Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has certified the summary language of the Senate Bill 5 referendum, opening the way for a statewide effort to overturn the collective bargaining limits.
"We have a petition training for the general public and for union members Saturday, April 30, at 10 a.m. at the Plumbers and Pipefitters Hall," said Austin Keyser of the Shawnee Labor Council. "And we're also doing it in Chillicothe at the Local IBEW offices, 35 N. Bridge St. on the same day at 2 p.m. We will also have training in Ironton on April 28 at 5:30 p.m. at the Briggs Lawrence County Library, 321 S. Fourth St. in Ironton."
On April 4, two petitions were filed with the Attorney General's Office and the Secretary of State. The proposals submitted were informally titled "short" and "long." After reviewing the summaries, DeWine issued two letters certifying the Short Version Summary and rejecting the Long Version Summary.
"The Office's explicit statutory duty is to determine whether the submitted summary is a fair and truthful statement of the measure to be referred,'" DeWine wrote in his letter certifying the Short Version Summary language. "Without passing upon the advisability of the approval or rejection of the measure to be referred ... I hereby certify that the summary is a fair and truthful statement of the proposed referendum concerning Am. Sub. S.B. 5 of the 129th General Assembly."
In rejecting the Long Version Summary language, DeWine wrote, "The summary, though greatly condensed at 28 pages, is still far too lengthy and detailed to be considered a short and concise summing up of the matter to be referred. For this reason, I am unable to certify the proposed Long Version Summary of the petition."
Keyser said the unions are awaiting the final printing of the petitions, which must contain the complete wording of the summary before they are official.
"We'll have those in our hands and we will be signing up circulators," Keyser said. "We're working with some students at Shawnee State University. Locally, the school teachers have already been doing some training — the same training we're going to be doing — for the teachers only. We'll be doing it for everybody."
For the certified referendum to proceed, the petitioners must collect signatures from registered voters in 44 of Ohio's 88 counties, equal to three percent of the total vote cast in the county for the office of governor at the last gubernatorial election. Total signatures collected statewide must also equal six percent of the total vote cast for the office of governor at the last gubernatorial election. The petition, containing at least the minimum number of signatures, must be filed with the secretary of state not later than the effective date of the legislation which is 90 days after it was enrolled with the secretary.
Soon after DeWine approved the language, Ohio AFL-CIO began sending out messages to get Ohioans to join the referendum movement.
"You can take action to save Ohio's working and middle classes by volunteering to help circulate petitions to repeal Senate Bill 5," Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga wrote in a message. "We need over 231,000 valid signatures from Ohio's registered voters. And we need your help!"
The full text of the letters and of the initiative petitions submitted can be found at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov/BallotInitiatives."
FRANK LEWIS may be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 232, or firstname.lastname@example.org.