The best thing about today is that the Republican-dominated Ohio Legislature will finish further ruining the state and go home to members’ gerrymandered districts for the remainder of 2016, a year that will live in infamy with the rise to power of Donald John Trump to President of these Divided States of America.
After elections are over but before the year ends, this period of time in which bad bills pass and good bills get buried, the looney leaders on the loose in downtown Columbus know no one can stop them from sending one horrendous bill after another to Ohio’s term-limited governor, who knows that his veto is short lived since there are enough votes to override his actions if push comes to shove.
How looney has the seat of Ohio government become? Let us count just a few of the ways Ohio is slip sliding away, in retrograde motion, to a new low among states.
In the always controversial category of abortion law, the Heartbeat bill and a 20-week ban are speeding their way to Gov. Kasich’s desk. The Heartbeat bill—prohibiting abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected—has been before this and previous legislative sessions for a long, long time. But for reasons of partisan political calculus, it was kept away from Kasich by his legislative wing-men who didn’t want to present him with such harsh legislation when he was trying to be the “adult in the room” among presidential candidates. But his run for the White House is over, so no more playing patty cake with him on a bill that elevates the state to league leader in punitive laws directed at women’s health options.
John Kasich is quite the talker on about any subject other than abortion, where the best he can do is to say he’s pro-life then shuts up. Kasich could seal his bona fides as being pro-life by singing the bill. But doing so would also show what an extremist he really is deep in his heart of hearts. If he vetoes it, he’ll show he was just a pro-life faker all along. While some think he’ll veto the Heartbeat bill but sign the 20-week abortion ban bill, he’ll still seal his fate as a foe of women’s health rights.
Republicans are already powerful, but they’ll be even more powerful when they start the next session early next year. Their strength in the 33-seat Senate will be at 24 while their strength in the 99-member house will be 66. Gov. Kasich, with two short years left to him as chief executive, can use his veto pen all he wants in the future, but if the will of the legislature is strong, his veto pen will have met its match as GOP lawmakers voting en bloc can have their way with him, and the residents of Ohio, on any loony tune measure they deem to pass on any given day.
Lopping Off Limbs
Another frontal attack on government as we know it is a sweeping bill that could shut down state government by giving the legislature new power to dissolve executive-branch state agencies. The bill, Senate Bill 329, would force some 25 state agencies every four years to spend extra money and resources to defend against elimination based on a number of factors, including the potential for privatization, and a regulations evaluation against other states.
If Gov. John Kasich signs SB 329 into law—and he might given his long-held world view that government is bad and needs disciplined at best or disassembled at worst—every four years the legislature must take affirmative action on any agency up for review or the agency is shuttered. The state legislature does maintain oversight of some executive functions currently, but the body is primarily tasked with debating and vetting proposed law changes.
Kasich, who probably thinks of himself as the Steve Jobs of government since his dial is always set on reform, has promised to “Uberize” government. For Kasich watchers with years of experience in that field, that probably means outsourcing formerly public functions to private for-profit operations. He can claim he’s reduced state government, and do so by destroying public union jobs, a two-fer in the land of small government Republicans like Kasich who have watered their horses in the pubic trough for most of their adult lives.
Fight Home Rule
Another bad bill that could have been sponsored by Daffy Duck, continues the Republican penchant of turning Home Rule for cities into a thing of the past as it seeks to thwart cities from raising their minimum wage rate higher than the state minimum wage rate. Cleveland wants to do this, but enough looney tunes in Columbus want to shortcut that plan with more top-down control by state officials.
Helping Polluters Win
Letting Ohio’s once tops-in-the-nation energy portfolio standards, hammered out in bi-partisan fashion under Gov. Ted Strickland, is another black eye that signals to new-economy manufacturers in the wind and solar industries, Ohio isn’t ready for you. Extending the controversial freeze on the Ohio’s renewable energy and energy efficiency standards for two years is another way of giving electric generators another two years to do nothing to improve their operations.
[Not] Making Ohio Great Again
But look on the dark side, it will get worse before it gets better. Believe me, folks. Believe me. If Republicans don’t pass a bill that would reduce the maximum number of weeks of benefits for the unemployed from the current 26 to a sliding scale based on the monthly statewide unemployment rate this session, and they didn’t, fret not, it can be done again in the near future. HB 620 would have lowered the maximum weeks of unemployment benefit to 20 weeks as it freezes weekly benefit amounts well into the next decade.
If you are a woman or a worker, Ohio could be fly-over country instead of the land of enchantment for you. The Ohio Dream that once beckoned pioneers from the east to look westward for more fertile fields has pretty much run its course. The once great state is no longer that great. Making Ohio great again is now more of a dream than ever before.
The next two years could see more bad bills than ever emerge from the muck and mire of partisan loony tunes the General Assembly is rich with now. Gov. Kasich will seal his fate as either just another cartoon executive going through the motions on his way out the door or a man who still retains a smidgen of integrity to stand up to extremist elements that are stronger than ever before.