by German Lopez
Posted In: News
at 09:21 AM | Permalink
'Right to work' returns; memo details streetcar funding; more money, less mowing
Two Ohio House Republicans are preparing to introduce so-called "right to work" (RTW) legislation, a deceptively named type of law that would ban collective bargaining agreements between unions and employers that require union membership to be hired at a job. Since states began adopting the anti-union laws, union membership has dropped dramatically. Democrats, including gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald, were quick to condemn the bills, invoking 2011's voter rejection of S.B. 5, a bill backed by Gov. John Kasich and Ohio Republicans that would have limited collective bargaining rights for public employees and hindered public sector unions' political power.The city released a memo yesterday outlining how the streetcar project's $17.4 million budget gap will be funded. The memo emphasizes that the capital funds being used for the streetcar project can't be used to balance the city's $35 million operating budget deficit because of state law, so the streetcar project is not being saved at the expense of cops, firefighters and other public employees being laid off to balance the operating budget. CityBeat will have a more thorough analysis of the memo shortly after this article is published.The state auditor released an audit yesterday that shows the Ohio Department of Transportation could save $7.4 million in taxpayer money by mowing the lawn less often. "We need to cut back by
mowing less," State Auditor Dave Yost said in a statement. "Sometimes, it’s the simplest
solutions that have the greatest impact."A Policy Matters Ohio survey confirmed Ohio schools are making cuts as a result of Kasich's education funding cuts. In total, 70 percent of schools slashed budgets for the 2012-2013 school year.The mayor and city manager held a roundtable with the press yesterday explaining the merits of the city's plan to lease its parking assets to the Port Authority. The city officials made the same arguments heard before about how it would help balance the budget and bring economic development to the city, which CityBeat covered in further detail here.If estimates are correct, this year's Flying Pig Marathon will bring $9.5 million into Greater Cincinnati's economy.In light of grim drug addiction and overdose statistics recently released, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman says it's time to call the "war on drugs" something else. The most recent data found one Ohioan died of a drug overdose every five hours on average in 2011.Next Tuesday is primary election day in Ohio, but there isn't much to vote on in southwest Ohio.Steve Smith, who admitted to raping and killing a six-month-old in Mansfield, Ohio, will be executed by the state today, but his relatives insist he didn't do it.Gladys, the unfortunately named gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo, recently got a look at her new home.Antimatter is the opposite of matter, but it's unclear whether it falls up or down.
0 Comments · Wednesday, April 24, 2013
The budget bill currently working through
the Republican-controlled Ohio legislature would cut taxes in a way
that favors the wealthy, according to a new analysis.
by German Lopez
Republicans amend bill to prevent discussion, distribution of contraceptives in schools
With Republican support and Democratic opposition, the
Ohio House Finance Committee approved a budget bill today that would ban
comprehensive sex education, defund Planned Parenthood and fund crisis
pregnancy centers that pro-choice groups call “anti-choice.”
Citing the possibility of “gateway sexual activity,” the
bill would make it so teachers can be fined up to $5,000 if they
explain the use of condoms and other forms of birth control to high school
students. It would also prohibit individuals and groups from
distributing birth control on school grounds.
The bill pushes abstinence-only education to curtail any promotion, implicit or
explicit, of gateway sexual activity. To define such activity, the bill
cites Ohio’s criminal code definition for “sexual contact,” which is defined as “any
touching of an erogenous zone of another, including without limitation
the thigh, genitals, buttock, pubic region, or, if the person is a
female, a breast.”
The bill would also redirect federal funding to defund Planned Parenthood and shift funds to crisis pregnancy centers, which CityBeat covered in further detail here.
“Today the Ohio House Finance Committee voted to send our
state back to the 1950s,” said Kellie Copeland, executive director of
NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, in a statement. “The Ohio House is doing
everything they can to restrict access to reproductive health care and
medically accurate information that help Ohioans live healthy lives.
(Gov. John) Kasich can stop these dangerous attacks on women’s health
care. We need him to speak out against these budget provisions and to
line-item veto these dangerous measures when they reach his desk.”
Researchers have found abstinence-only programs to be generally ineffective. A 2007 study
published in the Journal of Adolescent Health found abstinence-only
programs have no impact on rates for teenage pregnancy or vaginal
intercourse, while comprehensive programs that include birth control
education reduce rates.
A 2011 study
from researchers at the University of Georgia that looked at data from
48 states concurred abstinence-only programs do not reduce the rate of
teenage pregnancy. The study indicated states with the lowest teenage
pregnancy rates tend to have the most comprehensive sex and HIV
When looking at three ways to prevent unintended pregnancies for a 2012 study,
the Brookings Center on Children and Families found the most
cost-effective policy was to increase funding for family planning
services through the Medicaid program. In other words, if governments increased spending on birth control programs, they would
eventually save money.
Still, a 2010 study
from a University of Pennsylvania researcher found abstinence-only
education programs may delay sexual activity. The study, which tracked
black middle school students over two years, found students in an
abstinence-only program had lower rates of sexual activity than students
in the comprehensive program.At hearings on April 12, anti-abortion groups praised abstinence-only education for promoting chastity.
by German Lopez
Posted In: News
at 11:37 AM | Permalink
Governor, Democrats, mental health advocates criticize Ohio House Republicans’ budget
Ohio House Republicans are poised to reject the Medicaid
expansion and the $500 million per year in federal funding that would
come with it for the next two years — a move that has united Republican
Gov. John Kasich, Ohio Democrats, mental health advocates and other
health groups in opposition.
The Medicaid expansion is part of a measure in the
Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) that encourages states to expand their
Medicaid programs to include anyone at or below 138 percent of the
federal poverty level with the use of federal funds. For the first three
years, the federal government would pick up the entire tab for the
expansion. After that, payments would be phased down over time so the federal
government would be paying 90 percent of costs.
Ohio House Republicans oppose the measure because they say
they’re worried federal funding will dry up in the future, even though
there is no historical precedent of the federal government failing to
pay its commitment to Medicaid.
Kasich’s proposal for the Medicaid expansion includes an
automatic trigger that would immediately stop and retract the expansion
if federal funding falls through, but Ohio Republicans previously voiced
concerns in hearings that the trigger would hurt Ohioans who have
become accustomed to government-provided health insurance without any
plan to make up for the lost coverage.
A report from the Health Policy Institute of Ohio found
the expansion would help insure 456,000 Ohioans by 2022 and save the state
money in the next decade by producing economic growth and shifting
health-care expenses from the state to the federal government.
For advocates of mental health and addiction treatments,
Ohio House Republicans’ rejection of the Medicaid expansion and other
budget items means mental health and addiction services will miss out on
$627 million per year, according to a report from the Office of Health Transformation.
Ohio House Republicans’ budget plan would include $50
million more annual funding for mental health and addiction services,
but that’s also not enough to make up for the $140 million in annual funds
cut around the state since 2002 and the $17 million being cut over two
years through the dissolution of the tangible personal property tax
Cheri Walter, chief executive officer of the Ohio
Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities (OACBHA), says the Medicaid
expansion is a great opportunity to emphasize mental health services
around the state.
“On the mental health side, ... sometimes it can take two
or more years for someone to get a disability determination that makes
them Medicaid eligible,” she says. “In addition to making more people
Medicaid-eligible, it will speed up the process for many others.”
Walter says for addiction patients in particular, getting
access to health services can be difficult because alcoholism and other
forms of addiction are not technically disabilities. By including more
income levels in the Medicaid program, less people will fall through the
cracks, she says.OACBHA was one of the many groups that rallied at the Ohio Statehouse Thursday in support of the Medicaid expansion. The crowd, which received support from Ohio Democrats and Kasich, was estimated to reach 2,500.
Until the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare, the
Medicaid expansion was required, but the court ruled that states must be
allowed to opt in and out.
The Medicaid expansion was one of the few parts of
Kasich’s budget plan that Democrats and progressives approved, while the
two other major proposals in Kasich’s plan — school funding and a tax cut
proposal — were criticized for disproportionately benefiting wealthy Ohioans (“Smoke and Mirrors,” issue of Feb. 20).
0 Comments · Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Ohio Democrats say Gov. John Kasich’s local government funding cuts are to blame for Cincinnati’s budget woes.
by German Lopez
Youth Jobs Fair today, groups clash over energy law, GOP considering election reform
Cincinnati’s Youth Jobs Fair will be held today at the
Duke Energy Convention Center between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. The fair
provides an opportunity for young people, typically aged between 16 and
24, to look for work from a variety of participating employers. Mayor
Mark Mallory says attendees should “dress for success,” as if they were
going to their first day on the job.
State environmental groups and an Akron-based energy company are at odds over a 2008 law
that tasks the state and utility companies with meeting stringent
requirements for renewable energy and energy efficiency. State Sen. Bill
Seitz, the Cincinnati Republican who heads the Senate Public Utilities
Committee, has agreed to review Ohio’s Clean Energy Law, while
FirstEnergy, an Akron-based energy company, protests the requirements as
too expensive for the company and consumers around the state. But
Seitz’s decision has alarmed environmental groups who largely see the
law as effective three years later.
Republicans in the General Assembly are considering an incremental approach to elections reform
after their comprehensive efforts in 2011 and 2012 were received with widespread
accusations of voter suppression. The details aren’t worked out yet, but Seitz is planning on
introducing bills that he says will cut down on provisional ballot
voting and provide clearer rules for poll workers collecting provisional
ballots, and other Republicans are looking to set uniform statewide
early voting hours. Democratic State Sen. Nina Turner says she wants to
see a more comprehensive approach to elections reform, including a more
relaxed approach to provisional ballots.
The Hamilton County Board of Commissioners are considering raises for county employees,
but they first have to find a way to pay for the increases. Board
President Chris Monzel, a Republican, says he would like to wait to see
how Gov. John Kasich’s budget turns out to institute a merit-based raise
system. Commissioner Todd Portune, a Democrat, says he wants to
guarantee all employees a 1-percent increase.
City Council held a special meeting last night to discuss the city’s pension system,
which many are worried is costing the city too much in the long term.
City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. says the city needs to take more steps
to stabilize the system: “More money in, figuring out where that more
money will come from, looking at the current picture of the benefits
themselves, and some way of financing it short of putting lump sums of
The U.S. Supreme Court showed doubts
over the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, which
effectively banned same-sex marriage at a federal level, at hearings
President Barack Obama’s administration released a proposal that will help deal with the effects of global warming on wildlife, including arctic foxes.
Watch a nine-year-old discuss the meaning of life and the universe:
1 Comment · Wednesday, March 27, 2013
I’d pay to see a lineup of all
the children and grandchildren of right-wingers — especially those
directly responsible for legally shoving their definitions of “family”
down all our throats — all come out publicly in a public square. I bet there are a shit-ton of ’em.
2 Comments · Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Washington, D.C., is once again on the
verge of another manufactured crisis. On March 1, the sequester, a
series of mandated spending cuts, is set to kick in, threatening the
country with another round of austerity measures that will cut jobs and
bring down an already-fragile economy.
by German Lopez
Terhar compared Obama's gun control proposals to Hitler quote
Democrats are calling for the resignation of Ohio State Board of Education President Debe Terhar, who compared President Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler in a Facebook post. The Columbus Dispatch reported Terhar
posted an image of Adolf Hitler on her personal Facebook page that read, “Never forget
what this tyrant said: ‘To conquer a nation, first disarm its citizens.’
— Adolf Hitler.”
Terhar, a Cincinnati Republican, insists she
was not comparing Obama to Hitler. She told The Dispatch that people who know her understand she was describing the “need to step back and think about it and look at history.”When looking at history, there is no evidence Hitler actually said the quote in question. The Nazi leader referenced disarming the “subject races,” according to Hitler's Table Talk, but the direct quote Terhar posted is unverifiable.
“I’m not comparing the president to Adolf Hitler,” Terhar said. “It’s the
thought of disarming citizens, and this has happened throughout history.
What’s the true intention of the Second Amendment? It was to protect us
from a tyrannical government, God forbid.”
Terhar’s stance could have an impact on school policies. She told The Dispatch,
“Schools are gun-free zones. If you have someone who is bent on causing
harm, where are they going to go? To a place where there is little
chance of resistance.”
But when looking at different countries
and states, the Harvard Injury Control Research Center found a
correlation between more guns and more homicides. More specifically, men
and women in places with more firearms are at a larger risk for
Terhar was elected Jan. 14 by the 19-member Ohio State Board of Education to serve as president.
by German Lopez
Terhar compares Obama to Hitler, Cincinnati unemployment drops, Portman's deficit plan
Ohio State Board of Education President Debe Terhar posted an image
of Adolf Hitler on Facebook that said, “Never forget what this tyrant
said: ‘To conquer a nation, first disarm its citizens.’ — Adolf Hitler.”
But the Cincinnati Republican, who was referencing President Barack
Obama’s gun control proposals, now insists she was not comparing Obama
to Hitler. It’s pretty obvious she was, though.
Cincinnati’s seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate
dropped to 6.7 percent in December, down from 6.9 percent in November.
The drop is largely attributed to a decrease in the civilian labor force,
which could imply less people are looking for work or seasonal changes
are having an impact. Whatever the case, the amount of people who are
employed and unemployed both dropped. Hamilton County’s seasonally
unadjusted unemployment rate dropped to 6.2 percent in December, down
from 6.4 percent in November, but that drop was also attributed to a declining labor
force or seasonal factors. Greater Cincinnati’s seasonally unadjusted
unemployment rate was unchanged from 6.4 percent, despite 2,600 less
people working. In comparison, Ohio’s seasonally unadjusted
rate was 6.6 percent in December, up from 6.5 percent in November, and
the U.S. rate was 7.6 percent, up from 7.4 percent.
U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican, suggested the Dollar-for-Dollar
Deficit Reduction Act. The plan requires debt ceiling increases to be
matched by an equal amount of spending cuts. Increasing the debt ceiling
is essentially Congress agreeing to pay its bills. During the budget
process and while passing other legislation, Congress agrees to a
certain amount of spending. Increasing the debt ceiling just makes it
possible for the president to pay those bills, even if it means
surpassing a set debt level. If the debt ceiling isn't raised by May 18,
the United States will default on its debts, plunging the country into
depression. But the threat of destroying the U.S. economy has not
stopped Republicans from using the debt ceiling as a negotiation tool to
get the spending cuts they so badly want.
Public employees are avoiding changes to Ohio’s public pension system
by retiring before the changes kick in. The changes make it so any teacher who
retires before July 1 will get a 2 percent cost of living increase to
their pensions in 2015. Anyone who retires after July 1 will not get the
increase until 2018. After that, retirees will get a pension increase
every five years. Experts are also expecting a rush of retirees in 2015,
when age and years-of-service requirements for full benefits are set to
A new report found Ohio’s graduation rate is still improving.
The U.S. Department of Education report found the state’s graduation
rate was 81.4 percent in the 2009-10 school year, higher than the
nation’s rate of 78.2 percent, and an increase from 78.7 percent rate in
the 2006-2007 school year.
A study found a link between hourly workers at Hamilton County’s Fernald Feed Materials Production Center and intestinal cancer.
As Ohio cuts back its solar program, Canada is shutting down the rest of its coal-fired power plants by the end of 2013.
The Cincinnati Reds may get to host the 2015 All-Stars Game.
Scientists are rushing to build robots that save lives in disaster zones. Will John Connor please stand up?