Kasich wades into fight over bargaining law

Published: Thursday, September 29, 2011 @ 8:38 PM
Updated: Thursday, September 29, 2011 @ 8:38 PM

Ohio Gov. John Kasich has made his first personal appearance to campaign for a collective bargaining overhaul he signed into law this spring.

The Republican governor traveled to Toledo where he joined Mayor Michael Bell, a former firefighter who appeared in campaign ads favoring the law.

Kasich's Thursday evening speech touched only briefly on the collective bargaining law. Nearby protesters of the law called for Bell's ouster.

Opponents are seeking to overturn the law, which limits the bargaining abilities of 350,000 teachers, nurses, firefighters,
police and other public workers around the state. It bans strikes, scraps binding arbitration and eliminates teacher step increases.

A Quinnipiac poll released Tuesday showed more Ohioans disapprove than approve of both Kasich and the union law.

New insurance standards for Uber, Lyft signed into law

Published: Wednesday, September 17, 2014 @ 9:08 PM
Updated: Wednesday, September 17, 2014 @ 9:08 PM

Legislation signed by Gov. Jerry Brown Wednesday will set new insurance standards for transportation networking companies like Uber and Lyft based on a compromise reached with the companies last month.

The bill mainly effects periods when drivers for the TNCs -- companies that connect paid drivers to passengers through a smartphone app -- have their app turned on and are looking for customers but have not yet picked up a passenger.

The issue drew attention in San Francisco earlier this year when Uber driver Syed Muzzafar, 57, struck and killed 6-year-old Sofia Liu the night of Dec. 31.

Uber has continued to argue in court that because Muzzafar was not carrying a passenger during the crash, despite having his Uber app activated, the company was not liable for damages, despite changing its policy to cover drivers during those circumstances.

Insurance policies enacted by Uber and Lyft this year allowed for $50,000 per injury in an accident with up to $100,000 covered, and $25,000 for property damage while the app was activated but before the driver had picked up a passenger.

Once a passenger was in the car, the policy would go up to $1 million of liability coverage per incident with $50,000 of contingent collision coverage, depending on the driver's personal policy.

At all other times, the driver's personal auto insurance policy is in effect.

The bill as originally introduced by Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, would have required the companies to provide $1 million any time a TNC driver's app was activated, regardless of whether there was a passenger in the car.

Uber objected strenuously to the bill, calling it in June a "back-room deal by insurance companies and trial attorneys to prematurely force the ridesharing industry to fit their special interests."

The final version of the bill was reached by compromise with Uber and Lyft and passed by the legislature last month. Its requirements are similar to the policies Uber and Lyft had already voluntarily enacted -- $50,000 coverage per injury in an accident with up to $100,000 covered, and $30,000 for property damage before the driver picks up a passenger. It will take effect next July.

In a statement last month, Lyft said the company does not see the compromise legislation as signed by Brown today as a permanent solution.

"A truly permanent solution must include the creation of modern insurance products tailored for drivers who participate in peer-to-peer transportation," a Lyft representative said.

"Lyft's long-term goal is to reduce the number of empty seats in cars, the number of cars on the roads and, ultimately, the need to own a car all together," the representative said. "We continue to believe that innovation in the insurance marketplace is the most effective way to maintain the highest level of safety while allowing ridesharing to thrive."

Bonilla said the process represented "what true public policy should be -- a collective process for all stakeholders to contribute."

The legislation "sets the standard for this innovative industry, ensuring consumer protection and public safety remains a top priority," Bonilla said in a statement.

Another regulatory bill for TNCs introduced this year that would have set stricter background check standards failed at about the same time Bonilla's legislation passed.

The legislation introduced by Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian would have imposed mandatory background screening and drug and alcohol tests for TNC drivers but encountered strong opposition from companies like Uber.

In a statement, the company called Nazarian's bill "a flagrant attempt to stymie innovation and competition by an antiquated industry. It is an obvious play by the taxicab industry to kill competition and limit consumer choice."

Social Security deposits going paperless

Published: Monday, February 18, 2013 @ 3:20 PM
Updated: Monday, February 18, 2013 @ 3:20 PM

The U.S. Treasury Department has announced that Social Security benefits payments will be directly deposited into bank accounts and onto debit cards.

The paperless system goes into effect March 1 and is designed to aid the federal government in saving money, according to the Ohio News Connection.

Recipients will still receive checks in the mail after March 1, said Cristina Martin Firvida with AARP’s Government Affairs Division. But recipients are being urged to set up a bank or credit union account to accept deposits.

It can be done at www.godirect.org or by calling the U.S. Treasury Department at (800) 333-1795.

AARP is warning people that with any change, a scam is possible. Firvida said no one from the Social Security Administration is going to ask for personal information via phone or email, and recipients should be wary of such requests.

Kasich announces highway funding plan

Published: Friday, December 14, 2012 @ 11:24 AM
Updated: Friday, December 14, 2012 @ 11:24 AM

Ohio Governor John Kasich announced a plan for highway funding that he says will generate $3 billion for construction projects without leasing the Ohio Turnpike and without laying off any Turnpike employees.

The Ohio Jobs and Transportation Plan is Kasich’s approach to filling Ohio’s $1.6 billion highway funding deficit.

He made the announcement at the Dayton Convention Center on Fifth Street as part of a state wide tour.

Kasich won’t lease the turnpike for upfront cash. Instead, the Republican wants to issue new debt or spend toll revenue on non-turnpike projects, which would require legislative approval.

During his Dayton speech Kasich said his plan will keep existing jobs, allow for better maintenance and rebuilding of the crumbling turnpike and create new jobs.

“We anticipate that we will create 65,000 jobs over the course of the next six years. And they will be shovel-ready jobs,” he said.

Kasich under scrutiny heading into important speech

Published: Sunday, February 05, 2012 @ 1:28 PM
Updated: Sunday, February 05, 2012 @ 1:28 PM

            The Toledo Blade
(The Toledo Blade)

He is fresh off a bruising fight and ultimate defeat over the rights of unionized public workers.

His approval ratings among voters are low, and some fellow Republicans in the Legislature have grumbled openly over Gov. John Kasich's decision to move his State of the State speech outside the capital to eastern Ohio.

Against this backdrop, Kasich plans to lay out his second-year agenda Tuesday. It will focus on education and the economic promise of oil and natural gas drilling.

Political experts say moving the speech to an elementary school in Steubenville allows Kasich to reconnect with the public after last fall's bitter collective bargaining battle.

The decision also inconveniences some lawmakers -- including those in his own party, whose support is necessary to push his policies through the Legislature.