Ohioans need to oppose SB 47


”Barely a peep, nary a whisper.” I think that could be a good campaign slogan for the Ohio Republican Party.

Very recently, and even more quickly, this group of politicians has quietly resorted to disturbing behaviors regarding the electoral processes, including a bizarre bill by the unassuming title of SB 47. The focus of this letter will touch upon the most important issue Ohio will face for the next seven years: electoral reform.

SB 47 is a bill created by the Ohio GOP to, among many obscure actions, curtail the time period allowable for the collection of signatures to do things like the referendum process and the initiative process.

Remember Senate Bill 5, the union-busting bill? It was passed in early 2011 by Republican politicians – and then was subsequently repealed in November 2011 by citizens of Ohio. This was made possible by the referendum process, a right that Ohioans have enjoyed since 1912, which allows the public to vote on laws they find disagreeable.

It is highly useful and good for putting politicians in their places. Naturally then, the Ohio GOP would like to do away with it.

SB 47 would essentially shorten the time period in which citizens of Ohio may collect signatures in the name of a referendum or initiative process. Doesn’t sound all that attention-grabbing though, does it? That’s precisely part of the strategy here.

Republicans are, during a ho-hum political time of disinterest in Ohio, tweaking certain technical processes that disable anyone from acting against them. And, yes, it is a one-sided effort initiated solely by them. State Sen. Capri Cafaro and Rep. Sean O’Brien are aware of my feelings on this issue.

Thanks to gerrymandering and public ignorance the GOP has a veto-proof majority in the Ohio General Assembly, further assuring the onset of this corrupt, hasty agenda. I don’t know what you’re waiting for, Ohio, but it’s time for you to do something. Your only hope at this point is to resurrect the effort to inject some fairness into the redistricting process – otherwise you’re going to have to tolerate this kind of behavior for the next seven years.

Issue 2 of 2012 might have failed last year (mostly due to a lackluster campaign and Secretary of State Husted’s impish ballot-language tampering) but are you really interested in more of this kind of crap? Are you really OK with your rights being compromised from the way they previously existed for 100 years?

It’s despicable for anyone to do this, regardless of party. But for as long as everyone hangs back and ignores the state-level play of Ohio politics your situation is only going to become more undesirable to live with. Do what you must to spark some interest in this issue of electoral reform. Mark my words this monster is not going to die until you pierce its slimy heart.

Robert Heltzel