May 2, 2023
Ohio lawmaker moves to force vote on constitutional amendment rules
Ohio Lawmaker Moves to Force Vote on Constitutional Amendment Rules
Ohio State Representative Kyle Koehler has introduced a bill that would require a two-thirds majority vote in both the Ohio House and Senate to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot. The bill, known as House Joint Resolution 19, would also require that any proposed amendment be approved by voters in two consecutive general elections before it could become part of the state constitution.
Koehler, a Republican from Springfield, Ohio, said the bill is necessary to prevent special interest groups from using the constitutional amendment process to bypass the legislative process and impose their will on the state. He cited recent examples of proposed amendments that would have legalized marijuana, expanded gambling, and raised the minimum wage, all of which failed to gain enough support in the legislature but were still able to make it onto the ballot through the petition process.
Constitutional amendments should be reserved for issues of great importance that have broad support from both parties and the public, Koehler said in a statement. They should not be used as a backdoor way to enact policies that can't pass through the normal legislative process.
Opponents of the bill argue that it would make it nearly impossible for citizens to amend the state constitution, which they say is a fundamental right protected by the Ohio Constitution. They also say that the two-election requirement would be costly and time-consuming, and would discourage citizens from participating in the amendment process.
Representative Koehler's bill is a blatant attempt to silence the voices of Ohioans who want to use the constitutional amendment process to make positive changes in our state, said Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper in a statement. It's a power grab by politicians who are afraid of the people they were elected to serve.
Koehler's bill has been referred to the House Government Oversight Committee for further consideration. If it passes the committee, it would need to be approved by a two-thirds majority vote in the House and Senate before it could be placed on the ballot for voter approval.
The debate over the bill is likely to be heated, with both sides arguing passionately for their positions. Ultimately, it will be up to the voters of Ohio to decide whether they want to make it harder to amend the state constitution, or whether they want to preserve their right to use the amendment process to effect change in their state.