Columbus -- A day after news of a GOP-led Right to Work effort surfaced in the Ohio House, the Republican-controlled Ohio Senate seemingly wrote the legislation's obituary, with the leader of that chamber saying related bills don't have support for passage.
"We have an ambitious agenda focused on job creation and economic recovery, and Right to Work legislation is not on that list," Senate President Keith Faber said in a released statement. "After discussions with other leaders and my caucus, I don't believe there is current support for this issue in the general assembly."
He added, "The only purpose this discussion serves right now is to generate a bunch of breathless fundraising appeals from the Ohio Democratic Party."
Faber offered the comments early evening May 1, hours after three separate bills were officially unveiled by Republican Reps. Kristina Roegner and Ron Maag to bar mandatory union membership and dues payments.
Roegner (R-Hudson) and Maag (R-Lebanon) are proposing separate Right to Work bills that would affect private and public sector employees, plus a referendum that would place the issue before voters.
They and other supporters say the changes are needed to make Ohio more competitive for businesses and protect residents who don't want to join organized labor.
About two dozen other states have implemented comparable changes, including most recently Michigan and Indiana.
Ohio voters rejected a similar move in the late 1950s. Tea Party groups continue to circulate their own petitions with hopes placing the issue again before voters, though leaders of that effort have said they may not gain enough signatures to qualify for the November general election.
News of the new legislation prompted a quick and vocal outcry from Statehouse Democrats and union groups, who staged a protest and had a press conference May 1 to voice their opposition.
They say Right to Work laws hurt organized labor and, ultimately, all working Ohioans.
"I am really concerned that these proposals are only an intentionally confusing means to reduce benefits and pay for an already struggling and frustrated middle class," Rep. Connie Pillich (D-Cincinnati), a potential statewide candidate in 2014 said in a released statement. "If that is the case, it's disheartening that legislators or wealthy corporate backers would put profits before people at the expense of citizens who are already underemployed and just getting by in many cases."
Opponents also vowed to fight lawmaker efforts to pass the proposed law changes.
"We'll fight this the same way with the same energy, the same commitment, the same determination to save the American middle class that we did [with] Senate Bill 5," said Joe Rugola, director of the Ohio Association of Public School Employees. "Let's make no mistake about that."
Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.