Roughly a month ago today, I wrote a post outlining the referendum process to repeal SB 5.
If you recap that post, here’s what’s already occurred:
Step 1: Bill is signed by Governor Kasich. That occurred around 7 p.m. on March 31, 2011. The bill was filed the next day with the Ohio Secretary of State office (April 1), meaning that absent a referendum, it will be effective (become law) on July 1.
Step 2: Form a referendum committee. On March 22, 2011, the organization “We Are Ohio” was registered with the Ohio Secretary of State’s office as a referendum committee organized to subject SB 5 to a referendum.
Step 3: Gather an initial 1,000 signatures to submit the proposed language of the referendum and summary for review by the Secretary of State’s office and the Ohio Attorney General. The signatures were gathered over the weekend throughout the State at events such as in Columbus, Cincinnati, and Youngstown. I know I got an urgent e-mail from the Butler County Democratic Party asking for signatures yesterday. My understanding is that the petitions are being filed today, on the anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who was killed while in Memphis to support striking sanitation workers.
Step 4: The submission of the petition with 1,000 valid signatures with a summary and total bill to the Ohio Attorney General and Secretary of State triggers a review that must be completed within ten business days.
Husted compares the submitted language with that of the bill he filed on Friday. If they are similar and accurate, he certifies the issue. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, before the Ohio Ballot Board, will review the proposed summary of the referendum and decided whether the summary accurately reflects what the referendum would do. Under R.C. 3519.01(A), DeWine is to examine whether the summary prepared by the referendum campaign is a “fair and truthful statement” of SB 5 provisions. If he finds it so, it is then forwarded to the Ohio Ballot Board.
The 90-day clock continues to tick during this ten-day review. Until both Husted and DeWine certify the issue, the effort to circulate signatures is on hold. Once approved, the referendum campaign has the remainder of the time to gather and submit the over 230,000 signatures necessary to place SB 5 on the ballot.
The real question is how political is Mike DeWine going to get as to the summary (which we have not yet seen.) With a bill that was hundreds of pages long, DeWine could potentially insists that certain terms of the bill that conservatives believe make it favorable specifically referenced in the summary while objecting to the inclusion of harsher, anti-union terms as being too argumentative.
If the referendum committee receives approval by DeWine, it goes to the Ohio Ballot Board which must determine whether the proposal concerns one law or multiple. If multiple, the Board can certify it back to the Ohio Attorney General as multiple issues to be voted on, triggering the referendum committee to get the AG’s approval of their summary of the multiple issues before he files his certification to the Secretary of State. See, R.C. 3505.062
The Ohio Ballot Board is a bipartisan board chaired by Husted and comprised of one member each appointed by the President of the Senate, Senate Minority Leader, Speaker of the House, or House Minority Leader.
So, there can be some potential of partisan games to be played. But I believe Husted wishes to avoid being a polarizing figure like Blackwell was when he was Secretary of State, and I question how much Mike DeWine really wants to get involved and associated with SB 5.
The next ten business days after the petition is submitted to both will be telling.