On April 19, hundreds of people–faculty, students, and allies–gathered at the Statehouse to oppose Senate Bill 83. More than 500 people submitted written opposition testimony, and over 100 of them were present to address the Senate Workforce and Higher Education Committee. We were told that the amount of testimony received is an Ohio Senate record!
Not only did we pack the 70 seats in the committee room, but we also packed the Statehouse rotunda, which was used as the overflow space (pictured above). The crowd cheered as we watched and heard the many opponent witnesses make pointed remarks about the harm this bill would cause to student success and learning, academic freedom, and labor rights. It was truly an incredible showing of solidarity in opposition to this deeply misguided piece of legislation.
Prof. Steve Mockabee testified on behalf of OCAAUP and was the first opponent to deliver remarks. You can read our full written testimony here. The other testimonies from the hearing can be found here. Due to the large number of witnesses, oral testimonies were limited to five minutes.
The hearing, which you can watch via The Ohio Channel, lasted for more than seven hours, and unfortunately, as the day got late, several opponents had to forgo giving testimony to return home. While we very much appreciate that Sen. Cirino’s office was willing to work with us on putting together the opponent witness list, we believe that there should have been multiple hearings to better accommodate the large number of testimonies.
We appreciate everyone that stuck around to make sure their voices were heard by the committee. We also value the many faculty who could not be there, but took the time to submit written testimonies. This is the kind of massive opposition that we must continue showing to stop this bill in its current form.
If you wrote testimony, hang onto it, because we may need you to submit it to the House Higher Education Committee, which could eventually hold hearings on a Senate-passed version of SB 83 or on the companion bill, HB 151. There is also more you can do with your testimony. Consider adapting it as an op-ed and submitting it to a local paper. Consider posting it online and sharing in other ways that spreads the word about the harm this bill would do.
Several times during the committee hearing, Sen. Cirino mentioned that there will be amendments to the bill, which would address some of the concerns that were raised by witnesses. We expect that there will be a substitute version of the bill introduced in the near future with multiple changes. However, it is difficult to imagine any version of this bill that we could find acceptable, and we do not believe that Sen. Cirino will budge on the anti-tenure or anti-strike language in particular.
We will continue monitoring SB 83 and inform you of the impending changes to the bill. We are starting to turn our attention to the House, where we might have better odds of convincing legislators that SB 83/HB 151 would cause serious damage to our colleges and universities and have broader effects on workforce readiness and Ohio’s economy.
In the meantime, share your testimonies far and wide. Talk to your friends, family, colleagues, administrators, and, where and when appropriate, students, about this bill. Continue to share our Action Network page, which already has been used by more than 9,000 people to send opposition messages to Ohio Senators.
Let’s keep up the pressure! While it couldn’t be clearer that this bill has far more opposition than support, the political reality in Ohio is that the vast majority of legislators hail from heavily gerrymandered districts that don’t require them to be responsive to the people. Nevertheless, a continued outpouring of activism can make a difference; and no matter the outcome, this is worth the fight!