Senate Bill 5, a law limiting collective bargaining for Ohio’s public sector employees, will be repealed.
Votes on Issue 2, as the referendum on the law was known, were 61 percent in favor of repealing the law.
The Associated Press called the race – saying efforts to repeal SB 5 were successful – at 9:16 p.m.
The results echoed polls showing most Ohio voters supported repealing SB 5.
At the repeal campaign’s Cleveland watch party, a rowdy crowd listened to speeches and celebrated their victory.
In one speech, Cleveland police union president Stephen Loomis thanked Ohio Gov. John Kasich for bringing Ohio’s public sector unions together. Loomis, surrounded by a group of teachers, pledged that Ohio’s public safety unions would not abandon teachers’ unions.
In only six counties a majority of voters approved Issue 2, meaning they supported enacting Senate Bill 5. All were counties where Kasich won more than 60 percent of the vote in the 2010 gubernatorial election.
At a Columbus press conference, Kasich said voters might have thought SB 5 was was “too much too soon.”
“There’s a lesson here, which is, the voters said these are not the tools we want to help our communities go forward,” he said.
What could these results mean?
They could mean that Democratic-leaning groups like, say, unions, can get organized and get out the vote, both important skills leading up to the 2012 presidential election, particularly in a swing state like Ohio. That energy and organization could also help Democrats get two other referendums on the November 2012 ballot and approved. But then again, that election is a year away.
They could mean that the momentum behind Republican efforts to curb the power of public employee unions and enact education policy changes such as ending tenure and seniority-based pay has slowed.
They could mean that Kasich’s approach of including both public safety workers and teachers in a single collective bargaining bill was flawed. (In Wisconsin, collective bargaining changes that largely excluded police and firefighters passed.)
And they could mean that despite falling union membership, plenty of voters are still sympathetic to labor.
What happens now?
Kasich said Tuesday night it was too early to say whether he would try again to enact some of the changes of SB 5:
“It’s time to pause. The people have spoken clearly. You don’t ignore the public.”
But GOP state leaders have said before that parts of SB 5 could rise again, though likely not until 2012.
Standing side-by-side with Kasich, Senate President Tom Neihaus said he looks forward to “working with local government to help them face the challenges they’re going to face:”
“At the end of the day, we have to work together to provide tools to local governments to manage the limited resources they have.”