July 30, 2014
Preserving and creating good-paying jobs are top priorities for me as I work to serve the constituents of the 11th district. With that in mind, my office engaged early on with the City of Bedford and Ben Venue Laboratories when its owners announced that Ben Venue, a manufacturer of pharmaceutical including life-saving cancer drugs, would permanently close. My office worked with the City of Bedford, federal agencies, and the owners of Ben Venue Labs to keep lines of communication open. Senator Sherrod Brown was also involved with these efforts, and shares my dedication to keep the facility operating. After many months of negotiations, the owners of Ben Venue Laboratories reached an agreement last week with a buyer, Hikma Pharmaceuticals. This announcement is welcome news both for cancer patients around the country and our communities. While Hikma has not stated it will resume all operations in Bedford, the door is now open to that possibility.
As a strong advocate for education and equal opportunity for all, I am also pleased to tell you about a bill I am co-sponsoring, the Advancing Girls in STEM Act. With women making up only 26 percent of STEM (Science, Technology, Education, and Math) workers, there is a clear need for greater STEM exposure for young girls. The Advancing Girls in STEM Act creates a pilot competitive state grant program that funds STEM activities for elementary and middle school girls. It gives states the necessary resources to spark the interest of girls so that they take classes that can lead to career paths typically dominated by men, and commanding higher salaries.
This is not a partisan issue and our legislation has received support from both Democrats and Republicans. To remain globally competitive, our country needs further advancement in STEM fields. Drawing more women into STEM occupations is good for families and for our nation. I look forward to the day young women enter high tech and STEM related fields at the same rate as young men. Providing access to a quality education for all children is another area of unfinished business in our nation. A national organization that advocates for children, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, released its annual state rankings for child development last week. After analyzing the factors of economic well-being, education, health, and family and community, the organization ranked Ohio 24th in the nation in overall child well-being. Despite improvement in many of the evaluated areas, this ranking is not acceptable. Certainly the state of Ohio must improve its funding for education and commitment to providing quality education for all students. The federal government also has a crucial role to ensure that children grow up to be happy and healthy. This involves policies directly and indirectly that impact children’s wellbeing. I am a staunch advocate for raising the minimum wage, protecting SNAP (food stamp) benefits, and supporting job creation. In the latest study, Ohio’s economic well-being, and the family and community categories show the greatest need for improvement. I continue to fight for these issues to improve the lives of current and future generations. I was honored to be an invited speaker at the NAACP’s 105th national convention in Las Vegas last week. The convention covered a variety of important issues, but the main focus was on voting rights and getting voters to the polls. That was my focus as well and I emphasized the critical need to pass the Voting Rights Amendment Act (VRAA). The Supreme Court’s Shelby County decision has made it easier for states to pass laws that impede access to the polls for specific populations such as minorities, low income earners, seniors and students. The VRAA restores balance and makes it harder for states to impose election changes with the intent of impeding voting access for certain groups. I also emphasized the need for communities of color to exercise their right to vote. The historic gains achieved through the original Voting Rights Act passed in 1965 will be lost unless we continue to have our voices heard through the ballot box. Our silence must not be the reason why minorities are underserved in government. As Dr. King warned, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” We need to fight voter suppression wherever and whenever it surfaces in America, so that our government responds to the needs of all communities.
Have a good week everyone.