Sen. Brown Holds Listening Session with African American Clergy in Cleveland

CLEVELAND, OH – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) held a forum with African American ministers at University Hospitals’ Otis Moss Jr. Center in Cleveland on Saturday. The listening session focused on relationships with law enforcement, jobs, infant mortality, education, and other issues important to northeast Ohio.

“The people of Cleveland care about their neighbors,” Brown said. “And our diverse citizens have the strength, insight, and commitment to address the needs of this community. Meeting with clergy and community leaders helps re-establish trust and respect between law enforcement and the community while advancing our mission of strengthening the economy, improving access to healthcare and education, and protecting civil rights.”

Brown has held more than 300 roundtables around the state since 2007 and meets with groups of clergy multiple times per year. Brown is working to ensure that all Ohioans – regardless of their zip code – have equal access to opportunities to live healthy, safe lives and pursue good-paying careers.

With Ohio ranking worst in the nation for African American infant mortality, Brown is working to prevent these tragedies. Last month, President Obama signed Brown’s legislation to help doctors and researchers better understand the causes of stillbirths, Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths (SUID), and Sudden Unexplained Deaths in Childhood (SUDC). The Sudden Unexpected Death Data Enhancement and Awareness Act will enhance the current system used to report on infant and childhood deaths so that patterns become clear and we can better prevent these deaths.

Last week, Brown introduced a proposal to give an alternative to millions of Americans turning to payday loans to make ends meet by providing short-term cash advances through their employers while bypassing high interest rates that keep consumers trapped in a cycle of debt. Brown’s bill would create an Early Refund Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) as an alternative to payday loans – which can carry hidden fees and annual interest rates as high as 500 percent. The Early Refund EITC is an alternative to costlier, predatory lending options. Brown’s plan would allow working Americans to draw upon already-earned EITC benefits before tax day. Instead of receiving traditional lump sum payments at tax time, workers who are eligible for EITC could opt to receive the Early Refund EITC – a zero-interest, zero-fee advance on the tax credit for which the worker has already qualified.

Earlier this month, Brown introduced legislation that would bridge the achievement gap and address the inequities that undermine learning. The Core Opportunity Resources for Equity and Excellence (CORE) Act aims to tackle existing disparities in public education by establishing accountability requirements that compel states and school districts to give all students equitable access to the core resources necessary to achieve college and career readiness by high school graduation.

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