Our top stories in February proved to be the beginning of what was easily the top political story in Ohio in 2011: Senate Bill 5 and the effort to repeal with the defeat of Issue 2.

In fact, every one of the top ten posts written that month had some connection to the Senate’s consideration of Senate Bill 5.   Senate Bill 5 was so big that our traffic nearly doubled from January, which itself was a record traffic month.  By February, we had over three times the traffic we had in either October or November 2010.

Many of our top stories of the month were based on our running SB 5 scorecard. One update alone was one of the top stories for February

But our top story for the month of February was our prediction that our whip count not only saw the Senate Republicans (who hold a 23-10 majority over the Senate Democrats) were not only just one additional “No” vote away from seeing the bill defeated on the floor, but that they presently lacked the votes to get it passed from the Senate Insurance, Commerce and Labor Committee:

If the GOP doesn’t get these members on board, they may not even be able to pass SB 5 out of committee.

The Republicans have an 8-4 majority on the Senate Insurance, Commerce, and Labor Committee.  However, three of the Republicans on the Committee are Senators Bill Seitz, Bill Beagle, and Jim Hughes.

Indeed, in the SB 5 scorecard update mentioned above, we discussed how the mainstream media, such as the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Dispatch, predicted that the Senate Republicans may not only be forced to severely water down the bill with amendments (people have forgotten that originally as drafted, the bill would have ended collective bargaining rights entirely for State employees), but also change the makeup of the Senate committee to get it passed.

And that’s what eventually happened, Senator Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) was unceremoniously yanked from the committee at the last minute in order to avoid an embarrassing defeat of the bill at the committee level.

State Senator Scott Oelslager (R-North Canton) was the first Senate Republican to announce that he’d oppose Senate Bill 5.  A development we said at the time:

Still, it’s noteworthy that this bill is going to have bipartisan opposition and potentially may only pass narrowly by a one-vote margin.

Had we added, “and it will be defeated by over 60% in a referendum and more Ohioans will vote to repeal it than voted for Kasich,” then we would have nailed it.  Our bad.

Our fourth most read story in February was the “mysterious” decision by the Ohio Department of Public Safety (a Kasich Cabinet agency) to suddenly, and with no previous advanced notice, lock anti-SB 5 protestors out of the Statehouse on a day the bill was hearing testimony in committee. 

Here’s what the locked out protestors did in response (while others organized a lawsuit to end the act of locking out citizens from attending what is supposed to be a public meeting of their elected legislature):

We mentioned how Kasich was already trying to fund raise off his “success” in getting SB 5 passed into law, and how Governor Kasich flat out ruled out ever meeting with labor leaders to discuss a compromise on Senate Bill 5 (a fact that SB 5 proponents, like the Columbus Dispatch editorial writers would later pretend never happened.)

We eventually got to see the Senate GOP’s “watered down” version of SB 5, which Niehaus said met with Governor Kasich’s preferences (Kasich’s staff now claims, after its repeal, that they wanted Kasich to oppose SB 5 entirely and attempt collective bargaining “reform” in the State budget instead.)  Changes that we summarized thusly:

Rounding out our top stories for February, Kasich’s now infamous “idiot cop” statement made at the Ohio EPA employee meeting (called to essentially browbeat the employees who leaked to the Dispatch in January the truth about an Ohio EPA permit that revealed Kasich as a liar) made its statewide debut.

And Ohioans learned of a prank call where someone posed as one of the “Koch Brothers” tricked newly elected Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker into making some revealing statements about his and Governor Kasich’s war on organized labor.