Two bills discussed today at a hearing of the Ohio House of Representatives' Judiciary Committee would, if passed, offer greater protections to victims of domestic violence and extend them more legal rights to protect their employment, housing and financial livelihood.
Those bills will join H.B. 243 and H.B. 160, which are still awaiting hearings before the judiciary committee and would, respectively, require individuals served with temporary protection orders to surrender their firearms and offer legal protection to the pets of domestic violence victims — often cited as a reason victims have difficulty leaving a violent situation.
Most significant are the changes that would be implemented by H.B. 297, first introduced to the Ohio House in October by Reps. Ann Gonzales (R-Westerville) and Denise Driehaus (D-Cincinnati). The bill outlines new legal protections for domestic violence victims who need to terminate a rental agreement or take unpaid leave at work in order to deal with domestic violence incidences.
Under the bill, victims of domestic violence would be legally protected against termination at work and have the ability to dissolve a rental lease if the tenant has been a victim of domestic violence. The bill would also prohibit landlords from kicking out tenants because they've been victims of domestic violence at the residence and requires them to comply with requests to change locks when a tenant has been a victim of stalking or menacing.
H.B. 309, also introduced in October, by Reps. Dorothy Pelanda (R-Marysville) and Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood), would dissolve any charges related to modifications made to a domestic violence, anti-stalking or other type of protection order or consent agreement
In August, CityBeat spoke with domestic violence victim Andrea Metil, who talked about her personal experiences with legal trip-ups that made protecting herself from her attacker difficult. Metil called for stronger legislation to protect victims of domestic violence.
This is the first hearing for both of the bills.
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State Auditor Dave Yost says he will investigate the potential conflicts of interest found by the Ohio Ethics Commission for nine of 22 top JobsOhio officials, including six of nine board members. For critics, the conflicts of interest add more concerns about JobsOhio, the privatized development agency that proposes tax breaks for businesses and has been mired in controversy ever since it was set up by Gov. John Kasich and Republicans to replace the Ohio Department of Development. Because the agency is privatized and deals with private businesses, many of its dealings are kept from the public under state law. Republicans argue the secrecy is necessary to allow JobsOhio to more quickly establish job-creating development deals, but Democrats say the secrecy makes it too difficult to hold JobsOhio accountable.
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In comparison to men, Ohio women have lower incomes, hold fewer leadership roles and disproportionately suffer from the state’s high infant mortality rate. The issues placed Ohio at No. 30 out of 50 states for women’s issues in a Sept. 25 report from the Center for American Progress (CAP). The report analyzed 36 indicators for women in the categories of economic security, leadership and health; it then graded the states and ranked them based on the grades. CAP, a left-leaning organization, is touting the report to support progressive policies that could help lift women out of such disparities, including the federally funded Medicaid expansion and an increase to minimum wages.Commentary: “Ohio legislator worried a same-sex marriage case will turn the country socialist, make him cry.”
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Out of three major categories, Ohio performed worst on leadership roles available to women, ranking No. 37 in the category with a “D” grade. CAP found only 16.7 percent of Ohio’s state-elected executive offices and 37.2 percent of managerial positions are held by women, even though women make up 52 percent of the state’s population.
The state performed slightly better in health outcomes for women and obtained a “C-” in the category. The report particularly criticized Ohio for its infant mortality rate of 7.7 deaths for every 1,000 infants — the fourth highest in the nation — and regulations and defunding measures in the recently passed state budget that make reproductive health services less accessible to women.
On economic issues, Ohio was relatively on par with the U.S. median and ranked No. 27 with a “C” grade. For every $1 a man makes, an Ohio woman makes 77 cents, which matches the national average. But the results are even worse for minorities: Black women make 66 cents for each dollar a man makes and Hispanic women make 64 cents.
Still, with 17.7 percent of Ohio women living in poverty, the state has the No. 19 highest poverty rate for women in the country. The statistics were again worse for minorities: About 36.4 percent of black women and 32.6 percent of Hispanic women in Ohio live in poverty.
The CAP report analyzed 36 indicators for women in the categories of economic security, leadership and health. It then graded the states and ranked them based on the grades.
Vermont topped the rankings with an “A,” and Oklahoma was at the very bottom with an “F.”
CAP, which is an admittedly left-leaning organization, is touting the report to support progressive policies that could help lift women out of such disparities, including the federally funded Medicaid expansion and an increase to minimum wages.
“While women have come a long way over the past few decades, much remains to be done to ensure that all women can have a fair shot at success,” said Anna Chu, one of the report’s authors, in a statement. “Today’s report shows that in many states, it is still difficult for women and their families to get ahead, instead of just getting by.”