There was a time when Statehouse Republicans readily and often called employers in Ohio “job creators.” But HB 218, as it is now written, barely stops seeing employers as agents of the Deep State.
Certainly Ohioans, many of them, are fed up with COVID-19 and its delta and omicron variants and everything that comes next. But, also true, vaccination is the most effective procedure to combat COVID-19. And opposing vaccination is not very consistent with a legislature that proclaims itself pro-life.
The truly remarkable thing about the bill is what the misguided nonpartisan Legislative Services Commission, the ever-underrated bill research and drafting arm of the General Assembly, has to say about the version of HB 218 currently pending in the Senate.
Among other potential problems, the commission’s analysis warns, the bill may violate the Ohio Constitution’s prohibition on retroactive laws; could violate home rule in the town and village – although, for 20 years, a habitual legislative abuse at the Statehouse; and can alter contracts, which would violate both the constitutions of the United States and Ohio.
That is, passing the bill as it stands might as well be full employment law for Ohio lawyers, given the big target, federal and state, which the legislation would paint over itself. (And here you also thought the GOP was the party of tort reform – the crusade to reduce the number of lawsuits filed in Ohio, i.e., injured people in exchange for fair compensation.)
Now the question is who will blink first: the Senate who might water down the version of the bill passed by the House (but maybe not) – or DeWine? The governor, up for re-election next year, probably doesn’t want to tick off far-right activists in Ohio Republicans, who call talk shows, never miss a primary — and have long memories.
MEANWHILE: If nothing else, the gerrymander of the Ohio House and State Senate Districts Redistricting Commission, as well as the gerrymander of the General Assembly of (potential) congressional districts in the Ohio may also increase lawyers’ billable hours. Anti-gerrymandering plaintiffs filed three lawsuits against the new Ohio House and State Senate districts.
The high court has scheduled oral arguments for Wednesday December 8 on the alleged pro-Republican General Assembly gerrymanders. It’s impossible to know whether the Supreme Court’s final decision — four Republicans and three Democrats — will cross or follow party lines. An idealist hopes for a multiparty decision. A realist admits he’s in Ohio.
Thomas Suddes is an adjunct assistant professor at Ohio University. He covered the Statehouse for The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer for many years.