It has been said that “Elections have consequences” but it appears “Elections create “radical departure” to enact wide-ranging changes” – at statehouses and in Congress.
Republican State Senator Karen Gillmor of Tiffin Ohio voted in favor of Senate Bill 5 (which passed 17-16 as six GOP senators joined 10 Democrats in voting against the measure), but still complained that how it was a “radical departure” from good legislative practices. Instead, Sen. Gillmor’s assessment was “This is not government at its finest.”
What is Senate Bill 5 ?
The bill would repeal a 1983 Ohio law and end collective bargaining for public workers except for wages. There would be no requirement for government units to bargain with employees over work conditions, ranging from health insurance to safety equipment for first responders. Police and firefighters, who already cannot strike, would lose their recourse of binding arbitration. The bill would remove all step increases and sick days from state law, which would affect mainly teachers.
Why is it a “radical departure” ?
Just to get the bill to a floor vote yesterday, Senate President Tom Niehaus, R-New Richmond, had to stack his deck — replacing Republican members on two committees because they opposed the bill and could have blocked it.
Further, the Republican caucus, almost half of which are new members, never got a chance to discuss the measure and only a day to consider a 99-page amendment to the 475-page bill.
Ohio State Senator Bill Seitz of Cincinnati, who was one of the Republicans pulled from a committee, described the bill as a “heads I win, tails you lose solution.” Seitz also said the bill is likely unconstitutional, “It’s an unfair labor practice if they exercise their First Amendment rights to call up their councilman.”
Essentially, if the government employer agrees to discuss something it can be discussed.
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.
Yep, Senator Seitz is right “heads I win, tails you lose.”
While Wisconsin is getting the headlines and Ohio’s legislative action is progressing faster, there has not been enough publicity on teacher’s retirement programs.
Let’s take Ohio … by state law teachers fund their pensions. Their pensions are deferred compensation acquired through negotiations. The moment teachers sign a contract to teach, their contributions to State Teacher’s Retirement System (STRS). The school board’s contribution to STRS is part of that contract. The school board’s 14% contribution to STRS has not changed since 1984. Over the same time period, an individual teachers’ contribution rate has increased 42.9 %.
Ohio teachers’ pension system was designed to replace Social Security and provide a decent retirement. To this day, teachers don’t pay into or receive Social Security.
Those six Republicans that voted against this legislation deserve some credit, but all citizens should be concerned about a legislature that exerts so much authority. It makes you wonder, who will want to become a teacher, policeman, fireman, or other public servant. For that matter, who will want to stand for election (besides the affluent business owners) ?
Ohio State Senator Karen Gillmor comment “This is not government at its finest” is equally appropriate at the federal level.
The label “Do-Nothing Congress” has been overused … more appropriate might be “Congress in Chaos”.
While many thought the JOBS would be the focus with legislation not being fast-tracked by-passing committees and with references to the US Constitution, however, that has not been the case.
After the House passed it’s repeal of the Job-Killing Healthcare bill, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH-08) turned his attention to abortion, at follow-up press briefing :
“First repeal health care, now this…. What about jobs?” the first questioner asked after Boehner finished his abortion rollout. “I thought that jobs was the highest priority.”
“Our members feel very strongly about the sanctity of human life,” Boehner answered. “We listened to the American people.”
If you look at the Republican-managed House, the message is clear … it’s not JOBS.
HR – 1 by-passed normal committee hearings for the full House to consider over 500 amendments for a full-year omnibus appropriations bill with $100 billion in cuts … in the end, the Republican leadership just stopped considering amendments, voted approval and went on a one-week holiday. Sadly, amendments offered by Betty McCollum (R-MN-04) were not considered.
HR – 2, of course, was the repeal of the Affordable Care Act …. Err Job-Killing ObamaCare (at an impact of $119 Billion to the national debt)
HR – 3 is the aforementioned No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (At least one has a valid constitutional reference … H.R. 3.
The constitutional authority on which this bill is based is Congress’s power under the Spending Clause in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. … conversely, that would also mean that besides banning funding, Congress could authorize funding.) To date, no committee hearings, but expect a quick vote.
HR – 4, the Small Business Paperwork Mandate Elimination Act … which repeals a specific part of the law that H.R. 2 was supposed to already have repealed and will add $21.9 Billion to the national debt. Through some manevuering this could get a full House vote as early as today.
HR – 5 is a medical malpractice tort reform bill
Thus far, the focus of the Republican leadership has been three attacks on health care, and two on abortion … all at the expense of adding to the debt and costing more jobs.
Republicans in Congress have had way too many “District work-session” weeks (or as taxpayers would call it “another taxpayer paid vacation”) plus shortened workweeks (Tuesday through Thursday is the norm).
Heck, the big bill that was passed this week was the Continueing Resolution to keep the government funded for a few more weeks … the legislation was introduced on Monday, February 28 and approved by the House the next day … hardly the three day window that the Republicans pledged for citizens to review and comment on the legislation. Reductions include a $650 million cut in highway spending, a $29 million reduction in a broadband loan program and ending four Department of Education programs.
Yes, Senator Karen Gillmor, you are correct “This is not government at its finest” !
It’s Government in Chaos !