Back to Finish the Job: Ron Young’s history with ALEC

Since the leak of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s model legislation. Journalists, bloggers and policy researchers have been scouring the documents to make connections with legislation that in statehouses across the country. Already, hundreds of matches have been found across the United States, and in Ohio those interested are doing their best to match the documents. Hoping that the identification of the matches will help halt the passage of legislation, a lot of the attention has been placed on bills currently in deliberation, however, attention needs to also be paid to bills based on ALEC model legislation that have already become law.

One bill currently in deliberation is HB 102, introduced by Ron Young. The bill deals with labor requirements for public works projects, and is part of this year’s anti-union push that has been spearheaded by other lawmakers like State Senator Shannon Jones and Representative John Adams. On first glance, the bill looks like ALEC’s model legislation titled “The Open Contracting Act.” However, the bill itself only inserts a few new words to the existing Ohio revised Code section that it is amending, the sections that are parallel to the ALEC document are actually already law, in fact, those sections of the Ohio Revised Code were amended in 1999, according to the ORC online.

Young was in office from 1997 to 2004, and was reelected again last year. Over the course of his first years in office, he sponsored a number of laws, among them was HB 101, during Ohio’s 123 congress. 12 years ago, HB 101 passed,  and it is the bill that added the original sections to the Ohio Revised Code. Young is back now, amending laws that he originally sponsored. 123′s HB 101 shares language with ALEC’s Open Contracting Act, this congress’s HB 102 is a less clear connection, but it must be examined to determine why Rep. Young would come back 12 years later to change things.

The language Young adds appears to be placed there to ensure that labor laws are relaxed for all state institutions, including universities. This is very deliberate, as the universities often have unionized staff and have labor agreements that prioritize local labor or protect prevailing wage for workers. Sustainable labor policy has been an important issue for many years in these institutions. In 2003, the staff at Miami University went on strike, demanding a living wage, which they only marginally received in the end. More recently, members of The Ohio State University’s staff held a walkout over the latest attacks on their livelihoods under the governorship of John Kasich. The public servants that work as universities, that is, housing and dining staff, maintenance staff, builders and other workers, are already threatened by SB5 which denies them the right to collectively bargain for things like healthcare and pensions.

Theoretically, the law on the books should have already affected those workers, but Ron Young is coming back around a second time to finish the job. This bill removes the special agreements that universities have with labor. Interestingly, he attempted to revise this bill in the 125th congress as well, but failed to pass the bill in the house. The new bill differs from that first revision attmpt and it also adds a section to the revised code specifically exempting private businesses from the regulations, in effect, ensuring that the better-paid, better-organized union labor has no place to hide.

This is not Young’s only use of ALEC model legislation. Also in 1999, he successfully sponsored a bill that added a new felony to the law books: HIV assault. HB 100, based on ALEC’s HIV Assault Act, classifies the body of a person who is HIV positive as a “deadly weapon” and makes intimate contact by that person criminal.