March continued SB 5’s march through the legislature and [SPOILER ALERT:] repeal at the ballot box.
We began the story with confirmation that the Senate would change the legislative committee membership in order to bring SB 5 to the Senate floor. The parliamentary maneuvers required to prevent SB 5 from a certain defeat was enough to earn the unexpected condemnation from a major Tea Party leader who actually organized pro-SB 5 rallies (that were total busts) at the Statehouse. We discussed how Kasich’s insistence on ending binding arbitration as a means to resolve breakdowns in labor contract negotiations, with no viable replacement, had painted the GOP into a policy corner. Despite several rounds of changes and arm twisting, in the end the Senate GOP barely was able to pass Senate Bill 5 with a one-vote margin in a body where they have a 13 seat majority (in a body with only 33 seats.) In the end, our GOP legislative scorecard proved to be pretty accurate. We only had the positions of Manning and Gilmor reversed. Later, Gilmor reportedly told attendees at a meeting that she voted for the bill in order to take the pressure off of freshman Senator Gayle Manning from the GOP legislative leadership.
In other words, Gilmor voted “yes” to allow Manning to vote no. Gilmor shortly afterwards resigned her Senate seat to accept Governor Kasich’s appoint to the State Employee Relations Board (SERB). Regardless, our attention then turned to the more conservative House where Batchelder had to make sure his body didn’t pass a version of SB 5 that was DOA in the Senate or would require a House-Senate conference that would guarantee that a referendum on SB 5 would be in the 2012. (Anyone else remember when the GOP confidentially stated that they thought they had better chances beating a referendum on SB 5 if it were held in an off-year election than a presidential one? Technically that may still be accurate. But it’s just a choice of how many fully loaded semi trucks you want to run over you in hindsight.)
Our top story was how the House Committee hearing SB 5 after it passed the Senate went under a serious and sudden membership makeover. The GOP House leadership would later claim that the change had little to do with SB 5, but was because those members were on the budget committee and would need to focus on the upcoming budget debate.
Our second top story in March was my post explaining how the referendum process to repeal SB 5 would work.
There was some question as to what Speaker Batchelder said during the the House session in which it passed SB 5. We revealed that he was angrily indicating that he may not recognize House Assistant Minority Whip Debbie Phillips (D-Athens)’s request to make a point of personal privilege to honor a labor leader who had died that day before being able to attend the body’s debate on SB 5.
“Well, she may, or she may not goddamn get it.”
Our attention then began to include the debate of Kasich’s first budget, particularly his policy director’s stark and publicized admission that the budget had virtually had nothing to do with any projected deficit. It was simply used as a justification for everything Kasich would have wanted to do regardless of the State’s fiscal health.