State troopers have barred protesters from entering the Ohio state capitol, as thousands gathered outside to protest a legislative proposal to roll back some collective bargaining rights of state employees.
A spokesperson for a Democrat in the Ohio House of Representatives confirmed that state troopers shut the doors after about 600-700 people filed into the statehouse atrium, but that no protesters were in the rotunda. Thousands remain outside the building.
Last week, the statehouse rotunda was packed with protesters as state senators held a hearing on the budget bill, SB 5, backed by Republican Gov. John Kasich. Another hearing is scheduled to start this afternoon at 4 p.m. While hearings are held away from the rotunda in hearing rooms, audio of hearings on the bill was played in the rotunda and atrium last week. The protests in Ohio have mirrored those in Wisconsin, where another Republican governor, Scott Walker, is proposing his own collective-bargaining rollback as a budgetary measure.
It's 26 degrees in Columbus right now, and the spokesperson said it's been snowing off and on. A nearby theater has been opened for protesters to enter.
"People want to be in the statehouse," the spokesperson said. "It's the people's house." The spokesperson wasn't sure why state troopers had barred more protesters from entering.