Ohio Senate passes controversial SB 5, 17-16
|Cliff Hite Bill Seitz|
Hite was added to the
Insurance, Commerce and Labor Committee
in place of Seitz.
By Tyler Millhouse
COLUMBUS, Ohio: The Ohio State Senate has passed, by a 17-16 margin, the highly controversial Ohio State Senate Bill 5, the "Collective Bargaining Bill". The bill 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, pensions, and working conditions. The bill would also prohibit all public employees from striking and increase employee contributions for pensions and healthcare.
Despite the GOP's 23-10 majority in the Ohio Senate, Republican lawmakers struggled to pass the divisive legislation. The bill almost stalled in the Insurance, Commerce and Labor Committee. Needing 7 votes to advance the bill to the floor, Republican leadership realized that only 6 yes votes were present on the committee. Republican leadership quickly removed committee member Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) who opposed the bill, and replaced him with Cliff Hite (R-Findlay). The change, effected Wednesday morning, has been sharply criticized by Democratic leadership. Republicans, however, defended the move, saying that it was necessary to move the process forward.
The bill will now move to the Ohio House of Representatives, where it is expected to pass. Republicans have a 59-40 advantage in the House. Unions argue that the bill will destroy the protections they have had since 1983. However, school administrators have argued that modifications to the bill, like allowing collective bargaining for wages, have moderated the bill. In either case, the bill's supporters argue that it is essential to allow state and local government the tools to cut costs and prevent budget deficits.