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In Ohio, instead of protests, a ballot-initiative push

From NBC’s John Yang
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- If Ohio's bill is the most ambitious attempt to limit public workers' collective bargaining rights -- and it is, much more far-reaching than Wisconsin's -- where are the throngs of protestors?

For one thing, Columbus, OH, does not have the tradition of liberal activism that Madison, WI, does. But more significantly, Ohio unions have one more tool that their Wisconsin brothers and sisters don't: Ballot referendum.

That allows Ohio union leaders to follow a different -- and, some say, wiser -- strategy. They acknowledge there is no way to stop this law in the legislature; the Republicans, quite simply, have the votes. So they are focusing on a petition drive to get a ballot referendum to repeal the law on the November ballot.

As a result, they say they'll have a "presence" at the Statehouse today, but no rally, no formal protests. Instead, they are already working on a big rally to kick off the petition drive on Saturday, April 9.

Wisconsin judge issues warning
NBC’s Domenico Montanaro writes: In Wisconsin, there was this striking development… The Wisconsin State Journal: “If it wasn't clear last time, Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi made it clear on Tuesday: Any further implementation of Gov. Scott Walker's law limiting public employee unions is barred, and anyone who violates her order risks sanctions. … ‘Now that I've made my earlier order as clear as it possibly can be, I must state that those who act in open and willful defiance of the court order place not only themselves at peril of sanctions, they also jeopardize the financial and the governmental stability of the state of Wisconsin,’ Sumi said. Her statement appeared to be a warning to state agencies, such as the state Department of Administration, that have begin implementing the union bill despite a temporary restraining order that Sumi issued on March 18 and the unsettled question about whether publication of the law by the Legislative Reference Bureau on Friday was enough to implement the law. ‘Apparently that language was either misunderstood or ignored, but what I said was, ‘the further implementation of 2011 Wisconsin Act 10 is enjoined,' Sumi said. ‘That's what I now want to make crystal clear.’” …

“Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald was disappointed by the ruling. ‘It's disappointing that a Dane County judge wants to keep interjecting herself into the legislative process with no regard to the state constitution,’ He said. ‘Her action today again flies in the face of the separation of powers between the three branches of government.’”

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: “For the second time in less than two weeks, a Dane County judge Tuesday issued an order blocking the implementation of Gov. Scott Walker's plan to curb collective bargaining for public workers. Dane County Judge Maryann Sumi said that her original restraining order issued earlier this month was clear in saying no steps should be take to advance the law. The GOP governor's administration did so after the bill was published Friday by a state agency not named in Sumi's earlier temporary restraining order.”