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Legislature sends dangerous state government shutdown bill to governor

Proposed law change would rollback checks and balances, sew costly uncertainty, chaos, political decision-making
December 9, 2016
Democrat Newsroom

In an early Friday morning House session, the Republican-controlled House rubber stamped a sweeping bill that could shut down state government by giving the legislature new power to dissolve executive-branch state agencies. The bill, Senate Bill 329, would force some 25 state agencies every four years to spend extra money and resources to defend against elimination based on a number of factors, including the potential for privatization, and a regulations evaluation against other states. 

“Not only is this sweeping transference of power an extreme and troubling departure from the American democratic foundation of checks and balances, but it puts Ohioans in danger by potentially shutting down essential services overnight,” said House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton). “This would create chaos within our state and could lead to outsourcing primary functions of the state like education, public safety, public health and workers’ compensation. It is nothing more than a power grab under the cover of night and guise of review.” 

If Gov. John Kasich signs SB 329 into law, every four years, the legislature must take affirmative action on any agency up for review or the agency is shuttered. The state legislature does maintain oversight of some executive functions currently, but the body is primarily tasked with debating and vetting proposed law changes – a slow process that traditionally leaves many proposals unreviewed. 

"SB 329 comes straight out of the Congressional playbook of government shutdown politics," said Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent). "Brinkmanship is a dangerous way to govern. I hope the governor does the responsible thing and vetoes this reckless piece of legislation." 

The bill now goes to the governor after a 1:40 a.m. vote on the House floor.