2019–2020 Legislative Agenda

The Ohio Legislative Black Caucus seeks to protect, enrich and improve African American communities across the state of Ohio through the efforts of our members. In 2019 the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus has committed our legislative agenda to improve Criminal Justice, Education, Economic Justice/Workforce Development, Health Care, and Voting Rights.

Furthermore, we fight for racial justice, protecting our communities from racial biases and discrimination.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

The opportunity to be treated fairly in the eyes of the law and the courts of justice should not be denied to any human being. We know that African Americans in Ohio face a disproportionate number of obstacles when it comes to criminal justice, from sentencing and bail disparities to police & community relations, parole, and overall prisoner treatment.

By the numbers, African Americans make up 45% of Ohio’s prison population while only accounting for 14% of Ohio’s general population. The black imprisonment rate is 1,625 per 100,000 people compared to 289 per 100,000 for white citizens. We bring reform to criminal justice in 2019 in the following wills.

EDUCATION

Education has always been a cornerstone in our mission and purpose.

Unfortunately, we still see disproportionate rates of the black community continuing to fall behind in education. From high school graduation rates to resources and funding for public schools, we must improve education for our state’s sake. While the state high school graduation rate is 84 percent, there is an increasing gap for African Americans. African Americans have a graduation rate is 67 percent compared to 88 percent of white students. During 2013-2017, Ohio’s four-year graduation rate for African American students at public high schools was among the six lowest states in the nation, according to the NCES (Nation Center for Education Statistics).

Ohio ranked 45th among the 50 states for black students graduating high school, finishing nine percentage points behind the national average of seventy-six in 2016. According to the U.S. Census Bureau statistics for Ohio, 26 percent of African American Ohioans have obtained a post-secondary degree compared to 37 percent for all Ohioans. Correspondingly, almost 15 percent of African Americans do not have a high school diploma or equivalency compared to 10 percent for the state overall. Our plan is as follows to address the urgent needs in education:

HEALTH CARE

When looking at the state of health care in the African American community in Ohio, there are enormous disparity gaps that need to be addressed in order to improve the quality of life. African American infants are three times as likely to die compared to white infants (15.2 deaths per 1,000 live births).

There are too many high African American population neighborhoods where the life expectancy is between 60-63 years (Ex. Franklinton in Columbus the life expectancy is 60 a nearly twenty-nine-year gap than that of the surrounding areas). Furthermore, there are too many pockets in which access to quality healthcare and resources are scarce. The OLBC will focus on four primary sub-areas to improve healthcare in Ohio by not only raising awareness but having partnerships and key legislative action.

ECONOMIC JUSTICE/WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT

African Americans still face many challenges for equitable economic opportunity in Ohio. The unemployment rate for African Americans is 10.2 percent.

The unemployment rate for young adults between the ages of 20-24 is equally disproportionate with African Americans being at 14.3 percent compared to 8 percent for other Ohioans in that age group. 27 percent of Ohio’s African American workforce are in service occupations such as food service and healthcare support compared to only seventeen percent for other Ohioans. 25 percent of African Americans live below the poverty line with the median household income for African Americans in Ohio being $32,163. Economic quality and opportunity are the keys to advancing our communities. We will focus on improving these statics by:

VOTING RIGHTS

While there has been progress in creating more fair elections with the passing of Issue 1 – Fair District Ballot Initiative in May of 2018 we have still seen voting rights significantly infringed upon through Ohio’s unjust purging law.

Over one million people have been removed from the voter rolls after the Supreme Court upheld Ohio’s purge. Voting is a sacred right, that should not be removed or threatened due to a person inactivity to participate in elections. We seek to expand voting rights for Ohioans by: