0 Comments · Wednesday, January 22, 2014
State Rep. Alicia Reece and other
activists are mobilizing a campaign to get a “Voter Bill of Rights” on
the Ohio ballot this November.
by German Lopez
Posted In: News
at 12:25 PM | Permalink
Constitutional amendment could appear on November ballot
State Rep. Alicia Reece and other activists are mobilizing a campaign to get a "Voter Bill of Rights" on the Ohio ballot this November.If approved by voters, the constitutional amendment would preserve the 35-day early voting period, expand early voting hours, allow voters to cast a provisional ballot anywhere in a given county, advance online voter registration and effectively prevent legislators from passing stricter voter ID laws in the future.But before it ends up on the ballot, supporters will need to gather 1,000 petition signatures to get the initiative in front of the attorney general and collect 385,247 total signatures by July 2 to file the petition to the secretary of state.The Democrat-backed amendment is in direct response to attempts by Republicans, including Secretary of State Jon Husted and Gov. John Kasich, to shorten Ohio's early voting period and otherwise restrict access to the ballot.A bill currently working through the Ohio legislature would trim the early voting period from 35 to 29 days and effectively end the "Golden Week" in which voters can register to vote
and file a ballot on the same day. It's expected Kasich and Republican legislators will approve the bill.Republicans say the limits are supposed to prevent voter fraud and establish uniform voting standards across the state. Otherwise, some counties might establish longer early voting hours than others.But some Republicans acknowledge that restrictions on early voting could suppress constituents that typically elect Democrats, obviously to Republicans' advantage."I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process
to accommodate the urban — read African-American — voter-turnout
machine," wrote Doug Preisse, close adviser to Kasich, in a 2012 email to The Columbus Dispatch.The constitutional amendment could also help address concerns raised last year when the U.S. Supreme Court repealed parts of the Voting Rights Act that allowed the federal government to better regulate state-level restrictions on voting.In response to some of the concerns, Democratic candidates plan to hold a voting rights forum in Cincinnati on Martin Luther King Jr. Day next Monday. Attorney general candidate David Pepper, secretary of state candidate Nina Turner and state auditor candidate John Carney are scheduled to attend.The Voter's Bill of Rights:
by German Lopez
Troubled execution draws critics, activists push voters' rights, Preschool Promise needs help
A condemned Ohio killer took more than 20 minutes to die in an execution carried out yesterday with a combination of drugs never tried before in the United States. The execution was one of the longest since Ohio resumed capital punishment in 1999. Throughout the nearly 25 minutes that Dennis McGuire took to die, he reportedly gasped and loudly snorted as family members and reporters watched. McGuire's attorney called the execution "a failed, agonizing experiment" and added, "The people of the state of Ohio should be appalled at what was done here today in their names." The new execution method was adopted after the previous drug's supplies ran out because a manufacturer declared it off limits for state-sanctioned kills.In response to the troubled execution, the family plans to file a lawsuit. Ohioans to Stop Executions also called for a moratorium on the death penalty.State Rep. Alicia Reece and other activists are pushing a Voter Bill of Rights that could end up in front of Ohio voters in November. If approved by voters, the constitutional amendment would preserve the 35-day early voting period, expand early voting hours, allow voters to cast a provisional ballot anywhere in the county and advance online voter registration. Many of those measures are controversial to Republicans, who have repeatedly tried to limit early voting in the past couple years. But to get the amendment on the ballot, activists will need to wade through the long, costly process of gathering roughly 385,000 eligible signatures by July 2.Commentary: "Republicans Continue Hindering Access to the Ballot."Cincinnati's campaign for universal preschool is looking for volunteers to help raise awareness and shape the final proposal. The big question is how tuition credits for local families, particularly low-income parents, would be funded under the proposal. Despite the remaining questions, voters could vote on the initiative in November. CityBeat covered the Preschool Promise in greater detail here.The National Weather Service called a Winter Weather Advisory
for most of the Cincinnati area until 4 p.m. today. Drivers should
expect reduced visibility and one or two inches of snow, mostly before
noon.As expected, Ohio officials appealed a ruling that forces the state to acknowledge same-sex marriages on death certificates.The University of Cincinnati is spending more than $500,000 this year on
lights, cameras and off-duty patrols, among other measures, to address continuing concerns about violent crimes around campus.
But some students and parents say the school should pursue more
aggressive efforts, such as selling anti-crime tools in the campus
bookstore.Greater Cincinnati Water Works reopened local intakes along the Ohio River after the W. Va. chemical spill passed yesterday.Cincinnati officials admit yesterday that a pile of old road salt should have been used before other supplies, but the city says it will use the remaining pile before purchasing more salt. Councilman Charlie Winburn raised questions about the salt after he discovered the $316,000 pile.Cincinnati ranked fifth for number of bedbug treatments in 2013.More than 50,000 employees will get job training through the second round of the Ohio Incumbent Workforce Training Voucher Program, according to the Ohio Development Services Agency.Extreme heat forced authorities to suspend the Australian Open for more than four hours yesterday and caused one athlete to hallucinate images of Snoopy.Follow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy • News: @CityBeat_News • Music: @CityBeatMusic • German Lopez: @germanrlopez
by German Lopez
Posted In: News
at 11:40 AM | Permalink
Proposed legislation removes five days in which voters can simultaneously register and vote
The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio says it opposes
Senate Bill 238, which would reduce Ohio’s in-person early voting
period from 35 to 29 days and repeal a five-day period in which Ohioans
can simultaneously register to vote and vote in person.
“The five-day window offers major benefits to many voters,
including those with disabilities or inflexible work schedules, and
there is little evidence that it has created any major problems,” said
ACLU of Ohio Director of Communications and Public Policy Mike Brickner
in a statement. “S.B. 238 throws away these critical, nonpartisan
benefits for no good reason.”
The bill was introduced in the Ohio Senate on Nov. 13 by
Republican State Sen. Frank Larose. It’s co-sponsored by six Republicans,
including State Sen. Bill Seitz of Cincinnati.
The bill’s introduction follows a letter from Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted urging legislators to trim in-person early voting days.
The Ohio Association of Election Officials claims
uniform voting hours are necessary to avoid legal challenges in case
some counties set longer voting periods than others, which courts could
deem unfair under equal protection grounds. The uniform voting periods
reduce early voting days in some counties without their approval, the
organization acknowledges, but it’s necessary to keep the standards
uniform without placing an unfair burden on smaller counties.
Democrats, including State Rep. Alicia Reece of Cincinnati, say the real reason behind such proposals is to suppress voters.
“The Secretary of State’s voter suppression agenda is
extremely disappointing. As the state’s chief elections officer,
Secretary Husted is tasked with the duty of ensuring that Ohio’s
elections are fair and accessible to all citizens,” Reece said in a
statement. “Unfortunately, the proposed changes are aimed at restricting
voters’ access to the ballot box in 2014.”
Democrats have some evidence to their claims. Doug
Preisse, chairman of the Franklin County Republican Party and close
adviser to Gov. John Kasich, previously wrote to The Columbus Dispatch
in an email regarding early voting, “I guess I really actually feel we
shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban — read
African-American — voter-turnout machine.”
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 18, 2013
City Council joined statewide efforts to avoid loosening restrictions on the use of deadly force when it unanimously passed on Sept. 11 a resolution that opposes Ohio’s version of controversial “Stand Your Ground” laws.
by German Lopez
Bill restricts abortions, locals to combat infant deaths, Reece criticizes voter investigations
Got questions for CityBeat about, well, anything? Submit them here, and we’ll try to get back to you in our first Answers Issue. CityBeat is also looking to talk to anyone who’s been incarcerated for a drug-related offense in Ohio. If you know someone or are someone interested in talking to us, email firstname.lastname@example.org. An Ohio House bill introduced June 11 would impose harsher restrictions on legal abortions, and some of the requirements may coerce doctors into giving medically inaccurate information. Among other requirements, the bill would force doctors to explain fetal development and supposed risks to inducing an abortion, while pregnant patients would be forced to undergo an ultrasound 48 hours before the procedure. But research has found that, barring rare complications, the medical risks listed in the bill are not linked to abortion.Local leaders are beginning a collaborative effort to combat Cincinnati's alarmingly high rate of infant mortality. The effort is bringing together local politicians from both sides of the aisle, nonprofit groups and local hospitals. Infant mortality rates are measured by the number of deaths of babies less than one year old per 1,000 live births. In Cincinnati, infant mortality rates are at 13.6, while the national average is six. In previous comments, Mayor Mark Mallory explained his moral justification for increased efforts against infant mortality: "In Cincinnati, we have had more infant deaths in recent
years than victims of homicide. Our community, justifiably, invests
millions of dollars, immense political capital and large amounts of
media attention in reducing our homicide rate. It's time to start doing
the same for our infant mortality rate."State Rep. Alicia Reece, who heads the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus, sent a letter to Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted yesterday criticizing recent efforts to investigate 39 voter fraud cases in Hamilton County. "It is unfortunate that during the past few years, the focus has been on voter suppression instead of voter access and education," Reece said in a statement. "Many of these voters come from African-American and low-income neighborhoods, and they would benefit from a comprehensive voter education program." CityBeat previously covered the 39 "double voter" cases, which mostly involved voters sending an absentee ballot prior to Election Day then voting through a provisional ballot on Election Day, here.Mayoral candidates Roxanne Qualls, John Cranley, Jim Berns and Stacy Smith squared off at a mayoral forum yesterday. Democrats Qualls and Cranley, who are widely seen as the top contenders, debated the parking plan and streetcar project — both of which Qualls supports and Cranley opposes. CityBeat previously covered the streetcar project and how it could relate to the mayor's race here.An audit of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) found Ohio's Medicaid program could save $30 million by avoiding fraudulent billing. State officials responded to the audit by highlighting changes in budget plans that supposedly take steps to reduce Medicaid fraud, including Gov. John Kasich's proposal to add five full-time Medicaid auditors to perform additional on-site monitoring in an effort to reduce overpayments.Ohio lawmakers seem unlikely to approve a federally funded Medicaid expansion, but bipartisan bills introduced in the Ohio House and Senate make sweeping changes to the Medicaid program that aim to lower costs and make the government health care program more efficient. Legislators claim the goal is to bring down costs without reducing services, all while providing avenues for Medicaid participants to move out of poverty. Hearings for the bill will begin next week.After giving a speech celebrating the resurfacing of a high-speed test track, Gov. Kasich rode a car at 130 miles per hour in a more literal "victory lap."Scientists are apparently making advancements in helping people regrow limbs.
by Bill Sloat
State Rep. Alicia Reece only local legislator listed as co-sponsor
of Ohio House Democrats wants Congress to move quickly and grant
statehood to Puerto Rico, which has been a U.S. possession since the
Spanish-American War ended in 1898. The
Ohioans do not say where the star should go on a redesigned American
flag, but they said statehood would “respect the rights of
self-governance through consent of the governed of our fellow United
States citizens residing in Puerto Rico.”
sponsor of the resolution, H.C.R. 57, is State Rep. Dan Ramos of Lorain,
a northern Ohio city where about 25 percent of the 64,000 residents are
Hispanic. Lorain is considered the most Hispanic city in Ohio, and nearly 20 percent of its population claims Puerto Rican descent. The resolution urging statehood was introduced this week in the Ohio House where it likely faces an uncertain future. The current term of the legislature is scheduled to end in December, and it has no Republican co-sponsors. The GOP controls the House, which means that Democratic proposals often get bottled up or receive short shrift.Earlier this month, a slight majority of Puerto Ricans voted in favor of statehood for the Caribbean Island. It was the first time a statehood referendum has won there,
and the non-binding vote was seen as signaling that many Puerto Ricans
appear ready to end the island’s status as a U.S. commonwealth. The move by the Ohio House Democrats also appears aimed at cementing the party’s support among Hispanic voters. Some
70 percent of Hispanics backed the Democrats and President Obama on Election
Day, and Hispanics are emerging as a key bloc with increasing power at
the ballot box.
exception of State Rep. Alicia Reece, a Cincinnati Democrat, all of the
other House Democrats backing the statehood resolution are from Columbus
or further north in Ohio. The resolution urges Congress to take swift action “towards admitting the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico to the Union as a State.” Statehood decisions are up to Congress. The
Ohio resolution points out that Puerto Ricans are already U.S. citizens
(although they cannot vote in presidential elections), and that many
serve in the U.S. military. A 1917 law granted residents U.S. citizenship.
There is a historical footnote involving Cincinnati in Puerto Rico’s fate. Former
GOP President William Howard Taft, a Cincinnatian who went on to serve
as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in the 1920s, delivered a major
legal decision in 1922 that helped keep Puerto Rico separate. Taft
said the congressional act that conferred citizenship on the islanders
did not contemplate that they would be incorporated into the Union. He ruled the U.S. possession had never been designated for statehood. Taft gave the island a unique status that has been described as a commonwealth, or as it is said in Spanish, “Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico.”
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 17, 2012
A Cincinnati-area state representative is decrying billboards throughout Ohio whose aim, she says, is voter intimidation.
Democratic Rep. Alicia Reece held a news conference Oct. 15 in front of a billboard that read, “Voter Fraud is a Felony!”
by German Lopez
In-person early voting is underway in Ohio. Find your nearest polling booth here.
State Rep. Alicia Reece, a Democrat, is not happy with
what she sees as another attempt at voter suppression. Reece claims a
new billboard, which reads “Voter Fraud is a Felony,” is meant to
intimidate voters — particularly voters in low-income and black
neighborhoods. The company hosting the billboards says there are 30
billboards like it in Greater Cincinnati and the sponsor of the
billboards, who chose to remain anonymous, did not ask to target any
The second presidential debate is tonight at 9 p.m. All
eyes are on President Barack Obama to deliver a better performance than
he did in the last debate against Mitt Romney. The media was quick to
jump on the post-debate bounce in polls Romney experienced a mere week
after the debate, but political scientists say debates typically don’t have much political significance
in the long term. Still, the debate will be a good opportunity for
Obama and Romney to flesh out their positions and show their abilities to reach out to the public. The full schedule of the remaining debates
can be found here. The agreed-upon rules to the debates were leaked
yesterday. One notable rule says the candidates may not ask each other
any direct questions during any of the debates. Both the Romney and Obama campaigns made a fuss about tonight's debate moderator possibly asking follow-up questions.
But the debate isn’t the only important presidential test
this week. While in Youngstown, Paul Ryan, Republican vice presidential
nominee, tried to show he can pass the dish washing test, but little did
he know that savvy media outlets were ready to call him out on his
dishonesty. Brian Antal, president of the Mahoning County St. Vincent De
Paul Society, said Ryan was only at the group’s soup kitchen for the
picture and didn’t do much work. The visit apparently angered Antal, who
said his charity group is supposed to be nonpartisan. The race for Ohio’s U.S. Senate seat saw its first of
three debates yesterday. At the debate, Democratic incumbent Sherrod
Brown and Republican challenger Josh Mandel agreed on very little, and
they did not have many kind words for each other. Mandel criticized
Brown for the auto bailout, liberal economic policies and inability to
get a budget through the Senate. Brown criticized Mandel for alleged
cronyism in the state treasurer’s office, dishonesty on the campaign
trail and support for trickle-down economics. The next debate is in
Columbus on Thursday, and the two men will face off one last time in
Cincinnati on Oct. 25.Ohio is still weighing options regarding a Medicaid
expansion. Critics of the expansion are worried the expansion would cost
the state too much money. However, previous research shows Medicaid
expansions can actually save states money by lowering the amount of
uncompensated care. Medicaid expansions in other states also notably
One analyst says Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble will see stronger growth in the future.
A controversial ruling by the Ohio Supreme Court is
sparking some local debate. The ruling said juveniles are not entitled
to an attorney during police interrogations preceding a charge or
initial appearance at juvenile court. Under state law, juveniles are
allowed to have attorneys during “proceedings,” and the Ohio Supreme
Court interpreted “proceedings” to mean “court proceedings.”
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted announced 6,665
new entities filed to do business in Ohio in September. The number is up
from September 2011, when 6,143 new entities filed to do business; but
it’s down from August 2012, when 7,341 entities asked to do business in
Ohio. The numbers show a steady economic recovery.
The Ohio Turnpike may get a few changes soon. A new Ohio
Department of Transportation (ODOT) study shows a few options for Gov.
John Kasich’s administration: lease the turnpike, give it over to ODOT
or leave it alone. If the turnpike is leased or handed over to ODOT,
tolls will likely rise to keep up with inflation and two maintenance facilities will shut down. However, the revenue generated could be used
for new transportation projects — a goal for the Kasich administration.
Kasich is set to make his decision in about a month.
In other Ohio Turnpike news, Turnpike Director Rick Hodges
announced turnpike tow truck companies will soon be paid less but
allowed to charge customers more.
Scientists want to measure human consciousness. The technology could gauge whether vegetative patients retain any awareness.
by Andy Brownfield
Rep. Reece claims "voter fraud is illegal" ads are attempt at voter intimidation
A Cincinnati-area state representative is decrying billboards throughout Ohio whose aim, she says, is voter intimidation.
Democratic Rep. Alicia Reece held a news conference Monday morning in front of a billboard that read, “Voter Fraud is a Felony!”
The billboards were paid for “by a private family
foundation,” but Reece claims in a news release that the sponsors are
essentially anonymous and the billboards are being strategically placed
in low-income and black neighborhoods.
“We are asking the Outdoor Advertising Association of Ohio
to work with the anonymous sponsors of the billboards to have them
removed immediately,” Reece wrote in a statement.
“It’s obvious that the billboards are designed to intimidate voters and leave some wondering if merely voting is now a crime.”
Mike Norton with Norton Outdoor Advertising — the company
on whose billboards the ads appear — said there are 30 such signs in the
Greater Cincinnati area.
He said the sponsor didn’t ask for any demographic
targeting and the ads are appearing in all neighborhoods wherever there
was open space.
Norton said the sponsor wished to remain anonymous and he isn’t at liberty to give out its name.
As for the anonymity of the ads sponsor, “Our company’s
stand on political advertising is we do our very best to make sure it’s
accurate and it’s not an attack ad,” Norton said. “This seemed to fall
well within the bounds of reason on both of those benchmarks.”
The billboards are not illegal, and they are considered Constitutionally protected speech.
The Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University
Law School issued a policy paper finding that cases of fraud by
individual voters are extremely rare.
The center found that in the 2004 presidential election saw a voter fraud rate of 0.00004 percent.
Cincinnati isn’t the only city to see such billboards.
They have also made appearances in Cleveland and Columbus, as well as
According to the Plain Dealer newspaper in
Cleveland, the billboards there are owned by Clear Channel Outdoor. A
company spokesman told the newspaper that Clear Channel’s policy is
usually to identify who sponsors a political ad, but in this case a
salesperson made a mistake.