Ohio Political News Briefs

Staff Reports

CONNIE PILLICH, Democratic candidate for state treasurer, 2014. Handout NOT BLADE PHOTO

CONNIE PILLICH, Democratic candidate for state treasurer, 2014. Handout NOT BLADE PHOTO

U.S. Term Limits Praises Matt Lynch for Signing Term Limits Pledge

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Term Limits (USTL), the leader in the national movement to limit terms for elected officials, today praised Ohio U.S. House candidate (District 14), Matt Lynch, for signing its congressional term limits pledge.

In November of 2016, U.S. Term Limits had more than 50 pledge signers in Congress. USTL President Philip Blumel commented on Lynch’s pledge, saying, “Matt’s support of term limits shows that there are people who are willing to put self-interest aside to follow the will of the people and the founding fathers. America needs a Congress that will be served by citizen legislators, not career politicians.”

The U.S. Term Limits Amendment Pledge is provided to every announced candidate for federal office. It reads, “I pledge that as a member of Congress I will co-sponsor and vote for the U.S. Term Limits amendment of three (3) House terms and two (2) Senate terms and no longer limit.” The U.S. Term Limits Constitutional Amendment has been introduced in both the U.S. Senate by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and the House of Representatives by Representative Ron DeSantis (R-FL).

Blumel noted, “Over 75% of Americans have rejected the career politician model and want to replace it with citizen leadership. The way to achieve that goal is through congressional term limits. Lynch knows this and is willing to work to make sure we reach our goal.”

According to the last nationwide poll on term limits conducted by Gallup, the issue enjoys wide bipartisan support. The poll showed that 75% of Americans support congressional term limits. Gallup’s analysis states, “Republicans and independents are slightly more likely than Democrats to favor term limits; nevertheless, the vast majority of all party groups agree on the issue. Further, Gallup finds no generational differences in support for the proposal.”

Blumel concluded, “America is in trouble. Our career politicians have let the people down. It is time to limit their terms and return control of our nation to people who have actually had to create a job, earn an honest paycheck and pay a mortgage. It is time for a constitutional amendment limiting congressional Terms.”

The term limits amendment bills would require a two-thirds majority in the House and Senate, and ratification by 38 states in order to become part of the constitution.

View Lynch’s signed pledge here..

Senator Reintroduced Legislation to Protect Students from Bad Actors in For-Profit College Sector

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown is working to protect Ohio students and taxpayers from predatory practices by for-profit colleges. Brown joined his colleagues to reintroduce the Students Before Profits Act, a bill to protect students from deceptive practices and bad actors in the for-profit college sector by making sure students have access to important and accurate information about schools’ costs and employment prospects and cracking down on for-profit schools and their executives for violations and poor performance.

“Bad actors in the for-profit college industry have promised their students great jobs and low costs, but have left them with nothing but a pile of debt and a useless degree – all while fleecing taxpayers. We’ve seen it too many times. Our students and taxpayers deserve better,” said Brown.

Currently, for-profit colleges enroll 10 percent of all postsecondary students, but account for 35 percent of all student loan defaults. Since Corinthian Colleges, the infamous for-profit institution, closed its doors in 2015 after extensive allegations of fraud, the U.S. Department of Education has discharged $247 million in student loan debt held by former students. The Students Before Profits Act provides for new tools to recoup federal dollars from the owners and executives who reap huge profits from failed, fraudulent for-profit institutions.

The bill builds on Brown’s actions to hold for-profit colleges accountable. Last month, Brown urged the Department of Education to appoint a qualified, independent Chief Enforcement Officer to protect students from bad actors and take on higher education institutions that fleece taxpayers and break the law. The Department appointed Dr. Julian Schmoke, a former DeVry official with no consumer protection experience, so Brown requested a meeting with him to discuss the direction of the Enforcement unit.

Brown has also worked to ensure workers and students of for-profit universities have their right to take their cases to court. He reintroduced the Court Legal Access & Student Support (CLASS) Act, legislation to prohibit any school receiving taxpayer funded student aid funds from using forced arbitration clauses in enrollment agreements. He also successfully pressed the Department of Education to follow through with strict oversight rules to deny taxpayer funding to colleges that deny students the right to join class actions, specifically at institutions like ITT Tech that cheat students out of the education they deserve.

The Students Before Profits Act:

· Authorizes enhanced civil penalties on institutions and their executive officers if it is determined that the institution misrepresented its cost, admission requirements, completion rates, employment prospects or default rates, and uses those penalties to fund a Student Relief Fund to help defrauded students;

· Improves oversight of default rate manipulation by requiring the Secretary of Education to use corrected data to recalculate student loan cohort default rates for institutions of higher education that have engaged in default manipulation and make determinations on whether an institution should be disqualified from participating in financial aid programs;

· Makes college executives share the risk, giving the Department of Education broader discretion to require owners and executives to assume personal liability for financial losses associated with Title IV funds and including executives and owners among those against whom the Department can pursue a claim after discharging borrowers’ debts;

· Prevents “repeat offenders” by prohibiting board members and executive officers of an institution against which the Department has brought an enforcement action from serving in leadership positions at another college.

Governor candidate Connie Pillich proposes free college tuition, universal pre-K for Ohio

By Seth A. Richardson, cleveland.com

Former state Rep. Connie Pillich announced her plan to revamp the education system in Ohio – including free college tuition for Ohio residents who stay in the state for 10 years after graduation – as part of her run for governor.

The Cincinnati Democrat announced her plan Tuesday morning, just hours before the first Democratic debate. She called it an “education stimulus” that will create jobs and shore up Ohio’s workforce.

“I want to make a transformative investment in education,” Pillich said. “Over the last seven years our ranking has fallen from 5th to 22nd and obviously that’s a result of having the wrong priorities in Columbus.”

The plan includes universal pre-kindergarten for 4-year-olds, increasing funding for and revamping the K-12 state aid formula to make it more equitable and providing free vocational workforce training.

Perhaps most ambitious is Pillich’s proposal for free higher education, which would radically alter the university system.

Under Pillich’s plan, students with an income or family income of less than $100,000 who attend a public university would receive deferred tuition. The deferment would last for 10 years if the student stays in Ohio post-graduation.

If after the 10-year mark those students are still in Ohio, the full cost would be forgiven.

Here are some of the planks:

Give businesses a $1,000 tax credit for each licensed apprentice they hire

Start middle and high school days no earlier than 8:50 a.m. per recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics

Increased STEM education in classrooms including computer coding

Create a fund to help current college graduates with debt

Require public universities to freeze costs at current rates, adjusted for inflation

Create the Ohio Service Corps Program and forgive graduates’ student loan debt after two or three years of service

But there is the big question in how to pay for the lofty goals in a cash-strapped state.

The main way to fund the changes is to roll back some of the tax breaks for top earners in the state, Pillich said, which could generate up to $1.3 billion, more than enough to pay for the plan.

She also said she wasn’t expecting to pass everything all at once, but would instead attempt to phase in portions.

“I have no illusions that passing something like this will be easy,” Pillich said. “But I’m also very confident that the voters of Ohio do not want some tiny little fixes or tweaks to our education system.”

Senator Expects Smith to Appear before Banking Committee Despite Retirement Announcement

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) – Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs – said there should be no big payday for Equifax CEO Richard Smith and other top executives who’ve retired following a massive data breach that put 143 million Americans at risk of identity theft. Brown says he still expects Smith to appear before the Banking Committee to testify on the breach next Wednesday, as scheduled, despite Smith’s abrupt retirement announcement today.

“There’s no easy out for the working families that Equifax exposed to cyber criminals, so there shouldn’t be a big payday for the company’s CEO,” Brown said. “Equifax executives cannot be allowed to wash their hands of this while millions of Americans are left to deal with the consequences.”

On September 15th, a week after Equifax reported the breach, the company’s Chief Information Officer David Webb and Chief Security Officer Susan Mauldin also retired from the company.

Voter Registration Day

Millions of Americans didn’t vote in the 2016 election because they weren’t registered, didn’t know how to register, or weren’t able to register in time. Think of the difference that could’ve made. We’re spreading the word so EVERY American is ready to vote in the critical 2018 elections.

Visit NationalVoterRegistrationDay.org to register, check your registration, and learn how to get everyone in your life ready to vote.

National Voter Registration Day

Even when voters are motivated, there are still barriers to voting that keep millions from making their voices heard:

One out of nine Americans has moved in the last year, and many haven’t updated their registrations. Automatic voter registration would help voters and local officials keep records updated.

Many Americans are not aware that they must register before of an election, sometimes 30 days in advance depending on the state. We need same-day voter registration so every American can cast a ballot.

Republican officials here in Ohio and across the country have passed voter suppression laws specifically designed to keep people of color, seniors, and other likely-Democrats from the polls. We need to hold these Republicans accountable and elect voting rights champions in 2018.

Let’s start today. Register at your current address, check your registration, and make sure everyone in your life is ready to vote in the next local, state, and federal election.

If you turned 18 recently, changed your name, moved, or haven’t voted in recent elections, then you need to update your voter registration.

Allied Progress: Portman doesn’t take clear positions

While most in Washington, D.C. have been focused on the ongoing health care debate this week, Senate Republicans have been working behind the scenes to cue up a vote on legislation that would let Equifax, Wells Fargo, and other big financial institutions off the hook for bad behavior.

Politico PRO is reporting that “Senate GOP leadership is considering holding a vote later this week” on S.J. Res. 47 which repeals the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) new rule protecting consumers that have been taken advantage of by big banks and other financial interests from being forced into secret arbitration tribunals where industry calls the shots and consumers hardly stand a chance.

Sen. Rob Portman hasn’t taken a clear position on the bill and could be the deciding vote. If Senate Republicans are successful, the vote could justifiably be seen as a giant gift to Equifax and Wells Fargo executives who are slated to testify in front of the Senate next week.

We heard plenty of shock and indignation following the Equifax data breach and after each of Wells Fargo’s well publicized scandals this year, but this will be the first real test to find out if these Senators are all talk, or if they’re willing to take action. Equifax came under fire for attempting to trick victims of the data breach into signing away their right to go to court by agreeing to a forced arbitration clause. If Sen. Portman votes in favor of S.J.R. 47 he will be, in effect, condoning that behavior and allowing it to continue.

It is time for Sen. Portman to make his position on this important issue known. Will he side with Ohio consumers or the special interests?

When it comes to forced arbitration and Ohio, the numbers don’t lie:

Servicemembers and Veterans: Banks and lenders use forced arbitration clauses in loans issued to Ohio’s 32,996 active-duty servicemembers and reservists and to Ohio’s veterans. Forced arbitration blocks servicemembers’ access to the courts for violations of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act and other misconduct, including illegal repossessions of active- duty servicemembers’ vehicles.

Bank Account Holders: Wells Fargo opened up to 3.5 million fake accounts – including 1,579 in Ohio – without customers’ consent. Wells Fargo has tried since 2013 to use forced arbitration to block lawsuits, including a class action that would help those Ohioans. Wells Fargo has also repeatedly tried to use forced arbitration to avoid justice for people in 49 states – including Ohio – who were charged excess overdraft fees when their accounts were not overdrawn.

Consumers with Inaccurate Credit Reports: Thousands of Ohioans have filed complaints with the CFPB about problems with credit reporting agencies and errors in credit reports, which can increase the cost of a loan or result in a denial of credit. Ohioans falsely matched with a terrorist watch list will get about $7,337 in relief from a class action against Transunion. But Transunion and other credit bureaus have tried to use forced arbitration to block class actions.

Payday Loan Borrowers: Over 99% of storefront payday lenders use forced arbitration clauses in their loan agreements in some states. Annually, Ohioans pay $184 million in fees associated with payday loans that put Ohioans in a cycle of debt. Payday lenders like ACE Cash Express have engaged in abusive lending and illegal debt collection practices.

Prepaid Card Users: Nearly one quarter of Ohioans are unbanked or underbanked, and many rural and low-income Ohioans rely on prepaid cards to manage their money. RushCard holders, including 17,276 Ohioans, and servicemembers serving overseas, were among those harmed when cards were frozen and people could not access their money for weeks. A class action will give class members up to $500 for losses and fees they suffered. The case could have been blocked by a forced arbitration clause, found in 92% of prepaid card contracts.

Families Subject to Illegal and Abusive Debt Collection Practices: Debt collectors are #1 among Ohioans’ and servicemembers’ complaints to the CFPB. Out-of-state debt buyers, who buy consumers’ debt for pennies on the dollar, engage in abusive—and often illegal—financial practices. Debt buyers frequently use arbitration clauses to avoid lawsuits – even when they can’t provide copies of the agreements.

College Students: Ohioans are among those harmed by predatory for-profit colleges, such as Corinthian Colleges, that for years have used forced arbitration clauses to block class actions over their fraudulent conduct. Ohioan students also average $31,746 in public and private student loan debt and may be impacted by abuses by Navient (formerly Sallie Mae), the largest servicer of private student loans. Navient, which has forced borrowers into arbitration, allegedly allegedly “failed to provide the most basic functions of adequate student loan servicing at every stage of repayment.” Ohioans may also fall prey to rampant abuses by sketchy student loan debt relief companies, which also use forced arbitration clauses to take away students’ day in court.

Help Protect Collective Bargaining In Ohio

House Bill 298, which was recently introduced in the Ohio General Assembly, is the latest extreme attack on our freedom to bargain for a better life. This bill would severely limit the rights of working people by curtailing what they can collectively bargain. Even though Ohio voters resoundingly rejected attacks on collective bargaining rights by repealing Senate Bill 5/Issue 2 in 2011, some state legislators persist with these unfair and punitive measures.

While the extreme legislators behind this bill will tell you that it is about limiting sick days for public employees, we know the truth. This is just the first step in trying to silence our voice at the workplace. Today they try to limit how we collectively bargain for sick days; tomorrow it will be about limiting how we collectively bargain over pay, safety in the workplace and how we grieve unfair conditions. This legislation comes straight from Senate Bill 5. This is their attempt to pass that bad legislation piecemeal and we must fight back against ANY attempts to limit our voice on the job.

Instead of these unnecessary and undue attacks on our collective bargaining rights, the General Assembly should be focused on helping municipalities get the state funding they need to serve and protect our communities. We need to tell the General Assembly to stop attacking the basic freedoms of working people and to oppose House Bill 298.

CONNIE PILLICH, Democratic candidate for state treasurer, 2014. Handout NOT BLADE PHOTO
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2017/10/web1_connie-pillich-jpg-1.jpgCONNIE PILLICH, Democratic candidate for state treasurer, 2014. Handout NOT BLADE PHOTO

Staff Reports