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Published: 4/6/2011 - Updated: 3 years ago

2 Dems launch bid to give Ohio voters power to recall elected officials

BY JIM PROVANCE
BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU CHIEF

COLUMBUS—A pair of Democratic lawmakers Wednesday proposed giving Ohio voters the power to recall elected state officials whose actions prove unpopular, and they made it clear that target number one would be Gov. John Kasich.

“People want to know, if they can do it in Wisconsin, why can’t we do it in Ohio,’’ said Rep. Mike Foley (D., Cleveland).

He and Rep. Bob Hagan (D., Youngstown) proposed legislation to make Ohio the 20th state to allow voters to go back to the ballot to unelect and replace state officials, among them the governor and legislators.

“A four-year term sometimes begs the question that you’re secure,’’ Mr. Hagan said. “If you look at some of the senators in their second terms, they kind of take it easy… I don’t think it’s a legitimate question that it will put them in fear of trying something different.’’

Recall supporters, however, shouldn’t hold their breath for a vote in the Republican-controlled General Assembly.

“I think it’s fair to say that it needs a lot of study,’’ said House Speaker Bill Batchelder (R., Medina).

A fallback option could be a petition effort to write the power of recall into the Ohio Constitution.

A number of Wisconsin lawmakers who supported that state’s crackdown on public employee collective bargaining rights are now targets of recall efforts. There is also talk of going after GOP Gov. Scott Walker.

The push by Mr. Kasich and fellow Ohio Republicans to rein in the collective bargaining power of public employees has brought thousands of protesters to the Statehouse. The current budget debate, in which K-12 schools, local governments, colleges, libraries, and social services face cuts, has started to do the same.

A Quinnipiac Poll released two weeks ago put Mr. Kasich’s voter approval rating at 30 percent just two months into his job.

“There’s a lot of politics going on,’’ Mr. Kasich said. “My whole purpose is to fix this state. When you look at what we did over the period of the last  90 days, it’s pretty remarkable. Lots of changes… That’s where my focus is.

I don’t care about a lot of the other political things that go on. We have to spend our time trying to figure out how to get the state on the right track.’’

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 19 states, including Michigan, provide for ballot recall of state officials. Only eight, however, require that some misconduct be stated for the recall.



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