Lawmaker’s bill seeks to reduce public sector sick days

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WDTN) – An effort to reduce the number of sick days some public employees get may have hit a snag this week at the statehouse.

Republican State Representative Derek Merrin is proposing the state reduce the mandated 15 days of sick time given to County, Municipal, School District, and some State Employees to 10 sick days.

“We’re treating government employees more than fair; we’re being very generous to government employees, but we’ve got to be fair to the tax payers because they’re the ones ultimately paying the bill,” said Merrin.

The AFL-CIO doesn’t see it that way. President of the OH chapter Tim Burga says this bill is an attack on public employees’ ability to collectively bargain.

“The voters of Ohio has (sic) said these sorts of work place and worker attacks are really a miss use of government time,” said Burga.

While that statement is subjective, what happened at the House State and Local Government Committee objectively impacted lawmaker’s time.

Merrin was inform the Friday prior to the committee hearing that his bill would be up for proponent testimony, and as such there is an expectation that he would take steps to ensure that supporters of his bill would either be on hand to testify in person or at the very least submit written testimony to the committee members.

When the day rolled around, no one showed up to support the bill and no supportive testimony was submitted.

In the gallery, opponents of the bill packed up their stuff and headed home; they made the effort to be there sending a clear message to the committee about their commitment to opposing the bill.

The next day Merrin sat down to talk to us about what had happened, and he didn’t make excuses.

He simply claimed there were no lobbyists working on behalf of taxpayers. “I am representing the tax payers, and it’s a lonely battle to stand up for people in the private sector,” said Merrin.

When I asked the chairman of the committee, Republican State Representative Marlene Anielski if the bill would get more hearings after no one showed up to support the bill, she said she did not know and that she would have to discuss the matter with Merrin.

Several months ago, State Senator Kevin Bacon who chairs the Judiciary Committee in the Senate told us if lawmakers are not serious enough about their bill to ensure supporters are showing up for their bills they will be passed over in favor of other bills where legislators have put in that work.

There are hundreds of bills being worked on at the legislature. While all of them will get at least one hearing, not many will be able to make it through the entire legislative process; there just isn’t enough time with lawmakers working on a part-time basis.

For his part, Merrin is not overly concerned about the future of his bill. He is confident that it will get through committee and mentioned that a version of it was added to the budget bill by the House last summer, only to be cut out by the Senate.

He says, he plans to be around for a while and he will continue to push for this legislation for the foreseeable future.

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