COLUMBUS, Ohio â€” Gov. John Kasich said Friday that he anticipates theÂ Legislature will pass a tough bill restricting union activity by public workers in Ohio and that he’ll sign it into law with little fanfare, out of respect for the raw emotions surrounding the bill.
The measure â€” which still has to go through the GOP-led House â€” would limit the bargaining rights of roughly 350,000 teachers, firefighters, police officers and other public employees. They wouldn’t be able to negotiateÂ healthÂ careÂ benefits or certain other working conditions.
“The day we sign it, it’s not going to be some â€” you know, I don’t anticipate some big deal because this is hard for people,” Kasich told reporters at a separate bill-signing event. “And anything that’s hard, I want to be respectful of other people’s feelings, their thoughts and their emotions.”
Unlike with similar legislation being debated in Wisconsin, Republicans in Ohio managed to move the bill quickly through the state Senate. The bill was narrowly approved Wednesday on a 17-16 vote.
“Glad it passed,” Kasich said, adding that he wasn’t surprised.
Wisconsin’s measure remains in limbo in the GOP-controlled Legislature after the 14 Senate Democrats fled to Illinois two weeks ago to deprive the chamber of a quorum. In Ohio, Republicans hold big enough majorities in both chambers to vote on the bill and pass it even if the Democrats walk out.
“It’s going to go in the House; it’s going to pass there,” Kasich said at the event, where guests included House Speaker William Batchelder.
Under the bill, unionized public workers in Ohio could negotiate wages, hours and certainÂ work conditions â€” but not health care or pension benefits. The measure would do away with automatic pay raises and base future wage increases on merit. It also would ban strikes by public workers and establish penalties for those who do participate in walkouts.
Batchelder is looking to have at least three weeks of hearings on the bill â€” which would carry the debate into late March. His spokesman Mike Dittoe said the House leader wants it to be a “deliberative and extensive process.”
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