How Many Ways Do Republicans Hate Democracy?

It seems like every day we hear a new story about some egregious assault on voters rights by some un-American, democracy-hating Republican. If U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia can arrogantly smirk — flying in the face of widespread evidence in our latest presidential election — that African-Americans currently have some sort of special "racial entitlement" to vote, then why should we expect more respect for democracy from the collection of dimwits and extremists who infest the GOP caucus in our legislature.

One of the only things that has kept workers in evenly divided Ohio from the same wretched fate that befell those in ALEC puppet Scott Walker's Wisconsin is the power of ballot referendum repeal.

When our governor Taxin' John Kasich and the legislature obediently did the bidding of ALEC and the Koch Brothers and slammed SB 5 into law so fast people barely had time to react, citizens mobilized, gathered more than twice the signatures needed to send it to the ballot, and repealed it by a 60% margin. Soon after that, when HB 194, a voter suppression omnibus bill, was headed in the same direction, the legislature quickly repealed it to save the GOP from another humiliating loss.

So naturally now, the Republican-dominated legislature is working to steal the power from the people to respond to its arrogant overreach. It's come up with SB 47, which will severely restrict the right of citizens to go to the ballot. And not just referenda. The bill will also make it much more difficult for citizens to initiate constitutional amendments — just time to block the repeal of the "Defense of Marriage" amendment!

We got the following email from an activist down in southwest Ohio, who writes,

State Senators Bill Seitz (sponsor) and State Senator John Eklund (co-sponsor) have introduced Ohio Senate Bill 47. There are many provisions in SB 47, but of concern is a provision regarding when signatures can be collected for a referendum petition to repeal a state law (such as for the repeal of Senate Bill 5, the anti-collective bargaining law and HB 194, the voter suppression law) and regarding when signatures can be collected for an initiative petition to initiate a law or amendment to the Ohio constitution (as we attempted last fall with redistricting reform).

The dangerous provision in SB 47 would decrease the time for collecting signatures by forbidding collection of additional signatures after the date of submission of the petition but before the date of notification from the Secretary of State of the number of valid signatures. This is a very common time to collect "extra" signatures in case too many of the originally submitted signatures are found to be invalid. (If you want to read the proposed change yourself, go to http://www.legislature.state.oh.us/bills.cfm?ID=130_SB_47 and scroll down to the very end and read paragraph (F); the underlined sentences contain the proposed provision to the Ohio Revised Code that would add a limitation on the times for collecting signatures.)

But that's not all! It never is with these democracy-haters. Our correspondent followed up with this message:

Since I wrote the email below, I learned of another SB 47 provision of concern. It would cause petition signatures to "expire" one year from the date of signing. This would not matter for referendums like those to repeal SB 5 and HB 194 as signature gathering for these takes place in less than a year, but it would be an obstacle for citizen initiatives that often collect signatures over more than one year.

You know, like that repeal of DOMA. Isn't this just swell? It makes you apprehensive to go read what else is in this bill.

Ohioans are being urged to contact the state senator. I would recommend contacting your state representative for good measure, to give them a heads-up on how much you hate this legislation and letting them know you'll be watching when it moves to the House. Do this whether you are represented by someone as outstanding as Mike Skindell or someone as dreadful as Shannon Jones.

You can find your state senator and his or her contact info by entering your zip code at www.legislature.state.oh.us. You can also call or contact Seitz and Eklund and let them know this isn't the type of thing you expect the legislature to be spending our money on.

State Senator Bill Seitz (R)
(614) 466-8068
http://www.ohiosenate.gov/seitz/contact

State Senator John Eklund (R)
(614) 644-7718
http://www.ohiosenate.gov/eklund/contact

There's also an action link at http://statevoices.salsalabs.com/o/62/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=52...

The third committee hearing was scheduled to take place today, and activists from around the state planned to attend and testify against it. We will let you know what they report.

I dread to think what these extremists will come up with next. I agree with what Armond Budish said at a community meeting in Shaker Heights recently: nothing is more important than redistricting. If the Ohio House were split as the voters intended — almost event but slightly more Democratic — this bill would have no prayer.

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