Ohio lawmakers want to honor African American baseball pioneer

“Moses Fleetwood Walker Day” would recognize the historic career of the Ohio native

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Ohio’s electoral votes for president should go to popular vote winner, state lawmakers say

By Jackie Borchardt, cleveland.com 
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on December 06, 2016 at 1:35 PM, updated December 06, 2016

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A pair of Democrat state lawmakers are proposing Ohio’s electoral votes should go to the winner of the national popular vote, regardless of who won the state — not that the idea is likely to go anywhere.

A bill introduced this week in the Ohio House would sign Ohio on to the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, a group of states that pledge their Electoral College votes to the national popular vote winner. But it’s unlikely to pass before the legislative session ends this week.

The compact was formed in 2006, and the idea has gained steam in the weeks since this year’s presidential election. Republican Donald Trump won enough states on Election Night to earn the required 270 electoral votes. But Democrat Hillary Clinton will likely win the popular vote by more than 2.5 million votes when all election results are certified.

“The best and fairest time to change a presidential system is the day after,” Rep. Dan Ramos, a Lorain Democrat and bill sponsor, said in a statement.

Trump won Ohio with 51.7 percent of the vote to Clinton’s 43.6 percent, according to final results.

Ohio and other states prohibit electors from voting for other candidates. The bill specifies that Ohio’s electors will be those chosen by the national popular vote winner. The agreement would only go into effect once states totaling 270 electoral votes participate. Ten states and the District of Columbia have signed on, a total of 165 electoral votes. Ohio would add another 18 votes.

Clinton is the second presidential candidate in the last five contests to win the popular vote and lose the Electoral College.

“The majority of the Presidents elected to their first term in my adult life weren’t elected by the people,” Ramos said. “This isn’t some obscure thing from the 19th century, it’s the majority of presidents this century. I’m proud to present, with Rep. David Leland, a 21st century solution.”

Leland, a Columbus Democrat, said the will of the American people was “hijacked” this year by the Electoral College.

“Enough is enough,” Leland said. “This National Popular Vote legislation will add Ohio to the compact of states that believe, in a true Democracy, the candidate with the most votes wins.”

Three states that have voted for the compact were controlled by Republicans. But the GOP-led Ohio General Assembly has shown no interest in the change.

Lawmakers plan to adjourn sine die Thursday. Any bills that don’t pass before then must start over in the next two-year session, which begins in January.

Ramos said he would reintroduce the bill next year.

Lawmaker Set To Propose During Lame Duck Session That Ohio Join National Popular Vote Compact

Statehouse New Bureau

  NOV 28, 2016

Now that the election is over, lawmakers will be coming back to work at the Statehouse for the lame duck session. But the presidential race is likely to come up in what they discuss.

Uncertified election results show Republican Donald Trump won Ohio by 454,000 votes, but Hillary Clinton is leading in the national popular vote by more than 2 million ballots. Rep. David Leland of Columbus, who’s the former head of the Ohio Democratic Party, said that shouldn’t happen.  “I’ll be sponsoring legislation in the General Assembly to promote the National Popular Vote Compact, so that the people in the United States, the majority of the people who vote for a presidential candidate are the ones that get listened to.”

That compact has passed in 10 states and the District of Columbia, which all lean Democratic and have a total of 165 electoral votes – it would take effect if states with a total of 270 votes approve it, and if Congress okays it.

Read and hear the article at Statehouse News Bureau

Former Chairs Talk About Future Of Their Parties After 2016 Election

WVXU Cincinnati

  NOV 21, 2016

This election has emboldened supporters of Donald Trump, and left Hillary Clinton’s backers devastated. But it’s also brought up big questions for those who align themselves with the major political parties. Two former party chairs took time recently to talk about what the results of this election mean for the future.

On the other side is former Dayton area state Rep. Kevin DeWine, who chaired the Ohio Republican Party during the GOP wave in 2010 but resigned after an intra-party battle with supporters of then newly-elected Gov. John Kasich. DeWine said Leland’s example of Democratic wins in 2006 against well-known Republicans makes him cautious about what could happen in the coming midterm election.  “So the friends on my side of the aisle who look at this and say, ‘we’re on the precipice of a permanent Republican majority’, I would say, what happens in Washington is going to dictate greatly what’s going to happen in 2018 here in Ohio,” DeWine said.

DeWine said it’s time to root for Trump as the commander in chief, as he said Republicans were told to do when Barack Obama was elected – though he admitted that message might not have been heard by everyone. Leland said the problem with that approach is that many are noting that Clinton actually will win the popular vote, so he feels Democrats will remain, as he put it, the loyal opposition.

As Ohio Democrats struggle with the results of this election, many of the state’s Republicans are also dealing with discord within the party – as evidenced by Kasich and Portman, who both made it clear they voted for Republicans other than Trump. And Ohio Republican Party chair Matt Borges had raised serious concerns about Trump and had wobbled on his support of the nominee until the last weeks of the campaign. DeWine says the most powerful Republican in Ohio right now is likely Bob Paduchik, who ran Trump’s Ohio campaign and publicly blasted Borges. And DeWine is wondering how that might affect the state party’s relationship with the White House – and about the future of the party’s leadership. “I’ve not talked to a member about it, but sitting on the sidelines watching this, it’s kinda hard when there appears to be such an adversarial relationship between the President-elect and the state party it seems like maybe change is in the offing.” When asked if he’d like to be the party chair, DeWine answered: “No, no. Did I say it fast enough, soon enough, quick enough? No.”

The losses for Democrats – including Ted Strickland’s 21 point loss in the US Senate race – might raise questions about leadership at the Ohio Democratic Party. Leland said he’s not concerned, but isn’t interested in a job change.  “I’m in the Kevin category here. I enjoyed the time that I was there [as] party chairman. I really enjoy coming back to the Ohio General Assembly, and I’m going to focus my time on that,” Leland said. And he added: “I don’t think there’s any concern as far as David Pepper – I think he did a really good job.”

In 2018, when the offices of governor, attorney general, auditor, secretary of state and treasurer will all be open, Leland said Democrats should consider for the top of that ticket Youngstown area Congressman Tim Ryan and former attorney general Richard Cordray, currently the head of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. DeWine said likely GOP gubernatorial contenders Secretary of State Jon Husted, Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor and his cousin, Attorney General Mike DeWine are all battle tested. But he suggested Democrats could look to big city mayors as potential candidates.

Copyright 2016 90.3 WCPN Ideastream. To see more, visit 90.3 WCPN Ideastream.

Legal marijuana too late for some in Ohio

By Alan Johnson  The Columbus Dispatch  •  Monday November 14, 2016

Everyone knew Ronnie Frame was living on borrowed time. Especially Steve Carr, his adoptive father.

Carr worked tirelessly for years with doctors all over Ohio hoping to find the right drug and the right procedure to reduce the continual, debilitating seizures that Ronnie suffered as the result of Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, a rare and severe form of epilepsy that Ronnie developed from an allergic reaction to a childhood vaccination. He had other serious health problems, too, but the seizures, from minor to grand mal, slammed him every day.

Carr, a retired teacher and former director of special education for South-Western City Schools, got custody of Ronnie when he was 10 years old after the boy’s mother died. Carr became his permanent legal guardian once Ronnie reached 18.

“He suffered so much. When you see someone you love suffering, you will do anything,” Carr said. “I knew we were running out of time.”

Ronnie’s health deteriorated as he grew into adulthood. The seizures worsened, the good days became fewer, and the drug options dwindled.

Earlier this year, Carr heard about something new, Epidiolex, an experimental drug using cannabinoid ingredients — essentially a form of medical marijuana. A new law made medical marijuana legal in Ohio on Sept. 8.

But being legal and being available are different things.

The state has not released an estimate of how many people in Ohio might be eligible for medical marijuana. However, the group Ohioans for Medical Marijuana estimated the number of potential patients at 188,000.

GW Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturer of Epidiolex, announced in June that studies showed it was effective specifically for patients with Ronnie’s condition.

“Epidiolex has the potential to provide a robust and clinically meaningful reduction in seizures in this highly treatment-resistant population,” said Dr. Linda Laux, director of the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. “I am excited about the prospect of Epidiolex being made available on prescription in the future and believe it has the potential to make an important difference to the lives of many patients.”

It was encouraging news, but Carr knew that even if it worked, Epidiolex would not cure Ronnie. Nothing could do that. However, it might reduce the number and severity of his seizures and increase his quality of life.

Carr said he was willing to help Ronnie in any way he could, even if it meant risking breaking the law by crossing state lines to get the medication. But Carr said he could find no Ohio doctor willing to take the risk of writing a recommendation for the medical-marijuana drug. The State Medical Board has since clarified its stance somewhat but still suggests that doctors who recommend medical marijuana consult an attorney first.

On Sept. 25, Ronnie died. He was 42 years old.

Medical marijuana had been legal in Ohio for less than three weeks when Ronnie died. However, the rules, procedures, certification and licensing are still in the works. Ohio patients probably won’t be able to get any form of the drug until 2018.

“It’s taking so long,” Carr said. “There’s families that need this.”

State officials recently proposed the first set of rules for marijuana cultivators. Still to come are rules for processors, testing labs, dispensaries, physicians and pharmacists. Justin Hunt, chief operating officer for the state medical-marijuana program, said much work remains to be done.

“It takes a lot to build an industry from the ground up,” Hunt said at a meeting of the Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee.

State Rep. David Leland, D-Columbus, said he was undecided about House Bill 523, the medical-marijuana legislation, when it was being considered this year.

“I think there are provisions in it that are just bad,” Leland said.

Then he talked to Carr and heard Ronnie’s story. “When it came time to vote,” Leland said, “I remembered the conversation I had with Steve about his son. That’s what made me vote for it.”

Christy Allen, a home health-care provider who looked after Ronnie for the past seven years, described him as “a big, sweet, innocent teddy bear. He didn’t talk, but he could communicate with his eyes. He let you know what he wanted.”

“He had the brightest blue eyes,” she said. “You felt like you could see into another universe.”

Allen was there when Ronnie died, holding one of his hands as Carr held the other. She spoke at his funeral, calling him “my boy.”

“I learned from Ronnie not to sweat the small stuff,” she said. “Ronnie would have a seizure and get up and keep pushing.”

Carr said he misses Ronnie very much but learned so much from the son who could not talk.

“He was just a precious spirit,” Carr said. “He was my hero. I don’t know anyone who suffered more and kept on going.”

ajohnson@dispatch.com

@ohioaj

Ohio employers’ ability to fire medical marijuana users irks some legislators

May 11, 2016

The Ohio House of Representatives on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a medical marijuana bill and the next morning, a Quinnipiac University poll showed 9 in 10 Ohioans support marijuana as medicine.

Marijuana has momentum, and the House addressed some of the issues legislators have had with legalization, including whether medical marijuana could be smoked (no) and if it could be grown by sick patients (no).

But some House Democrats made clear their displeasure with a portion of the bill that would allow employers to maintain drug testing programs and to fire workers who fail, even if prescribed marijuana by a doctor. Workers wouldn’t be eligible for unemployment benefits, either.

It’s not an easily solvable problem.

“We’re punishing the people that are going to be using the very substance we’re going to make legal,” Rep. David Leland, D-Columbus, said Tuesday before the vote, adding that he was unsure if he would end up voting for the bill (he did). Leland told his peers it’s up to the Senate to “cure this particular ill.”

Rep. Teresa Fedor, D-Toledo, voted against the bill, and said the workplace aspect would become a bigger issue. She said she could not support the bill as written.

The legislation, House Bill 523, got its first hearing Wednesday morning at the Senate’s Government Oversight and Reform Committee. Sen. Troy Balderson of Zanesville, one of nine Republicans on the 12-member committee, said before the hearing that the Senate was in “tough terrain,” and would have to do more homework.

Business groups support continued drug testing because many companies don’t want employees working while under the influence. That makes sense to nearly everyone. The complicating issue lies with marijuana’s longevity in users’ bodies.

A sick patient might use legally prescribed marijuana on Saturday, be tested on Wednesday and fired by Friday, all without ever coming to work under the influence of marijuana.

While the Ohio Chamber of Commerce has so far not officially endorsed the bill, a group representing it and other local chambers testified that maintaining a company’s human resources policy, including drug screening, should be a core tenant of legalization. The group, the Ohio Metro Chambers of Commerce, also wants to make sure employees fired because of policy violations can’t get unemployment benefits.

Rep. Kirk Schuring, R-Canton, who has studied medical marijuana as part of a legislative committee, said Tuesday the part of the bill simply matches what’s already law that permits employers to fire workers over failed drug tests.

THC, the part of marijuana that employers test for, is traceable for longer than most drugs. Occasional users may fail a urine drug test after three or four days. But regular users can still test positive more than two weeks after going cold turkey, according to a study in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence. Other studies show positive tests even longer after users stopped using the drug, and failed drug test timelines can differ because of a variety of factors.

Tom Knox covers Ohio State University, public policy, energy and manufacturing.

Lawmakers seek to protect drinking water

The Columbus Dispatch Editorial

Tuesday November 24, 2015

Good luck to state Reps. David Leland and Michael Stinziano, who have introduced a bill to restore municipal control of the buffer zones around public water sources such as reservoirs.

The shores of municipal water supplies are municipal property, and often city officials allow a band of vegetation to grow up along the shoreline to reduce the amount of lawn and farm fertilizer that makes its way into the water. This helps reduce levels of nitrates and toxic algae in public water supplies.

But waterfront homeowners in Columbus complained that these strips inhibit their views and access to the water; they said they were being hounded for mowing the grass, building docks and making other alterations to the shoreline.

“People were being harassed by city of Columbus Division of Water folks,” said Sen. Kris Jordan, R-Ostrander, who was among the lawmakers who successfully added a provision to the most recent state budget that allows homeowners to mow and make other changes along the shoreline.

That is a mistake. Cities around the state, including Columbus, are experiencing repeated problems with unsafe nitrate levels and toxic algae. They have gone to court to try to undo the budget provision.

Rather than wait for the Franklin County Common Pleas Court to fix this mistake, Leland and Stinziano, both Democrats, would restore municipal control of the buffer zones.

At a committee hearing, Stinziano said Columbus officials have assured him that the situation with the “off-putting” Columbus employee has been dealt with.

How state lawmakers put city water systems at risk

By the Beacon Journal editorial board

Published: November 22, 2015

This past week, two state representatives started to shine welcome light on a dark, hidden crevice in the massive state budget bill passed in the summer. Their worthy goal is to repeal a last-minute provision that would endanger the safety of drinking water for millions across the state, including those who use the city of Akron’s water system. As they point out, recent water crises, among them the shutdown of Toledo’s water supply due to toxic algae, should lead the legislature toward more protection for municipal water resources, not less.

State Reps. David Leland and Michael Stinziano, both Columbus Democrats, would end what amounts to a special exemption for homeowners who live next to municipally owned buffer zones surrounding water reservoirs. The provision inserted into the budget bill allows such homeowners access to the protective zones, permitting them to cut down trees, mow, create paths and remove vegetation. Leland and Stinziano propose repeal of the exemption, restoring the right of cities to guard vigorously their water supplies, making arrests and issuing fines if needed.

The current budget language amounts to yet another attack on municipal home rule by Republican majorities in the Ohio House and Senate. What’s worse is that the misguided budget language brings with it the potential to degrade the ability of natural buffers to absorb runoff, filtering out substances such as nitrates, phosphorous (which can cause toxic algal blooms), herbicides, pesticides and other contaminants. At worst, the budget provision opens the door to deliberate acts of terrorism.

Telling is that no Republican lawmakers have stepped forward to claim sponsorship of the budget language affecting municipal water supplies. The provision was crafted after a dispute between the city of Columbus and wealthy homeowners living near a city reservoir reached the highest levels of state government.

Leland and Stinziano hope that hearings will expose the potential dangers, never discussed during budget hearings, spurring action to repeal the language.

Fortunately, five cities, including Columbus, Akron, Barberton, Lima and Westerville, have gone into court to block temporarily the budget provision on buffer zones, which would have gone into effect in September. But as recent events have shown, delays in protecting water supplies are no longer tolerable. Rather than wait for the uncertain outcome of lengthy court proceedings, the legislature should quickly act to correct its mistake.

In Akron, the important objective is to protect Lake Rockwell, the city’s primary reservoir, from harm.

Last-minute tweaks to budget bills are nothing new at the Statehouse, doling out special favors in the dead of night. What the Republican-run legislature did in this instance goes far beyond a tweak by giving a small group of wealthy property owners special treatment that could lead to public health problems.

By calling attention to the problem, David Leland and Michael Stinziano are doing the Republican majorities a favor, allowing them to repair their mistake before an entire municipal water supply has to be shut down.

Ohio House urges Obama to halt Syrian refugee resettlement

By Jackie Borchardt, cleveland.com

November 17, 2015

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio House of Representatives on Tuesday voted to urge President Obama not to accept refugees from Syria after it was reported one of the terrorists in Friday’s Paris attacks may have sought asylum in France.

The resolution, a symbolic gesture, was rushed to the House floor and cleared the GOP-controlled chamber largely along party lines, 63-24, after a heated debate lasting longer than an hour. Cleveland Reps. Bill Patmon and John Barnes Jr. were the only Democrats to vote for the measure.

On Monday, more than half the country’s governors, including Ohio Gov. John Kasich, opposed Obama’s policy to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees this year. The governors — all but one were Republican — cited concerns that the Department of Homeland Security can’t properly vet Syrian refugees.

Ohio is the first state to pass such a resolution, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. California passed a resolution urging more refugee resttlement.

The resolution’s sponsor, Rep. Tim Derickson, who is running for the congressional seat recently vacated by former U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, said the measure is not about turning away refugees but about protecting the citizens who are already here.

“We must act now to prevent those wishing to commit acts of terror from entering our soil under the guise of refugee protection,” Derickson said on the House floor.

More than 4 million people have fled Syria since civil war began there in 2011, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Most have settled in Turkey.

Ohio has admitted 76 Syrian refugees since 2011, according to the U.S. Department of State. Nationally, 2,181 Syrian refugees have been resettled in the U.S. since then.

Rep. David Leland, a Columbus Democrat, said the resolution gives the militant group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) exactly what it wants — admission of fear. Leland quoted the poem on the Statute of Liberty — a gift from France — that says, “Give me your tired, your poor…”

“There’s no caveat on that statute that says ‘unless we’re afraid of you,'” Leland said. “That’s who we are as a people, that’s who we’ve been as a people, that’s what makes the United States of America different from every other country in the world.”

Ohio lawmakers push to restore buffer zones around reservoirs

Legislature approved a measure earlier this year allowing property owners to maintain publicly owned buffer strips around drinking water supplies

Monday, November 16, 2015

by WKSU’s ANDY CHOW

Some lawmakers believe Ohio’s water quality is in danger because of a provision added to this year’s budget. Statehouse correspondent Andy Chow reports.

Earlier this year, lawmakers approved a measure that would let landowners near reservoirs chop and trim in buffer zones. These are the strips of land with trees, bushes and grass that can catch harmful runoff.

To hear the interview click here:  http://wksu.org/news/story/44956

Democratic Representative David Leland of Columbus says landowners believe this makes the area look nicer.

“And that may be true but those things were there for a purpose, those things were there to protect the drinking water, and that has to have number one priority.”

Leland has introduced a bill to stop landowners from touching the municipality-owned buffer zones.