Badly outnumbered by Republicans and men, Ohio’s 14 Democratic women legislators gathered for their annual lobby day and offered humor, hope and advice on how to pass pending legislation that Rep. Janine Boyd likes to call “really pro-life.’’
Under the banner From Birth to the Boardroom: Empowering Women, Empowering Ohio , the women discussed a series of bills they have sponsored, most of which sit stalled in the House and Senate.
Reps. Boyd and Nickie Antonio are leading the fight for House Bill 494 which would protect vulnerable Ohioans by closing loopholes that make it easier for domestic abusers to access guns.
“I am tired about reading about women … who are afraid for their lives or even lost their lives,’’ Rep. Boyd told about 150 who gathered for the lobby days. “This is a pro-life bill – really pro-life.’’
Reps. Greta Johnson and Kristin Boggs advocated for passage of House Resolution 344, which urges publicly held corporations in Ohio to support gender diversity on their boards of directors. They cited research showing that more women in leadership roles improves profits and enhances companies’ reputations and corporate compliance.
Rep. Heather Bischoff offered high praise for Rep. Johnson, who takes care of
colleagues and her small children with the help of her “MacGvyer purse’’ that overflows with snacks and beverage. “She keeps us hydrated, she keeps us fed,’’ Bischoff said.
Rep. Michele LePore-Hagan made a pitch for HB 408. It calls for a creation of buffer zones for abortion clinic patients and the right of action for those targeted by anti-choice pickets. “Patients and clinic staff should not be harassed on a daily basis,’’ she said. “These protesters are following around clinic staff and their children. This is not a political issue. This is a matter of human decency.’’
Reps. Boyd and Christie Bryant Kuhns talked of the need to pass Ohio’s first-ever Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program. HB 511 would give workers the ability to continue earning a portion of their pay during a family medical emergency or the birth or adoption of a new baby. Rep. Kuhns is a new mom and Rep. Boyd is waiting to adopt. Bot
h talked of the high cost of child rearing and how better family leave policies would help the entire family.
Despite the GOP’s lock on the House and Senate, the woman noted the value of persistence. Some pointed out that Rep. Teresa Fedor’s long quest to help curb human trafficking finally passed, and the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus is advancing efforts for mandatory body cameras for police and grand jury reform.
Rep. Alicia Reece, who heads the black caucus, promised the fight will continue until OLBC’s entire agenda is adopted, including a Voter Bill of Rights.