The first full week of February, 2019, and the Ohio General Assembly is back up and running at full speed. We saw many members of the state House of Representatives stepping up for Ohioans and wanted to highlight a few.

Rep. Emilia Sykes

First, Rep. Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) was sworn in as the new Minority Leader. This third-term legislator is a very vocal supporter of reproductive rights, leading the charge in that chamber against both the six-week abortion ban and the abortion method ban. We’re eager to see her give her caucus new direction in standing up for all Ohioans.

Second, Rep. Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland) introduced Aisha’s Law, along with many of her colleagues, who co-sponsored the bill.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported:

A proposed bill named after Aisha Fraser, the former wife of an ex-judge and ex-state lawmaker who is accused of stabbing her to death in Shaker Heights, seeks to better protect victims of domestic violence.

Rep. Janine Boyd

Aisha’s Law has three parts: After a domestic violence incident, a victim would be provided a questionnaire through which police and domestic violence advocates could assess her level of danger for future intimate partner violence; the victim and perpetrator would be referred to a community committee made up of police and advocates who could connect them to resources, such as rehab or housing; and offenders would be prohibited from pleading down violent felonies to lesser charges when they have prior serious or violent felony convictions.

Rep. Stephanie Howse

Third, we heard from Rep. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland) and Rep. Juanita Brent (D-Cleveland) held an online forum for Ohioans to hear their proposals for policy initiatives. They were coordinating their effort through the #FightingForFamilies project. Our favorite part of the Facebook Live video was Rep Howse’s comments on the need to do more in Ohio on infant and maternal mortality.

Rep. Juanita Brent

The #FightingForFamilies state policies also provide guidance on designing policies that are more responsive to the needs of working people, especially people with jobs that pay lower-wages, communities of color and part-time workers. For example, state innovation shows that creating higher wage replacement rates for lower-wage workers; broadening the range of family members eligible to provide care to an ailing loved one; and ensuring that the jobs of part-time workers and employees of smaller companies are protected when they take leave are all essential to promoting program use, gender and racial equity and workers’ economic security.

All in all, this was a great week to see what leadership looks like: terrific representatives providing responsive, pro-active policy solutions for all Ohioans.

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