Flawed Election Bill Moved through State Legislature; Delayed Online Registration Advances; Legal Weed Bill Heads to Gov
Like college students in a rush to head home for summer break, the Ohio General Assembly held a late night cram session on Wednesday. Two of the bills legislators pushed through both chambers would impact voting. The first would allow online voter registration – but not until 2017 even though the Secretary of State’s office is prepared to start it today. The second would require a modern-day poll tax – a cash bond –for any action in Ohio courts to keep polls open longer on Election Day. Longer polling hours become necessary if there are unexpected problems with voting equipment or power outage.
The Akron Beacon Journal earlier in the week editorialized on the failings of both bills. Both are headed to Governor John Kasich for his signature.
The final rush also finalized a bill that would make medical marijuana legal in Ohio, but only under very, very limited conditions. The Governor is expected to sign it. Some see the measure as an effort to derail a ballot issue that seeks to permit medical marijuana for a broader range of conditions.
As Lawmakers Try and Restrict Voting Opportunities, Federal Courts Protect the Vote
While the GOP-ruled Ohio General Assembly continues to try and discourage some voters, the federal courts continue to protect Ohio voter access. In a ruling that was cheered by the voter rights groups, a federal district court ruled that the elimination of Ohio’s “Golden Week” violates the 14th Amendments and section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
“Golden Week” provides Ohioans the opportunity to register and vote at the same location – thus eliminating one more barrier to voting. Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted announced yesterday that he would appeal the court’s decision. In his press release related to the appeal, Husted falsely claims that groups like the NAACP and the ACLU have supported the elimination of Golden Week.
ACLU of Ohio Senior Policy Director Mike Brickner replied to Husted’s misrepresentation:
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted statement that the ACLU supported the elimination of Golden Week could not be further from the truth. The ACLU has always strongly opposed the elimination of Golden Week, particularly because its elimination would discriminate against African Americans. Our organization testified against cuts to Golden Week in the legislature and filed a lawsuit to restore it.
Did Clarence Thomas Really Emerge as the Lone Dissenter in this Racially Charged Case?
Week in Review writers and editors are just as confounded as Esquire’s Charles Pierce by U.S. Justice Clarence Thomas’ lone dissenting vote on the Timothy Foster decision. Mr. Foster’s defense team charged that the prosecutors in the 1986 murder trial purposely eliminated all the black jurors – leaving Mr. Foster to be tried and convicted by an all-white jury. All of Justice Thomas’ peers saw the injustice of this. Thomas was more concerned about “sandbagging the state courts” than miscarriages of justice.
Gawker Sends Investigators to Solve the Mystery of Donald’s Hair
There’s an adage “you can’t trust a man with a comb over.” That especially applies to guys with fake hair. Gawker did an investigation and seems to have uncovered the mystery of the Donald cotton-candy “hair.”
Bernie Sanders Makes His Mark on the DNC Platform Committee; Alicia Reece on Platform Too
In a nod to his ongoing campaign, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) gave Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders five seats on the important Convention Platform Committee. Hillary Clinton was given six and her campaign named state Representative Alicia Reece, chair of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus, to one of them. Representative Reece is an outspoken champion of Ohioans, especially on issues of voting rights and racial and social justice.
John Kasich, 4th Place Finisher in 3-Man Race, Not Ready to Release His Delegates
In a joint interview with the Plain Dealer and Dispatch, Governor John Kasich said that he is not ready to release his delegates and has asked them to stick with him through the convention. Whether they stick with the Governor or not doesn’t seem to matter. Trump has already collected the minimum number of delegates needed to ensure that he’ll get the GOP nomination in the first round.
Ohio Insurers Unfairly hanging on to Life Insurance Payouts; Mary Taylor is Silent
The Dayton Daily News uncovered that Ohio has received $7.1 million in settlements from insurance companies that weren’t paying death benefits to named beneficiaries, but the Ohio Department of Insurance has been doing little to inform Ohioans when they are entitled to payments. This has allowed big insurance companies, aka big donors, to make more money, while depriving Ohioans of money they deserve.
Common Cause Ohio Policy Analyst, Catherine Turcer, raises questions about this practice and thinks Lt. Governor Mary Taylor, who heads the agency, needs to be looking out for the beneficiaries.
Taylor is considering a run for governor and is expected to face competition from Secretary of State Jon Husted and Attorney General Mike DeWine. This week DeWine publicly admitted he plans to run.
Columbus Airport to be renamed to Honor John Glenn: Marine, Astronaut, U.S. Senator
Republican Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (Clarksville) led a bipartisan effort to rename Port Columbus International Airport in honor of former Democratic U.S. Senator John Glenn.
This is an appropriate way to honor the first American to orbit the Earth. This rare bipartisan legislation is supported by the airport board and Columbus Mayor Andy Ginther. The bill is headed to Governor Kasich for his expected signature.
The always-humble Senator Glenn said, through a staff member, “He is truly grateful and appreciates being thought of in this way”.
JERK ALERT PART II
Sen. Bill Seitz, who is pushing a bill with a modern-day poll tax to discourage voting, lashed out at critics who call it a “poll tax.’’
In a guest column for the Cincinnati Enquirer defending his poll-tax bill, state Senator Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) accused fellow Senator Cecil Thomas (D-Cincinnati) of using offensive terminology by calling the bond required by Senate Bill 296 a “poll tax.” What is really offensive is Senator Seitz’ claim that fighting legislation that makes voting more difficult is an attempt by Democrats to “rig the system by stacking votes.”
Calling all you fiscal hawks: Ohio spent millions of federal money on charter schools that never even opened
Federal money intended to help good charter schools expand, instead went to some of Ohio’s notoriously bad charters. Some federal funding actually went to schools that never opened!
The explosive findings are contained in Belly Up: A Review of Federal Charter School Grants, which examines money spent in Ohio during the program’s 21-year history.
The Ohio Charter School Accountability Project did the analysis to determine how a state with so many of America’s worst-performing charter schools could be in line for so much federal money. Especially since the funding was intended to help the best charter schools. What the Project found was decades of waste, warning signs that were ignored and a political climate that tolerates even low-performing schools.
Auditor Dave Yost finds even more evidence that charters bill state for phantom students
Prior to the release of the Ohio Charter School Accountability Project report, Ohio Auditor Dave Yost unveiled his findings that we’re pony up the funds for non-existent students. Yost’s office was able to uncover the discrepancies by conducting unannounced audits – especially on dropout recovery schools. Ohio’s charter schools were created under the guise of helping students who were struggling in traditional schools. We’re failing those students while lining the pockets of the school operators.
NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio reveals the State of Choice; Planned Parenthood gets a reprieve
NARAL released its report on the State of Choice in Ohio. Our state is known for having some of the strictest and most unnecessary regulations on abortion care in the country.
The report does not simply examine abortion statistics. Also included are birth and fertility rates, contraception access, sexual education, prenatal care, adequate OB/GYN services, domestic and sexual violence rates and response programs, paid family leave, the state of foster care and a whole host of other issues impact reproductive decisions. The impressive report gives a clearer picture of the health and safety conditions of women in Ohio.
Amid the dismal stats for women and girls, some good news: federal Judge Michael Barrett temporarily blocked the state from cutting Planned Parenthood’s funding. Though the reprieve will only last until June 6, Judge Barrett questioned the constitutionality of the defunding bill and he was appointed by George W. Bush.
Village of Newburgh Heights now home to nation’s best parental leave policy
The GOP led Ohio legislature continues to exhibit its disregard for families and their needs, while Ohio cities demonstrate that they care. The Village of Newburgh Heights (NE Ohio) enacted the nation’s most generous family leave policy. The idea was the brain child of Newburgh Heights’ Mayor who became a dad two years ago but was passed unanimously by the City Council.