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Government and Politics

Two Ohio lawmakers with opposing views unite to sponsor a recall bill
Republican Rep. John Becker and Democratic Rep. Bob Hagan have put aside their differences to jointly support a bill that would allow voters to recall elected officials

Karen Kasler
Rep. John Becker has teamed up with Rep. Bob Hagan to sponsor a bill that would allow voters to toss out elected officials at any level.
Courtesy of Ohio House of Representatives
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Two lawmakers who couldn’t be more opposite in their views have united to sponsor a bill to allow voters to toss out elected officials at any level. Statehouse correspondent Karen Kasler reports.
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Right now, there are provisions to recall 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, dog-catcher all the way up to governor.”

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.”

Some limits on recall proposal
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 S.B. 5 went on the ballot, we wouldn’t have a Gov. Kasich today. 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 the Republicans than the Democrats.”

Hagan previously sponsored a bill to recall statewide elected officials right after S.B. 5 passed. 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. 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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