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Two Ideologically Opposed Lawmakers Back Bill Allowing Recall of Elected Officials

Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 8:43 AM

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State Reps. Bob Hagan, left, and John Becker. (Photos: Ohio House of Representatives)

Two lawmakers who couldn’t be more opposite in their views have united to sponsor a bill to allow for voters to toss out elected officials at any level. Statehouse correspondent Karen Kasler reports.

Right now, there are provisions for the recall of some elected officials at the local level.

Rep. John Becker, a conservative Republican of Cincinnati, wants to change that.

“This law expands it from, in essence, dogcatcher all the way up to governor,” Becker said.

He’s teamed up with – of all people – Rep. Bob Hagan, a liberal from Youngstown, who says a recall law would get lawmakers a lot more attention from their constituents, most of whom he says aren’t really interested in politics and the issues.

“And I think we should give them every tool that we possibly can to get them, not only to get engaged, but to actually like government,” Hagan said.

Opponents could still attempt to recall legislation, but could only mount a challenge to an officeholder once during that officeholder’s term, and only after that official has been in office for a quarter of the term.

Becker says he realizes that such a bill could be a problem if there’s controversial legislation that’s been embraced by his party—such as the anti-collective bargaining law Senate Bill 5, which was recalled by voters in 2011.

“If we’d had a recall election provision back when SB 5 went on the ballot, we wouldn’t have a Gov. Kasich today,” Becker said. “And that does concern me and that is, a dual-edged sword. It’s going to affect both parties, and frankly, since the Republicans control all the statewide offices and control the legislature, it’s more likely to have a negative impact on Republicans than the Democrats.”

Hagan previously sponsored a bill to recall statewide elected officials right after Senate Bill 5 passed – Kasich signed it into law a little over three months after he was sworn in. But Hagan says throwing out who he doesn’t like isn’t the point of this legislation.

“We can waste a lot of time and we can waste a lot of money and we waste a lot of political capital on issues that really don’t have an impact on everyday Joe and Mary Six-pack,” Hagan said. “But what we have to try to do is engage the electorate. We have to engage people in this democracy to start to participate.”

Becker and Hagan are ideological opposites and disagree on nearly every major policy issue, but both say this shows there is common ground to be found with the other side.

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Government/Politics, Elections

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