COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The effort to make it more difficult to amend the state’s constitution is one step closer to making it on ballots.
Senate Joint Resolution 2, which is widely supported by Republican lawmakers and has garnered no Democratic support, would increase the threshold to amend the state’s constitution from a simple majority to 60%.
“This is about the people of Ohio, the rights that they have had, and taking them away,” House Minority Leader Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) said. “And putting power into the hands of politicians and not people.”
“It’s important that we have deliberated and discussed this issue for some time now here in the House because it is an important issue,” Speaker of the House Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) said. “We are talking about our constitution.”
If the resolution passes the Statehouse, the question will ultimately be up to voters. A group of Republican lawmakers wants to have the election on Aug. 8, in part to preempt the abortion imitative in November.
But on Tuesday afternoon, lawmakers changed the language in the resolution to set the date on “the next general or special election scheduled to occur not earlier than 90 days after the resolution is submitted to the Secretary of State,” rather than August 8.
“I think they can get on the floor tomorrow and take the language right back out and amend it and I wouldn’t be surprised if that happened,” Russo said. “Some of this is theatrics, I think.”
“There will probably be more than one amendment on this resolution tomorrow,” Stephens said. “One of those will probably be about the August election, so we will have that debate tomorrow.”
While the legislature does have the authority to set the time, date, and manner of the election, the allocation of funds to put it on is $20 million. Right now, if lawmakers pass the resolution with Aug. 8 set as the election day, there is no sure funding path.
“The county elections are paid by county government which usually in a special election like this would be reimbursed,” Stephens said. “And I imagine somewhere down the way there would be reimbursement to the counties.”
“Essentially what we’re saying to boards of elections, to county commissioners, county executives is, ‘You’re on your own to conduct this election, we’re not providing the funding for it,’” Russo said.
When asked whether his party has the votes to pass this resolution, Stephens said, “We will see tomorrow” and that it should be a “lively and interesting session.” Stephens did say he will be voting in favor of the resolution.
The House will also be voting Wednesday on the appointment of two vacant Republican seats.