Today was a historic day in Columbus. Today was the first time in my lifetime in which average citizens were denied access to go inside the Statehouse while the legislature was in session. It was done on the flimsiest of excuses (more on that later).
The House and Senate Democratic Caucuses held a joint impromptu press conference to protest taxpaying citizens being denied access to the building.
(Source: Marc Kovac at Capital Blog)
If there’s anyone who thinks that this was about a fire code issue needs to understand that the media was reporting that the Rotunda area was completely vacant at the time. Here’s some photos throughout the Statehouse at the time:
I’ve seen the Statehouse fuller during regular school tours than this, folks. This excuse that only 750 in the building is utter crap. A Democratic source at the Statehouse today told us that lobbyists were allowed in the building freely so long as they told the Highway Patrol the name of the committee and room number of the hearing they were attending. And how do you think all those folks at that lobbyist shindig got in?
The Senate Democratic Caucus also put together their own video compilation of today’s events:
It was a heck of a day in Columbus.
While the Senate Insurance, Labor & Commerce Committee will eventually have additional hearings, none are yet scheduled. Chairman Bacon has also reportedly indicated that there will be no further testimony on the bill. Furthermore, the bill isn’t scheduled for a vote yet.
President Pro Tempore Keith Faber claims the Republicans have the votes to pass the bill… he told that to Fox News. There’s only one problem.
There’s no Senate Bill 5.
Oh, don’t get me wrong. If you go to the Legislative Service Commission, you can find such a bill. But that bill has as much legal value as the original placeholder bill. Seriously, Jones’ draft isn’t worth the paper it is right now, the situation is just about that fluid.
If the Republicans truly had the votes to pass Senate Bill 5 right now, then why did Chairman Kevin Bacon say today that you can expect no committee vote on SB 5 this week or next? Senate President Niehaus is supposed to meet with both Bacon and Jones. The problem for Niehaus: Jones thinks her bill is totally awesome. Bacon? Not so much.
Seriously, if the Republicans had the votes and the bill is essentially ready to go with maybe just a few amendments here or there, there’d be a scheduled vote.
The problem is that so far they don’t have the votes, and Niehaus is having problems creating a coalition within their caucus to get the bill passed. Those sitting on the fence want to preserve things like binding arbitration. Accept that, and supporters like Jones balk. In short, they can’t find the sweet spot to a majority passage.
I’ve been told by more than one source that Patton appears to be a solid “No” vote on SB 5. That means we need to pick off two of the remaining five and the bill will be defeated. (I’m hearing conflicting stories on where LaRose stands.) Beagle seems to be so naive that he’s willing to support SB 5 and believe that voters either won’t care or won’t remember come 2014.
As the Dispatch has already reported it:
Sen. Kevin Bacon, R-Minerva Park, the chairman of the Senate Insurance Commerce and Labor Committee, said the process is "a lot more fluid than people think." He said there is work going on with safety forces on the binding arbitration issue, but he stressed that is a key part of the bill.
Understatement of the day.
Why didn’t they let the people in? Because they’re afraid of what the people will say.