Grace backs ‘Focus on the Future’ agenda

By Lorna Hart -

State Rep. Debbie Phillips with Sarah Grace.

State Rep. Debbie Phillips with Sarah Grace.

The 94th Ohio House District includes Meigs, parts of Athens, Washington and Vinton counties.

OHIO VALLEY —With an endorsement from 94th House District State Rep. Debbie Phillips, Sarah Grace began her campaign for a spot on the November ballot.

Phillips, who has served four terms, is not eligible to run for another term, and encouraged Grace to become a candidate for the position.

“I support Sarah Grace because she has the experience and the right attitude to go to the state House and get results for our region,” Phillips said recently.

Grace’s platform supports a legislative agenda that would focus on benefits for working, middle-class families.

In an interview, Grace said she supports the “Focus on the Future” Democratic economic agenda that was announced last Wednesday. According to Grace, these policies would help raise families’ income, make college affordable and invest in clean energy and infrastructure job.

“The proposed house bills include many things that will help the people of this district,” she said, giving several examples.

Putting Family First, a House Bill and Senate Bill Draft, would provide family and medical leave for 40 percent of Americans not covered by the Medial Leave Act, and whose benefits can be discontinued without the protection of the bill.

“Because of my personal experience, I know how important it is for families to have medical leave. No one should lose their job or home because of a medical emergency.”

Grace recounted a time in her life when she was her family’s only source of benefits, but needed to take time off due to medical reasons. Her employer was not required to provide that benefit, and she worried that not only would she lose her job, but also jeopardize her benefits.

“Although they did so out of the goodness of their hearts, they had no legal responsibility,” she said.

“Almost everyone will have a time in their life when they need to take a leave, and research shows people are more likely to go back to their jobs if they have paid medical leave. This contributes to employee retention, a positive for employers.”

Most food items are already exempt from sales tax, and HB and SB Draft Reducing The Cost Of Everyday Essentials is a measure to expand exemptions to include items such as diapers and over-the-counter medications.

“Sales tax can hurt the ones who have the least,” Grace said. “Everyday essentials are just that, they are not luxury or discretionary items; they are the basics that families need on a daily basis.”

Ohio still has a pay gap between men and women, and proposed HBs 330 and 385 and SB 218, Equal Pay For Equal Work, addresses the discrepancy. Vendors who do business with the state or compete for state contacts would have to be certified that they do meet the requirements. Gag orders that prohibit employees from discussing salaries would be illegal.

“The pay gap doesn’t just impact women, it impacts the entire family by reducing the overall household income.”

On the issue of infrastructure, Grace pointed out that it does not always mean highways and roads, sewer and water; it also means digital roads. She believes connections to the world are necessary for a 21st century economy and that in order to compete, reliable broadband is vital. She supports HJR 5 and SJR 3, Better Roads For Brighter Futures, legislation that will provide funding to those infrastructure projects.

“Communities prosper when Ohioans have good paying jobs and I will fight for working families here in the 94th District,” said Grace. “We need to provide working parents with more resources to support their families by expanding paid family leave and ensuring women earn equal pay for equal work. Families should not have to worry about losing their job to care for a sick relative or bond with a new child. Everyone should endorse these common-sense policies. It’s time for our representatives in Columbus to work together and focus on Ohio’s future.”

Contact Lorna Hart at 740-992-2155 Ext. 2551

State Rep. Debbie Phillips with Sarah Grace. Rep. Debbie Phillips with Sarah Grace.

By Lorna Hart

The 94th Ohio House District includes Meigs, parts of Athens, Washington and Vinton counties.