The Ohio Library Council (OLC) presented its latest Government Relations webcast today at 10:30 a.m. The description, from their web site, is as follows : “Lynda Murray, OLC Director of Government and Legal Services, will provide an overview of the state budget as it relates to public libraries and an update on other issues pending before the state legislature.” You can watch a recording of the entire original presentation here.
The following are notes that I made while watching the presentation, organized according to the piece of legislation that was being discussed. (This blog post is by no means an in-depth discussion or analysis of these pieces of legislation, nor will it include any remotely full explanations of what they actually are or contain; just notes on what Ms. Murray said about them in regards to libraries.) All bill designations/numbers refer to the Ohio state legislature.
HB 153 – Biennial Budget
- must pass by June 30th
- contains no new information regarding library funding in this bill since it was introduced by Governor Kasich in March
SB 5 – Collective Bargaining
- The collective bargaining portion applies to all public employees in Ohio including unionized public libraries, except for association libraries.
- The rest of SB 5 does not necessarily apply to library employees.
- Public library employees are not “civil servants,” so the parts pertaining only to “civil servants” do not apply to public library employees.
- The parts about vacation and sick leave minimums do not apply to public library employees.
- The part that prohibits employers from paying the employee’s share of OPERS contributions does apply to public library employees.
- The part about performance-based pay (rather than automatic step increases) does apply to public library employees.
- Apparently there is an effort to move language about performance-based pay into the budget bill, so it will not be subject to voter referendum in November. However, as far as OLC is aware, that effort only pertains to school employees, not all public employees.
- June 30th is the deadline for submission of signatures needed to get SB 5 on the ballot in November (voter referendum). So far, over 700,000 signatures have been collected, which is quite a few more than the 231,000 needed. If the signatures are certified, SB 5 goes on the ballot and cannot go into effect until after that election (and only then, if it is upheld by the voters). The campaign regarding SB 5 is expected to be a very big deal.
- OLC has no formal position on SB 5 except to raise concerns about the potential loss of local control for public libraries.
- There has been little controversy regarding the recommendations made by the various public employee retirement systems, such as those changes recommended by OPERS.
- There has been controversy over a proposal in the budget bill to shift the contribution percentages of employee/employer from the current 10/14 to 12/12. It has been argued that doing this could result in insolvency : e.g., if an employee leaves a system prior to retirement and takes their contributions with them (such as cashing out), that share is now larger, whereas the employer’s contributions stay put.
- As of right now, the language for moving to a 12/12 split has been removed from the budget. New research is wanted in this area, so the idea is “on hold” for the time being.
HB 202 – Retire/Rehire
- This is to nix the practice of people “retiring” from a high-salaried public service job and then getting rehired in another public service job (or “double-dipping” basically), by making the practice undesirable for all involved.
- This could have possible impact on libraries that might wish to hire already-retired individuals for whatever reason.
- Proposes to change primary from March to May in 2012
- was going to require photo ID for voters, but that has been removed from the bill
SB 120 – County Prosecutor Bill
- Makes the county prosecutor the legal adviser of the public library.
- It has passed, waiting for Governor Kasich’s signature, to go into effect.
Final Thoughts from Ms. Murray :
- She called the volume of significant policy changes in the Ohio General Assembly over the past 6 months “historic”. (There has been a lot going on, clearly!)
- Need to keep watching things closely. She expects budget correction bills that will adjust things later on, as needed.
- Remember : More and more library users all the time. Also, good staff is crucial. Library users do support a good staff.
As I said before, these are just my notes from watching the presentation. If you are interested in library-related legislation in Ohio right now, I highly recommend you view the original webcast.