This is lazy blogging. Sue me. It’s getting hard to keep up anymore.
I. “Innovation Ohio” a progressive think-tank launches and issues a report questioning the SB 5’s advocates’ claims.
Innovation Ohio is a non-partisan, but decidedly progressive leaning think-tank that began operating out of its Columbus offices today. The President of the group is Janetta King, former policy advisor for then Congressman Ted Strickland and then as deputy chief-of-staff on policy for Governor Strickland.
They hit the ground running today with a report that demonstrated that public school teachers in Ohio, despite collective bargaining (or because of it), actually have been quite reasonable to budgetary concerns. In fact, as national wages increased on average 2% from 2008 to 2009, Ohio teachers saw their wages drop 3.8% in concessions to help school districts deal with budget shortfalls. The report also details how public teachers unions helped Ohio reform its education system and how kids tend to do poorly in “right to work” for less States than kids in Ohio and other collective bargaining States.
II. Senate Minority Leader Cafaro: It’s kind of hard to expect Democrats to participate in SB 5 when we aren’t even told there’s a meeting.
Senate President Tom Niehaus has a State Senate in which his party has 23 of the Senate’s 33 members in a chamber where unlike the U.S. Senate a simple majority rules. When SB 5 was first unveiled, it went into immediate committee hearings. The Ohio political media declared that a simple reality of the GOP’s large majority: it could ignore the Senate Democrats with impunity.
That’s what makes Senate President Niehaus’ comments in the Columbus Dispatch, frankly, so unexplainable:
After Democrats did not offer a single amendment to Senate Bill 5 by Friday’s deadline, Senate President Tom Niehaus chided party members who "apparently abandoned the legislative process on this bill" and added, "Much like their counterparts in Wisconsin, they apparently would rather grandstand in defense of the status quo."
Mind you, this is the same Senate Democratic Caucus that not only amended Kasich’s RobsOhio bill but all but two members wound up voting for it. To call them a grandstanding partisan bunch is just laughable.
Except Senate Minority Leader Cafaro isn’t laughing. Today she sent a scathing letter that detailed how the Senate GOP had, time and time again, consciously left the Democrats in the dark about SB 5 only now to complain about their lack of participation in getting it passed. They’ll participate when they vote “No” along with several of Niehaus’ Republican colleagues.
What’s ironic is that on Thursday, Niehaus emerged from a partisan “closed door” meeting with Bacon and Jones to decided what changes they could immediately announce to try to cool down opposition to the bill. Cafaro and the other nine Senate Democrats only learned about it as we did—from the media. Seriously, if Niehaus wants Democratic participation, all he has to do is call.
III. Grendell is starting to sound like a “Hell No.”
I’m going to let you all read this recent letter from Senator Tim Grendell to the GOP Caucus outlining his objections to SB 5. I’m starting to think there’s not enough amendments in the world the GOP can pass that will make him happy. What do you think? Should we upgrade Grendell on our scorecard from a No, but may change vote based on amendments to a Hell No?
One of his chief complaints is that this bill ignores what DOES clearly work in the existing collective bargaining system, seems to be a one-size fits all approach that runs roughshod over the parties constitutional right of contract, and is simply way more radical than what the caucus talked about doing in multiple retreats.
IV. Big rally planned for tomorrow’s committee vote.
They canceled the Ohio Historical Society’s event tomorrow to honor Ohio’s anniversary of statehood. The full Senate’s floor session was cancelled as well. The Senate Insurance, Labor and Commerce Committee is prepared to meet to discuss and vote on amendments (and perhaps the bill itself) as Ranking Minority Member Joe Schiavoni continues to seek answers from Chairman Bacon about how he plans to proceed on SB 5.
As far as I know, I don’t know if the Democrats have even been given any notice as to what amendments the committee plans on voting on tomorrow. The Democrats have requested that the persons behind the D.A.S. study I dissected earlier today be asked to testify to the committee. For “some odd reason” the GOP is happy to recite the “analysis” but are unwilling to permit any public questioning about it. Nor is the Senate majority apparently willing to allow for any testimony on what could essentially be a totally new bill after amendments are passed. Heck, they’re not even permitting any public testimony on the wisdom or folly of such amendments at all.
Tomorrow is another day of scheduled protests, starting at 10 a.m.. The full Senate was supposed to be in session, but cancelled late this afternoon. Actor/activist Danny Glover is scheduled to attend as is the group that spun off from the Dropkick Murphys, The Street Dogs, are scheduled to play.
Sorry, that I’m just now getting this stuff up, but I had to take the weekend off from the site and there was simply too much good stuff to cover today.