It should be noted that unlike the Senate, the bill passed the House committee on a strict party-line vote.  One of the Republican members of the committee is House freshman Kristina Roegner (R-Hudson), who narrowly beat incumbent (and then freshman) Mike Moran by roughly three percentage points last fall—one of many House Democratic incumbents who had previously easily won election in the seat just the term prior..  Roegner is a Tea Party Republican who ran on a far-right agenda in a low turnout election.

Given that the district swung back and forth between parties over the last three cycles, it’s hard to imagine that there is much the GOP will do to take this district off the battleground map in 2012.  I should note that Moran’s campaign website is still up, but is “under construction.”

In the neighboring district, freshman State Representative Todd McKinney won by a slightly larger, but still less than ten point margin, defeating Democratic incumbent Stephen Dyer.  Dyer had won the seat in 2008 handily by an eighteen-point margin.  Dyer had taken the seat in 2006 when Mary Taylor left it to become State Auditor.  McKinney is also on the House Commerce & Labor Committee that voted to send SB 5 to the floor today.  Earlier this month, Dyer had filed a Designation of Treasurer with the Ohio Secretary of State’s office, which is either an indication that he needed to change treasurer or that he, too, might be gearing up for a comeback.

These two Summit County districts were already likely to be  major battleground races for Democrats to win back the nine seats they need to regain the majority.  Today’s committee vote on SB 5 is likely to be a centerpiece of the campaign, particularly if the repeal referendum goes succeeds (or does very well in those districts.)

In other news, reaction to the changes made to SB 5 is still trickling in:

Dale Butland from Innovation Ohio (click here to read their new report on how SB 5 gives Kasich and State Auditor David Yost unprecedented and ill-limited power to set aside existing collective bargaining agreements—an issue that has been virtually ignored by the Ohio mainstream media.)

"Apologists for SB 5 say that the House has removed or watered down some of the earlier version’s most objectionable provisions.  But no matter how many warts you take off a frog, it’s still a frog — and it’s still ugly.

"The amended version of SB 5 remains a deeply flawed piece of legislation that polls show the people of Ohio don’t want. It doesn’t create a single job. It does nothing to close the state’s $8 billion budget deficit. And it strips public workers of a fundamental right, while also destroying one of the underpinnings of our legal system—the sanctity of contracts. 

"Yet Gov. Kasich and his legislative allies ignore public opinion and arrogantly insist on shoving this bill down Ohio’s throat anyway. Why? Because SB 5 is not and never has been about jobs or deficits — it’s always been about the "Three Ps" of power, politics and pay-back. 

"SB 5 is a blatant attempt by one political party to de-fund the opposition and punish its political opponents. 

"But partisan politics isn’t what Gov. Kasich or the legislature was elected to do last November.  The people of Ohio want more jobs, not more politics as usual."

Senate Minority Leader Capri Cafaro:

“They have made a bad bill even worse.  The changes to Senate Bill 5 are just more window dressing to anti-worker legislation that will have a devastating effect on families and communities across the state.  The amended bill creates more bureaucracy and imposes new mandates by establishing another state commission and forcing local school districts to follow state imposed guidelines for teacher salaries and layoffs.”

Senator Schiavoni, the ranking member on the Senate Insurance, Commerce and Labor Committee:

“Some of the words may have changed but Senate Bill 5 remains a direct attack on worker’s rights.  This legislation would turn collective bargaining into collective begging by tilting the negotiating table entirely in favor of employers.  Workers could talk about certain issues but they would not have any leverage.  Why are we doing this when polls show that a majority of Ohioans support collective bargaining rights for public employees? We should be working on balancing the budget and creating jobs for all Ohioans.”

State Rep. Dan Ramos, House Commerce & Labor Committee member:

“Our committee members carried 65,414 signatures into the hearing room today from Ohioans who oppose this bill, and they were disregarded,” said Rep. Ramos.  “Thousands have come to our doorstep to protest these measures, and they have been ignored – they’ve even had the nerve to lock them out of the Statehouse!  Tomorrow, I expect that they will pass this legislation with contemptuous ease, leaving hundreds of thousands of Ohio’s families with less job security, lower wages, and in many cases, no job at all.”

It’s expected that SB 5 will be voted on by the House and Senate during tomorrow’s session.