Update - The first hearing on Senate Bill 79 to sunset and eliminate state agencies will take place on Wednesday, March 15 at 9:45 a.m. The Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee will hold the hearing in the Senate Finance Room Hearing Room at the Ohio Statehouse.
Senate introduces its Sunset Review SB 79 to eliminate agencies
Legislation mirroring the Ohio House's Sunset Review Bill was introduced in the Ohio Senate last week. The twin piece of legislation, Senate Bill 79, would give small committees of legislators the ability to eliminate or "sunset" entire state agencies if they feel that those agencies are inefficient or ineffective. The Senate's version was introduced by Sen. Kris Jordan. Both Sunset Review bills, Senate Bill 79 and House Bill 51, introduced in mid-February, put the future of state agencies into the hands of a few legislators and could harm Ohioans who depend on state services.
During the third hearing on Ohio House Bill 51 before the House State and Local Government Committee last week, OCSEA and SEIU 199 submitted written testimony opposing the bill.
OCSEA argued that there is already a sunset review process in Ohio and that this legislation would require an unnecessary and redundant "review" process. "The provisions of House Bill 51 offer no additional advantages, only consequences that other states have come to regret," wrote OCSEA's Research Analyst Adam McKenzie.
"The threat of expiration and elimination of not only state departments, but potentially thousands of living wage jobs does not bode well for the workers who have the experience and skills necessary to execute their duties in an efficient manner. This threat also puts incredible stress on workers’ families who depend on a stable income," wrote SEIU 1199 President Becky Williams.
Read OCSEA's opponent testimony.
Read SEIU 1199's opponent testimony.
The creator of HB 51, Rep. Keith Faber, argues that his bill would "clean up" government by letting legislative committee members determine the efficiency and effectiveness...and entire existence of state agencies.
But putting the future of state agencies into the hands of a few legislators is redundant, unnecessary and could cause chaos to Ohioans who depend on state services.
This is Faber’s second attempt to dismantle state agencies. Many are attributing his hard-line on government efficiency to no more than resume building since it is expected that Faber will run for State Auditor in 2018.
During the testimony given by Rep. Faber, Democratic legislators questioned the legitimacy of a law that would leave Ohioans in limbo, lump together customer service standards, and violate the balance of powers by calling into question the efficiency of state agency heads.
Gov. John Kasich vetoed Senate Billl 329, a previous version of Faber’s bill in December 2016. Many believed the bill as vetoed because of balance of powers. The law would empower the legislative branch by eliminating a future check on its authority by the executive branch, which Kasich oversees. OCSEA applauded the veto, calling it a common sense approach.
“There are plenty of tools already in place to maintain efficiency in state agencies, and OCSEA union members in state service are on the front line of those endeavors every day,” said OCSEA President Chris Mabe after the governor’s veto.
OCSEA union members have devoted their lives to public service. Because of their commitment to their jobs and the Ohioans they serve, public employee union members are deeply invested in working with agency heads and managers to improve processes, save money, and ensure taxpayers get the best value for their dollar.
“Having labor and state employees who perform the work at the table allows for a more open exchange and better outcomes for Ohioans receiving services,” Mabe said.