 48,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in northwest Ohio.
  • ARP Solar (Stewart, Ohio) started in 2008 and is committed to providing high quality solar systems that will give years of trouble free, clean power and lessen the dependence on foreign sources of energy.

From 2010 to 2016, Ohio saw a 30.8 percent increase in the number of newly-registered businesses with 2016 being the seventh-consecutive record-breaking year for new businesses in the state.

Since taking office in 2011, Secretary Husted has made it a priority to offer better services to Ohio entrepreneurs and businesses at a lower cost. In 2013, he launched the Ohio Business Central, which allows businesses to be created online with a significantly quicker turnaround time. This efficiency allowed the state to cut the fees associated with starting a new business by 21 percent in 2015. That same year, Secretary Husted began a partnership with Google’s “Let’s Put Our Cities on the Map” program making it easy for new businesses to access free tools to help them get off the ground.

Ohio Business Profile was launched in 2011 making people aware of Ohio companies that are creating interesting products, offering outstanding service, contributing to their local communities and employing Ohioans in the process. Each month, a handful of diverse businesses linked together by a common theme are featured on the Secretary of State’s website, where Ohioans are encouraged to submit companies they feel are deserving of recognition in future months.

Ohio Officials Encouraged by Police Standards Participation

March 30, 2017

By Kantele Franko and Dan Sewell

Associated Press

The state’s first standards for police department on use of deadly force, body cameras, hiring and other issues soon will have been adopted by more than 500 agencies, officials said Thursday.

State officials said those agencies employ more than 27,000 officers — nearly 80 percent of those in Ohio — and include departments in Akron, Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton and Toledo, as well as the State Highway Patrol. A report to be released Friday says 506 of 877 law enforcement agencies are participating.

The standards aimed at building trust between police and their communities were created by an advisory board commissioned by Gov. John Kasich after a series of fatal police shootings, including the 2014 death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland.

Nina Turner, co-chair of the Ohio Collaborative and a former Democratic state senator from Cleveland, and John Born, co-chair and head of the Department of Public Safety, said Thursday the certification report is a landmark for progress in bridging police-community trust gaps, with more work ahead.

“I’m very proud of what we have accomplished today, knowing very full well that this is the beginning and not an end,” Turner said.

Ohio Limits Opioid Prescriptions to Just Seven Days

March 30, 2017

By Corky Siemaszko, NBC News

The Ohio governor unveiled a plan Thursday that targets the place where experts say many opioid addictions begin — the doctor’s office.

Gov. John Kasich’s order limits the amount of opiates primary care physicians and dentists can prescribe to no more than seven days for adults and five days for minors.

In addition to the pill limits, Kasich said the new rules require doctors to provide a specific diagnosis and procedure code for every painkiller prescription they write.

And Kasich warned that doctors who don’t follow the rules will lose their licenses.

Advanced energy standards repeal threatens jobs, growth, stability

COLUMBUS— House Democratic lawmakers today (March 30) criticized the passage of House Bill (HB) 114, saying legislation that changes the state’s advanced energy standards to unenforceable “goals” will harm consumers and jeopardize thousands of manufacturing and development jobs in Ohio’s advanced energy industry and other industries that increasingly want and rely on advanced energy sources.

“If Ohio’s economy is on the ‘verge of a recession,’ as the governor has claimed, rolling back state renewable energy standards will threaten future job growth and could harm consumers, workers and the environment,” said House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton). “Advanced energy technologies are helping create the manufacturing jobs of the future, and we would be wise to invest now to become a leader of this emerging industry instead of falling behind the rest of the nation.”

The nation and world’s leading companies are increasingly turning to advanced energy sources to power their businesses. On Tuesday, global home furnishing retailer Ikea announced it has completed a 213,000 square foot solar array on its soon-to-open store in central Ohio, one of the largest such arrays in the state.

“We owe it to future Ohioans to make sure we leave behind a state that is thriving, healthy and safe,” said Rep. Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron). “Rolling back the opportunity to be a leader in the emerging renewable energy industry is not only harmful to our environment but also our economy.”

Some of the largest corporate brands – including Apple, Coca-Cola Enterprises, Facebook, General Motors, Google, Microsoft, Nike, Cincinnati-based Proctor & Gamble, Starbucks, Walmart and more – have all publicly pledged to procure 100 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by a certain date in the near future.

“If we really care about job creation and positioning Ohio for a 21st century economy, then we should promote such a vision and plan – but HB 114 does nothing of the sort,” said Rep. John Patterson (D-Jefferson). “I cannot support a bill that impedes the creation of new jobs and endangers the environment for our people and our children.”

Amazon Web Services, Inc., an Amazon.com subsidiary, recently announced plans to build a $300 million wind farm in Hardin County, Ohio, in addition to their 100-megawatt wind farm in nearby Paulding County that is expected to start producing electricity this May.

“This legislation threatens thousands of current and future jobs in the renewable energy industry, including jobs connected to wind-power projects here in Northwest Ohio,” said Rep. Michael Sheehy (D-Oregon). “HB 114 will hurt consumers, workers and the economy by squandering Ohio’s opportunity to be an advanced energy leader in the 21st century.”

In addition to changing the state’s energy efficiency standards to goals, HB 114 also allows corporations to bypass additional charges on Ohio consumers from utility companies designed to recoup the cost of advanced energy.

“This legislation takes Ohio backwards rather than advancing 21st century innovation and puts job growth and the environment at a disadvantage,” said Rep. Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood). “The biggest losers with this bill are the people of Ohio.”

Ohio’s energy efficiency standards were originally passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in 2008. According to various reports, the standards have since saved consumers over $1 billion in energy costs, helped create thousands of jobs in the state’s advanced energy industry, and were on track to reduce an estimated 23 million tons of annual carbon pollution by 2029, helping prevent thousands of lost work days, asthma attacks, heart attacks and premature deaths. Just this week, a new report showed that Ohio gained more than 1,000 jobs related to solar power alone in 2016, though that rate of growth ranks slightly below the national average.

“This is our time, and this is our moment,” said Rep. David Leland (D-Columbus). “We are the first generation to understand the human causes of climate change – and the last generation to be able to stop it.”

Due to the state energy efficiency standards, Ohio had an opportunity to position itself as a leader in the burgeoning renewable energy industry. Roughly 7,200 businesses and approximately 89,000 workers are directly employed in Ohio’s clean energy sector.

Here is what other Democratic lawmakers are saying about House Bill 114:

“If the Department of Defense – the nation’s largest consumer of energy – is expanding the use of renewable energy systems to save our soldiers’ lives by utilizing on-the-go solar panels and electricity-generating backpacks to cut down on refueling trips to the battlefield; if Michigan, the home of the Wolverines, can hit their 10 percent level of renewable energy – why can’t Ohio?” said Rep. Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights). “I oppose HB 114 and the Republican majority’s desire to set Ohio’s energy standards back even further.”

“The passage of HB 114 and repealing of Ohio’s energy standard sends the message that Ohio is not interested in creating new jobs and attracting businesses to Ohio,” said Rep. Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus). “As other states continue to surpass their standards we have instead chosen to take a step backwards. This is a huge disservice to our economy, our environment, our public health and our national security.”

“In the Mahoning Valley in general and Youngstown in particular, we’ve seen first-hand the ways in which innovation, research and development can drive economic growth and job creation,” said Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown). “Now, unfortunately and inexplicably, Republicans lawmakers want us to walk away from one of the most vibrant and exciting industries of the 21st century – an industry that will drive economic growth, provide our universities an opportunity to monetize their advanced energy technology research, create good jobs and save consumers billions of dollars, all while protecting our environment. Here’s the bottom line: HB 114 isn’t just bad policy, it’s pure folly.”

Secretary Zinke accepts President Trump’s first-quarter presidential salary as donation for National Park Service. $78,333 to be put towards maintenance of historic battlefields.

WASHINGTON – Today (April 3), President Donald J. Trump donated his first quarter salary to the National Parks Service (NPS) to help fund the maintenance backlog in America’s historic battlefields. The donation, totaling $78,333, was accepted by Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke and Harpers Ferry National Historical Park Superintendent Tyrone Brandyburg at the daily White House Press briefing.

“President Trump is dedicated to our veterans, our public lands, and keeping his promises, and by donating his salary to the National Park Service to repair our historic battlefields proves his commitment,” Secretary Zinke said. “These historic places tell the story of conflicts that helped shape our country’s history, and they also honor the many men and women who have given their lives in service of this great nation. I’m honored to help the president carry out his love and appreciation for our warriors and land.”

There are 25 sites across the National Park Service that are classified as National Battlefields, National Battlefield Parks, National Military Parks and National Battlefield Sites. Antietam National Battlefield in Maryland, which commemorates the battle that led to President Abraham Lincoln’s issuance of the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, saw over 350,000 visits last year. Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania, where the bloodiest battle of the Civil War took place, saw over 1 million visits in 2016.

“The National Park Service is proud and deeply honored by President Trump’s donation to support the preservation of battlefields in the National Park System,” said Acting National Park Service Director Michael T. Reynolds. “Philanthropy has been essential to the National Park Service’s mission since its establishment, and this notable contribution will enable the National Park Service to share these remarkable places with more visitors for generations to come.”

Since being confirmed, Secretary Zinke has made it clear that addressing the $12 billion in deferred maintenance across the National Park Service, which includes $229 million for battlefield sites, is one of the top priorities at the Department.

Rep. Tiberi Op-Ed in The Hill: Republicans are Fighting for Patient-Centered Care.

By Rep. Pat Tiberi, Chairman of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health

The Hill, March 22, 2017

ObamaCare is riddled with broken promises and it is causing real pain for Americans across the country. In 2009, Democrats said it would lower costs and provide reliable care. However, for the past seven years, patients have lost access to their doctors and we continue to feel the sticker shock of rising premiums and deductibles.

In my own state of Ohio, our premiums on the individual market increased by double-digits this year. Our CO-OP collapsed in 2016 and more than 20,000 people suddenly lost their coverage. Today, 20 of our counties only have one insurer participating in the exchanges, meaning many individuals and families have one expensive option that may or may not accept their doctor.

These problems aren’t unique to the Buckeye State. Nationally, premiums increased on average by 25 percent on the exchanges this year. Billions of taxpayer dollars have been wasted on ObamaCare’s 17 other failed CO-OPs. Thirty-four percent fewer doctors and other providers accept ObamaCare insurance compared to private insurance. And according to data compiled by the Joint Economic Committee, 41 percent of ObamaCare plans have small or extra-small doctor networks.

How did we get here? The answer is Democrats wrote ObamaCare with a Washington-knows-best mentality. Then they voted and fought to keep it that way.

For instance, when ObamaCare’s CO-OPs collapsed, thousands of consumers’ healthcare coverage was disrupted, leaving them little time to find a new plan before being forced to pay a tax penalty under the individual mandate. To right this wrong, Rep. Adrian Smith (R-Neb.) introduced the CO-OP Consumer Protection Act to exempt these consumers from this unfair tax penalty after they lost coverage by no fault of their own. It passed the House on Sept. 27, 2016, with unanimous Republican support. However, 165 Democrats voted against it and President Obama threatened to veto it.

This is just one example of many where Democrats ignored the real impact of their broken promises to protect ObamaCare’s failed mandate that forced people to purchase unreliable coverage.

Right now the ObamaCare exchanges are failing, and I understand the anxiety that people must feel. When I was in high school in Columbus, Ohio, my family lost our healthcare insurance because my dad lost his job as a steelworker. That is why I agree with President Trump who said, “Action on ObamaCare is an urgent necessity.” Americans need to find certainty in a system that won’t leave them empty-handed with nowhere to turn.

With the president’s support, we are taking a dramatically different approach to put patients and families first. Our repeal and replace plan, the American Health Care Act, advances reforms to provide urgent relief from ObamaCare, lays the ground work for a 21st century healthcare system with lower costs and more choices, and gives people the right tools to access high-quality, affordable and reliable care.

The American Health Care Act eliminates the individual and employer mandate penalties so that people will no longer be forced to purchase Washington-approved plans through a government-run exchange. It also drives down costs by dismantling the more than $1 trillion tax hike that ObamaCare imposed on families, job creators and health care providers.

To empower people to spend their healthcare dollars the way they want and need, it expands allowed contributions to Health Savings Accounts. In addition, it provides Americans who do not receive insurance through work or a government program with an advanceable, refundable tax credit so they can purchase a plan that’s right for them.

ObamaCare added a tangled mess of bureaucracy, mandates and taxes to our health care system. It created a disastrous, unworkable knot that is impossible to untangle in just one step. That is why we are taking a deliberate, multi-step approach to carefully transition to a patient-centered system where every American can access quality care at a cost they can afford.

The first step is with the American Health Care Act. The second is through administrative actions that Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price can take to stabilize the health care market and give states additional flexibility to meet the needs of their communities. The third and final step is the passage of other bills Congress must consider to restore the free market and further decrease costs, like allowing insurance to be sold across state lines.

Americans deserve a healthcare system that isn’t driven by Washington mandates. They deserve more choices, more freedom and better access to the care they need. That is why Republicans are moving forward with our plan for reform that starts with repealing ObamaCare in the American Health Care Act. Unlike the Democrats who empowered Washington, we are focused on putting power back in people’s hands— and it is time that we deliver.

Rep. Tiberi represents Ohio’s 12th District. He is the chairman of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health.

Getting the Brush-off on Health. My member of Congress said he’d rather talk about health care privately. I took him up on it — and was disappointed.

By Jazz Glastra

Guest Columnist (March 8, 2017)

The Republicans just introduced a new plan to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, or ACA — aka Obamacare. The roll-out came after many members of Congress caught an earful from constituents trying to stop them.

Although I’ve voted for people in both parties in the past, I wanted to be one of them.

Residents in my central Ohio district started a petition in early January calling for our member, Republican Pat Tiberi, to hold a town hall to discuss the issue. After all, he’s the chair of the House Subcommittee on Health.

The petition quickly garnered over 1,000 signatures, but Tiberi refused to hold a public event, claiming they’re “unproductive.” Fair enough: I can see how it might be hard to have a discussion about complex issues in a hall filled to the brim with angry constituents.

So I decided to take Tiberi up on his offer to meet with constituents privately instead. When I arrived at his district office, I was surprised to find that eight other people had also been scheduled for the same time. It turned out that all of us were there to discuss the ACA.

Person after person shared gut-wrenching stories.

One woman was unable to find an insurer to cover her small business and its employees because of her Type 1 diabetes. Thanks to Obamacare, she was able to get coverage that’s affordable and life-saving.

A young woman recovering from cancer explained how, before Obamacare, her diagnosis prevented the entire company she worked for from changing insurers because the new insurer wouldn’t accept her “preexisting condition.”

Another woman with breast cancer explained that if it weren’t for the subsidized health insurance she received through the Obamacare exchange, she might not be here today.

My own story is much less dramatic — without the ACA, I never could’ve afforded to pursue my chosen career path in the nonprofit sector. Luckily, the ability to stay on my parents’ insurance for a few years after college gave me the security I needed to take a risk on a low-paying but highly rewarding job that kick-started my career.

While Tiberi started out the meeting by declaring that he was “there to listen,” I left disappointed by how he treated our group. Not once during the entire meeting did he allow someone to finish speaking without interrupting to “give them the other side of the story.”

For many of the people in the room, Obamacare was literally the difference between life and death. Unfortunately, Tiberi only wanted to talk about how premiums are going up and in some places there aren’t enough coverage options.

To be sure, these are real problems that need fixing. But how can you look a breast cancer survivor in the eye and tell her the law that saved her life needs to be thrown out because it’s costing someone too much money?

My meeting with Tiberi took place well before Republicans released their Obamacare replacement plans, but even then Tiberi agreed that he doesn’t want to go back to 2009, when 20 million fewer people had health insurance.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what’s going to happen to many people under the Republicans’ plan. That includes low-income patients on Medicaid and people who are young but have serious health conditions, like the woman at my meeting.

Someone recently asked me whether I consider myself a liberal or a conservative on healthcare. But what does that even mean?

We all want the same thing: affordable coverage we can actually use, lower costs, and a healthier population. I don’t think the ACA achieved all of these goals, but getting coverage for over 20 million people was a huge step in the right direction.

Why tear down years of progress and start from scratch when we can simply fix what we have?

Jazz Glastra leads a nonprofit organization in Central Ohio. Distributed by OtherWords.org.

ON EQUAL PAY DAY, BROWN REINTRODUCES bill to end PAY discrimination. Ohio Women Employed Full Time are Paid Just 75 Cents for Every Dollar Paid to Men. The Paycheck Fairness Act Would Prevent Pay Discrimination Based on Gender.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Equal Pay Day (April 4), U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) reintroduced legislation that would put an end to pay discrimination based on gender. The Paycheck Fairness Act would close loopholes that allow women to continue to be paid less than men. Ohio women are paid only 75 percent of what their male counterparts earn. Nationwide, women earn 80 percent of what men make.

“We cannot allow Ohio women to be cheated out of wages they’ve earned,” said Brown. “It hurts working families and our economy when women earn less than men for the same job.”

To address this gap, Sen. Brown supports the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would strengthen the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and help women fight wage discrimination by:

· Prohibiting employers from retaliating against workers who discuss their salaries with their colleagues;

· Making gender-based discrimination equal to other forms of wage discrimination, and allowing women to take legal action for damages;

· Requiring employers to prove that pay differences exist for legitimate reasons such as education, training, and experience;

· Creating a negotiation skills training program for women and girls;

· Establishing the Secretary of Labor’s National Award for Pay Equity in the Workplace for an employer who has made a substantial effort to eliminate pay disparities between men and women;

· Providing small businesses and other businesses assistance with equal pay practices; and

· Enhancing the ability of the Department of Labor and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to investigate and enforce pay discrimination laws.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017


WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) issued the following statement after the House and Senate voted to get rid of online privacy protections set to take effect this year. This action will mean internet providers will be able to track the online habits of their customers without their permission and sell the information to advertisers.

“These rules were meant to protect consumers from having their personal data shared without their permission. Ohioans pay for internet services and it’s just wrong to allow corporations to make even more money off of consumers by tracking and selling their private information.”


If Signed by President Trump, Law would Throw Out Protections that Prevents Sale of Ohioans’ Most Sensitive Personal Data Without Their Knowledge or Consent

Data Protected Under The Rule Includes Social Security Number, Email Contents, Web Browsing History, Precise Geo-Location, Application Usage, Data About a Consumer’s Health And Finances, And Even Data About Their Children

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today (March 30) joined a letter with Senate Democrats to President Trump urging him to veto a resolution – passed by both the House and the Senate this week – that would undo consumer privacy rules enacted by the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) designed to prohibit internet service providers from selling or sharing the sensitive personal data of their customers without first obtaining a consumer’s permission. The letter – signed by 46 Senate Democrats – notes that, if the resolution is signed into law, a consumer’s most sensitive personal data stored on personal computers and cell phones such as browser history, one’s Social Security Number, email contents, precise geo-location and more, could be sold to the highest bidder without their consent or knowledge.

Brown spoke out against reversing this rule earlier this week.

The full text of the letter is available below.

Dear Mr. President:

We write today to urge a swift veto of S.J.Res. 34, a resolution that would rescind the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) broadband privacy rules. This legislation will seriously undermine the privacy protections of the overwhelming majority of Americans who believe that their private information should be just that – private – and not for sale without their knowledge.

The rules that this legislation would undo were enacted by the FCC in order to prohibit internet service providers (ISPs) from selling or sharing the sensitive personal data of their customers without first obtaining consent. The data protected under the rule includes information such as one’s social security number, email contents, web browsing history, precise geo-location, application usage, data about consumer’s health and finances, and even data about their children. In deeming this sort of information as sensitive, and requiring explicit opt-in consent before it can be shared, the FCC sent a clear message that the choice should be in the hands of consumers – not the broadband providers.

The FCC’s rules were finalized following a lengthy and transparent rulemaking process where members of the public were able to review the rules and submitted more than 250,000 comments, letters, and filings. S.J.Res. 34, which the Republicans hastily pushed through in the past few days, will not only undo this transparent process, it will prevent the FCC from ever reinstating similar consumer privacy protections in the future. As a result, broadband providers have free rein to share user data without first receiving consent or even notifying consumers.

Reversing these landmark privacy protections would be the antithesis of a pro-consumer Administration. Accordingly, we respectfully urge you to veto S.J.Res. 34 and make sure that the broadband privacy protections stay intact. Consumers deserve the right to make their own decisions about access, use, and sale of their personal, sensitive internet data by their broadband provider.


Tammy Baldwin (D-WI); Michael Bennet (D-CO); Richard Blumenthal (D-CT); Cory Booker (D-NJ); Sherrod Brown (D-OH); Maria Cantwell (D-WA); Ben Cardin (D-MD); Thomas Carper (D-DE); Robert Casey (D-PA); Chris Coons (D-DE); Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV); Joe Donnelly (D-IN); Tammy Duckworth (D-IL); Richard Durbin (D-IL); Dianne Feinstein (D-CA); Al Franken (D-MN); Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY); Kamala Harris (D-CA); Maggie Hassan (D-NH); Martin Heinrich (D-NM); Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND); Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI); Tim Kaine (D-VA); Angus King (I-ME); Amy Klobuchar (D-MN); Patrick Leahy (D-VT); Claire McCaskill (D-MO); Edward Markey (D-MA); Robert Menendez (D-NJ); Jeff Merkley (D-OR); Chris Murphy (D-CT); Patty Murray (D-WA); Bill Nelson (D-FL); Gary Peters (D-MI); Jack Reed (D-RI); Bernie Sanders (I-VT); Brian Schatz (D-HI); Charles Schumer (D-NY); Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH); Debbie Stabenow (D-MI); Jon Tester (D-MT); Tom Udall (D-NM); Chris Van Hollen (D-MD); Elizabeth Warren (D-MA); Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI); Ron Wyden (D-OR).


WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) urged Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to investigate allegations of currency manipulation from U.S. petitioners as an unfair subsidy. In a letter to Ross, the Senators asked Ross to institute a stronger policy than the last Administration to go after allegations of currency manipulation.

“We were disappointed that the last Administration elected to ignore allegations of currency manipulation in antidumping and countervailing duty investigations, and we urge you to quickly adopt a different policy,” said Brown and Portman in the letter. “If the Department of Commerce will not treat currency manipulation as the unfair subsidy that it is in trade remedy cases, U.S. companies and workers will continue to be without meaningful relief from purposefully undervalued exchange rates.”

Full text of the letter is below and here.

March 30, 2017

The Honorable Wilbur Ross


U.S. Department of Commerce

1401 Constitution Ave. NW

Washington, D.C. 20230

Dear Secretary Ross:

Congratulations on your recent confirmation as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce. We know you have been in your position for only a short time, but we write to ask you to take immediate action to address currency manipulation. Specifically, we urge you to institute a policy of investigating allegations of currency manipulation when the Department receives such an allegation from U.S. petitioners in trade remedy cases.

Despite the history of intervention in exchange markets to influence currency values, the U.S. has not labeled any of our trading partners a currency manipulator since 1994. U.S. industry and its workers have paid the price, particularly when goods subsidized by an undervalued currency have been sold in the U.S. market. We were disappointed that the last Administration elected to ignore allegations of currency manipulation in antidumping and countervailing duty investigations, and we urge you to quickly adopt a different policy. If the Department of Commerce will not treat currency manipulation as the unfair subsidy that it is in trade remedy cases, U.S. companies and workers will continue to be without meaningful relief from purposefully undervalued exchange rates.

We were pleased by President Trump’s campaign promises to crack down on currency manipulators, and we applaud your commitment to strengthening U.S. trade enforcement. We urge you to take the immediate step of investigating currency manipulation in trade remedy cases and help U.S. manufacturers and workers compete on the level playing field they deserve.

Stopping Deadly Opioids at the Border

The opioid addiction epidemic takes far too many lives and destroys too many families across Ohio, and one of the biggest culprits of the deadly overdoses on the rise in our state is the drug fentanyl.

This deadly synthetic opioid is fifty times stronger than heroin, and is often trafficked in from China through Mexico. Overdoses from fentanyl have jumped to an average of one each day over the past month.

This is staggering, and it’s heartbreaking – those are families torn apart; families who will never see their loved ones again.

Congress has taken steps to help improve access to treatment and provide support for community efforts to fight this epidemic. And – thanks to the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion – hundreds of thousands of Ohioans who have not had access to treatment before are now receiving medication-assisted treatment to help them fight their addiction.

But in addition to funding treatment and protecting Medicaid coverage, we must do more to prevent the flow of this deadly illegal drug into the country and into our Ohio communities.

That’s why I joined Senator Ed Markey to introduce the bipartisan INTERDICT Act with Senators Rubio and Capito.

It will provide more resources directly to Customs and Border Protection (CBP), so that agents can scan shipments for fentanyl and other dangerous synthetic substances at the border, and stop these drugs from making it into our neighborhoods.

We developed this legislation in consultation with CBP, whose agents have had success detecting these drugs with high-tech chemical screening devices. But the agency does not have enough screening equipment to cover all ports of entry or enough scientists or lab support to interpret the results. And they don’t have enough of the protective equipment they need to keep our agents safe while they screen for this deadly material.

Our bill would authorize funding for new screening devices, lab equipment, facilities, and personnel for 24-7 lab support. It gives the agency more of the tools we already know are working.

Fentanyl has taken far too many lives across Ohio, and this is one concrete step we can take, right now, to help stop it from entering our communities and destroying any more Ohio families.

It’s not enough to treat overdoses as they happen – we must do more to stem the tide of deadly synthetic opioids flooding the country. We know high-tech screening works, and we need to give CBP agents the tools they need to keep fentanyl from entering the U.S.

BROWN, HELLER INTRODUCE BIPARTISAN BILL TO BOOST FREE TAX PREPARATION AND FILING SERVICES. Volunteer Preparers Have High Accuracy Rate, Help Save Taxpayers Money. Program Helped more than 3.8 Million File in 2016.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Dean Heller (R-NV) – members of the Senate Finance Committee – today (March 30) introduced legislation that would support free tax preparation sites that help individuals and families file their income tax returns. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Permanence Act of 2017 would make permanent an Internal Revenue Service (IRS)-administered matching grant program for volunteer tax preparation sites nationwide. The bill marks the first bipartisan legislation to authorize VITA permanently and follows clearance of a similar bipartisan measure in the Senate Finance Committee last year.

“It should be easy for working Americans to file and claim their hard-earned money without having to hire an expensive tax preparer,” said Brown. “Volunteer tax preparers provide critical assistance to those who need a hand filing so they can make sure they are receiving all the tax credits they are eligible for and getting the return they’ve earned. They also save taxpayers money by cutting down on administrative costs.”

“Our tax code is too complex and overly burdensome for Nevadans, and too often those who are in need of a return the most can’t afford a tax preparer to decipher its convoluted provisions. Incentivizing tax preparation groups to assist lower-income Nevadans is a reasonable way to help ensure Nevadans can keep more of their hard-earned money,” said Heller. “In 2015 alone, these volunteer tax preparation organizations helped 22,650 Nevadans file their tax returns and possessed refunds that amounted to a total of more than $25,000,000. I am proud to partner with Senator Brown on this legislation that creates a level-playing field for Nevadans and will allow them to maximize their returns.”

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offers free tax help to people who make $54,000 or less, persons with disabilities, the elderly, and limited English speakers by helping prepare and file their income tax returns.

During the 2016 income tax filing season, VITA programs nationwide filed more than 3.8 million federal income tax returns, including more than 714,000 returns for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). This helped Americans claim approximately $1.1 billion they’d earned over the tax year.

VITA sites aren’t just a lifeline for those who cannot afford a paid tax preparer – they also have a strong record for accuracy and help reduce IRS administrative costs. According to the IRS, returns claiming the EITC prepared by VITA preparers are 94 percent accurate – the best of any large paid tax preparer in the country – compared to a 40 percent accuracy rate for unenrolled paid tax preparers. VITA sites are also more likely to file electronically, helping to save taxpayers money in the process.


WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) urged Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to address unfair trade practices by Korean producers of Oil Country Tubular Goods (OCTG). American OCTG producers, including U.S. Steel in Lorain; Vallourec Star in Youngstown; Wheatland Tube in Warren; and TMK IPSCO in Brookfield will be affected by this decision. Unfair OCTG imports hurt Ohio workers and Brown and Portman are asking Secretary Ross to prevent the idling of more steel facilities and protect steelworkers’ jobs by cracking down on unfair competition from Korea.

“We urge you to use the administrative review process to thoroughly investigate the extent to which Korean OCTG imports are being sold in the U.S. at below market prices,” said Brown and Portman in the letter. “If Korean producers’ unfair trade practices are not addressed, more U.S. steel companies will idle their facilities and more U.S. steelworkers will lose their jobs.”

Brown and Portman have spoken out against the flood of unfair OCTG imports in the past, speaking out about the case in May 2014.

March 30, 2017

The Honorable Wilbur Ross


U.S. Department of Commerce

1401 Constitution Ave. NW

Washington, D.C. 20230

Dear Secretary Ross:

We write regarding the Commerce Department’s administrative review of the antidumping margins on Oil Country Tubular Goods (OCTG) from Korea. This case is critical to U.S. OCTG producers, and we urge you to ensure that the final determination in the administrative review accurately reflects Korean producers’ unfair trade practices and creates a level playing field for U.S. steel companies and their workers.

The U.S. OCTG industry is still struggling as a result of a flood of unfairly traded OCTG imports, first from China and then from Korea. Multiple facilities in the sector have idled or closed. We were disappointed that the preliminary determination in the administrative review reduced margins on Korean OCTG imports. As a result, Korean producers began flooding the market immediately. In September 2016, 12,689 metric tons of Korean OCTG imports entered the U.S. The next month, when the preliminary margins went into effect, 50,837 metric tons of Korean OCTG imports came into our market. The first two months of this year, import volumes increased even more, to approximately 80,000 metric tons in each month.

Unless proper dumping margins are in place, this flood of foreign imports will grow and will continue to threaten U.S. producers. We urge you to use the administrative review process to thoroughly investigate the extent to which Korean OCTG imports are being sold in the U.S. at below market prices. If Korean producers’ unfair trade practices are not addressed, more U.S. steel companies will idle their facilities and more U.S. steelworkers will lose their jobs.

Thank you for your consideration of this request, and we look forward to working with you to strengthen U.S. trade enforcement.


2016 Customs Law Brown Supported Requires Duty Collection Crackdown Expected in Today’s Announcement

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) issued the following statement in response to reports that President Donald Trump is expected to sign two executive orders on trade today (March 31). According to reports, one will call for an examination of trade deficits, and the second will be aimed at under-collection of anti-dumping and countervailing duties on unfairly traded foreign goods.

Congress, with Brown’s support, established the Importer Risk Assessment Program in the Trade Enforcement and Trade Facilitation Act of 2016. This law required Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to implement a crackdown on duty collections similar to what reports say the President will include in today’s executive order.

“Ohio companies, from the steel sector to the paper industry, don’t benefit from duties if the cheaters aren’t forced to pay – that’s why Congress required CBP to crack down on duty collection in the 2016 Customs Law. American workers are counting on us to make trade cheats pay what they owe,” Brown said of the expected duties collection announcement.

Brown called on Trump to reexamine all trade agreements as part of the strategy for rewriting the nation’s trade policy, in a letter to the then President-elect in November.

“There’s no question we need to reexamine failed trade agreements of the past as we work to renegotiate better deals for the future. But studies aren’t going to create jobs or boost paychecks in Ohio – we need action. So the real test will be whether President Trump uses the findings to take bold action to crack down on cheating, like Chinese steel overcapacity, and stop factories from moving overseas,” Brown said of the reported study of trade deficits.

“President Trump made big promises to Ohioans on trade, and I’m ready and willing to work with him to make good on these promises and to hold him accountable if he falls short.”

Immediately after President Trump’s election, Brown reached out to his transition team to offer his help on retooling U.S. trade policy. Brown wrote to Trump in November offering specific steps to work together on trade and Trump responded with a handwritten note.

RNC Announces Additions To RNC Finance Leadership Team

WASHINGTON – Today (April 3) Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and RNC Finance Chairman Steve Wynn announced additional members of the RNC’s Finance leadership team:

“I am delighted to announce the addition of these longtime friends of the Party and supporters of this administration to our Finance leadership team,” said Chairwoman McDaniel. “Elliott Broidy, Michael Cohen, and Louis DeJoy will serve as National Deputy Finance Chairmen, and Brian Ballard, Bob Grand, Gordon Sondland, Geoff Verhoff, and Ron Weiser will serve as Regional Vice-Chairmen. Together this team will employ their extraordinary talent and understanding of Americans across the country to maintain and build upon our unprecedented fundraising success.”

“Our team is dedicated to the goal of increasing the number of Republican senators and representatives in the Congress, with the firm belief that all Americans will enjoy the benefits of a better future,” said Chairman Wynn. “The challenge of guiding a swollen and overreaching government to a position that serves its citizens in a truly efficient manner will be best served by the leadership our team hopes to achieve.”

Elliott Broidy, National Deputy Chairman

Mr. Broidy is Chairman and CEO of Broidy Capital Management. He served as a National Vice Chairman of the Trump Victory Campaign during the 2016 election cycle and Vice Chairman of the Presidential Inaugural Committee. He has previously held the position of RNC Finance Chairman, and during the Bush Administration he served on the Homeland Security Advisory Council and was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Michael Cohen, National Deputy Chairman

Mr. Cohen is currently the personal attorney to President Donald J. Trump. He served for more than a decade as Executive Vice President Special Counsel to President Trump at the Trump Organization and has sat on the boards of multiple Trump organizations, including Trump Productions, the Eric Trump Foundation, and the Miss Universe Organization. In addition to raising millions of dollars for his campaign, Mr. Cohen has been an active spokesperson and advisor for the President during his interest in seeking office since 2011.

Louis DeJoy, National Deputy Chairman

Mr. DeJoy is the President of LDJ Global Strategies. He was the CEO of New Breed Logistics until its sale to XPO Logistics in 2014, where he served as CEO of XPO’s Supply Chain Division until December 2015. Mr. DeJoy has held various finance roles over the past 15 years, including Presidential Trustee and North Carolina State Chair for Trump Victory.

Brian Ballard, Regional Vice-Chairman

Mr. Ballard served as the Chair of Trump Victory in Florida, Vice Chairman of the Presidential Inaugural Committee, and as a member of the Finance Committee for the Presidential Transition. He has vast experience in campaigns at both the state and national levels—serving the presidential campaigns of both John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012. He is currently the President of the political advocacy group Ballard Partners.

Bob Grand, Regional Vice-Chairman

Mr. Grand has been a longtime friend of and served in many political roles in Indiana for Vice President Mike Pence. He also served as Indiana Finance Chairman for the Bush-Cheney campaign in 2000 and 2004 and was most recently on the Trump Pence Finance team. He currently practices law in Indiana and DC. He serves on the Board of Trustees for Wabash College and on the Board of Visitors for the Robert H. McKinney School of Law.

Gordon Sondland, Regional Vice-Chairman

Mr. Sondland is the Founder and Chairman of Aspen Lodging Group and co-founder of Aspen Capital. Sondland also serves as President of the Sondland/Durant Charitable Foundation. In 2007, President Bush appointed him to serve as a member of the Commission on White House Fellows. He previously served on the National Finance Committees of the McCain and Romney presidential campaigns, as well as a Senior Republican advisor to Democratic Governor Ted Kulongoski.

Geoff Verhoff, Regional Vice-Chairman

Geoff Verhoff is a Senior Policy Advisor at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP. Since 2005 he has advised clients on a wide range of legislative and regulatory matters at the federal, state, and international levels. Prior to joining Akin Gump, Mr. Verhoff worked for Sen. William V. Roth, Jr. (R-DE), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. Following that, he joined the RNC’s finance team, leaving for Akin Gump after President George W. Bush’s successful re-election campaign.

Ron Weiser, Regional Vice-Chairman

Mr. Weiser currently serves as the Chairman of the Michigan Republican Party. He was Ambassador to the Slovak Republic during the Bush Administration. He served as Michigan’s Finance Chair for President Bush in 2000, and as the National Co-Chair for the McCain campaign in 2008. He has held the position of National Finance Chair for the RNC and was a National Vice Chairman of the Trump Victory campaign and a Vice Chairman of the Presidential Inaugural Committee and Transition.

Ohio EPA Announces New Online Materials Marketplace

Ohio EPA Director Craig W. Butler is in Sandusky on April 4 to announce the launch of a new online service whereby Ohio businesses, not-for-profits and government organizations can advertise and acquire potentially useful products and materials that might otherwise be destined for disposal in landfills. The new Ohio Materials Marketplace (OMM) is a free online platform allowing these organizations to connect and find solutions to material reuse and recycling needs.

“With statewide access to thousands of Ohio’s businesses, communities and other organizations, Ohio EPA’s Division of Environmental & Financial Assistance (DEFA) is well positioned to bring members together in this modern online marketplace,” Director Butler said. “This new service positions Ohio as a leader in the circular economy, helping remove materials from the waste stream, promoting jobs and allowing for better efficiency and savings in the processes of creating goods and services.”

Examples of materials posted on OMM (and their potential re-uses) might include common items such as bulk wooden pallets (mulch base) or used bricks (building materials). Other items might reflect materials from industrial processes such as spent foundry sand (to be mixed with potting soil), or specialized items such as spent hydro-treating catalyst (metals recovery).

Along with browsing for materials, users of OMM can post “wanted” items that might substitute for raw materials or other items members currently purchase. Examples of such requests that have been posted thus far include bulk alumina oxide (for metals harvesting/recovery) and bulk food waste in packaging (to be used for anaerobic digestion/energy recovery).

What differentiates the Ohio Materials Marketplace from other online markets is that the platform is active in design and functionality rather than passive. Previous models (such as the Ohio Materials Exchange) and similar services in other states worked as a simple bulletin board with little or no engagement by the host. The new OMM is maintained by Ohio EPA which markets the site to potential users, verifies that users (and items posted) meet qualifications to participate, and actively works to facilitate connections between users. The site is specifically designed as a business-to-business or business-to-community exchange for recyclables and reusable materials.

In the circular economy, products and by-products recirculate productively through reuse, remanufacturing, recycling and maintenance. Users of OMM can make or save money by finding a market for their unwanted materials and avoiding landfill tipping fees; buyers save money by having access to sellers’ discounted (or free) materials; Ohio’s environment benefits by having more material removed from the waste stream.

The program is being launched with support from the not-for-profit United States Business Council for Sustainable Development. More information about OMM is available online: ohio.materialsmarketplace.org.

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency was created in 1972 to consolidate efforts to protect and improve air quality, water quality and waste management in Ohio. Since then, air pollutants dropped by as much as 90 percent; large rivers meeting standards improved from 21 percent to 89 percent; and hundreds of polluting, open dumps were replaced with engineered landfills and an increased emphasis on waste reduction and recycling.

Highly Controversial Federal Action Puts Manatees in Harm’s Way

Today (March 30) the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) issued its final rule to downgrade the status of the West Indian manatee from endangered to threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act. The rule affects both the Florida and Antillean subspecies and was pursued despite strong scientific and legal evidence that shows the down-listing of manatees is not warranted at this time. The FWS decision leaves manatees and their habitat exposed to attacks and could ultimately preclude the species’ recovery.

“We believe this is a devastating blow to manatees,” said Patrick Rose, Executive Director for Save the Manatee Club (SMC). With regard to Florida manatees in particular, Rose stated, “FWS decided to prematurely down-list manatees without a proven viable plan for reducing record-high watercraft-related manatee deaths and without establishing a long-term plan for the anticipated loss of artificial winter warm water habitat on which more than 60% of the Florida manatee population depends. A federal reclassification at this time will seriously undermine the chances of securing the manatee’s long- term survival. With the new federal administration threatening to cut 75% of regulations, including those that protect our wildlife and air and water quality, the move to down-list manatees can only be seen as a political one.”

Dr. Katie Tripp, SMC’s Director of Science and Conservation, says it is unclear why FWS chose to down-list the entire species. “The FWS rule states that the agency estimates the total West Indian manatee population to be between 8,396 and 13,142 individuals. When the minimum population estimate from Florida is subtracted from this estimate that leaves 1,776 to 6,522 manatees scattered in small, isolated populations throughout the Wider Caribbean. So many countries in the Antillean manatee’s range are experiencing increased habitat destruction. Additionally, countries like Belize have seen a sharp rise in watercraft-related manatee injuries and deaths in recent years and manatees in some of these countries still die at the hands of poachers.”

Save the Manatee Club believes the FWS decision failed to adequately consider data from 2010 to 2016, during which time manatees suffered from unprecedented mortality events linked to habitat pollution, dependence on artificial warm water sources, and record deaths from watercraft strikes.

Anne Harvey Holbrook, SMC’s Staff Attorney explained that “this reclassification comes at a time when manatees are experiencing extreme and uncontrolled threats to their survival. The decision to prematurely remove the West Indian manatee from the Endangered Species list lacks scientific justification and is not legally defensible.”

For more information on manatees, and how you can help, visit SMC’s website at savethemanatee.org or call 1-800-432-JOIN (5646).

Audit Releases

Auditor of State Dave Yost’s office is responsible for auditing all public entities in Ohio. His mission is to protect Ohioans’ tax dollars while aggressively fighting fraud, waste and misuse of public money.

Audit reports are released semiweekly. The following audits will be released Tuesday, April 4, 2017. Entities earning the Auditor of State Award are bold and italicized. If there are findings for recovery in an audit or determinations that money was improperly spent and must be repaid, that audit will be marked by an asterisk. Audits with Medicaid findings will be marked with a plus sign (+).

A full copy of each report is available online.

Ashland: Ashland County Republican Party

Ashtabula: Ashtabula Area City School District; Conneaut Area City School District; Grand Valley Local School District

Auglaize: Auglaize County Republican Party

Butler: Ross Local School District; Talawanda City School District*; Trenton Community Improvement Corporation

Champaign: Champaign County Republican Party

Clark: Clark County Democratic Party

Clermont: Milford Exempted Village School District

Coshocton: Tuscarawas Township

Crawford: Crawford County Republican Party

Cuyahoga: Village Preparatory School; West Park Academy

Delaware: Delaware County Democratic Party

Erie: Vermilion Local School District

Fairfield: Fairfield County Democratic Party

Franklin: Franklin County Agricultural Society; Ohio Construction Academy

Geauga: Village of Aquilla

Guernsey: Guernsey County Democratic Party

Hamilton: Village of Addyston

Harrison: Harrison County Republican Party

Highland: Paint Creek Joint Emergency Medical Services/Fire District

Hocking: Hocking County Democratic Party

Jefferson: Village of Smithfield*

Knox: Centerburg Joint Recreation District; Knox County Democratic Party

Logan: Logan County Republican Party

Lorain: Elyria Township

Lucas: Maritime Academy of Toledo; Phoenix Academy; Polly Fox Academy

Mahoning: Canfield Local School District; Mahoning County Republican Party; Sebring Local School District

Mercer: Lakefield Airport Authority; Mercer County Democratic Party

Miami: Troy City School District

Monroe: Monroe County Democratic Party; Monroe County District Library; Monroe County Republican Party

Montgomery: Ohio Region 3 Rescue Strike Team

Morgan: Morgan County Democratic Party

Morrow: Cardington-Lincoln Joint Recreation District

Muskingum: Muskingum County Democratic Party

Paulding: Paulding Exempted Village School District

Perry: Northern Local School District

Pickaway: Pickaway County Republican Party

Pike: Pike County*

Portage: Aurora City School District; Windham Exempted Village School District

Richland: Interactive Media and Construction; Mansfield Elective Academy

Ross: Chillicothe City School District; Southern Ohio Council

Scioto: Scioto County Career Technical Center

Seneca: Fostoria City School District

Stark: Canton College Preparatory School; Tuslaw Local School District

Summit: Akron City School District; Akron Preparatory School; Norton City School District; Summit County Democratic Party

Trumbull: Labrae Local School District; Trumbull County Educational Service Center

Tuscarawas: Tuscarawas County Democratic Party

Vinton: Vinton Local School District

Warren: Warren County Educational Service Center

Washington: Marietta City School District

Wayne: Rittman Academy

The Auditor of State’s office, one of five independently elected statewide offices in Ohio, is responsible for auditing more than 5,900 state and local government agencies. Under the direction of Auditor Dave Yost, the office also provides financial services to local governments, investigates and prevents fraud in public agencies and promotes transparency in government.

More than 500 law enforcement agencies in the process of implementing Ohio’s new standards to improve community-police relations.

COLUMBUS – More than 500 agencies – employing about 80 percent of Ohio’s law enforcement officers – are in the process of implementing Ohio’s first-ever statewide minimum standards on use of force, including deadly force, and hiring and recruitment according to a report issued today by the Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services (OCJS). The standards were developed by a diverse group of Ohioans from law enforcement and community leaders as part of Ohio Governor John R. Kasich’s efforts to improve community and police relations.

“We are pleased so many law enforcement agencies have adopted Ohio’s first-ever statewide standards,” said Karhlton Moore, OCJS Executive Director. “While this report demonstrates the progress we have already made together, we recognize there is more work to do in strengthening the relationship between communities and law enforcement.”

The report showed that as of March 31, 506 agencies are either certified or in the process of becoming certified by meeting those standards that will help improve community-police relations. And, 79 percent of Ohio’s population, including all 88 Ohio counties, is served by an agency engaged in the certification process.

Since 2014, Ohio has been working to create a national model to strengthen the bond between communities and police, including building a database that law enforcement agencies can use to better track the use of force, study common, contributing factors, and formulate ways to prevent them. New grants have also been provided that require both law enforcement and the community to collaborate and participate in projects. Last year, Ohio launched a new “Change Starts Here” education and outreach campaign.

Ohio’s Community and Police Advisory Board Collaborative is co-chaired by John Born, Director of the Ohio Department of Public Safety, and former state Senator Nina Turner. The standards were established by the Ohio Collaborative on August 28, 2015, and the state partnered with the Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association and the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police to help certify Ohio’s law enforcement agencies.

To view the Law Enforcement Certification Public Report, which also lists agencies not participating in the certificating process, please visit: http://www.ocjs.ohio.gov/ohiocollaborative/

Ohio Equal Pay Day Analysis Shows Terrible Toll Gender Wage Gap Takes on State’s Women and Families. If the Gap Were Closed, Ohio Women Could Afford Food for Nearly Two More Years, 10+ Additional Months of Mortgage Payments, 17 More Months of Rent or Nearly 21 More Months of Child Care Annually.

An analysis released for Equal Pay Day tomorrow reveals the size of the gender wage gap and its detrimental effects on the spending power of Ohio women. Women employed full time, year-round in Ohio are paid just 75 cents for every dollar paid to men, amounting to a yearly gap of $12,686. That means Ohio women lose a combined total of more than $29.6 billion every year – money that could strengthen the state economy and is especially significant for the more than 587,000 Ohio households headed by women, 32 percent of which are in poverty.

The new analysis was conducted by the National Partnership for Women & Families using data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The full set of findings for Ohio, which has the 10th largest cents-on-the-dollar gap in the nation, is available here. The National Partnership also analyzed the wage gap for Black women in the state, as well as in the Dayton metropolitan area and Ohio’s congressional districts. All of these findings and similar findings for all 50 states and the District of Columbia can be found at NationalPartnership.org/Gap.

“Equal Pay Day is a painful reminder that women in this country have had to work more than three months into this year just to catch up with what men were paid last year,” said Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership. “This analysis shows just how damaging that lost income can be for women and their families, as well as the economy and the businesses that depend on women’s purchasing power. Entire communities, states and our country suffer because lawmakers have not done nearly enough to end wage discrimination or to advance the fair and family friendly workplace policies that would help erase the wage gap.”

According to the analysis, if the gap between women’s and men’s wages in Ohio were eliminated, a woman in the state who holds a full-time, year-round job would have enough money for nearly two more years of food, more than 10 additional months of mortgage and utilities payments, 17 more months of rent, nearly 21 more months of child care, 1.2 additional years of tuition and fees at a four-year public university, or the full cost of tuition and fees for a two-year community college.

Nationally, women who hold full-time, year-round jobs in the United States are paid 80 cents for every dollar paid to men. Black women are paid 63 cents and Latinas just 54 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men. White, non-Hispanic women are paid 75 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men. Asian women are paid 85 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men, although some ethnic subgroups of Asian women fare much worse. And mothers with full-time, year-round jobs are paid 70 cents for every dollar paid to fathers.

Ohio is not the only state with a wage gap. In fact, every state and 94 percent of the country’s congressional districts have one. The National Partnership finds that the largest cents-on-the-dollar differences in the country are in Wyoming, Louisiana, West Virginia, Utah and North Dakota. The smallest cents-on-the-dollar differences are in New York, Delaware and Florida. A ranking of all 50 states and the District of Columbia can be found here.

“Numerous studies show that the wage gap persists regardless of occupation, industry, education level or perceived personal choices,” Ness continued. “That is why we need a set of public policies that ensure women have access to good and decent-paying jobs, the support they need to stay and advance in their careers, and fair and nondiscriminatory treatment wherever they work and whatever jobs they hold. That means fair pay and practices, family friendly workplace standards, full funding for federal agencies that investigate and enforce fair pay, and comprehensive reproductive health care.”

Tomorrow (April 4), members of Congress are expected to reintroduce the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would help break harmful patterns of pay discrimination and establish stronger workplace protections for women. National Partnership experts say the bill would help close the wage gap, along with policies like the Healthy Families Act, which would guarantee paid sick days; the Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, which would create a comprehensive paid family and medical leave program; and measures that would increase the minimum wage and strengthen pregnant worker protections.

The National Partnership’s analysis of the wage gap was released in advance of Equal Pay Day, which is April 4 this year. Equal Pay Day marks how far into the new year women must work in order to catch up with what men were paid in the year before. The findings for all states are available in map form at NationalPartnership.org/Gap, in addition to analyses of the wage gap at the national level, in the 20 states with the largest numbers of Black women and Latinas who work full time, in more than 20 major metropolitan areas, and in all 435 congressional districts.

The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, access to quality health care and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family. More information is available at NationalPartnership.org.

Strengthening Ohio’s Drug Trafficking Laws, Senate Takes Another Step in Fight Against Opiate Crisis.

The Ohio Senate passed legislation this week (April 2) to strengthen Ohio’s drug trafficking laws. Senate Bill 1, sponsored by Senator Frank LaRose (R-Hudson), is aimed at curbing the trafficking of fentanyl, a drug 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin. It is often laced in heroin without the user’s knowledge and is a leading cause of overdose deaths in our state.

“Fentanyl is killing people all across Ohio,” said Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina). “This legislation goes after traffickers while ensuring addicts get the help they need.”

Ohio House Once Again Votes for Regressive Energy Policy

CHICAGO, IL (March 30, 2017) – The Ohio House of Representatives is poised to pass another bill targeting the state’s popular clean energy standards, despite a veto of similar legislation from Gov. John Kasich last year.

The following is a reaction by Samantha Williams, staff attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council:

“Today’s House vote is another spin on the ideological merry-go-round that wastes legislator’s and taxpayer’s time. The Senate now has a chance to craft a real energy policy that actually works for businesses and families instead of holding back the clean energy jobs that are growing at a thunderous clip in surrounding states.”

The legislation proposes to convert existing renewable energy standards into unenforceable “goals,” and water down energy efficiency requirements. State energy standards would be scrapped by 2027, likely resulting in a sharp decline of a clean energy industry that is thriving nationally.

The economic, health and environmental benefits of state energy standards have led to wide support, including from the business community. If passed, the Bill heads to the state Senate where it will likely not receive the votes necessary to override a veto from Gov. Kasich. In light of the Trump administration’s move to dismantle the Clean Power Plan, energy standards like Ohio’s have also gained new significance in the fight against climate change.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world’s natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

Ohio employers receive $868,000 in workplace safety grants

COLUMBUS – Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Administrator/CEO Sarah Morrison has announced 36 employers will share more than $868,000 in grants to purchase equipment designed to substantially reduce or eliminate workplace injuries and illnesses.

“The safety grant program offers funding to Ohio businesses for equipment purchases that increase workplace safety,” said Morrison. “Purchasing safe, efficient equipment decreases production costs. Most importantly, prioritizing workplace safety and accident prevention keeps Ohio workers healthy and productive at work and at home.”

The Safety Intervention Grants were approved in February. The recipient employers operate in 27 counties around the state, including: Allen County; Brown County; Butler County; Clark County; Coshocton County; Cuyahoga County; Defiance County; Erie County; Fairfield County; Geauga County; Hamilton County; Holmes County; Jackson County; Licking County; Mahoning County; Mercer County; Portage County; Putnam County; Seneca County; Shelby County; Stark County; Summit County; Trumbull County; Tuscarawas County; Washington County; Wood County; Wyandot County.

The Safety Intervention Grant program provides employers with a 3-to-1 matching amount up to a maximum of $40,000. Quarterly data reports and follow-up case studies help BWC determine the effectiveness of employers’ safety interventions and establish best practices for accident and injury prevention. Learn more about the Safety Intervention Grant Program at bwc.ohio.gov. View stories about previous grant recipients on BWC’s YouTube channel.

In Warren, Amber Barr, 34, lives in a women’s supportive housing complex and regrets voting for Mr. Trump… Last week, as she thought of Mr. Trump’s budget, Ms. Barr stood outside her building nervously clutching the only money she had left for the month: six quarters she hoped to put under her daughter’s pillow as a gift from the tooth fairy.

New York Times: In Ohio County That Backed Trump, Word of Housing Cuts Stirs Fear

By Yamiche Alcindor (from DNC Press)

Joseph and Tammy Pavlic outside their home in Kinsman, Ohio. To repair the house, they tapped a program that President Trump is seeking to eliminate.

KINSMAN, Ohio — For years, Tammy and Joseph Pavlic tried to ignore the cracked ceiling in their living room, the growing hole next to their shower and the deteriorating roof they feared might one day give out. Mr. Pavlic worked for decades installing and repairing air-conditioning and heating units, but three years ago, with multiple sclerosis advancing, he had to leave his job.

By 2015, Ms. Pavlic was supporting her husband and their three children on an annual salary of $9,000, earned at a restaurant. That year, they tapped a county program funded by Congress, called the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, to help repair their house.

The next year, they voted for Donald J. Trump, who has moved to eliminate the HOME program.

The Pavlics’ ceiling may no longer be cracked, but in the zero-sum game that Mr. Trump’s budget seeks to set up, the nation is showing new fissures. The president’s budget proposal would cut deeply into the Department of Housing and Urban Development, paring rental assistance and eliminating heating and air-conditioning aid, energy-efficiency assistance, and partnerships with local governments like HOME. With the savings, Mr. Trump says, he would beef up military spending and build a wall along the Mexican border.

“Keeping the country safe compared to keeping my bathroom safe isn’t even a comparison,” Mr. Pavlic, 42, said. “We have people who are coming into this country who are trying to hurt us, and I think that we need to be protected.”

His wife is hoping Mr. Trump changes his mind.

“I am glad that he is our president, but I do believe, though, that if he could see this from a personal point of view that he would probably maybe change his mind about cutting this program,” Ms. Pavlic, 44, said. “Any mom wants their kids to be safe, so any mom wants their home to be safe.”

A campaign sign in Trumbull County, which voted overwhelmingly for Mr. Trump.

HOME Investment Partnerships is one of dozens of programs and independent agencies aimed at the poor — including the Appalachian Regional Commission, AmeriCorps, the Legal Services Corporation and the Interagency Council on Homelessness — that Mr. Trump has proposed cutting. The budget for the fiscal year beginning in October would cut $6.2 billion — about 13 percent — from HUD, eliminating the Community Development Block Grant program, which funds local initiatives like Meals on Wheels and anti-poverty efforts; and the Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity and Choice Neighborhoods programs, which aim to replace distressed public housing with mixed-income development.

Trumbull County, where the Pavlics live, teamed up with the City of Warren in the 1990s to create the Warren-Trumbull HOME Consortium, which receives about $450,000 a year from HUD to repair homes, assist with down payments, finance affordable housing and build housing for people suffering from chronic mental illness, said Julie Edwards, the economic development coordinator for the county’s planning commission.

The county, which voted overwhelmingly for Mr. Trump, is the type of place where people might hope to be great again. Open fields of overgrown grass line winding roads that lead to rusted steel mills and shuttered factories. The median household income in the county, which is about 90 percent white and 8 percent black, dropped by $7,400, to $42,368, from 2006 to 2015, while the population declined by 14,000, to 203,750. Near Kinsman is Masury, which locals have nicknamed Misery.

“Our county voted for President Trump, so I’m not sure they quite understand what is going to happen,” Ms. Edwards said. “I don’t think people realize how much we rely on these services. I don’t think people are making the connection between cutting the HUD funds and paving our streets or building new affordable housing.”

No president’s budget is enacted as presented to Congress, and Mr. Trump’s is already facing bipartisan opposition. Representative Hal Rogers, Republican of Kentucky, pushed back hard shortly after Mr. Trump released his proposals. “While we have a responsibility to reduce our federal deficit, I am disappointed that many of the reductions and eliminations proposed in the president’s skinny budget are draconian, careless and counterproductive,” Mr. Rogers said in a statement.

To Mr. Trump, the tough-minded budget “promotes fiscal responsibility by eliminating funding for a number of lower priority programs.” Robert Rector, a senior research fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation who specializes in welfare and poverty, said Mr. Trump’s budget trims only about 1 percent of federal spending on programs for the poor. He dismissed many of HUD’s programs as inefficient.

William Brown relied on HOME assistance to repair his house. “That program saved me,” he said.

“The welfare state is extremely large, far larger than anyone on the left likes to acknowledge,” Mr. Rector said. “What is necessary to reform this system is to reduce the amount of waste and take some of that waste and retarget to more effective programs for the poor. And I really think that is what you will see out of the Trump administration in the long term.”

Marion McFadden, the vice president for public policy at Enterprise Community Partners, an affordable housing organization, is not so sanguine. In her view, Mr. Trump’s budget would turn Washington’s back on America’s most vulnerable populations.

“You’ve got an extraordinary number of low-income people who are devoting so much of their income to housing,” said Ms. McFadden, who spent 15 years at HUD, including two running the HOME and Community Development Block Grant programs. “These programs are carefully targeted to ensure they serve people of modest means. Taking the funds away from communities will be really devastating in some places.”

To William Brown, a former trucking company manager in Masury, the proposed cuts are not fodder for an academic argument: They’re just wrong.

“Everything he is doing is systematically horrible for this country,” said Mr. Brown, who voted for Hillary Clinton and hasn’t worked since 2009 after he had a heart attack and was laid off from his job. “For him to even consider taking a program away when we can spend all this money for him to go down to Florida every weekend, how many people can use that money?”

Mr. Brown, 67, who lives on a monthly Social Security check of $1,400, feared he would have to move into an assisted living facility if he couldn’t repair his decaying home. He said he was ashamed to ask for government help but listened to a township official who encouraged him to apply for HOME money.

Amber Barr lives in a supportive housing complex with her 4-year-old daughter. “People that are getting help right now are succeeding,” she said.

“That program saved me,” Mr. Brown said. “Everybody’s life can turn in half a second. You can wake up and be devastated tomorrow. Same as anybody here.”

In Warren, Amber Barr, 34, lives in a women’s supportive housing complex and regrets voting for Mr. Trump. She and her 4-year-old daughter, Brooklynn, survive on a $588 disability check and $340 in food stamps every month. Her rent is $99, and she fears that Mr. Trump’s housing cuts are just the beginning.

“If I didn’t have these programs, I wouldn’t have any kind of support, I wouldn’t have any kind of direction as to what to do, where to go, and I wouldn’t have any money to help me find resources,” Ms. Barr said, as she began to cry.

Housing assistance has helped her focus on getting treatment for hepatitis C, attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and seeing a psychiatrist for anxiety. It also meant escaping the temporary housing she was in for several months after leaving an abusive relationship.

Last week, as she thought of Mr. Trump’s budget, Ms. Barr stood outside her building nervously clutching the only money she had left for the month: six quarters she hoped to put under her daughter’s pillow as a gift from the tooth fairy.

“I don’t plan on being here forever,” Ms. Barr said, wiping away tears. “People that are getting help right now are succeeding. People are not going to succeed. They are going to give up.”

Manatees at Fort Myers
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2017/04/web1_api.jpgManatees at Fort Myers

Staff Reports