Ohio Legislature approves bill to curb collective bargaining rights

More from the Columbus Dispatch:

Both the House and Senate worked through an almost unheard-of amount of applause, boos and shouts of "shame on you" from pro-union crowds that packed the chambers and made sure lawmakers understood the magnitude of their votes.

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The House concluded four hours of passionate debate with a 53-44 vote to approve Senate Bill 5. The Senate later agreed to House changes by the same 17-16 vote it used to initially pass the bill earlier this month. The sweeping overhaul of Ohio's 27-year-old collective-bargaining law now goes to Gov. John Kasich, who could sign it as soon as Friday.

"Local governments and taxpayers need control over their budgets," said House Speaker William G. Batchelder, R-Medina. "This bill will give control back to the people who pay the bill."

Rep. Dennis Murray, D-Sandusky, called the bill "union busting masquerading as cost control."

Democrats and union leaders have vowed to collect the more-than 230,000 signatures needed to go to the ballot in November and ask voters to strike down the law. Some have estimated each side could spend $10 million to $20 million on the campaign. If the adequate number of signatures is collected within 90 days of Kasich signing the bill, it would not take effect until Ohioans vote on it.

The timetable for the referendum was dependent on when the State Legislature passed the measure and Kasich signed it into law. As long as the bill is signed into law and filed by April 8, which is now guaranteed, the only choice for labor organizers is a referendum in November 2011.