Proposal from state legislature has county officials, groups concerned
The proposal aims to raise the threshold for passage of constitutional amendments proposed by the voters to 60%. 50% would remain the threshold for amendments proposed by lawmakers.
TOLEDO, Ohio — House Joint Resolution 1 and Senate Joint Resolution 2. They are two separate pieces of legislation with the same goal: to require 60% of the electors, voters, to approve any constitutional amendment here in the state of Ohio. And that is not setting well with the Lucas County Board of Commissioners and a few groups in our area.
That’s why, on Monday, they gathered for a press conference to share their message to residents, which is their belief that the voices of the people are under attack. Lucas County Commissioner Pete Gerken says the tradition in this country is that to approve something or to vote someone in, you need 50% + 1 — a simple majority. That, he says, should remain the standard to approve constitutional amendments in Ohio, especially when that’s standard for those we elected to represent us. He says this is nothing but legislators attempting to take the power away from the people, for them to enforce their beliefs on the rest of us.
“Right now, this legislature attacks women’s reproductive rights, it attacks rights of LGBTQ people, it attacks labor rights, so there’s a broad base of a restriction of people’s rights that generally is coming from this assembly. And now, it’s reached the level it’s gonna take everybody’s ability to choose how their government forms away,” Gerken said.
The house joint resolution is actually co-sponsored by Joshua William, a state rep from Northwest Ohio. When asked for comment, he sent me this statement:
“I proudly support House Joint Resolution 1. With voter turnout typically between 40% and 50%, that means that 20% to 25% of Ohio voters can amend the constitution. This has resulted in Ohio being a prime target for outside organizations interested in pushing their national agenda here in Ohio. The founding document of our state needs protecting from outside influences that are attempting to use our amendment process as a way to social engineer our state into something that the majority of Ohioans do not support. Regardless of my individual position on abortion, the majority of my constituents do not support abortion on demand up until birth. I support this resolution not because it will stop this push towards legalizing abortions. Instead I support this resolution because it will make it harder to allow outside groups to shape our state without the overwhelming support of voters.”
The Columbus Dispatch reports that GOP leadership in the statehouse is considering putting this proposal on the ballot for a possible special election in August. Gerken, meanwhile, is determined to not let that happen, calling on residents to express discontent with the proposal to their elected representative.
This is all as Ohio pro-choice advocates collect signatures for a possible November ballot measure, which would amend the Ohio Constitution to include that “every individual has a right to make and carry out one’s own reproductive decisions.”