Referendum Officially Triggered In Ohio To Ax Kasich’s Anti-Public Employee Union Bill

It’s official: As expected in the big swing state of Ohio, where Republicans gained control of state government in the 2010 wave and then enacted a new law to limit collective bargaining for public employee unions, voters will now head back to the polls in November 2011 — to potentially repeal that same law before it could ever take effect.

If the bill is repealed by voters, it would be a significant defeat to Republican Gov. John Kasich, and a potential dry run for the 2012 campaigns in the state. A Quinnipiac poll released this week showed that repealing the bill had a lead of either slightly under or over 20 points, depending on the wording of the question.

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted (R) has certified that the petition process, which put the law completely on hold, has met the signature thresholds, and that the bill be put up to a referendum this November.

This move was widely expected, and was only a matter of working out the bureaucratic process, because it was already public knowledge that organizers had surpassed the minimum signatures by several times over.Triggering a referendum required organizers to collect signatures equal to just six percent of the total votes in the last gubernatorial election, with additional requirements that they be sufficiently spread out with at least three percent of the gubernatorial vote across at least half the counties in the state. In this case, organizers ultimately did a lot more than that.

As the statistics posted on the Secretary of State’s site illustrate, opponents of the bill turned in a whopping 1.3 million signatures — more than four times the 231,150 threshold needed to trigger a referendum. State election officials then eliminated 351,925 signatures as invalid, leaving 915,456 signatures, nearly four times the minimum. The three-percent requirements were surpassed in all 88 counties.

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