Ohio’s Issue 1 May Help Contain Outside Interests

  • by:
  • Source: UncoverDC
  • 09/19/2023

Ohio's special election on August 8 puts the Ohio General Assembly's proposed "State Issue 1" on the ballot. A consequential change, Issue 1 raises the threshold from a majority vote (50+1) to 60 percent. It also requires petitioners to gather signatures from voters in all 88 counties to fully represent the will of the people. Currently, petitioners need only collect signatures from 44 counties. The full text of Issue 1, explanations, and the arguments surrounding it that were certified by the Ohio Ballot Board can be found here.

Ohio's State Constitution is vulnerable to change from outside interests because the only thing needed to amend it is to collect petitions and put them on the statewide ballot. According to its proponents, a "Yes" on Issue 1 would make the ability to amend the Ohio Constitution more representative of the will of its people.

Issue 1 brings Ohio's state constitution in line with most other states and the federal Constitution. National Review states, "In the 50 states, 32 do not allow outside groups to propose constitutional amendments, and half of the remaining 18 have greater requirements than a single simple-majority vote."

Issue 1 is contentious because of other proposed amendments percolating in Ohio and because it could curtail the ability of outside groups to influence key policy decisions in Ohio. Frank LaRose, Ohio's 51st Secretary of State, says outside groups push agendas that capitalize on how its Constitution stands now. He is a proponent of Issue 1. His August 7th column for the National Review contends that "[r]adical actives have figured out a way to bypass the legislative process and insert their extreme agenda directly in our state constitution. As I write this, special interests are advancing citizen-initiated constitutional amendments to shut out parents from their child's health care, remove our right to self-defense, force struggling small businesses to pay job-killing mandatory wages, and even roll back many of the election-integrity safeguards I've fought for as Ohio's chief elections officer."

As an example of the activity LaRose describes, two special interest groups, the ACLU and Planned Parenthood, were behind the gathering of signatures for a vote on an amendment in November. The National Review editors contend the progressive activist groups wordsmithed language in the proposed amendment in a way that might be deceptive for the average voter.

The editors refer to the February 21, 2023, proposed amendment submitted by "Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom and Ohio Physicians for Reproductive Rights (OPRR)." It is Section 22 or the "The Right to Reproductive Freedom with Protections for Health and Safety" amendment. Issue 1 would amend Article 1 of the Ohio State Constitution by adding Section 22. Voters will vote on this amendment in the November 2023 election.

The activists' amendment, write the Editors at National Review, is "written in a lawyerly way" to distract voters from key issues like taxpayer funding for abortions, parental consent on abortion, or whether minors can receive puberty blockers and sex-change operations. The state currently has a six-week abortion limit.

Crafty substitutions of words like "individual" for the word "adult" leave room for interpretation regarding the age of the person who might seek an abortion or pursue a sex change. Well-funded activist groups often launch expensive, artfully worded campaigns to persuade voters of a certain point of view.

The editors also argue "the average Ohioan would get the wrong impression by reading the text of the ballot measure that the amendment would allow meaningful limits on late-term abortion." Again, they believe the language is worded so that it leaves openings for ways to get around the requirement of early-term abortions if a mother's mental health is at stake. The editors explain:

Those arguing against Issue 1 say it "takes power away from Ohio voters." Below, Bernie Sanders and an Ohio citizen weigh-in to promote a "NO" vote on August 8. Sanders acknowledges the connection with the addition of Section 22, and the other says, "Issue 1 is not tied to any given subject."

Catholics for Catholics (CFORC) believes Issue 1 is a key vote. CFORC, a pro-life group, gathered a large audience for a rally in Cincinnati on Sunday to promote Issue 1. Among those headlining the rally were Bishop Strickland, General Michael Flynn, and Actor Jim Caviezel, whose Sound of Freedom film on the sex trafficking of minors has performed exceedingly well at the box office.

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