SB 5, Ohio's now-famous collective bargaining bill, passed the Senate by one vote (17-16) on Wednesday, and has been sent to the Ohio House of Representatives. The discussion leading up to its adoption has been as ugly as anything I can recall, because the unions are determined to kill the bill, rather than suggesting reasonable amendments to it.
The bill obviously isn't perfect. My fellow Libertarian Bill Yarbrough and I had reservations about SB 5. One of the good things about having a bicameral legislature is that now, the other House has the opportunity to study the bill carefully and debate it thoroughly. At least, that's what they should do.
On the other hand, I have a problem with the comment from Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga that "Middle class Ohioans were locked out, literally, from having their voices heard." Taken literally, yes, the Highway Patrol did lock the Statehouse doors when it was getting too crowded to control. But the will of middle class Ohio was not thwarted. Ohioans voted for a Republican legislature because they are frustrated with our inability to work our way out of a thirty-year recession. We gave the Democrats their chance with Gov. Strickland and a Democratic House, and they were unable to get us off the ground.
The unions mustered 8,000 demonstrators on Tuesday giving a unified message, which left the Tea Parties somewhat flat-footed, by their own admission. It is hard to say to what extent the six Republican Senators who voted "No" on the bill were affected by the demonstrations. I know at least one of them, Sen. Scott Oelslager (R-North Canton) represents a heavily-unionized district, and that two or three of them had serious reservations that were not addressed.
On the other hand, it is a constructive lesson for the Ohio Liberty Council, which needs to develop ways to effectively mobilize people on short notice. There is some indication it is learning: The Columbus Dispatch reported that "thousands" of union demonstrators were countered by "hundreds" of Tea Partiers on Tuesday.
This will not be the last time we face mass demonstrations on major issues at the Statehouse. We who support liberty need to make sure our voice remains heard when it's time to vote.