Updated Tue, Oct 25, 2011 9:02 am
Ohio’s Senate Bill 5 is one of the most controversial legislations in recent history. Senate Bill 5 is a major overhaul of Ohio's collective bargaining law, and it's the topic of Newswatch In-Depth: Yes or No for SB 5? airing Wednesday, Oct. 26 at 8 p.m. on WOUB-TV. It will also air on WOUB-FM and online at woub.org.
The legislation is more than 300 pages. State Senator Shannon Jones, a Republican from Springboro, sponsored the bill and it was introduced in the Ohio Senate on February 1. At the end of March, the bill passed both houses and Gov. John Kasich signed the bill. SB 5 was scheduled to become effective July 1.
We Are Ohio, an anti-SB 5 group, submitted a referendum petition to get the measure on the ballot. At the end of June, the group delivered 1.2 million signatures to the Secretary of State’s office. SB 5 (on the ballot as Issue 2) went on the ballot and voters will decide its fate on Tuesday, Nov. 8.
Opponents of the bill say it destroys jobs and lowers wages and takes away worker’s rights, which will hurt educators and public employees.
Supporters of the bill say it will get state spending under control and without it taxes will be have to be raised to support employees already making higher wages and benefits than the average Ohio worker.
READ A NPR SPECIAL REPORT ON HOW ISSUE 2 WILL AFFECT OHIO SCHOOLS, COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES
Four experts on both sides of the issue make up a panel to discuss the legislation and we'll talk about what the controversial legislation means for residents and Ohio's government employees.
Pete Couladis graduated from Athens High School and Ohio University and was elected to Athens City Council in 1975. He served for almost 20 years as Athens County auditor. He currently serves as the chairman of Athens County Republican party. Couladis supports Issue 2 because he believes the reforms in SB 5 are reasonable and fair. He believes the taxpayers, through their elected officials at the local level, were given the tools to better manage their public budgets and make decisions on behalf of the taxpayers. These reforms need to be preserved.
State Representative Debbie Phillips (D-Athens) is serving her second term representing the 92nd Ohio House District, which includes Athens, Meigs, and Morgan counties, and parts of Washington County. Phillips is a member of the Ohio House Democratic Caucus Leadership team, serving as Assistant Minority Whip. Prior to her election to the House, Rep. Phillips represented the 4th Ward on Athens City Council. Phillips believes SB 5 drastically reduces the rights of public servants and seeks to diminish the valuable service they provide for our state. She belives that teachers, firefighters and law enforcementa are not the enemy. She believes the state is facing real challenges, and Ohio's public employees have done their part to help get through these tough times--accepting pay freezes, furlough days, and other measures designed to save money while protecting important services. She thinks this piece of legislation is a distraction from the real work we have ahead of us--rebuilding Ohio's economy and maintaining our investment in Ohio's people.
State Representative Andy Thompson (R-Marietta) is serving his first term in the Ohio House of Representative. He represents the 93rd District, which includes Guernsey, Monroe and Noble counties, as well as portions of Washington and Muskingum counties. Representative Thompson now serves as the The Bird Watcher's Digests' co-publisher and director of Sales, a family business in Marietta. He was also elected to three terms on the Marietta City Council. Thompson sees these reasonable reforms as an important step toward strengthening our communities, reducing our tax burden and improving public services by ensuring that our classrooms, patrol cars and fire stations are staffed with the most qualified individuals. He believes that by implementing the policies in SB 5, Ohio will join other states, including Wisconsin, Indiana and New Jersey, in returning to a responsible government, where the public has a voice in determining how its taxpayer money is spent. You can read more about Rep. Thompson's views on Senate Bill 5 in his letter to the Marietta Times.
Dale Butland (We Are Ohio) - We Are Ohio is a citizen-driven, community-based, bipartisan coalition that has come together to stop SB 5 by encouraging voters to vote NO on Issue 2. We Are Ohio includes public and private sector workers and employees and various other community groups and members. Butland opposes Issue 2 because he believes it will have an negative effect on all of Ohio's communities. He believes that police, firefighters, nurses, and teachers use their collective bargain rights to negotiate for conditions that keep families safe, healthy, and give our children the tools they need to learn.
Viewers can submit questions to the panel by calling 800-456-2044 or tweet them to @woubnews with the hashtag #SB5. You can also e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org or submit them by going to woub.org.