Wednesday, March 2, 2011

SB5 passes by one vote

The huge fight over slashing the power of government employee unions looks like it's headed to a statewide referendum. Senate Bill 5 squeaked through the Ohio Senate today. Not only was the vote 17-16, but it only got to the Senate floor after Republican leader Tom Neihaus yanked two opponents of the bill off key committees to head off tie votes.

This Columbus Dispatch story explains it all clearly (though its count is off: six Republicans, not five, joined all 10 Senate Democrats to oppose the bill). For instance, the story succinctly explains one key amendment added yesterday, laying bare the power shift:
The bill would outlaw strikes for any public employee and for law enforcement and firefighters would eliminate binding arbitration, in which an impartial third party is brought in to resolve an impasse.

Instead, the bill sets up a new settlement process for all public workers that would bring in a fact-finder, who would present a public report. If rejected, the school board, city council or other legislative body would then either accept its own last best offer, or that of the union. [emphasis mine]

The Plain Dealer's coverage give us more of the politics of the bill. The breaking-news story shows that four of the six Republicans voting no are from Northeast Ohio, and the piece on today's front page forecasts the bill's ultimate path after it goes to the state House, where it's expected to pass: a statewide ballot this November.

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