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In many ways, it’s great to be a woman living in 2016. Today, more women are educated, celebrated and making change. In Rio, U.S. women outpaced men, taking home more Olympic medals than their male counterparts— 61 to be exact. A woman is even running for president.

Today, 104 women hold seats in U.S. Congress.

When Rep. Marcy Kaptur first came to Congress in 1983, the Ohio Democrat was one of only 24 women in the House and Senate. In 2013, a record 98 women — 20 in the Senate and 78 in the House — dramatically raised that number in the 113th Congress.

"Women bring a breadth of experience that will be important to the work of every committee," said Kaptur during that monumental year. "They bring life experience and perceptions that have been missing here. I hope the operations of Congress will change and be more productive and less contentious."

Not only are women holding more positions of power, but in some cases they are being well paid.

This year, we saw Amazon go against the norm when the company said a review of its entire U.S. staff, including warehouse workers, found that women’s compensation in 2015 was 99.9% of men’s in equivalent jobs. Further, minorities make 100.1% of what white workers earn, Amazon said.

 

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by Andy Ouriel  

SANDUSKY — The Sandusky Fire Department captured a $227,000 federal grant so city officials can purchase specialized breathing equipment when responding to fires and other emergencies.

The money covers costs for:

• 100 self-contained breathing apparatus tanks

• 56 face-pieces

 

• 38 self-contained breathing apparatuses and harnesses

Sandusky firefighters respond to more than 6,000 requests a year.

“We are honored to have been awarded this grant, and the funds will be used to purchase new self-contained breathing apparatus to replace outdated equipment,” Sandusky fire Chief Dave Degnan said. “The new equipment will ensure our firefighters can work safely and confidently in dangerous environments.”

U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo, announced the award on Thursday.

“Thousands of fire departments apply for these funds, and the competition is fierce,” Kaptur said. “The Sandusky Fire Department and Chief Degnan made a clear and convincing case that this is a wise investment and will save lives.”

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By: Tom Henry, The Blade
August 3, 2016
 
Great Lakes charter boat captains are calling on Congress to refocus efforts on Asian carp, the exotic species with a voracious appetite that many fish biologists fear would wreak havoc on the region’s $7 billion fishery if they ever became established in it.
 
Those fishing captains are one of the groups with the most to lose, because they are highly dependent on a diverse mix of fish species to make their businesses more attractive. That’s especially true in Lake Erie, where more fish are spawned than the rest of the Great Lakes combined.
 
In a conference call Tuesday, charter boat captains said they aren’t sure if it’s election politics that has put the Asian carp issue on hold.
 
They expressed frustration with the pace Congress has taken since being presented with a landmark report 2½ years ago in which the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers laid out several possible engineering solutions, the most expensive being a physical separation of the Great Lakes and Mississippi watersheds at a cost of $18.4 billion. That is the option most Great Lakes scientists advocate.
 
Dave Spangler, Lake Erie Charter Boat Association member and owner of Dr. Bugs Charters in Oak Harbor, Ohio, said keeping the issue in front of Congress is “a serious thing” because western Lake Erie — with its warmth, shallowness, and world-class spawning areas — would be “utopia for Asian carp.”
 
“Walleye, yellow perch, and smallmouth bass would go away,” Mr. Spangler said.
 
He said Ohio’s $14 million lake-based tourism would take an irreversible hit.
 
“Our mission is to make sure all of our future generations can enjoy Lake Erie,” Mr. Spangler said.
 
He and others agreed their disagreement isn’t with the Great Lakes congressional delegation, which for years has been largely supportive of Asian carp legislation and funding efforts. But the delegation itself has expressed frustration several times over efforts to get congressmen from other parts of the country to embrace the issue.
 
“I haven’t heard anything at all this year. That’s part of our frustration,” Mr. Spangler said. “It seems like they’ve got Asian carp fatigue.”
 
U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo), who co-chairs the Great Lakes task force in the U.S. House, has been critical of the pace Congress has been on for years.
 
But she said on Tuesday that she is encouraged by movement on some funding projects.
 
Guy Lopez, owner of Wild Dog Tackle and Good Guyde Service in Illinois, said he has firsthand experience along the Illinois River with silver Asian carp, a species that becomes a missile-like projectile when boats come by because it is highly sensitive to motor vibrations. 
 
Silver carp and bighead carp are two of four species of fish generally classified as Asian carp, and the ones that get the most attention because of their destructive tendencies.
 
“I watched one of the carp fly two feet over my boat. It could have broken my windshield,” Mr. Lopez said. “I’d hate to see this happen to the Great Lakes.”
 
Fishermen lauded efforts in Fort Wayne, Ind., where officials have replaced a temporary fence with a permanent berm that separates the carp-filled Wabash River from the Maumee River, which flows northeast into Lake Erie near Toledo and has some of the region’s best spawning habitat.
 
The two waterways weren’t normally connected, but there are many times they have been when the rivers were running high from heavy spring rain.
 
The most logical next step, charter fish captains said, is for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to expedite its plans for an $8.2 million study of work that could be done near the Brandon Road Lock and Dam in Joliet, Ill.
 
That project, if authorized, could establish a single point to block the one-way, upstream transfer of exotic species from the Mississippi River basin into the Great Lakes basin, according to a Corps report.
 

Ohio Congressional members say pick Ravenna for future missile defense system

By Paula Schleis
Beacon Journal staff writer

In a rare show of bipartisan support, 17 Congress members from Ohio are urging that Ravenna become the site of a new military missile defense system.

In a letter to Vice Admiral James D. Syring, director of the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), the signers state: “Ohioans stand ready to support the defense of our nation and look forward to this potential opportunity to strengthen the regional economy.”

The letter, dated Tuesday, was signed by Democratic representative Tim Ryan, whose 13th Congressional District includes the Camp Ravenna Joint Military Training Center, one of three sites being considered for a potential East Coast Missile Defense System.

Other signers are Republican Sen. Rob Portman and Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown; Republican Representatives Steve Stivers, Dave Joyce, Pat Tiberi, Bill Johnson, Brad Wenstrup, Warren Davidson, Jim Renacci, Jim Jordan, Bob Gibbs, Bob Latta and Steve Chabot; and Democratic Representatives Marcy Kaptur, Marcia Fudge and Joyce Beatty.

Missile Defense Systems are used to intercept ballistic missiles. The defense missiles are housed in steel-and-concrete silos and are intended to be deployed to destroy enemy missiles in space before reaching U.S. targets. They do not contain any explosives. They use a solid fuel propellant.

They are about 55 feet long, about 4 feet in diameter and weigh about 25 tons a piece. Each costs about $50 million.

Currently, there are two Missile Defense System locations in California and Alaska.

In 2013, facing growing threats from North Korea to Iran, Congress told MDA to conduct environmental impact studies and select a “preferred site” should another system need to be built closer to the East Coast.

The MDA has narrowed their choices to Ravenna, Fort Drum in New York and Fort Custer Training Center in Michigan. The three installations are all that remain of 457 sites that were in the running.

The potential eastern Portage County site was the former Ravenna Arsenal, used by the Army during World War II to manufacture bombs and projectiles and employing 18,000 people at its peak.

The property became an Ohio Army National Guard training site in 1971 and currently is used to prepare troops for deployments and routine exercises.

The Ohio delegation argued that Camp Ravenna is close to Akron and Youngstown transportation networks, making it easier for the flow of military and construction traffic the project would bring.

“It is estimated that the $3.6 billion project could help support 2,300 jobs in the region during construction and directly employ up to 850 people full-time once the system is operational,” the letter stated. “This represents a significant investment in a region of our state that is continuing to recover economically.”

In May, military representatives held a public meeting in Ravenna to present the draft of its environmental study.

While some wetlands and streams would need to be relocated and construction would have to be timed so as not to interfere with a threatened species of bat, there were no impacts significant enough to rule out the Northeast Ohio location.

Officials have said they will reveal their preferred site by the end of the year.

Not everyone is a fan of the idea.

During the spring presentation in Ravenna, members of Concerned Citizens Ohio passed out letters of objection to anyone who wanted to sign their name and mail it in.

Among the arguments: The Pentagon has stated it doesn’t need, nor can it afford a third site; the existing missile defense technology is flawed, with recent tests failing to intercept their targets half the time; and other Congress members have supported using the money instead for improving technology to keep nuclear material out of the hands of terrorists.

The Union of Concerned Scientists has also argued against such efforts, saying the missile defense system is flawed and “may actually undermine national security by impeding deep cuts in nuclear weapons, complicating important international relationships, and engendering a false sense of security among policy makers,” according to their website.

Northeast Ohio members of that national group have written letters in opposition.

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By: Katie Nix, The Chronicle-Telegram
August 2, 2016
 
LORAIN — Former Lorain resident and current U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown made a trip back to his old stomping grounds Monday afternoon for a roundtable with local and national officials regarding the city’s economic future.
 
“As someone who used to live in Lorain, I talk to people about the declining steel industry all the time,” said Brown, who represented the area as a congressman in the 1990s and early 2000s. “I spoke with the mayor about it as soon as last week and (state Rep. Dan Ramos) and I have discussed it on multiple occasions. I also speak to residents about how the declining industry has affected them.”
 
Both Ramos and Lorain Mayor Chase Ritenauer attended the roundtable along with U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and Lorain County commissioners Ted Kalo and Matt Lundy as well as several union officials.
 
With the layoff of 200 workers and the indefinite idling of the Republic Steel plant that began in March, the city has a $3.6 million deficit brought on by a loss of tax revenue.
 
Brown, a Cleveland Democrat, said in order for Lorain to recover, the city needs to look at revamping its tax policies, and it needs to be better protected by trade enforcement.
 
“There needs to be partnerships with the Department of Commerce and other national agencies,” he said. “We need to be looking at tighter trade enforcement, but with the illegal dumping and subsidization of Chinese steel, the challenges are greater than they ever have been. We need to fix the cheating.”
 
Dumping occurs when foreign steel is brought into the United States and sold below the domestic market price. The U.S. has rules against steel dumping but countries, such as China, are some of the biggest offenders.
 
“When the steel is dumped, the effect is almost immediate on the market, but hearings to make sure our trade policies are being enforced can take anywhere between four to six weeks. We want to speed that process up,” Brown said.
 
Pritzker said her department wants to make steel dumping cases easier to prosecute.
 
“Dumping is the highest it’s been in years,” she said. “Part of the problem is it’s being dumped in other countries and then traded here, and we don’t necessarily know that it’s been dumped, and it adversely affects our market.”
 
Pritzker said from talking to members of the United Steel Workers Local 1104 and other local unions at the roundtable she also wants to bring in better workforce training for those in steel mills.
 
“We want to make sure that individuals are getting the training they need to perform their duties and also move up,” she said. “With one in five of the nation’s steelworkers living in Ohio, these are steps that need to be taken.”
 
Ritenauer said he agreed with Brown and Pritzker, who called for economic development partnerships between the local and national governments.
 
“I think one of the biggest things we need to be focusing on is the economic development part of our future and the key to that is in Washington, D.C.,” Ritenauer said. “The support from those national agencies and departments is so important because they have the funds necessary to make some of the improvements we need and to bring new businesses in.”
 
Ritenauer said while he’s dedicated to bringing in different industries to Lorain to diversify, he still thinks a major component of the city is its manufacturing.
 
“The era of 20,000 steel jobs are gone,” he said. “Those days aren’t coming back, but I think it’s still a huge part of who we are and what we bring to the table. The international economy wreaked havoc on us, and so we need to be looking at other opportunities that we might have on our waterfront and on the west side of town or at the industrial park on the east side. Manufacturing has declined in Lorain, but it’s not dead.”
 
Brown said he felt the steel industry will bounce back in Lorain to an extent because of the ebb and flow of the market but not all of the jobs will return.
 
“The problem is when you lose good, union jobs like this, it has an affect everywhere in the city — you have a hard time getting to keep firefighters and police officers and other city employees and services,” he said.
 
Pritzker said the ripple effect from the layoffs was evident at the roundtable.
 
“Declining economies make it so difficult to support firefighters, police officers, roads, parks, schools, everything,” she said. “For me, these issues aren’t at a macro level. They’re personal, and when I meet people that have been devastated by the layoffs and trade policies, it motivates me to go after it and change them.”