Urgent action required on House Bill 602

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  UPDATE: The 1999- 2000 session of the Ohio Congress has concluded. HB602 is obsolete.  The information below is presented as background/historical information concerning this bill.  Please do not contact your Ohio congress members about this bill because it is obsolete.  This link was left on our web site for historical purposes only.

We received the following e-mail:

The next session of the House Education Committee will include time for opponent testimony on HB 602 [see background info below]. This bill will enact separate legislation to KEEP the eight members of the State Board of Education who are APPOINTED by the Governor.

Prior to 1995 we had a completely elected 11-member State Board of Education which was totally accountable to the citizens of Ohio. To restore public accountability at a critical time in education reforms, it is VITAL that HB602 is DEFEATED. This bill impacts absolutely every school-age child in Ohio regardless of where the child is educated because the State Board is on the verge of rewriting State standards, redesigning the content and use of the State proficiency tests, approving State curriculum in Health, which is currently in committee, and addressing other important issues in education policy.

Regulations passed by the State Board of Education carry the weight of law and with 8 members appointed by the Governer, the POWER OF EDUCATION POLICY IS SHIFTED TO THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH OF STATE GOVERNMENT, INSTEAD OF RESIDING UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF THE LEGISLATIVE BRANCH AS INTENDED BY THE OHIO CONSTITUTION. This destroys "separation of powers" in the structure of government with regard to state education policy.

PLEASE CONSIDER ATTENDING THE HEARING SCHEDULED BY THE OHIO HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE AND CONTACTING YOUR LEGISLATORS TO SEEK THEIR "NO" VOTE ON HB602. CALLS TO EDUCATION COMMITTEE MEMBERS BEFORE TUESDAY WOULD ALSO BE VERY HELPFUL.

PLEASE ACTIVATE PHONE CHAINS AND OTHER MEANS OF COMMUNICATION TO GET THE WORD OUT ON THIS HEARING.

As announced by State Rep. Charles Brading [Chair of the House Education Committee and sponsor of HB602] there will be 4 bills considered in committee next Tuesday. As noted both opponents and proponents may testify and there is a possibility of a committee VOTE. The details are as follows:

House Education will meet on Tuesday, May 2, 2000.
Room 017 Statehouse
Time 4:00 pm

H.B. 456 Miller
please provide 30 copies of written testimony
Sponsor testimony only
Create a statewide pay scale that districts may adopt for local board members

S.B. 269 Nein
please provide 30 copies of written testimony
Sponsor testimony only
Acquire and exchange real property

H.B. 620 Cates
please provide 30 copies of all written testimony
Proponent testimony only; 2nd hearing
Expulsion for up to one year for making a bomb threat

H.B. 602 Brading
please provide 30 copies of all written testimony
Prop/opp/possible vote 3rd hearing
Enact as separate act sections of law adding 8 appointed members

Ohio House Education Committee members [all numbers have an area code of 614]

Charman, Charles Brading [R-Wapakoneta]: 466-3819 [sponsor of HB602]
Vice-Chairman, Bill Harris [R-Ashland]: 466-1431
Jamie Callender [R-Willowick]: 466-7251
Chuck Calvert [R-Medina] 466-8140
Randy Gardner [R-Bowling Green]: 466-8104
Jim Hoops [R-Napoleon]: 466-3760
Jim Jordan [R-Urbana]: 466-1507
Jon Peterson [R-Delaware] 466-6711
Twyla Roman [R-Akron] 466-1790
Dennis Stapleton [R-Washington CH] 466-3506
Chris Widener [R-Xenia area] NEW 466-2038
Cherly Winkler [R-Cincinnati] 466-8258
Ann Womer Benjamin [R-Aurora] 466-2004
John Bender [D-Elyria] 644-5076
Catherine Barrett [D-Cincinnati] 466-1645
Bryan Flannery [D-Lakewood] 466-3454
Ron Gerberry [D-Canfield] 466-6107
Robert Gooding [D-Waldo] NEW TO COMMITTEE 644-6265
William Hartnett [D-Mansfield] 466-5802
Ray Miller [D-Columbus] 466-8010
Shirley Smith [D-Columbus] 466-7954

To find out the phone number of your own state representative or state
senator, contact your county board of elections.
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Suggestions:
1. It would be great if everyone attending would fill out a witness slip to testify. This would place the number of opponents attending on public record. Your testimony could be a brief statement asking the committee to vote no on the bill and restore public accountability in education OR it could be 3-5 minutes in length. If a great number of people fill out witness slips, the Chairman may ask that folks not testify if their comments are repetitive. If you choose at that point not to testify, your witness slip would still be a part of public record.
2. Please plan to arrive at the hearing room 10-15 minutes early to find the room and fill out a witness slip if you choose, and get a seat. :-) It is not a large room.
3. If you testify and choose to submit your statements in writing, please bring 30 copies for the committee. Written testimony is NOT required.
4. If your State Representative is a member of the committee you may want to collect signatures of others in his/her district who oppose HB602 and submit the collected signatures as a part of your testimony.
5. Governor Taft IS lobbying Republican members of the committee to get their support. This places tremendous pressure on Republican members of the committee to make a political decision, instead of a good decision. Please [with courtesy] remind committee members and your own legislators that we live in a Constitutional Republic with representative government -- a system that is supposed to represent the people not the Governor.

The best place to park to get to room 017 of the Statehouse is UNDER the Statehouse in the underground parking facility [unless you have a full size van]. I think the clearance is 6'6" There are other outdoor public parking lots within walking distance of the Statehouse.

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BACKGROUND sent on previous email:
Article VI, Section 4 of the Ohio Constitution specifies, "There shall be a state board of education which shall be selected in such manner and for such terms as shall be provided by law. There shall be a superintendent of public instruction, who shall be appointed by the state board of education. The respective powers and duties of the board and of the superintendent shall be prescribed by law."

UNTIL JULY 1, 1995 the Ohio General Assembly mandated that the membership of the Ohio State Board of Education would be determined by the electorate. We had a completely elected 11-member board which was totally accountable to the voters of Ohio.

An amendment was added to the state budget in 1995 to give Ohioans a hybrid board. The eleven elected members were retained. THE GOVERNOR WAS GIVEN AUTHORITY TO APPOINT 8 ADDITIONAL MEMBERS. THIS PROVISION WAS SIGNED INTO LAW WITH THE BUDGET ON JULY 1, 1995.

This shifted accountability AWAY FROM THE CITIZENS VIA THE LEGISLATIVE BRANCH to the executive branch of state government.

A lawsuit filed July 30, 1999 in the Franklin County Common Pleas Court asked the court to "declare that the present members of the State Board of Education appointed pursuant to the Appointed Member Provisions of the Budget Act are holding office contrary to law and may no longer exercise the authority of such office." Plaintiffs are challenged the constitutionality of using the state budget [HB 117] in 1995 to expand an 11-member elected board to include 8 members appointed by the governor. The plaintiffs correctly contend that this action granted new power to the Governor to affect education policies and decisions by the board. The State Board of Education had been a completely elected body since its formation in 1956.

The plaintiffs in the suit are:
Debra Carlier, an elected member of the Pickerington Local School District
Board of Education [Fairfield County]
Sam Salem, an elected member of the Akron City School District Board of
Education and a former teacher in that school district [Summit County]
Hugh Hoffman, a retired public school teacher and an elected member of the
Washington County Educational Service Center Governing Board
William Price, a parent of two minor children currently attending school in
the Oak Hills City School District [Hamilton County]

The defendants in the suit are:
Governor Bob Taft
State Board of Education

According to the language in the suit, "Plaintiffs contend that the challenged portion of the Budget Act is unconstitutional because it was enacted as part of a multi-subject Budget Act, in violation of the requirements of Art.II, Section 15(D), of the Ohio Constitution that ‘no bill shall contain more than one subject, which shall be clearly expressed in its title.’ "

BECAUSE THE LAWSUIT HAS A HIGH CHANCE OF RULING IN FAVOR OF THE PLAINTIFFS, MR. BRADING INTRODUCED HB602 -- A SINGLE SUBJECT BILL TO KEEP THE APPOINTED MEMBERS. THIS WILL CANCEL OUT THE LAWSUIT WHICH IS BASED ON THE FACT THAT THE CHANGE IN 1995 WAS AMENDED TO AN UNRELATED BILL -- THE STATE BUDGET.

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Since the structure of the State Board of Education impacts all families, your participation in contacting your state legislators is greatly appreciated.

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