Legislative Watch – May 22, 2023

Bill to Restrict the Voice of Higher Education Employees Passes in Ohio Senate

On Wednesday, May 17, 2023, Senate Bill 83 (R-Cirino), a bill that proposes sweeping changes to the practices and policies at Ohio higher education institutions, passed the Ohio Senate by a vote of 21-10. Joining Democrats in opposition to the bill were Republican Senators N. Manning, Blessing, and Reynolds.

Senate Bill 83, and its House companion legislation House Bill 151, represent the largest attacks on collective bargaining rights since Senate Bill 5 in 2011. These bills prohibit collective bargaining in state institutions of higher education with regard to faculty performance evaluation systems, tenure (due process) and retrenchment policies, as well as post-tenure review policies (which under the bill could lead to censure, remedial training, for-cause termination, or any other action permitted by the institution’s post-tenure review policy). The bills also seek to silence the voice of workers by taking away the right to strike for higher education employees.

Additionally, both bills propose to micromanage state institutions of higher education by usurping the authority of boards of trustees and administrators who oversee the daily operations of these institutions by requiring changes to mission statements, faculty workload policies, syllabi requirements, and bans mandatory Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) training and courses in favor of government interference and one-size-fits-all state mandates.

Senate Bill 83 now heads to the Ohio House for consideration. It is also expected that some of the bill’s provisions will be amended into House Bill 33, the state budget bill that is currently pending in the Ohio Senate.

Meanwhile, over in the Ohio House Higher Education Committee, House Bill 151 received opponent testimony. Over 150 individuals submitted testimony in opposition to the bill. You may view OEA President Scott DiMauro’s testimony here.

Please send your legislator a letter urging their opposition to SB 83 and HB 151 by clicking here.

Bill Requires Social Studies Task Force to Consider Right-Leaning Standards

OEA opposes House Bill (HB) 103, legislation that requires an Ohio Social Studies Task Force to re-write Ohio’s K-12 social studies standards to conform with the right-leaning “American Birthright: The Civics Alliance’s Model K-12 Social Studies Standards.” The Ohio General Assembly would have to approve the standards before they take effect.

OEA was first to testify in opposition to HB 103 at the Ohio House Primary & Secondary Education Committee hearing on May 16, 2023. The bill also attracted opposition testimony from more than three-dozen individuals and organizations, including the Ohio Council for the Social Studies (OCSS).

The “American Birthright” standards do not meet the standards and best practices of Social Studies teachers. Neither the OCSS nor the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) endorses or supports the use of these standards.

Further, HB 103 is a divisive distraction. The “American Birthright” standards have been criticized as a tool to confuse the ideological views of adults with the learning needs of students. These suggested standards are also seen as narrowing the social studies curriculum to tell one separate story, instead of our united story. Distracting educators with divisive political conflicts are not in the best interest of students.

Write Your Member of Congress and Ask them to Support Federal Legislation to Repeal GPO/WEP

Legislation aimed at the repeal of the Government Pension Offset and Windfall Elimination Provision (GPO/WEP) has received wide bipartisan support in both chambers of U.S. Congress. Known as the Social Security Fairness Act (S. 597/H.R. 82), the legislation has support from 263 cosponsors in the U.S. House and 40 in the U.S. Senate. GPO/WEP deprive more than 2.5 million Americans, including educators, of Social Security benefits they have earned.

Just two weeks ago, educators from all 15 states affected by GPO/WEP, including from Ohio, lobbied members of Congress to encourage their support for the repeal of GPO/WEP.

Please join these members and encourage your U.S. Representative and U.S. Senator to support the Social Security Fairness Act by clicking here.

For an archive of past Legislative Watch releases, visit the Legislative Watch archive.