April 6th is coming up fast and many insiders' eyes are watching to see if Ohio Senate Bill 5 is signed by Governor Kasich by the end of this day or not. I bet the folks in President Obama's reelection campaign are watching.
You may be asking, "What on earth does Senate Bill 5 have to do with Obama's reelection?"
The answer lies within Article 2, section 01c of the Ohio Constitution.
Any legislation passed by the legislature and signed by the governor goes into effect not immediately, but 90 days afterward. The law may be challenged by popular vote, and those 90 days are the window within which you have the time to collect the required signatures to place the repeal of the law on the ballot. The number of required signatures is 6% of the electors.
If the required number of signatures is turned into the secretary of state within the 90 days, then you count out 125 more days, and the issue will be on the ballot on the next general election after those 125 days.
If you count back 125 plus 90 days from this year's election day, November 8, 2011, you arrive at April 7th. Thus, if Senate Bill 5 is signed on April 6th or before, and the public sector unions are successful at collecting enough signatures, the referendum will be on the 2011 ballot, not 2012.
Collecting 6% of the electors signatures is not an easy task, but it isn't a high hurdle, either. By contrast, it requires 10% of the electors to propose a constitutional amendment. If there's one thing unions are good at, it's organizing people. The Ohio Democratic Party will surely be putting their resources behind the petition effort as well. So, chances are likely that will be see a referendum on Senate Bill 5 at the polls on election day. The only question is, which election day? 2011 or 2012?
Once it is on the ballot, the public sector unions will surely pour vast amounts of money into a campaign to defeat the law, even more than the huge amount of money they already spend on Democrats to keep the taxpayer money flowing, and their dues coffers bulging.
Union money will also pour in from out of state. Just as the unions descended on Wisconsin in that state's recent public sector union battles, the national union movement will be especially focused on Ohio leading up to the referendum vote.
Union member turnout will be huge, compared to a "normal" election. The question Ohio House Speaker Bill Batchelder and his caucus need to ask themselves, is whether they want to see that surge in turnout this year. Or next year, when those same voters will be deciding whether to keep Barack Obama or not? (Not to mention his own Ohio House members.)
Its common knowledge that Ohio is the ultimate bellweather state. No Republican has ever won the presidency without winning Ohio. If Obama wins Ohio again, we get 4 more years of his bumbling, in over his head incompetence.
Batchelder seems aware of the timing issue, but has only publicly discussed it in terms of the bill's survival chances.
Republican House Speaker Bill Batchelder acknowledged last week the timing issue is playing a role in the majority party's actions on the bill.Speaker Batchelder should be considering more than just the outcome of the referendum vote when it comes to the timing of getting this bill done.
But he's not so sure delaying the vote a year would help Democrats defeat collective bargaining reform.
"There's a presumption that if we put it on this fall, somehow or another that would be better for one party or another -- namely mine," Batchelder said. "I'm not so sure."
Turnout, he said, might end up favoring Republicans.
He added, "I don't know who would turn out. In other words, it's conceivable that there will be a heavier turnout of people who have strong feelings in favor of (collective bargaining) legislation. I have a lot of friends who belong to some of the organizations involved, and some of them are quite unhappy that they pay $800 a year in dues and they don't think they get much. Some of them obviously resent being represented as people who would come down here and try to drown out the process of government."
Personally, I think the bill's chances of being recalled are similar whether the vote is held this year or next. If we're going to have a referendum on this bill, lets do it this year, and not give Barack Obama an advantage in 2012.
Dear Ohio House, get this bill approved and signed by the governor by April 6th.
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UPDATE: Senate Bill 5 was just passed out of committee with amendments. A full floor vote is expected tomorrow, 3/30/2011. Since it was amended, it will then go back to the Ohio Senate. Stay tuned.
UPDATE: 4:30PM 3/30/2011 - The Ohio House is nearing their floor vote. Now being reported that the Ohio Senate has SB5 on today's calendar. The bill could be ready for the governor tonight.
UPDATE: 9:30PM 3/30/2011 - Both houses passed the amended bill. The governor has indicated that he will sign it Friday.