Posted Friday, February 25, 2011
The protests over Republicans’ plans to ban collective bargaining by public employee unions in Ohio were bigger and louder this week. A few days later, Senate leaders announced changes to the bill, which would allow state workers the chance to negotiate wages, but this new proposal would ban public employees from striking and would not reinstate binding arbitration. And a sidebar protest is brewing - thousands of demonstrators were denied access to the Statehouse during Tuesday’s rally, leading Democratic lawmakers to threaten a lawsuit. Among those protesting the bill are the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who came to Columbus this week not only to speak out against Senate Bill 4 but also to protest the appointment of a new member to the state board of education. Gov. Kasich has chosen former Ohio House Speaker Joann Davidson to head the casino control commission. With many school districts out of snow days and still a few more weeks of winter to go, lawmakers are moving quickly to provide relief to school districts that have run out of those days that don’t have to be made up at the end of the year. The cost of titling a vehicle in Ohio is likely to go up, while the penalty for renewing tags or a driver’s license may go down in Gov. Kasich’s transportation budget. And Kasich’s first State of the State speech is set for Tuesday, March 8 - it’ll be seen and heard live on many of Ohio’s public radio and television stations.
The bill on collective bargaining is still getting most of the attention at the Statehouse, around the state and across the country. Going over the issue are Matt Mayer, president of the conservative think-tank the Buckeye Institute who testified in favor of Senate Bill 5, and Brian Rothenberg, the executive director of Progress Ohio, a coalition of progressive groups and an organizer of protests against Senate Bill 5.