VILLAGE OF CHAGRIN FALLS
MOVE TO AMEND
March 4, 2021
Present: Grube, Rogoff, DeBernardo
The virtual meeting was called to order at 9:00 a.m. by Council President Erinn Grube.
Written statements were read from the following and are attached:
Diana Nazelli, 35 High Court, Chagrin Falls
Greg Coleridge, Cleveland Heights Resident
Anthony Fossaceca, 61 Olive Street, Chagrin Falls
Kathryn Garvey, 70 East Washington Street, Chagrin Falls
Sharon Broz, 410 Bell Street, Chagrin Falls
Judy Kramer, 165 Pheasant Run Drive, Chagrin Falls
Judy Majcen, 7180 Harris Farm Drive, Bainbridge Township
Lynne Rustad, 442 Solon Road, Chagrin Falls
Becky Thomas, 124 Ridgewood Road, Chagrin Falls
Audio comments from:
David Lima, 7774 Litchfield Drive in Mentor, said he coordinates the Mentor Move to Amend. He spoke about the ongoing tension in the history of the United States between legislative efforts to limit the influence of money and political power and judicial rulings curving congress=s power to do so.
Russ, 10259 Regatta Trail, Reminderville, spoke about the influence of corporations, problems with the environment, and global warming.
Mrs. Grube announced that the next Move to Amend meeting will take place in March of 2023.
Mrs. DeBernardo said we do face a lot of problems and we have been discussing them for decades. We do need to start working on solutions.
The meeting adjourned at 10:11 a.m.
MOVE TO AMEND DAY
March 4, 2021 - Public Comments Submitted
TABLE OF CONENTS
ZOOM CHAT ROOM MEETING COMMENTS ... 1
Greg Coleridge ... 1
Anthony Fossaceca ... 2
Kathryn Garvey/Sharon Broz ... 4
Judy Kramer ... 5
Judy Majcen ... 6
Diana Nazelli ... 7
Lynne Rustad ... 7
Becky Thomas ... 10
ZOOM CHAT ROOM MEETING COMMENTS
If you haven’t yet, please consider joining the nearly 500,000 people who’ve signed Move to Amend’s motion to amend the Constitution to end big money in politics and corporate constitutional rights — https://www.movetoamend.org/amendment
CHAGRIN FALLS DEMOCRACY DAY PUBLIC HEARING
Testimony of Greg Coleridge, Outreach Director, Move to Amend
March 4, 2021
Happy Democracy Day!
There is a growing movement in this country to create authentic democracy -- for the very firsttime. The U.S. Constitution prevented all but white, male, property-owners from havinginalienable rights. Women, people of color, indentured servants and others organized themselvesinto groups and powerful movements to change laws and pass Constitutional Amendments togain basic rights. Those efforts continue.
At the same time, there’s been and continues to be a parallel track by the super rich andcorporate entities to create and expand their power and rights. Their goal is not just to acquirerights to protect themselves, but to have fundamental power over the rest of us and ourcommunities -- to govern, to rule,
The super rich and corporate entities have hijacked Constitutional Amendments. Political moneyhas been defined by the Supreme Court as First Amendment-protected free speech. Many of theBill of Rights and 14th Amendment, intended to apply solely to human persons, have been
expanded to apply to corporate entities
The results have been devastating to people, places, the planet...and to democracy.
The public opposes tax breaks for the super rich, bank bailouts and subsidies for fossil fuelcomporations while at same time supports reasonable gun control, sustainable energy, healthyfood, affordable and comprehensive health care, better education, living wages and sweepingpandemic relief that helps people and provides Paycheck
Protection Program funding exclusivelyto small businesses, not mega corporations. Yet, political influence by large corporationsprevents these and many other popular programs from being enacted. The source of thiscorporate political influence was the Supreme Court invention of so-called First Amendment
corporate free speech rights to spend or invest money in elections.
But the political influence of corporations transcends money in politics.
Communities and states have sought unsuccessfully to demand that harmful ingredients orchemicals, like Monsanto's glyphosate, be labeled on commercial packaging in the name of foodsafety. Courts have said such laws violate a corporation's First Amendment right not to speak.
States have created many regulations to protect workers, the environment and consumersrequiring surprise inspection of businesses. Such inspections have been overturned in court asviolations of a corporation's Fourth Amendment search and seizure rights.
There's a movement to protect the environment from cataclysmic climate destruction by leavingoil and coal in the ground. But the right to protect the planet if such laws were passed could bechallenged, as similar efforts have in the past, in court as a violation of corporate FifthAmendment taking rights -- meaning corporations would have to be compensated for tens oftrillions of dollars of lost corporate profits.
Local communities, just like Chagrin Falls, that prides itself on small businesses are unable toprovide special benefits that are not equally offered to out-of-town chain stores. To do so wouldbe, as has been decided multiple times in court, unconstitutionally "discriminatory" against chainstores under the Fourteenth Amendment (which was enacted to protect freed slaves) -- yetanother amendment corporations have hijacked to expand their rights at the expense of the rightsof people and communities.
Corporations don't need constitutional rights to conduct business. Laws passed by legislativebodies created all the tools they need.
We will never, ever have authentic political democracy unless we end the twin constitutionaldoctrines of political money equalling free speech and corporate rights. Money is property, notspeech. Only people are persons, not artificial legal entities like corporate entities.
Chagrin Falls voters understood this when voting 2:1 in 2014 for a ballot initiative supportingthese changes -- one of 705 communities that have taken a stand nationally along with more than
600 organizations in support of Move to Amend'sWe the People Amendment.
Thanks to Chagrin Falls voters for being part of this broadening and deepening democracy
Good morning. My name is Anthony Fossaceca and I live at 61 Olive St. in Chagrin Falls. Today, I appreciate the opportunity to speak to you today on the issue of digital misinformation, the role it plays in our election process, and offer some steps we should be taking immediately to counter it.
With the advent of the modern internet, and in particular social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, the means by which the electorate receives its information has dramatically changed. So too, has the risk of misinformation to fair and free elections.
The era of an informed citizenry receiving their news from a printed daily paper or an evening national newscast is over. Today’s social media machine moves at a speed almost impossible to comprehend. News that used to take hours or days to disseminate can now travel in fractions of a second. The same is true for misinformation. And because of its viral nature, misinformation is far more likely to be shared to an unknowing public—and done so with precision, targeting specific audiences to influence results or public opinion.
For instance, following the 2016 election, Facebook turned over 3,000 ads to congress that were delivered on their platform through purchases connected to the Russian government. Included in the mix of messages were ads
targeted to supporters of Hillary Clinton to “Save Time. Avoid the line. And vote from home” suggesting they could cast a ballot by texting ‘Hillary’ to 59925 or tweeting #ClintonKaine with the hashtag #PresidentialElection by the time the polls closed on election night.
Other ads were designed to suppress the vote by falsely attributing statements or lies to specific candidates or parties and then encouraging voters who would be more likely to support that candidate to “sit it out” or “walk away” and boycott the election. Similar techniques were used in elections across the globe in 2014 as the Russians improved their tactics. Messages like this, even if influencing an extremely small audience, can have a major impact in the aggregate.
Ahead of the 2020 elections, non-partisan government and elections experts warned us frequently about the impact that bad actors both in the US and abroad could have on both the voting process and the outcome itself. Four years after an election riddled with Russian information interference, these warnings could have and should have been taken more seriously.
Despite ceasing some political advertising on some social channels and purging some accounts with suspicious behavior, the big three did relatively little to counter and eliminate misinformation leading up to this year’s election. And given that their profits are generated by consumer activity, why would they? Only after the January 6th terrorist attack on the U.S. Capitol did Facebook and Twitter finally begin to take action to shut down conspiracy groups and domestic terror cells, and foreign actors who for years were able to post slanderous and misleading content and organize violence with impunity.
Congress must immediately address how these content providers are held accountable for the dissemination of misinformation and election interference. And the companies themselves must quickly establish better methods for reacting to misinformation, lies, and suppressive tactics. The first amendment protects free speech, but it does not protect defamation or incitement to imminent lawless action. And no form of speech is as sacred as our vote.
One way the federal government can play a larger role in combatting this threat to our democracy is by actually increasing speech. Congress should increase spending to state governments to ensure official sources of information—such as websites and government-run social media accounts—are secure and resistant to hacks and are utilizing these platforms to clearly and articulately communicate the election process, immediately and overwhelmingly debunk lies and misinformation, and educate the public on how elections work, including the fact that—while extremely rare and almost non-existent—voter fraud has no measurable impact on our elections.
At a state and local level, our officials must do a better job of speaking out early and often against misinformation and engage in deliberate efforts to counter and correct falsehoods ranging from “the big lie”—the widely debunked conspiracy theory that the 2020 election was not legitimate—to incorrect information on who may or may not vote and where and when they can cast a ballot.
Our democracy and our country are stronger when as many eligible participants cast their ballot as possible. To get to that point and protect our democracy, we must insist that our leaders do everything possible to encourage free and fair access to the ballot—then furiously defending that vote from those who seek to compromise and suppress it through the social media’s wild west.
KATHRYN GARVEY/SHARON BROZ
Chagrin Schools: Building a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice Task Force
Good morning. I am Kathryn Garvey, Vice President of the Chagrin Falls Exempted Village Schools Board of Education and joining me today is Sharon Broz, also a member of the school board.
Last summer, our school board passed a resolution that will serve as a guidepost for the district in engaging in the work of ensuring diversity, equity, inclusion and justice.
Sharon will share that resolution with you now and then I will return to give an update on the progress the school district has made.
Resolution of Commitment to Equity and Excellence in Education
The Chagrin Falls Exempted Village School District Board of Education rejects all forms of racism and discrimination as being destructive to the District's mission, vision, values, and goals. We are committed to the success of every student and providing an educational experience empowering students to maximize their potential.
We embrace our organizational responsibility to ensure that the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion are fully integrated into the culture, policies, programs, operations, and practices of the District.
Our commitment includes that the District will develop and implement a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Strategic Action Plan with clear and measurable goals, action steps, and accountability that aim to achieve the following guiding principles:
· To support a culture and educational experience in our District that is welcoming and inclusive for all students and that will be attractive to new students and families, especially those from marginalized groups and those currently under-represented in our student population.
· To enforce and enhance District policies, structures and practices to prevent racism, discrimination and inequities.
· To dismantle any existing policies, practices or culture that perpetuate structural racism or discrimination in our school district.
· To provide high quality, culturally relevant and responsive curricula for all students and teachers.
· To facilitate equitable access to co-curricular and extra-curricular activities, social services, tutoring and enrichment opportunities.
· To implement hiring practices that actively seek to expand our job applicant pool to include under-represented groups.
· To engage, include, and collaborate with our families, students, residents, communities, and stakeholders as their active involvement is essential to our ability to enact change and achieve District goals.
The Board directs the Superintendent and Treasurer/CFO to oversee the development of this Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Strategic Action Plan and present it at a Board of Education meeting with an overview that includes plans for implementation and accountability.
This commitment to equity and excellence in education through diversity, equity, inclusion and justice resonates with our school district’s mission which is built around the essential concept of equity – which means that every child has access to necessary experiences and resources for success. We focus on the whole child and want to ensure every child is safe, healthy, engaged in learning, and is supported and challenged academically.
The Diversity Center of NE Ohio is facilitating our work in identifying strengths, areas of growth, and a plan of action as it relates to diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism in the school district. The Center is also working with several other local public school districts including Hudson, Fairview Park and Rocky River and has had great success in using the process of Appreciative Inquiry to guide school districts in this work.
Our first step was to form a Task Force in fall 2020 consisting of committee members who represent a wide range of stakeholders in the District. Approximately 45 committee members are actively engaged in this work in sharing their stakeholder group’s experiences, vision for the future, challenges, ideas for improvement, and ultimately action steps to be included in the District’s plan. Together, we have developed a shared vision for Diversity Equity Inclusion and Justice within the District and are seeking to understand the needs and experiences of students,
parents, educators, administrators and the community which we will use to create a plan of action that ensures that we are able to achieve our vision.
This initiative is an opportunity for people in our community to come together to set collective goals, engage in solutions-oriented action-planning, and enact positive change in our school district.
Our work continues and we intend to have a strategic plan prepared for Board of Education to review by July 2021.
I have been a teacher all my adult life. I began my career teaching 1st grade at Rowland Elementary School in South Euclid, Ohio. Then I earned my Master’s Degree in Political Science at OSU. I returned to teaching and when I moved to Chagrin Falls, I became an LD teacher; first, in elementary school and then the majority of my years as a Chagrin Falls High School Learning Disabilities teacher.
That sparks my interest in school funding. State Rep. Lisa Sobecki (D-Toledo) voted to pass House Bill (HB) 305 “Fair School Funding Plan”, a bill she co-sponsored, after speaking in favor of the bill during floor debate. Today was a long time coming. “The Fair School Funding Plan”. Ohio students have waited long enough for a new, fair school funding formula,” said Rep.Sobecki. “I’m proud to have supported HB 305 and supporting all 610 districts throughout Ohio.” HR 305 passed on 12/3/20 by a vote of 84-8 and now will be referred to the Senate. A companion bill, SB 376 is pending in the Senate Finance Committee.
Public education advocates across Ohio were stunned by the actions of State Senators Matt Dolan and Matt Huffman refusal to take up the educational reform bill that was widely expected to pass. The bi-partisan bill would finally address the state’s inequitable school funding formula that was ruled unconstitutional 23 years ago by the Ohio Supreme Court.
Gun Violence Prevention
I am a volunteer with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and a survivor of gun violence. I am here to speak about the concern I have for gun safety in the state of Ohio and the NRA’s political clout it brandishes. Fortunately, recent details of its alleged corruption and scandal are coming to light in several court cases across the country.
But still, Governor Mike DeWine signed into law a Stand Your Ground Bill despite significant opposition statewide. Stand Your Ground laws allow a person to use deadly force in a confrontation without any duty to retreat, even when they could do so safely. It is my opinion that such laws encourage people to shoot first and ask questions later. The organization Everytown for Gun Safety has done significant research and has found that these laws are associated with an increase in homicide rates translating into 150 additional gun deaths each month in the US alone. This is just one example of NRA dangerous influence on Ohio lawmakers
According to the Office of Criminal Justice in the Ohio Department of Public Safety, gun violence crimes in Ohio’s eight biggest cities increased by 17% in the first half of 2020 compared to the previous year. Murders by firearms in the state also increased by 27% during that same period. It is time to change this trajectory when it comes to gun safety.
I was pleased to hear that Senators Cecil Thomas, Hearcel Craig and Sandra Williams will be reintroducing six common sense gun reform bills as a result of the statewide increase in gun violence in the last year. The bills address safety measures including mandating universal background checks on firearm transfers, raising the minimum age to purchase guns from 18 to 21, temporarily removing firearms from people that show signs of being a danger to themselves or others, and closing the gun show loophole by mandating background checks on guns show sales. I might note here that nearly two thirds of all gun deaths in the US are attributed to suicide. It happens everywhere and Chagrin Falls is not immune.
These common-sense measures are long overdue. The National Rifle Association has been complicit in stoking fear and leveraging financial pressure on Ohio lawmakers. However, it remains that the majority of Ohioans want tighter gun safety measures.
I’ve learned that the state is embarking on a major campaign to attract people to live and work in Ohio. Our gun current laws, in my view, are not an enticement to come to Ohio.
Chagrin Falls Ohio
March 4, 2021
Corporate Influence on Ohio House Bill H6
Per Energy and Policy Institute
Thejourney ofOhio’sHouse Bill 6, called by many the “worst energy bill of the
century” is a path littered with corporate interest money, dark money and corruption. Theaccount reads like a nefarious story line for a movie.
Over the course of three years, starting in2017,fourbills were introduced in the OhioHouse seeking to subsidize two Ohio nuclear plants owned by a former subsidiary ofFirst Energy by tacking fees onto electricitycustomers’ bills. Thosehousebills failedand nevermade it out of conference when inJanuary 2019 House MemberLarryHouseholder was elected, with substantialfinancial backing by First Energy, to beSpeaker ofthe House. Householder, with the help ofnewly elected, hand picked, housemembers,went on to successfully pass HB6, a billthatwasseeking to raise 6billion;anamount thatFirst Energy company officialsargued was needed to rescuefinanciallytroubledcoal andnuclearplants.
On July 21,2020Federal agents arrested Speaker Householder, his top political aide andthree prominentlobbyists thatallworkedfora political enterprise Federal investigatorssaid wasled by Householder; alleging in a criminal complaint that Householder was thecentral figure in a bribery scheme funded by First Energy.Federal agents said that FirstEnergy provided Householder’spolitical enterprise with 60 million dollars to helpHouseholder to fieldand heavily donate tolegislative candidates whowould pledgetosupport Householder as Speakerincludingsupportingthe future bill,HB6.
Lobbyists working on behalf of First Energy helped to craft the earlier billsin 2017 and2018that paved the way for HB6.Those earlier bills sought to separately subsidize coaland nuclear plants, and roll back Ohio’s renewable energy and energy efficiencystandards. HB 6 packaged core elements of those earlier proposals together into what wascalled the “worst energy bill” of the century.
Dark money PAC’s, whose donors cannot be traced, funneled millions into the Ohio HB6effort.
The Conservative AlliancePAC received and donated to Householder $765,000 from asingle donor; a charitable organization called Prosperity Alliance, Inc., registered to ananonymous post office box in Wash. DC. It is organized, as what the IRS calls a “socialwelfare organization”a non-profit advocacy group whose primary purpose,
hypothetically, isn’t politics.
These types of groups have proliferated since the landmark 2010 Citizens United ruling.
Chagrin Falls Democracy Day for Move to Amend
IMPACT OF CORPORATIONS ON U.S. HEALTHCARE
I’ve been a single-payer healthcare advocate for decades because of both research evidence and personal experience gained while providing care in both private and government single-payer settings. The private healthcare insurance sector has come to play an increasingly dominant role with the result that profit-making has become more important than fostering good care for everyone. Further, these profits have been used to cement private insurance hegemony, discouraging competition from more patient-centered care. This imbalance has led me to support Move to Amend which seeks to redress the harms of the Supreme Court’s Citizen United decision.
Commodification of healthcare with the goal of increasing profits has caused profound changes in health care delivery. Rather than viewing healthcare as as a common good to which all human beings are entitled, it has
become a “commodity” — similar to oil, housing and groceries — which can be bought, sold and traded to make a profit. An important facet of this change has been to restructure delivery of care to be “cheaper”and “more efficient.” Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO’s) and Preferred Provider Organizations (PPO’s) implemented to control costs represent bargains struck with professionals and hospitals that are neither less costly nor more efficient. In fact, they have contributed to the rise in health care cost while limiting “consumer” freedom of choice by restricting the pool of “providers” from whom patient consumers might choose. (Note, too, the change over time in terminology from “doctors and patients” to “providers and consumers.” )
These organizations also reserve the right to deny coverage for procedures and goods which they judge to be unnecessary. Professionals and their patients must then spend inordinate amounts of time and energy fighting to obtain what they consider needed diagnostic and treatment options.
In addition, corporations seeking to increase their “market share”, have invaded the successful and popular government single-payer Medicare program. Consumers, who may be attracted by the bells and whistles offered by “Medicare Advantage” are often unaware they risk trading a successful single-payer program for private insurance that can end up costing more and delivering less than it promises. While the private sector has sold their insurance “products” based on claims of greater efficiency, this has proven, in practice, not to be true. Administrative overhead for private insurance runs 17-18% while that for government-run Medicare is 2-3%.
Big PhARMA, a coalition of pharmaceutical manufacturers, uses aggressive marketing and lobbying to control drug price and availability in order to maximize their profits. Convincing congress to write and vote for policies that favor the healthcare industry is a major goal. Lawmakers who are cooperative, whether Republican or Democratic, are richly rewarded come campaign time.. Citizens may not be aware that the Pharmaceutical/Healthcare Products industry ranks first of all US industries in the amount of money spent on lobbying. https://www.statista.com/statistics/257364/top-lobbying-industries-in-the-us/
Where does all of this leave us?
The US healthcare industry is very healthy. Our citizens not so much so.
The US has the highest per capita spending in the world on health care with expenditures 50 to 200% that of other countries while it delivers among the worst outcomes! Ohio is just one example. The Ohio Healthcare Status is 46/50 (Bottom quarter of the nation) on Health Value, based on healthcare outcomes (poor) and cost of care (high). https://www.dispatch.com/news/20190403/report-ohio-still-lags-most-states-in-health-outcomes
U.S. Health Care from a Global Perspective, 2019: Higher Spending, Worse Outcomes?
• The U.S. spends more on health care as a share of the economy — nearly twice as much as the average OECD country — yet has the lowest life expectancy and highest suicide rates among the 11 nations.
• The U.S. has the highest chronic disease burden and an obesity rate that is two times higher than the OECD average.
• Americans had fewer physician visits than peers in most countries, which may be related to a low supply of physicians in the U.S.
• Americans use some expensive technologies, such as MRIs, and specialized procedures, such as hip replacements, more often than our peers.
• The U.S. outperforms its peers in terms of preventive measures — it has one of the highest rates of breast cancer screening among women ages 50 to 69 and the second-highest rate (after the U.K.) of flu vaccinations among people age 65 and older.
• Compared to peer nations, the U.S. has among the highest number of hospitalizations from preventable causes and the highest rate of avoidable deaths.
Medical bills are the leading reason for personal bankruptcies in the US, And now “Surprise Billing” after hospitalization has become an important issue. Admitted patients may feel confident that their physician and hospital are “in network” as required for coverage by their insurance company. When they get the bills, they discover that consultants who saw them were not and they have been charged high “out of network” prices.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA/Obamacare) has enabled more people to be insured, but it is expensive. Twenty-nine million remain uninsured and about 1/3 of Americans are underinsured. Insurance premiums, deductibles and copays cause many people to avoid seeking care even though such delays often result in severe illnesses that are more difficult and expensive to treat.
Loss — and Profit During the COVID-19 Pandemic
US citizens have lost jobs and insurance during the pandemic, often wondering where they’ll find money to pay for the rent or the next meal. Most alarmingly, hundreds of thousands have lost their lives, leaving behind grieving families and friends.
At the same time, some of the largest companies, including Anthem, Humana and UnitedHealth Group, have reported second-quarter earnings that are double what they were a year ago. Although the ACA requires excess profits be returned to customers as rebates, the mega-corporations have found loopholes that allow them to avoid or delay payments. Anthem’s net income soared to $2.3 billion for the second quarter. United reported that their net earnings virtually doubled to $6.7 billion. How is it possible they experienced such financial success since they insured fewer people in 2020 than in 2019? The answer is that they paid far fewer claims last year than the year before due to the necessary cancelation of elective surgeries during the pandemic and the desire by citizens to avoid hospitals and clinics for fear of infection.
Major U.S. Health Insurers Report Big Profits, Benefiting From the Pandemic. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/05/health/covid-insurance-profits.html
For More Information:
SPAN Ohio (Single-payer Action Network Ohio).
A coalition of individuals and organizations working together to achieve fundamental reform of the health insurance system. SPAN Ohio is a non-partisan, non-profit 501(c)(4) organization.
Representative Mike Skindell has been a supporter of “Medicare for All” for many years and has worked closely with SPAN Ohio. He has introduced bills in the Ohio Legislature supporting a statewide program to provide universal health care for all Ohioans.
Representative Pramila Jayapal of Washington is a strong proponent of “Medicare for All” and has introduced a bill in Congress supporting passage of a national program. (Replacement for the old HR 676)
H.R.1384 - Medicare for All Act of 2019
Lynne C. Rustad, PhD
Good morning, my name is Becky Thomas and I would like to talk about Fair Elections. Throughout our history various powers, including white supremacists, and political parties who were in office, used voter suppression and gerrymandering to impede voters. In their desire to stay in power, usually with the support of corporate lobbying and political contributions, they used poll taxes, threats, violence and laws to discriminate against the poor, mostly black voters. Today, some of those practices still exist when state legislators talk about voter fraud, or try to curtail mail in ballots, or increase requirements to vote, or purge voters.
In Ohio, in 2010, gerrymandering was the main strategy used to keep the party in power. Thanks to Elbridge Gerry the father of this map making, Republicans devised a project they called “Redmap” to create outrageous district maps for Ohio Congressional and state legislative districts. The results are districts commonly called the Snake along the Lake and the Duck District so that voters could be packed and cracked into safe districts to elect legislators in power. The Snake along the Lake district is 96 miles long from Toledo to Cleveland. Can you imagine how difficult it is to represent such a diverse geographic district? Voters are either packed in districts like the Duck District or cracked in the “Snake” so they become safe for legislators in power. Consequently, even though Congressional Districts are 44% Democrat and 55% Republican we have only 25 districts led by Democrats, and 75 districts led by Republicans. Similarly, in the State House with the same percentage of registered voters, there are only 36 Democrat districts but 64 districts led by Republicans. You can see the imbalance of this representation.
In addition to this, the Supreme Court has expanded the Citizens United decision to pour more money into politics, and in 2013 they eliminated a portion of Section 5 of the Voter’s Rights Act, so the protections for the minority party, and especially poor blacks, no longer have to abide by pre-clearance laws for the changes they make to voting laws.
Luckily citizens in OH became aware of this problem, and the LWV and Common Cause advocated for change. So in 2015, for statehouse districts, and 2018, for congressional districts, we passed two ballot referendums to reform the redistricting process. Unfortunately, new maps cannot be drawn until after the final 2020 census numbers are shared which will not be until the end of September. We all know how many attempts were made to undermine the census results. There were delays in counting, early deadlines imposed, and an attempt to undercount people living in our country. So with these delays, we will have to work efficiently to create new maps in time for the next election.
In addition, with the threat of voter suppression legislation, Democrats in Congress are trying to pass a law, called the For the People Act, H.R. 1 and S. 1 to stop partisan gerrymandering, limit money in politics, and expand voting access. It would provide for automatic voter registration and require paper ballots. Early voting would be made available, and the bill would expand mail-in voting. It would also authorize $1 billion for upgrades to state voting systems. Polling shows that sixty-eight percent of Americans approve of the reforms in the bill and eighty-five percent of us want to limit the amount of politics during elections. Seventy-four percent of us want to see nonpartisan redistricting; Sixty-eight percent want to see 15 days of early voting; Sixty percent want same-day voter registration; And Fifty-nine percent want automatic voter registration. Even with the Republican attacks on mail-in voting, fifty-eight percent of us want to be able to vote by mail. To try to stop the bill from becoming law, Republicans are launching a filibuster, a tradition that enables a minority in the Senate to stop legislation unless it can command 60 votes.
While this bickering is going on, there are reforms in Ohio for the 2021 map making to take place. These new rules will help protect fair elections, but we need to watch closely so the maps that are drawn favor voters, not politicians. We need transparency in the process to allow for legislators who represent us, and restoration for voters who have lost their rights. If you want to contribute to this effort, please go online to Fair Elections and volunteer.
Gov. DeWine signed HB 6 into law on July 23, 2019 and went into affect with the bulkofthe charges to consumers hittingJanuary 2021.House Bill 6 bailed out two failingnuclear plants and two failing coals plants in an effort to protect some jobs, for now, eventhough it was never made clear that the money was even needed to protect those jobs.
There have been efforts by some members of the Ohio House to bring bills to the floor torepeal or partially repealHB6; to date, none have successfully moved out of conference