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Wednesday, May 11, 2011
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Legislation benefits middle class, saves at-risk jobs, respects taxpayers
COLUMBUS—State Representative Peter Beck (R-Mason) 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.
“Senate Bill 5 not only provides transparency by allowing the public to have information in each step of the collective bargaining process, but it also is pro-taxpayer by being more efficient with taxpayer dollars for the state of Ohio,” said Rep. Beck. “This bill is necessary for the state of Ohio’s economic growth and ability to produce and save vital jobs.”
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.
“This bill promotes better education for the state of Ohio by having performance evaluations to provide the most effective teachers for our youth and ensures fairness between the public and private sector workforce,” said Rep. Beck. “With the passage of Senate Bill 5, we are strengthening our local communities by granting them vital budget flexibility in these tough economic times that we face.”
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.