Monday, July 28, 2008

Governor seeks compromise to keep Healthy Families Act off the November ballot

Governor Strickland has spoken out against the Ohio Healthy Families Act as bad for Ohio businesses, but he is not necessarily opposed to to idea of paid sick days as a concept. Thus, he has been working with both Sick Days Ohio, the group sponsoring the OHFA, and business groups such as Northeast Ohio's Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE) to forge a compromised bill and keep the OHFA off the November ballot. Governor Strickland is pushing what he calls "principles of sick leave," which are less specific than the current proposal. Regardless of any changes, however, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that COSE and other business interests may nevertheless oppose any sort of paid sick leave:

COSE, which represents nearly 17,000 small businesses in Greater Cleveland, is particularly opposed to the coalition's provision that would allow workers to take sick time in small increments. It says such time-keeping would be an administrative nightmare and would potentially disrupt time-sensitive manufacturing.

But eliminating that provision would not lessen COSE's overall opposition to the proposal. ...

COSE is working with the Ohio Chamber of Commerce and other business groups to oppose the ballot issue. They have formed the Ohioans to Protect Jobs and Fair Benefits coalition.

Millard said the coalition wants to raise $10 million for its campaign. He said he would rather see the money invested in job expansion and to help attract businesses but said the coalition has little choice.

Any compromise would have to be reached in the next two weeks. The coalition behind the OHFA has until August 6 to submit 120,000 valid voter signatures to qualify the proposal for the November 4 ballot, and is expected to hit that mark.

Given the philosophical differences between business and labor on this issue, I would be very surprised if the Governor is able to forge a compromise.