Democrats Opposed to Ohio House Bill 711

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  UPDATE: The 1999- 2000 session of the Ohio Congress has concluded. HB711 was passed by both the House and the Senate, although by very close margins. There was no public support for it that we are aware of. Governor Taft has signed it into law. The information below is presented as background/historical information concerning this bill.  Please do not contact your Ohio congress members about this bill because it is already signed into law.  This link was left on our web site for historical purposes only.

I am a registered Republican and a staunch conservative. It isn't very often that I find myself on the same side of an issue as the Democrats are. But House Bill 711 is one of those occasional situations where the Republican leadership is demonstrating a callous disregard for their constituents, and the Democrats have taken the lead to defend us from their abuses.

I am grateful to those Republicans who had the courage to resist the governor's strong-arm tactics and voted against HB602, the predecessor to HB711. I will also be grateful to those Republicans who take a strong stand against HB711. Some House Republicans demonstrated real leadership on education issues with their introduction of House Bill 679. It was necessary to introduce HB679 because this Board of Education was being so unresponsive to public concerns about the Science Common Expectations and 12th Grade Proficiencies they're trying to ram through on behalf of the governor. Unfortunately, it is the House Republican leadership who is holding up HB679 from being voted on by the Education Committee. And in reality, it is the Democrats who are doing the most right now to try to stop the outrage being perpetrated against the citizens of Ohio by the governor and the House Republican leadership with HB711.

As a Republican, I am deeply embarrassed by the arrogant behavior of Governor Taft and the House Republican leadership. In my opinion, they are committing political suicide with the underhanded, dirty-tricks tactics they are using to try to thwart the will of the people of Ohio.

I received a press release from the Democrats in the House on May 19. It is published in its entirety below. I would encourage Republicans in the House to adopt a similar public stand. I would be happy to post it on our web site as soon as I receive it. In the mean time, I wish to express my gratitude to the Democrats and Republicans who are taking a stand for the citizens of Ohio by standing firm against HB602 and HB711, and to those House Republicans who introduced HB679 in an attempt to put honest science back into Ohio classrooms.

Founder of the Young Earth Creation Club

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Democrat Communications

May 19, 2000 614-466-9034


(Columbus)—House Democrats today voiced their objections to House Bill 711, perhaps better known as House Bill 602. House Democrats are opposed to both the content of H.B. 711 and the parliamentary tactics being used to impel the bill through the legislature.

"We object to House Bill 602 for two main reasons," stated Rep. John R. Bender (D-Elyria), ranking Democrat on the House Education Committee. "First, we support the public’s right to elect its representatives on the State School Board. Second, the School Board should be accountable to all citizens of Ohio, not just the Governor. Appointed members are accountable only to whomever appoints them."

In 1995, the biennial appropriations bill was amended to include the provision allowing the governor to appoint eight members to the State Board of Education. A lawsuit has been filed, claiming that this amendment violates Ohio’s "one-subject" rule. The impending decision in this case prompted the introduction of House Bill 602. "The very fact that they’ve introduced this bill shows that what they did in 1995 was illegal," stated Rep. Ray Miller (D-Columbus). "We faced a flawed process then, and we’re having to deal with a flawed process again now."

Initially introduced as H.B. 602 and referred to the House Education Committee, the legislation stalled when Republicans were one vote short of voting it out of committee. The bill was then re-introduced, assigned the number H.B. 711, and referred, over the objections of Democrats on the Rules & Reference Committee, to the Finance & Appropriations Committee.

"I make recommendations to the Speaker about committee appointments based on an individual’s interest, experience, and expertise," stated Minority Leader Jack Ford (D-Toledo). "Bills about education should be heard by the Members on the Education Committee, not the Finance Committee, or whichever committee happens to have the votes."

"We had more than 20 witnesses voice their opposition to House Bill 602 in the House Education Committee and call for a fully elected State Board of Education," Rep. Miller said. "Simply changing the bill number and referring it to another committee is a blatant attempt to subvert the will of the people."

"It is important to realize that this is more than just the minority party summarily objecting to a bill put forth by a governor of the opposite party," Rep Bender concluded. "In fact, we Democrats have worked well with Governor Taft during his time in office. Our objection to this bill is based on principle, not politics."

House Bill 711 is scheduled to be heard before the House Finance Committee on Monday, May 22nd at 7:00 p.m. and Tuesday, May 23rd at 1:30 p.m. in Statehouse hearing room 313.

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