Issue 1 passes; Issue 2 fails

The Ohio Statehouse in Columbus. (Provided via Ohio Department of Development)

Here is how Ohioans voted on Issues 1 and 2.

Issue 1: Passed

The issue, otherwise known as Marsy’s Law,  will repeal and replace the Ohio Constitution’s Second Amendment passed in 1994. Similar to Amendment 2, Issue 1 establishes constitutional rights for victims and their families, but the two differ in the actual execution of those rights.

Marsy’s Law designates 10 specific rights in its text. They include a right to a timely notice of all public proceedings, the right to restitution, the right to prompt conclusion of the case and the right to refuse interviews the defendant requests.

Five other states have implemented Marsy’s Law, which is named after Marsalee Nicholas, who was stalked and killed by a former boyfriend in 1983. Marsy’s parents ran into the accused murderer in a grocery store. They weren’t alerted he was released on bail.

Opponents, like the Ohio American Civil Liberties Union, said the law interferes with due process and raises fair trial concerns. Since the victim would be able to intervene in any of the proceedings, the Ohio ACLU argues that it could interfere with the defendant’s right to a speedy trial.

“There are several problems with this initiative, but the most important aspect is that it will essentially turn our system of due process on its head,” the Ohio ACLU said in their FAQ section on their website.

Issue 2: Failed

It would’ve require state agencies to pay the same for prescription drugs as the Department of Veteran Affairs, which typically pays 24 percent less than other agencies for prescription medication.

Supporters of the bill said it would save taxpayers $400 million by reducing prescription medication prices, which could help fund police, schools and other public services.

Critics argued the $400 million figure has no factual backing and operates under the assumption that Ohio doesn’t already receive significant drug discounts. Opponents also said citizens who don’t get their drugs from the state wouldn’t benefit since drug companies would likely drive up prices of other drugs not purchased by the VA.

OU College Republicans President Ryan Evans said he opposes the policy because it will increase costs for citizens whose drug purchases don’t go through the government.

“Any time you force these companies to provide lower costs for certain individuals what they do in turn is charge everybody else higher rates,” Evans said. “You’re basically paying more so somebody else can get it for less.”

OU College Democrats President Ashley Fishwick said she supports Issue 2.

“I think Issue 2 is a really important step on checking pharmaceutical companies,” Fishwick said. “It’s a step in the right direction for Ohio.”

@AbbeyMarshall

am877915@ohio.edu

Originally published for The Post on Nov. 7, 2017.

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Gubernatorial candidate to return to OU in October

State Sen. Joe Schiavoni, D-Youngstown, will return to his alma mater, Ohio University, in October as part of his campaign to reach out to college campuses.

Schiavoni, a 2001 OU alumnus, began his campaign nearly a year ago and has spent every day in a different part of Ohio. He said his sights are set on college campuses in the upcoming months. He said he is planning on going to Ohio State University, Kenyon University, Oberlin College and — of course — his alma mater.

“Young people are the key to this next election,” he said. “As I travel the state, young people want to be involved in this next election because they know it’s important.”

Schiavoni said he will participate in OU’s homecoming parade Oct. 7, but, as of press time, he does not know if he will hold any other events.

Although he will be walking with them in the parade, OU College Democrats has not yet endorsed a candidate and will not until the spring primary.

“We’re really excited about that,” OU College Democrats President Ashley Fishwick said of Schiavoni coming to Athens. “It’s good to see a candidate who’s really engaged with students.”

At 37 years old, Schiavoni is the youngest governor candidate. He said this gives him an advantage when it comes to garnering college students’ votes.

“I understand the concerns (of students),” he said. “I understand we need to give young people incentives to stay and build their lives here.”

Schiavoni said he will establish fellowships to get young people involved in his campaign.

Schiavoni said a main focus of his campaign is advocating for the alleviation of student debt. He will roll out a bill next week to assist in financing homes for first-time buyers with student debt.

“We want young people to stay and prosper in Ohio,” he said. “I’m somebody that is concerned about your future and keeping you in the state. I know we have to have incentive programs.”

Sam Miller, former president of the College Democrats, said she is interested in several candidates, and Schiavoni is one of them.

“Oftentimes in politics, we see older people pretending to understand the issues of young people,” she said. “He was a Bobcat. He wasn’t in college that long ago. He understands that college is really expensive and is trying to fix that. His youth really attracts college students to him.”

@AbbeyMarshall

am877915@ohio.edu

Originally published for The Post on Sept. 17, 2017.

How the proposed Free Speech Act could affect OU

Sasha Estrella-Jones gives a passionate speech at a protest against President Trump’s executive order on immigration in front of the Athens County Courthouse on Feb.1 (Photo by Matt Starkey)

Some state representatives are arguing that Ohio University — or any public college in Ohio — shall make no law prohibiting the freedom of speech.

State Reps. Andrew Brenner (R-Powell) and Wesley Goodman (R-Cardington) are introducing a bill to the Ohio House of Representatives reaffirming First Amendment rights on college campuses.

“We need to defend (free speech) everywhere, but especially in college campuses where you’re supposed to have a free exchange of ideas,” Brenner said. “We have some universities enact some policies that have led to some alternative ideas being squashed, and I don’t want to see that happen.”

Brenner said the Free Speech Act aims to ensure public universities in Ohio are compliant with the First Amendment. That includes an elimination of “free speech zones” that are present on many college campuses. The entire campus should be a free speech zone, Brenner said.

Under the Free Speech Act, policies such as OU’s recent ban on protesting in university buildingswould not be able to exist.

“Public universities that are getting large amounts of taxpayers’ money, their policies and conducts of laws should be consistent with the First Amendment,” Goodman said.

Goodman emphasized the need for an exchange of ideas at the collegiate level.

“We completely reject that notion that speech or expression is harmful,” he said. “The answer to speech we dislike or disagree with … is to meet it with more speech of what you believe and find to be true.”

OU has faced the debate around free speech on campus in recent years. Last fall, the university hosted a campus conversation addressing the drawing of a hanged figure on the graffiti wall, which is at the intersection of Mulberry Street and Richland Avenue. The event sparked a debate about what constitutes hate speech and free speech.

“We can all agree that hateful rhetoric has no place on this campus,” David Parkhill, the former OU College Republicans president, said last October during the panel discussion. “But who is to say what is hateful rhetoric? We cannot allow the government and we cannot allow our institutions to start regulating our speech. Once it starts, where does it stop?”

The line between hate speech and First Amendment freedoms is not quite so clear cut. Sarah Wooldridge, a sophomore studying middle childhood education, said she thinks the bill is not a good idea in some situations.

“(Speech) should be limited to keep things appropriate and professional,” she said. “We need to learn how to interact and get our points across in appropriate ways. … We need to learn how to communicate our ideas professionally at our age now.”

Brenner stressed that the proposed bill does not tolerate speech that portrays a clear and present danger, which has been rhetoric ruled upon the U.S. Supreme Court in reference to free speech.

“If someone is causing threat or physical violence, that’s not tolerated and they should be arrested,” he said. “We’re talking speech (and a) discussion of ideas.”

Goodman said the two would likely introduce the bill to the Ohio House of Representatives in the next few weeks, and they hope to pass it through the Ohio House, Senate and governor’s office by next spring.

“Too often we’re talking at each other or past each other,” Goodman said. “We see this as a step toward creating a healthier climate and a healthy dialogue so that young people on college campuses are fully equipped to be engaged and successful citizens of Ohio.”

@AbbeyMarshall

am877915@ohio.edu

 Originally published for The Post on Sept. 12, 2017.

New law requires organ donation education in Ohio public schools

The Ohio Statehouse in Columbus. (Provided via Ohio Department of Development)

Athens teen Emmalyn Brown was only 9 years old when her liver suddenly failed. Had it not been for the generosity of a donor, she would’ve died in three days.

Since her transplant, Brown, now 19, has been actively campaigning for increased awareness and registration of organ donors in Ohio. As part of a project her junior year at Athens High School, Brown reached out to former State Rep. Debbie Phillips to begin work on new legislation that would require schools to teach about the positive effects of organ donation.

“I (saw) a pattern of folks who didn’t understand donation or who held strange myths about it, especially in isolated communities across the state,” Brown said. “I realized that if they had more education on donation, maybe from a third party, they would understand it better.”

Brown worked closely with Phillips and Lifeline of Ohio, an organization she volunteered with, to give input on the proposed legislation. After almost four years, Brown is excited to finally see the bill become law.

The legislation requires that every Ohio public school educates students on the positive effects of organ donation. It was an amendment added to House Bill 438, which outlines public school appreciation week.

“As a retired teacher, I’ve always been very sensitive to young students and their need for education on a wide variety of fronts,” said State Rep. John Patterson, who was the sponsor of HB438. “Organ donation is one of those things that all of us ought to be educated about.”

The law allows for schools to instruct on organ donation in whatever way is convenient to them, Patterson said, which is typically in a health class.

2010 study found 90 percent of Ohioans reported being in favor of organ and tissue donation, but only 54 percent of eligible citizens are actually registered in the Ohio Donor Registry.

“It is our hope that through education more students as they age into their adulthood are more inclined to become organ donors,” Patterson, an OU alumnus, said. “It only seems logical to educate our young people on the possibilities of the gift that keeps on giving.”

Greg Haylett, a fifth-year senior studying biological science, said he wished a similar program was in place when he was in high school.

“As long as it’s (an) unbiased thing, I couldn’t see a downside to it,” Haylett, an organ donor, said. “It could be a positive thing because that’s a decision everyone has to make when they get their license.”

Brown said she hopes this legislation debunks myths and stigmas associated with organ donation and ultimately increases organ donation registration.

“There are no cons to organ donation in my book — only pros,” Brown said. “It has saved my life and many people I know. Organ donation is something that makes sense to me as you can help others after your own death.”

@AbbeyMarshall

am877915@ohio.edu

Originally published for The Post on Sept. 8, 2017.

Jerry Springer rumored to run for governor in 2018

Jerry Springer at a Hudson Union Society event in January 2011. (provided via Wikimedia Commons)

President Donald Trump was not the first TV-star-turned politician, and apparently he will not be the last.

Jerry Springer, the former mayor of Cincinnati and daytime television host, is being backed by at least six influential Ohio Democrats for a 2018 governor bid, according to Business Insider.

Springer, who earned degrees from Tulane University and Northwestern University, became active in politics after working with several law firms. He held the role of campaign advisor to Robert F. Kennedy. Following Kennedy’s assassination, he accepted a position with a law firm in Cincinnati.

He joined Cincinnati’s city council in 1971, which proved to be a short-lived career when he resigned in 1974 in response to a scandal of hiring a prostitute. Soon after, he was selected by the Cincinnati City Council to serve one year as the mayor in 1977.

He sought the governor’s seat in 1982, unsuccessfully.

Since then, his political career has been at somewhat of a standstill with no notable offices held, though some Democratic leaders say he is well-versed in state issues and could be a good fit for Ohio.

Springer has not yet made a bid, but Democratic leaders told Business Insider he will consider a campaign if it is “needed by the party.”

So far, four other Democrats have tossed their hats in the ring for governor, including former minority leader and Ohio University alumnus Joe Schiavoni.

OU College Democrats President Ashley Fishwick did not have a comment, as the organization does not endorse candidates this early in the race.

@AbbeyMarshall

am877915@ohio.edu

Originally published for The Post on June 2, 2017.

Ohio slashes standards protecting renewable energy, worrying some experts

The Ohio Statehouse in Columbus. (Provided via Ohio Department of Development)

The Ohio House of Representatives voted last month to slash standards protecting renewable energy, spurring concern from local climate change experts.

In order to pass House Bill 114, the Ohio House of Representatives asserted renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power, no longer needed the assistance of the government to support the industries.

“This will undoubtedly slow the growth of renewables in Ohio and make it harder for renewable energy sources to compete with traditional, ecologically hazardous energy sources,” Sarah Pinter, the 2016-17 Student Senate environmental affairs commissioner, said.

H.B. 114 makes all former mandates voluntary after the law was created nine years ago to protect renewable energy production. In 2026, the renewable energy goals will be erased from law altogether.

The 65-29 vote included three Republicans joining Democrats to oppose the bill.

“I am sad and disappointed, but ultimately unsurprised,” Pinter said. “The Republican Party is determined to destroy progress toward sustainability to keep the pockets of the billionaires that run the fossil fuel industry lined.”

Geoffrey Buckley, a geography professor, attributes the passage of the bill to monetary motivation.

“Those (representatives) are getting money from fossil fuel industries,” he said. “It’s a last-minute money grab, and a lot of these representatives are simply doing work for these corporations that have funded them.”

Ryan Fogt, an associate professor of meteorology, said he is worried about how H.B. 114 will affect the solar industry. Solar is more beneficial than many other energy sources, Fogt said.

“Solar has been the biggest growth in renewable energy,” he said. “For every job in coal, there are three jobs in solar. It’s been an area of boom.”

Fogt said renewable energy sources are at a significant risk from the bill because it will create more of a “burden.”

Buckley argued that, in order to be competitive, Ohio needs to invest in new sources of energy.

“From an economic standpoint, it’s the future compared to the coal industry,” Buckley said. “If we want to be a player in the future and continue to attract people to the state and have good-paying jobs, the energy isn’t going to be with fossil fuels.”

If the state government continues to cut incentives for renewable energy, Pinter said the state and, ultimately, the world will suffer.

“I am worried about the future of the planet,” Pinter said. “We cannot afford to cut back on renewables in the face of climate change. It could cost lives.”

@AbbeyMarshall

am877915@ohio.edu

Originally published for The Post on April 24, 2017.

OU alumnus running for governor

 

A former Bobcat has his sights set on the governor’s chair in Columbus.

State Sen. Joe Schiavoni, D-Boardman, announced his candidacy for governor of Ohio on March 1 in a news release. Schiavoni, a 2001 Ohio University graduate, has served as the minority leader of the Democratic Party in the state senate for the past three years.

Prior to his election as state senator in 2009, Schiavoni worked as a workers’ compensation lawyer. He said he is ready for the next challenge and will work to address problems such as school funding, the drug epidemic and the job market.

“I saw a lot of things the state government was doing that was not helping the everyday Ohioan,” he said. “As I travel the state, I see we’re not funding our schools properly. The job market is lagging so we should make investments in jobs. We have a lot of neighborhoods that desperately need investments from the state when it comes to … revitalization.”

Schiavoni has spent the past few weeks traveling around the state to listen to the stories of his current and potential constituents.

“Ohioans want somebody that they can trust,” he said. “I want to bring people’s voices to the statehouse. The most powerful tool is giving people the opportunity to come down and testify of what’s going on in their particular municipality to make legislators understand.”

Republicans have held the majority in Ohio for •seven consecutive years. Schiavoni, a Democrat, believes the two parties can work together to improve their constituents’ lives.

“It doesn’t have to be a political battle in the statehouse every day,” he said. “They want somebody who can go there and work as hard as they possibly can to improve the quality life of people.”

Schiavoni criticized Republican Gov. John Kasich’s allocation of funds and taxation system and said he would change the way those practices are done if he were to take office.

“Constantly, it seems the governor’s priority and the Republicans’ priority is to tax cut before making investments,” he said. “We have to invest in those areas before we say we’re going to do cuts, especially to the wealthy. … Every year I see there’s an income tax reduction but a sales tax increase.”

While attending a College Democrats convention in Toledo, Schiavoni said he met several students from Athens, including Sam Miller, the current president of OU College Democrats.

“Joe Schiavoni has always been on my radar since he is minority leader,” Miller, who serves on The Post‘s Publishing Board, said. “He has stood up for the working class and Appalachia. Getting the opportunity to meet him was really good.”

Nicholas Felt, a junior studying political science and recording industry, was among other OU College Democrats who met Schiavoni. As a previous intern of former State Sen. Lou Gentile, Felt said he knew about Schiavoni and his policies prior to meeting him.

“In my mind, he is the most qualified candidate,” Felt said. “He’s been a champion of the working class in Ohio, and he’s always worked to uphold values of Democrats in Ohio.”

Schiavoni affirmed he is the best choice for college students, citing his plan to make college more affordable and managing state debt.

“Dealing with affordability, dealing with debt and also dealing with the job market is important because a lot of graduates want to stay in Ohio, and we want to keep them in Ohio, so we need to incentivize that,” he said.

Schiavoni said he is grateful for support from his alma mater and college students.

“I love seeing young people excited about this,” he said. “We desperately need young people to be very active in this election. … Politicians need to embrace the ideas of college students and college graduates.”

@AbbeyMarshall

am877915@ohio.edu

Originally published for The Post on April 19, 2017.