Ohio Senate Bill 5's fate all boils down to residents' votes on Issue 2

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November 7, 2011

By Al Ortiz


COLUMBUS, Ohio: The moment of truth has finally arrived for Issue 2, the Senate Bill 5 Veto Referendum. Tomorrow, November 8, residents will make their way to their designated polling stations to vote on three ballot questions. However, Issue 2 takes the cake with the amount of media attention and campaign activity it has garnered.

The measure could be the biggest statewide ballot measure across the country in terms of campaign contributions, possible impacts, controversies surrounding ballot text and campaign advertisements, and the multiple endorsements both in favor and in opposition to the measure.

This veto referendum against the Senate Bill 5 collective bargaining bill will be on the November 2011 ballot. Voters will decide whether or not to repeal SB 5, legislation signed in March 2011 that would limit collective bargaining for public employees in the state.

Senate Bill 5 will impact the state's 400,000 public workers, restricting their ability to strike and collectively bargain. As it stands, the bill would only permit public employees to collectively bargain for wages, preventing them from collectively bargaining for health insurance and pensions. It would also prohibit all public employees from striking and could increase employee contributions for pensions and healthcare.

The measure was placed on the ballot after petition drive organizers, in a record breaking performance, submitted a grand total of 1,298,301 signatures to the Ohio Secretary of State on June 29, 2011 in a parade marching towards the secretary's offices. This broke the previously held record of 812,978 signatures in 2008 for a constitutional amendment allowing a casino resort in Clinton County.

According to the ballot language, a 'yes' vote is a vote to keep Senate Bill 5 a law, and a 'no' vote would repeal the legislation.

Read Senate Bill 5's text and information about Issue 2, the referendum against SB 5.
Read a condensed summary of Senate Bill 5's provisions here.


Supporters of the passage of Issue 2 are supporters of Senate Bill 5, according to the measure's ballot language. Among those in favor are Ohio Governor John Kasich and Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted.

Kasic argued for the measure, stating that it is not an attack on unions, but it is a way to balance the state's struggling economy. Husted sided with the governor, stating: "When you're trying to turn things around and set the state on the right path, you're going to ruffle a few feathers...Our teachers and firefighters and police officers are some of the most important people I know. We want you to have a good job and we want you to have good benefits...We have to live in reality, and we have to live within our means."


Opponents of Senate Bill 5 placed the measure on the ballot, including the main organizers of the petition drive, We Are Ohio. Other opponents include the Ohio Democratic Party, the Ohio Fraternal Police Order, Ohio Senate Minority Leader Capri Cafaro and President Barack Obama.

Cafaro argued: "The public sees Senate Bill 5 for what it really is -- a highly political assault on the rights of middle-class workers. The sad truth is this legislation would leave public employees with fewer rights to negotiate on issues such as safety equipment than their counterparts in the private sector."

Media endorsements

Newspapers in Ohio have not been shy when stating their views on Issue 2. The following is a table of major newspapers in the state, and their recommended vote on the issue.

Newspaper or blog Issue 2
The Cleveland Plain Dealer Category:Ballot measure endorsements
The Columbus Dispatch Category:Ballot measure endorsements
The Toledo Blade Circle thumbs down.png
Akron Beacon Journal Circle thumbs down.png
The Athens News Circle thumbs down.png
Newspaper or blog Issue 2
The Intelligencer Wheeling News-Register Category:Ballot measure endorsements
The Warren Tribune Chronicle Category:Ballot measure endorsements
The Cincinnati Enquirer Category:Ballot measure endorsements
The Findlay Courier (dead link) Category:Ballot measure endorsements
The Canton Repository Category:Ballot measure endorsements


The following is a line graph of poll results taken since April 2011. The graph represents five polls taken throughout the course of the year. All polls represented in the graph asked whether or not voters supported or opposed Senate Bill 5. The average number of those surveyed from all polls was 1,454 registered voters. The average margin of error among those polls was +/- 2.6 percentage points.[1]


See also

Ballotpedia News


  1. One poll asked if voters supported or opposed a repeal of Senate Bill 5. Data from those who opposed a repeal was incorporated into the "support" data since they were in favor of SB 5.