Op-Ed: Ohio Legislature Vows Revenge for Kasich’s (actually reasonable) Vetoes
by Matt Monta
Ah, the holidays in Ohio. The Christmas trees are still up and dressed to the nines, homes decked out to the brim with ragged icicle lights from Big Lots, and the Ohio legislature scrambles to pass a whole bunch of stuff under the noses of the voters during their lame duck session. This year’s session brought a whole host of bad bills including a restrictive 20-week abortion ban without exceptions for rape or incest and SB331, while further criminalizing bestiality (yay!), also stripped local governments of powers to protect its workers (boo!) Yet, with the latest batch of bills that went to the Governor’s desk this week, the GOP tried to overplay their hand. They got called by Kasich’s vetoes. And they are pissed.
SB329: In short, an attempt at a power grab to grant the legislature the ability to dissolve agencies it may arbitrarily deem as unnecessary. Essentially, it was a shortcut to dismantle the government. This type of chicanery is what the ultra-conservative legislature in North Carolina is carrying out right now, which is probably why they’re no longer considered by some to be a functioning democracy. Kasich did right to veto this bill, not only for the sake of future governors and balance of power, but for the sake of agencies necessary to the well-being of Ohioans that conservatives are foaming at the mouth to eliminate or privatize.
HB554: During the Strickland administration, a clean energy mandate was enacted to encourage and push Ohio to the forefront of the renewable energy industries. Two years ago, the legislature passed a freeze on those mandates which John Kasich signed into law. HB554 was written to continue that freeze.
Kasich vetoed this bill, effectively ending the freeze and reinstating the clean energy mandate signed by Strickland. The GOP is perhaps most pissed about this, with Senator Bill Seitz pitching a fit, invoking the typical conservative bait of “coastal elites”, “regulatory overreach” and even, hold onto your hats 2001, “Al Gore-style policies.” Furthermore, he threatens a rebuke of this with free-market savior President Trump and the veto-proof majority the GOP will hold next session. Kasich did right to veto this bill, not only to put Ohio on track to be competitive in the renewable energy industry, but perhaps subtly as recognition that climate change is real and clean energy might be a necessary future for us.
Finally, SB235: Among other things, a bill that would allow big oil and gas companies to avoid paying sales tax: a big hand out to big oil. After allowing the oil and gas industry to begin probing public lands for fracking, part of the deal with the public was that tax dollars of this exploration and extraction would come back to benefit Ohioans. The republican legislature, with its ever-blossoming commitment corporate welfare, wanted to keep it from going back to the people. Kasich did right to veto this bill, to ensure that the citizens of the state benefit from business done in the state, if not only to stick to his word so many years ago.
It takes a special kind of extreme legislature to send bills to a staunchly conservative governor of their own party only to have their most passionate provisions struck down. With an eye for vengeance in 2017, a veto-proof majority, and wholesale Trumpism, we may see a lot more of these backwards bills being forced upon us whether we like it or not.