Wednesday, March 30, 2011

St. Rep. Adams Announces Passage of Senate Bill 5

St. Rep. John Adams
COLUMBUS—State Representative John Adams (R-Sidney) has announced that after 13 hearings, more than 60 hours of testimony and more than 200 witnesses over a period of nearly two months, Senate Bill 5 today passed from the Ohio House of Representatives. This legislation restores fairness for Ohio’s taxpayers and helps prevent mass layoffs of dedicated public employees by giving local governments the flexibility to manage their own finances.
Senate Bill 5 wholly reinvents the relationship between public-sector unions, local governments and the taxpayers. With many local governments threatened by bankruptcy and unable to control their costs, many communities may suffer massive tax increases or widespread layoffs just to keep public services solvent. This legislation—which restores Ohioans’ influence over the government and its employees that they pay for—aims to save these vital jobs while also lowering the tax burden on the middle class.
“S.B. 5 as passed by the Senate was a good bill.  The House made it better,” Adams said.  “Under current state law, public employees can be forced to join or pay dues to a labor union, against their will, as a condition of employment.  The House version of S.B. 5 says public employees can choose for themselves whether or not to support labor unions.”
Among House modifications to S.B. 5 are provisions that allow collective bargaining for safety equipment, permit communications between bargaining parties, clarify that death benefit amounts for spouses are not affected by changes in the bill, and eliminate jail time as a possible penalty for striking.
The House version also removes the use of ticket quotas to determine performance-based pay for law enforcement officials, eliminates automatic union deductions without written consent, and prohibits “fair share” fee penalties as a requirement to be a non-union member within an organization. Additionally, under certain conditions, labor disputes may be settled by voters at the ballot, with last best offers of each bargaining party considered and resolved by Ohio’s taxpayers.
To specifically advance the quality of education in Ohio’s classrooms and reward teachers, S.B. 5 establishes standard state guidelines to determine educators’ compensation and other terms of employment. While 50 percent of educator evaluations must be based on student performance as developed by the Ohio Department of Education, local school boards have the authority to establish objective measures related to quality of instructional practice, communication and professionalism, parent/student satisfaction, and other relevant factors.
“For years, politicians have kicked the can down the road and refused to deal with the mounting problem of government spending.  I am glad we have leaders like Gov. Kasich, House Speaker Batchelder and Senate President Niehaus who have chosen to do what is necessary to save Ohio from a rising tide of red ink.  S.B. 5 is part of that solution,” Adams said.
As passed, S.B. 5 is expected to save local governments more than $1 billion while ensuring that public employees can still collectively bargain under a better system with negotiations, mediation and fairness.
S.B. 5 will now return to the Ohio Senate for a concurrence vote.