Socio-econimic change for the 85th district.

It is time that we rise up and take a stand on the social and economic imbalance that pervades our state and creates an ever-growing divide between the haves and the have-nots. We must address the issues that continue to surface, such as establishing a livable wage and what that really looks like, as well as ensuring funding statewide for government programs to remain in place in order to bridge the gap between the desperate and those who have excess. We believe that in matters of poverty, if one person loses, let us all lose. But if one person wins, then let us all win.

It is difficult to believe that there are currently over 14,000 individuals living in poverty throughout the 85th House District. However, this is a critical issue to families throughout the area, state, and country; we can do better in Ohio. As I travel the three counties within our district, I believe there are three profound solutions to our problem.

First, the state of Ohio must establish a livable wage. One of my first actions as state legislator will be to introduce a bill that would raise the state minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. This will provide families a stepping stone to provide for their dependents and themselves. Also, it allows many individuals and couples, with a combined income, to experience unseen financial stability.

Second, we must never fault in our ability to protect government assistance programs to our state’s poor. My family and I have relied on several different programs throughout my life that provide support to struggling families. We must ensure the funding for state programs as well as joint programs with the federal government. This may include: Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Our current state government and representative have no desire to ensure we strengthen Ohio’s families, and that is scary.

Finally, the true factor in counteracting the terrible effects of poverty is jobs. Ohio must explore all options in competing with other states. This includes exploring renewable energy sources and their current standards, offering tax incentives and abatements to companies who invest in our state’s workforce, technology, and infrastructure, and expressing Ohio’s support of federal energy programs that better prepare us for the future. These solutions will improve our current standing at 38th in economic growth.

Time to fight the opioid crisis.

The opioid epidemic continues to plague our local governments, and we believe the only way to adequately combat this growing concern is to push for conversation surrounding challenging topics such as: decriminalization of drug users seeking assistance, increased use and availability of Narcan, added programs to provide increased support and rehabilitation, as well as work-ready programs for those who have re-emerged into society following intense rehab. It’s time we identify the elephant in the room once and for all and put in place realistic solutions to this dangerous concern.

Ohio has recently experienced an explosion in overdose deaths and influx of illegal drugs. We now have over 5,000 individuals across the state dying every year to this horrific epidemic; Ohio currently holds the greatest number of opioid deaths throughout the nation. However, our state has failed to declare it an emergency and provide adequate solutions. This is discouraging, and I propose the following immediate solutions.

First, one of the many bills currently sitting dormant at the statehouse would be Senate Bill 154. This would allocate ten percent, or two-hundred million dollars, of our rainy-day fund and direct those monies to local communities and organizations working to combat this crisis. Although many people disagree on the specific allocation of funding, we can all work together to ensure we provide necessary resources to counteract the deaths.

Second, using specific monies from the rainy-day fund, it is imperative that first responders are equipped with life-saving drugs (e.g. Naloxone). There are far too many situations where law enforcement has not had proper resources to handle situations in which they have been exposed to life threatening substances. We must never allow this to occur. Furthermore, the individuals who make these poor, irrational choices must be met with considerable understanding and treatment.
Finally, Ohio must evaluate the possibility and implementation of a state-run rehabilitation program. Individuals who receive Naloxone, charges, etc. would be required to complete the program; the standards of which would be defined by the Ohio Department of Health. This rigorous, educational opportunity would provide an alternative to criminalization of non-violent offenders. A back-to-work, or work ready, experience would be incorporated as part of the program in order to create partnerships with employers around the state. This comprehensive solution will establish a clear, stable path for individuals who were involved in drug activities prior to the program.

Direct the correct funds to our educational system.

It is time that we finally come together and recognize that the availability of quality education is fundamental to ensuring the success of our youth within our state, and a nationwide. We need to prioritize our educational aspirations and recognize our rapidly changing needs. Beyond simply reestablishing funding for our schools, the time has come to assess all state-wide issues that impact the education of our youth and young adults and establish a clear plan for procuring the funding that is needed throughout the state to see success come to fruition.

One of the many privileges of mine has been participating in the public education system. In Ohio, we have an unrivaled system of teachers that are determined to provide an excellent foundation of knowledge to all students. Unfortunately, our state government has been unwilling to fully accommodate the needs, in terms of funding, of that very system. According to the Ohio Supreme Court, we have been illegally funding our state’s schools for decades now.

That is why I believe that first, it is important for the state to recognize our apparent lack of funding. Within the last decade, Ohio’s public schools have lost hundreds of millions of dollars. This has been devastating to many districts throughout the state. They are now unable to provide certain classes or programs and maintain faculty. This is extremely harmful to students who are unable to foster in environments that cannot provide for their needs. I will introduce legislation to redistribute these funds back to school districts around the state. It is crucial for the state to recognize that local communities cannot foot the bill on this.

Second, if charter schools are going to be an alternative for students in Ohio, then they will be held at the same rigor and accountability as public school districts. Within our district, Urbana City Schools forgoes nearly one-million dollars a school year to select charter schools. Yet, like we have seen with ECOT, the reporting, curriculum, and accountability of charter schools in our state has gone unchecked. This must change.

Finally, higher education is fundamental to ensure the opportunities in our state. Ohio needs to prioritize our education system and guarantee that we are adhering to the demands of the future.

The current budget does not attempt this, which positions us as the number one state in the country with student debt. Beyond simply providing appropriate funding to higher education, we must assess our career placement programs available to schools and determine their effectiveness in adhering to the demands of students. It is important to cater to any post high school path of the younger generation.

The Second Amendment

The Second Amendment within the U.S. Constitution is integral to who we are as a people; our founding as a country stemmed from our belief of freedom and self-protection. However, many have construed this belief into an extreme, unregulated use of firearms. In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the Second Amendment does not guarantee the right to carry a weapon of any capacity in any given manner. There are necessary precautions that must be established, and I one-hundred percent agree with Republican Governor John Kasich’s initiatives and will support legislation.

To establish “red-flag laws” which allow family members and friends in Ohio to petition a court regarding an individual’s right to own firearms. This provides an opportunity for the greater community to recognize another’s apparent harm to society.

Mirror federal law prohibiting domestic violence offenders from purchasing a firearm.

Enforce appropriate reporting time for county clerk’s regarding the background check database. This will ensure weeks, or months, do not pass before they are prohibited from purchasing a weapon; state auditors would be required to check their progress.

Take appropriate action to ban the sale of bump stocks within the state of Ohio.

Mirror federal law in banning the usage of armor piercing bullets. This would allow Ohio law enforcement officers to pursue charges that federal officials may not.

Prohibit “straw-man” purchases within the state of Ohio. Those seeking to purchase a weapon would not be able to buy from a third party. This does not apply to gifts.