COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Ohio lawmakers could clear the final hurdle next week to ask Ohioans to vote on a constitutional amendment.
The issue has been stalled in the Ohio House of Representatives with cancelled committee meetings and sessions, but some said they are confident the issue will pass on Wednesday.
“Interestingly, this is an issue that’s really been percolating for a couple of decades,” said Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima).
“We are very much opposed to this effort,” said House Minority Leader Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington). “We believe it is unfair, undemocratic and unnecessary.”
Senate Joint Resolution 2 would increase the threshold to pass a constitutional amendment to 60% and would make it more difficult to get an issue on the ballot. While it passed the Senate almost three weeks ago, House lawmakers are still trying to make sure they have the votes.
“I have not talked to the Speaker about it in about four weeks,” Huffman said. “I went to him and said we are going to pass this in the Senate, his statement to me was ‘Well that will help us pass it in the House if you do.’”
Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life, said he circulated this document below asking lawmakers if they agree to and support the vote for the 60% resolution and an August special election.
“We’re at 61 of the 65 and I expect one or two more to come across the finish line on the floor vote,” Gonidakis said. “So, the votes are there, we just need the speaker to call the floor vote.”
Speaker of the House Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) told reporters he would not bring the issue to the floor unless it has the votes. A floor vote is expected on Wednesday.
“We turned all the signatures, all the letters of support, into the Speaker over a week ago now,” Gonidakis said.
Some lawmakers want to put the issue in front of voters during an August special election before Ohioans vote on other possible constitutional amendments like abortion and marijuana. They would allocate $20 million for the August special election. However, this comes after they passed a law to rid of recurring August special elections last year.
“We believe there was a lot of hypocrisy in putting it forward to begin with right after we heard from our majority friends that August elections are expensive and unnecessary and insult the people of the state of Ohio,” said Senate Minority Leader Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood).
“I fully expect to be on the August ballot because we have the support in the legislature to do it,” Gonidakis said. “The Senate has already passed it; we have the votes in the House.”
Sources told NBC4’s Natalie Fahmy that the August election bill could be folded into SJR2, with the $20 million to put on the election becoming part of the budget.