Political briefs – Aug. 8

Staff report

Ohio, politics

PORTMAN STATEMENT ON FINANCE COMMITTEE BIPARTISAN IRS REPORT – U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) released the following statement on the release of the Senate Finance Committee’s bipartisan report detailing their investigation into the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) treatment of organizations applying for tax-exempt status. As required by law, members were briefed by Committee staff with 6103 authority to review private taxpayer information in a number of closed-door briefings on the findings and recommendations of the report before the vote.

“As soon as I began receiving troubling reports from conservative groups in Ohio about alleged mistreatment by the IRS, I spearheaded a Senate letter to the IRS demanding immediate answers,” said Portman. “IRS officials assured us that only legitimate criteria were used to evaluate tax-exempt groups. That was false. Today’s report confirms on a bipartisan basis that there was gross negligence at the highest levels of the agency that resulted in the political-targeting of conservative groups. Now is a time for action, and a time for consequences. We must put in place strict reforms at the IRS to ensure this abuse and overreach does not happen again, and we must ensure that those responsible for these actions are held accountable so that people’s constitutional rights are not violated again.”

BROWN AND PORTMAN’S BILL TO ADDRESS ALGAE IN DRINKING WATER HEADED TO THE PRESIDENT’S DESK – The U.S. Senate passed legislation introduced by U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) to protect Ohio’s drinking water. The Drinking Water Protection Act will direct the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop and report to Congress a strategic Algal Toxin Risk Assessment and Management Plan within 90 days. The Plan will evaluate the risk to human health from drinking water provided by public water systems contaminated with algal toxins and recommend feasible treatment options, including procedures and source water protection practices, to mitigate any adverse public health effects of algal toxins. The bill is now headed to President Obama’s desk to become law.

“Cities and towns across Ohio need to have the best, most up-to date information on how to keep their drinking water safe,” said Brown. “By targeting harmful algal blooms, we can ensure that communities are prepared to deal with threats to their drinking water systems. This legislation is part of our ongoing efforts to clean up and protect Lake Erie for future generations.”

“Last summer, families in Toledo were warned not to drink the tap water in their own homes because it was unsafe. This is something no family should have to go through, and this bill will allow federal agencies to better prepare and prevent future disasters like the one we experienced in Toledo,” said Portman. “By establishing a strategic plan to ward off algae, this is an important victory in our efforts to protect Ohioans and keep our drinking water safe.”

BROWN ANNOUNCES BILL TO PREVENT STAYS IN FOSTER CARE AND KEEP OHIO FAMILIES TOGETHER – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown announced his cosponsorship of a bill to keep families together by allowing the nation’s largest child welfare funding stream to support front-end family services to reduce unnecessary foster care stays. Currently, the majority of federal child welfare dollars is spent on foster care. The Family Stability and Kinship Care Act would give states and tribes the flexibility to use federal funds to pay for preventive services that can stabilize families and keep kids out of foster care and safe at home or with kin. The bill would also allow states and tribes to provide these support services to extended family members who are called upon to take care of relatives’ children at a moment’s notice.

“When hardship forces an unexpected stay in foster care, it disrupts children’s routines, ripping them away from their families and often forcing them to switch schools or leave their communities,” said Brown. “We should make every effort to provide parents and kin with the support and resources they need to provide a healthy and safe living environment from the start. By investing in preventive family services, we can help ensure stable home lives for all children and keep them in the care of their families.”

Twenty-nine states including Ohio, the District of Columbia, and the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe in Washington State currently have Title IV-E waivers that have allowed them to test innovative approaches such as investing in front-end child welfare service delivery to help families remain safely together. This legislation would allow every state to permanently make these types of investments with federal support.

Ohio, politics
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Staff report