Legislative Watch – December 4, 2023

Senate Bill 83 Continues to Receive Substantial Opposition

Last week the Ohio House Higher Education Committee held a hearing on Substitute Senate Bill 83. Over 130 professors, students, concerned citizens and organizations submitted opposition testimony while there were only seven proponents to the measure. You may view OEA’s opposition testimony here. Additionally, Ohio House Speaker Jason Stephens stated that the bill doesn’t have enough support to get through the Ohio House. You may read the article here.

While the substitute bill removed an earlier provision which prohibited faculty and other higher education employees from striking, the measure retains language that prohibits higher education faculty unions from bargaining on evaluations, tenure, and retrenchment policies. Additionally, it includes language that micromanages higher education classrooms and threatens academic freedom. OEA believes that these policies are best developed locally by faculty and administration determining systems that work best for their campuses.

OEA remains focused on urging the Ohio House of Representatives to reject Substitute Senate Bill 83. Please contact your State Representative to urge them to oppose Substitute SB 83. To look up your State Representative’s contact information, please visit https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/ and type in your address in the search bar under “Who Represents Me?” SB 83 is bad for students, higher education, and the future of Ohio.

OEA Launches Updated Legislative Scorecard

OEA is excited to announce its newly updated Legislative Scorecard. At last year’s Fall Representative Assembly, OEA was charged with updating its legislative scorecard per New Business Item (NBI) #FA-2022-1, known as the “Know Your Legislator” NBI. The 2023 Fall Representative Assembly, held on December 2, 2023, received a preview of the updated page during Vice President Jeff Wensing’s report.

The NBI required that:

OEA Staff and/or officers will rebrand, create strategies for promotion, and add to the functionality of the OEA Legislative Scorecard website to allow for increased member engagement in legislative advocacy and member lobbying. The increased functionality shall create the ability for reviewing important priority legislation OEA tracks that is relevant to education, the legislator/s who proposed it, and how legislators voted on it.

After OEA governance and staff work throughout 2023, OEA’s scorecard has been updated and is now live. The new page provides members with an updated, user-friendly interface to navigate and explore legislative insights and how actions of the General Assembly impact public education. It also includes extended data so members can dive deep into legislative actions, and real-time updates to see the latest changes to legislative policies and decisions made by legislators.

To access the page, please click here. To download a promotional flyer that you can share with your colleagues please click here. If you have any questions about the new scorecard, please contact OEA Government Relations at govtsrv@ohea.org.

Take Action on GPO/WEP Repeal

The Social Security Fairness Act (House Resolution 82 and Senate Resolution 597) proposes to repeal the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). These are provisions of federal law that unfairly punish public service by reducing the earned Social Security, spousal, and survivor benefits of many retirees of public pension plans.

Together GPO and WEP deprive more than 2.7 million educators and other dedicated public servants of Social Security benefits. This includes more than 162,000 Ohioans who lose retirement benefits just because they dedicated their career to public service.

GPO and WEP discourage people from becoming educators, especially those in mid-career who stand to lose Social Security benefits they have already earned. That, in turn, can adversely affect the quality of the education our students receive and threatens the retirement security of hundreds of thousands of Ohioans.

Both OEA and NEA support the Social Security Fairness Act. The legislation has strong bi-partisan support in both chambers. U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown is a primary sponsor of S. 597 and has submitted a bill to repeal GPO/WEP during the last several sessions of Congress. Ohio Senator J.D. Vance has also signed on as a co-sponsor. Of the Ohio Congressional delegation, 11 out of the 15 members of the U.S. House from Ohio are co-sponsors of H.R. 82.

Momentum is building for H.R. 82 as it had a field hearing on November 20th. Now it is time that the House Ways and Means Committee schedule a “mark-up session” for the bill. We are asking OEA members to contact the Ohio members of the House Ways and Means Committee to encourage them to push for a mark-up session for HR 82.

Congressman Brad Wenstrup (R-2nd District) and Congressman Mike Carey (R-15th District), both from Ohio, serve on the House Ways and Means committee. If you live in either of these districts, please consider calling your U.S. Representative and urge them to push for a mark-up session for H.R. 82.

To contact U.S. Representative Brad Wenstrup, please dial 202-225-3164

To contact U.S. Representative Mike Carey, please dial 202-225-2015

If you don’t know what congressional district you live in, please go to: https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative

To send a letter to your members of Congress urging them to repeal GPO and WEP, please click here.

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