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OCHLA to host Ohio Hispanic Legislative Visit Day April 11

By Kevin Milliken, La Prensa Correspondent


The Ohio Commission on Hispanic-Latino Affairs (OCHLA or OLA) is inviting Latino leaders from across the state to attend its annual legislative day at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus on Wednesday, April 11, 2018, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.


The Hispanic Legislative Visit Day traditionally attracts 150 to 250 Latino business, nonprofit, and civic leaders from across the state. The event is part of the commission’s strategy to promote the civic education and participation of Latino leaders. The day is filled with meetings with Ohio legislators and instruction on state government and how to better gain access.

Ezra Escudero


“This is part of our overall strategy to expand the participation of all of our constituents throughout the entire state and our ability to help them make well-informed decisions with regard to civic engagement and how Latinos can impact the process,” said Dr. Greg Guzmán, the Northwest Ohio OCHLA board representative.


The aim of the annual event is to convene legislators and the community to foster dialogue on the opportunities and challenges facing Latinos in Ohio. The day’s events will feature a networking lunch, a panel of Latino elected officials, a question-and-answer session with legislators, and various special interest sessions.


“There’s no specific agenda, but we need to let them know Latinos are the state’s fastest-growing population and we want to be a positive impact and force on the state’s workforce and economic development growth,” said Dr. Guzmán. “This is an opportunity for legislators, community leaders, and constituents to come together and network and establish really constructive connections across the state.”


A continental breakfast is followed by welcoming remarks and a lobbying 101 workshop. A panel of legislators then will talk about effective lobbying strategies. Participants can then choose from a set of sessions on business and workforce development, cultural competence, justice and civil rights, immigration, and electing Latinos to office. The Latino elected officials panel will speak just before a luncheon that encourages networking with state lawmakers.


Arturo Vargas, a nationally-recognized expert in Latino demographic trends, electoral participation, voting rights, the U.S. Census, and redistricting, will deliver the keynote speech. Vargas is the executive director of NALEO Educational Fund, a national nonprofit group whose aim is to strengthen American democracy by promoting the full participation of Latinos in civic life. He also serves as the executive director of NALEO, a national membership organization of Latino policymakers and their supporters.


A special afternoon workshop on running for public office will be led by Antoinette Wilson, president and co-founder of Triumph Communications, a strategic communications firm dealing with public affairs, coalition-building, political campaigns, and media buying. Ms. Wilson has served as a campaign manager or consultant for over 100 campaigns for public office. She also has the distinction of being appointed as Ohio’s first female Assistant Secretary of State.


“We’re exposing them to the opportunity of running for office, as well as guiding them in directions if they do show interest in participation, guiding them to the appropriate people on how to run,” said Dr. Guzmán. “As a commission, it’s our duty to build collaboration and that’s what we’re trying to do.”


But legislators also can opt for attending an Ohio House or Senate session, or take part in a session on coalition building strategies to increase community impact.


There are some issues likely to come up during the Hispanic legislative day that OCHLA is tracking on behalf of the state’s Latino leaders. Immigration, Medicaid requirements, and the education of Spanish-speaking children are always hot-button issues.


One that has already cleared the Ohio House is a bill that would prohibit undocumented immigrants from collecting workers’ compensation benefits if they are injured on the job. Employers would be granted immunity from liability for damages suffered by reason of personal injury sustained or occupational disease contracted in the course of employment caused by the wrongful act of omission or neglect of the employer.


Rep. Dan Ramos (D-Lorain) said House Bill 380 could be “perceived as racist” and pointed out not one proponent testified in support of the bill during committee hearings. The Ohio Senate has yet to vote on the measure. The bill’s backers counter it’s time to put Ohio workers first.


House Bill 164 would require commercial roofing contractors to obtain a license. The bill has seen committee hearings, but no floor vote yet. Latino groups have criticized the bill, with the Ohio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce submitting written testimony opposing the measure. Further committee hearings are expected.


“(The bill) will only enrich special interest groups at the expense of everyone else,” said Ezra Escudero of the LIBRE Initiative during one committee hearing. Mr. Escudero is a former director of OCHLA. “This is a real tax, especially on the poor and the middle class, restored citizens, Latinos in Ohio, entrepreneurs with dreams, and many others.”

Online registration is required at the Eventbrite site to attend the free event. For questions or more information, interested attendees can contact Caroline Filbrun by phone at 614.728.8345 or via email at caroline.filbrun@ochla.state.oh.us.


Copyright © 1989 to 2018 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 03/20/18 20:43:06 -0800.




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