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BAD OHIO: SB5 Could Be Split Up Into Multiple Choice for Referendum. GOOD OHIO: Voter ID Removed from Election Reform Bill

A referendum vote on Ohio’s controversial SB-5 bill — the one that would drastically weaken the collective bargaining rights of public employees — may be broken into multiple ballot questions, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

Republicans hope that by doing this, instead of a traditional up or down referendum vote, they will be able to prey on the political divide of the state, pushing certain aspects of the law through at the expense of others. There is a precedent in splitting referendums into various votes in Ohio: it was also done in 2005.

In the latest Quinnipiac University poll released May 18th, Ohioans favored the repeal of Senate Bill 5 by a margin of 54 percent to 36percent. But when individual components of the bill were posed to poll respondents, the results were mixed.

59 percent favored the provision, Dispatch adds, that would require public employees to pay at least 15 percent of their health-insurance premiums. 58 percent favored those same employees having to pay at least 10 percent of their wages toward their pensions, and 57 percent favored replacing automatic pay increases with a merit-pay system.

Ohioans also face a fight against Governor John Kasich’s proposed mass privatization of state assets. The House and Senate wisely rejected a budget proposal by the Governor that would have given his administration the authority to contract out any state service for as long as 75 years. However, there are still proposals to privatize various state assets, such as abandoned school buildings and the lottery. The Senate budget would require school districts to make unused buildings available for $1 to charter-school buyers that rank in the top half of academic performers. The measure does not require the charter school to have enough money to maintain the building, which the public system still would own.

RELATED: “If You Believe That, I’ve Got a Bridge to Lease You”

Voters did gain one victory in Ohio this week, though, as the unpopular voter suppression section of an elections reform bill was dropped by Senate Republicans who realized they did not have the votes to carry the bill as it stood. The law would have requireq people to have a photo ID in order to vote, a dubious kind of model legislation being introduced across the country, reminiscent of pre-Civil Rights era poll taxes implemented to strip African-Americans of their voting rights. Democrats fighting the measure remain reserved about their prospects for putting voter ID to rest for good. The measure “lives on in a separate bill,” according to the Springfield News Sun.


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