Power for Mike DeWine…Before It’s Time

by Thea Shoemake

     Four years ago, I finally shut down a blog that was focused on the state of education in Ohio.  Active in local, state and national politics for nearly two decades prior, our three and a half-year fight to remove Race to the Top mandates from Ohio classrooms and the Ohio Revised Code, zapped what energy remained to spend both my family’s time and dime, fighting the elected officials who claim to be on the side of liberty; better known as Ohio “Republicans.”  At every meeting, piece of legislation or committee vote, they were the insurmountable roadblocks; indeed some of the most fickle, feckless, frauds in Ohio were members, often scamming the people back home who elected them, making deals with “leadership” to blackball efficacious legislation in favor of do-nothing bills from which they could still fundraise, but I bitterly digress…

         Short recap: “Race to the Top” grants were rewarded to [cash-strapped] states that “earned” the most points by demonstrating legislative adoption of [then-unnamed Common Core] standards, and in large part, the removal of legislative barriers (e.g., state privacy laws) that would preclude federal violation when Phase One started rolling.  To no one’s surprise, swing states were allocated the most money.  Ohio received $400 million to then-governor Ted Strickland’s (D) delight, made possible by then-House Speaker, Jon Husted (R), who also happens to be our current Lt. Governor, but the main point for this discussion is the methodology.

          You see, what separated the Race to the Top mandates from previous perversions like No Child Left Behind, Goals 2000, School to Work Act, etc., wasn’t the one-size-fits-all, top-down, unconstitutional power grabs into state classrooms, which apply to all federal education schemes, rather that the legislation permitting the federal encroachment, was passed and written into state legislatures – in this case, the Ohio Revised Code – before the full plan was written and in full motion, so goal posts were often moving.  Sounds familiar somehow…  

        Anyway, having spent so much time in the swamp, I am reminded often the past is prologue, and like a broken clock, even Ohio “Republicans” can get a couple of things right on any given day…

        Two interesting things happened in Ohio this week; the first popped into my inbox around noon on Tuesday from Tom Zawistowski, an activist up north who has been out in front of Governor DeWine’s arbitrary Coronavirus power grabs.  The email referenced an Ohio House Representative’s post from the day before, which asked very good questions about Ohio House Bill 166, dated March 25th, in which Governor DeWine suggested that the legislature grant him power to:

  1. Declare, by Executive Order, a public health emergency in cases of the harm to the public health.
  2. Declare a health emergency in all political subdivisions.
  3. Require the order to remain in effect until the Governor determines the conditions no longer exist with no input from the Ohio House, Senate or any courts.
  4. Issue orders as long as he wishes with no end date as long as his previously declared emergency, still exists, by his definitions.
  5. ‘Take action over state and local law enforcement agencies as necessary to secure compliance with said emergency order.’
  6. Establish offices and appoint personnel to carry out orders of said health emergency.
  7. Use any available resources of state government or local government.
  8. Order the Budget Director to transfer cash from any fund.
  9. Limit, alter or suspend any collective bargaining agreement. 

While numbers three and four are particularly disturbing, especially in light of the Fourteenth Amendment, this is not surprising, right?  Early in the Coronavirus crisis, most progressive governors like DeWine seized all the specific “health emergency” powers possible in order to “manage” what will most assuredly go down as the one of most mis-managed events ever, or at least of 2020… problem is, DeWine didn’t ask for these “health emergency” powers eight weeks ago in March of 2020, rather in March of 2019…nearly a full year before the Coronavirus crisis was in full motion.

        Here is what Ohio House Republicans got right that day: they struck (rejected) the language and denied the governor his creepy, oddly specific “health emergency” powers, and disclosed it (albeit) a year later.  We will ask later what took them so long to disclose this information, and why the stricken language didn’t remain with subsequent versions of the bill until it became law, as required, but more so right now, Ohioans deserve to know why, in 2019, Mike DeWine outlined the exact, “health emergency” powers and parameters he “ended up” arrogating in 2020?

         Furthermore, and quite ironically, more than 24 hours after this information had been circulating, Mike DeWine “released” Ohio from his death-of-small-businesses grip around 4:00 pm Tuesday, which of course was the second interesting thing that happened.  A true progressive, DeWine doesn’t willingly return any power he assumes, but this is not a huge mystery.  After more than two decades in the political sausage factory, I can attest with a high degree of certainty that only a couple of catalysts can cause drunk-from-power politicians to loosen their grip on that power: Exposure of its abuse, and/or the threat of it’s removal.

      If you live in another state, and your governor claimed legislative authority to execute lockdowns and by extension small businesses, you may want to check when said authority was ostensibly “acquired” (or granted), and if you find that it was a year ago, you may want to fire your legislator and the entire executive branch.

No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

~XIV Amendment Sec 1