On Tuesday, April 9th, a bus load of Cleveland lobbyist, assembled and organized by Northern Ohioans for Budget Legislation Equality (NOBLE), headed to Columbus to voice their concerns on the items that were going to make up the 2013 Ohio State budget. The headlining issue was the Medicaid Expansion suspected of being removed from the budget. Teams of delegations were formed and we headed out to either planned appointments or several unscheduled stop-ins on officials that could not meet with a delegation. Three members of the Homeless Congress attended the lobby trip.
My delegation consisted of a varied cross section of Cleveland’s constituents which included senior citizens and one single parent with his, well behaved, child, to illustrate our diversity. Our team was assigned Senators Shirley Smith, Frank LaRose, and Michael Skindell’s aide. We talked up our points that the individual team members felt covered concerns that affect many Ohioans that suffered similar financial problems and placed them in dire straits. All testimonies were delivered eloquently and were received with genuine attention from the legislators and their staffs.
Although each member of the senate that we spoke to was informative and forthcoming, the highlight of our delegation was our session speaking with Senator Shirley Smith. She was happy to host our team and at the same time, a group of clergymen, headed by Bishop Tony Minor, joined our team for the meeting with the Senator. As soon as the Senator walked in the door, she informed the assembled group of the signing of a bill to remove employment restrictions and some limitation of expunging misdemeanor and felony convictions, an obstacle for reentering citizens seeking jobs (for more information, click here.) Then she turned her attention to our delegation and heard the testimony of those struggling in this economy. She responded gracefully adding comments to provide additional assistance for each person. It was clear that the senator was knowledgeable of the Cleveland area and some of the people who names were mentioned during our presentations.
At the end of the day we were informed that the Medicaid Expansion was taken out of the House budget and would be sent over to the Senate without the expansion. We will need to continue our efforts to push for this critical piece of the budget to be included in the final budget.
By Norman Wolfe
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