With the Battle of Wisconsin reaching a temporary lull after the recent recall elections, attention is shifting to another midwestern state, where opponents of recently enacted union-bashing legislation have far exceeded the threshold of petitions needed to get a referendum repealing the measure on a November ballot.
With polls consistently showing Ohio voters favoring the repeal initiative (by 50-39 in a new PPP poll, and by larger margins in earlier polls), Gov. John Kasich and Republican legislative leaders are suddenly asking for meetings to seek a compromise on Senate Bill 5, which was enacted in March on a party-line vote.
Kasich hurried to sign the bill soon after it passed in order to force opponents to seek a referendum this year rather than in the higher-turnout 2012 presidential cycle.
But now Republicans are seeking to head off the referendum, or (since SB 5 opponents have made it clear that total repeal of the bill is a precondition to talks about how it might be replaced with compromise legislation) more likely, trying to strengthen their hand in the referendum fight by appearing reasonable. It’s a little late for that.
So the referendum fight is fully on, and as November approaches, you can expect the kind of national labor/progressive coalition that mobilized for the Wisconsin recalls to focus on Ohio.
By: Democratic Strategist Staff, August 19, 2011
Ohio Democrats this week introduced into a divided state legislature a new bill that would allow Ohio citizens to recall Governor John Kasich and other legislatures. The state has been in an ideological upheaval for months after Kasich’s budget bill was introduced, similar to the Wisconsin bill that has received incredible national attention for stripping unions of their collective bargaining rights, and eventually signed April 2nd after some concessions were made by the Republican-held Assembly and Senate.
There are now 17 other states where similar bills have been passed. Democrats in Ohio are now trying to join the ranks of some of those states like Wisconsin, where voters also have the option to recall their elected legislatures.
Reuters reported that State Representatives Mike Foley and Robert Hagan’s bill would allow “Ohio voters to undertake a recall effort if they gather petition signatures of voters equal to 15 percent of the total votes for governor or in a particular legislative district in the last election.”
Recall efforts are already well underway in Wisconsin, where 16 senators have petitions started against them. Governor Scott Walker, in his inaugural term, cannot be recalled until he has served in office for one full year, according to Wisconsin state law.
Kasich’s bill to limit collective bargaining rights of unions and slash funding for many state-funded programs has received passionate opposition by supporters of workers’ rights. Protests in Columbus drew thousands in February, riding the wave of protests started in Madison and that then spread throughout the country.
The hotly-contested Senate Bill 5, or SB5 as it has been dubbed by the media, severely limits the actions of unions, and in conjunction with Kasich’s budget, introduces major cuts to public programs: like a $852 million cut to schools.
The Toledo Blade explains SB5: “It prohibits all public employees from striking, prohibits local governments from picking up any portion of an employee’s contributions to his pension, eliminates automatic step and longevity raises in favor of a yet undefined performance-pay system, and prohibits unions from automatically collecting ‘fair share’ fees from members of a workforce who opt not to join the union.”
Besides the Democrats’ efforts to pass the recall bill, Ohio law also allows for a public referendum of any passed bill. Opponents of the bill need to gather 231,147 signatures 90 days from the official signing of the bill for the statewide referendum to be voted on Nov. 8th.
By: Jennifer Page, Center for Media and Democracy, April 11, 2011