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Ohio SB 5 repeal could be presented as multiple questions

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June 23, 2011

Ohio

By Al Ortiz

COLUMBUS, Ohio: The events surrounding the controversial Senate Bill 5, and the pending veto referendum, elevated to new heights on June 22.

Reports say that supporters of the collective bargaining bill, including Gov. John Kasich and Republican members, are in discussions with the Ohio Ballot Board to break the proposed SB 5 repeal into separate ballot measures, one for each provision, if it makes the ballot.[1]

According to reports, if the measure is split, voters can choose to repeal certain aspects of the law instead of deciding 'yes' or 'no' on the entire bill. The discussions are in response to the growing opposition by state residents against the legislation.

Currently, opponents of the bill are circulating petitions to qualify the repeal on the ballot, in which 231,149 signatures are required. On June 17, less than two weeks before the petition drive deadline, supporters announced the collection of 714,137 signatures.

Once those signatures are submitted by the June 29 petition drive deadline and the Ohio Secretary of State validates signatures, the proposal then goes to the ballot board. The Republican-controlled board then has total control over how the measure is presented to voters.

This wouldn't be the first time an event like this took place in Ohio. In 2005, the board broke up three citizen initiatives dealing with elections into four questions.

According to a source close to the talks between the board and SB 5 supporters, "I think that's an issue the ballot board will look at. (The) ballot board has to figure (out) a lot of things - how many issues, language, and issue numbers. (Dividing the bill) is something being discussed."

Senate Bill 5, which has stolen the political center stage in Ohio, would limit collective bargaining for public employees in the state. Most notably, SB 5 prevents unions from charging "fair share" dues to employees who opt out. The law 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.

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