Wednesday, August 24, 2011

It's our turn: Ballot referenda in ID, ME, OH

Ohio Teamsters in the early stages of the fight against SB5.
Usually it's the corporate-backed Tea Party types who sponsor ballot initiatives to roll back progress. But now it's labor's turn. There are three big ballot referenda coming up in the fall, and we're hoping they mark a turning point in the referendum wars.

You probably knew about SB5 in Ohio. But did you know that Idaho voters will cast ballots on three anti-teacher initiatives in November 2012? The Huffington Post reports,
SB 1108 restricts teachers' collective bargaining rights and ends tenure for new teachers, SB 1184 funds the purchase of technology and laptops for students from the pot of money used to pay teachers' salaries and SB 1110 implements a merit pay system for teachers.
This spring, educators and students in Idaho turned out at the statehouse to protest the measures, which were introduced by Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna.
Penni Cyr, president of the state teachers' union, the Idaho Education Association, told The Huffington Post that the laws were an overreach by some conservatives in the legislature and were even opposed by some Republican members..."One out of four teachers in Idaho could ultimately lose their jobs because of the money that is being moved to pay for technology."
...Cyr pointed to the fact that organizers were able to get far more signatures than were necessary to qualify for referendums on the ballot.
In Maine, reports HuffPo,
...a coalition is working to reinstate same-day voter registration after Gov. Paul LePage (R) signed a bill overturning the 38-year-old law in June.
The registration deadline was pushed back to two business days before election day.
Maine citizens have the ability to essentially veto a law by ballot initiative. The Protect Maine Votes coalition -- 18 groups that include unions, civil libertarians, consumer advocates and homeless groups -- has turned in more than enough signatures to meet the 57,277-signature threshold to get the measure on the ballot in November, but it is waiting for the state to certify that they are valid.
And as of now, thinks are looking good for repeal of corporate stooge Ohio Gov. John Kasich's heinous SB5 law.
The Teamsters' friends at the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center will support these efforts. They're important not just in and of themselves, but because they'll help build a progressive movement for strengthening democracy through the ballot box.

And just for good measure, did we mention that Arizona is likely to recall their Senate president, Russell Pearce? He's an ALEC puppet who promoted anti-immigration laws on behalf of the private prison industry (they need more "customers," you know).