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Category Archive for 'Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission'

The Ohio Senate Finance Committee wants to sunset the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission (O.C.M.C.) on Jan 1, 2016.  See the Committee’s report on the budget bill, Amended Substitute HB 64.   The Ohio Legislature created the Commission in 2011 to make recommendations to the General Assembly as to Constitutional revision. See  HB 188 (129th General Assembly).  The Commission was set to expire in 2021.

According to Cleveland.com:

… The Senate’s budget calls for ending the commission at the end of this year, a move that would save $950,000 in appropriations during the next two years.

“It’s been going long enough,” Oelslager [Senate Finance Chairman Scott Oelslager] said when asked why the Senate is seeking the change. “It’s time to wrap up.”

See Cleveland.com Ohio Senate’s budget looks to kill education fund, constitutional study group

The budget proposal must be approved by the full Ohio Senate, approved by a conference committee and signed by the Governor.

A similar bipartisan commission was created in 1969, called the Ohio Constitutional Revision Commission. The Ohio Constitutional Revision Commission issued its final report in 1977.  Ohio voters approved 16 of the 20 amendments that had their origins in recommendations made to the General Assembly by the Commission.

The O.C.M.C. has approved some recommendations, but has not yet submitted any recommendations to the General Assembly.  See  Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission Recommends Deleting Two Unused Sections Pertaining to Courts.   The Commission played a significant role in recent Ohio legislative redistricting reform efforts, which culminated in the passage of HJR 12.   HJR 12 puts redistricting reform measures on the ballot which would make the redistricting process more nonpartisan.

The Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission is addressing important questions concerning the state’s main governing document, including:

  • How to eliminate defects in the debt provisions of the Ohio Constitution.  These provisions require passing frequent constitutional amendments because of an antiquated $750,000 debt limitation.
  • Whether to amend the initiative process to prohibit special interest groups from hijacking the Ohio Constitution.
  • Whether to modify the initiative process in favor of a system that would encourage members of the public wishing to effect change to pursue statutory enactment rather than the adoption of constitutional amendments.  This may include making the seldom-used statutory initiative process easier.
  • How to amend Congressional redistricting provisions to make the redistricting process more nonpartisan.
  • Whether to amend Ohio’s current method of electing judges.
  • A provision to revise the current constitution which denies the right to vote to “idiot[s and insane persons”.
  • The repeal of numerous obsolete provisions of the constitution.

When HB 188 (129th General Assembly) was under consideration by the legislature, committee testimony included:

  • Ohio State University President Gordon Gee:

Gee said there is an “absolutely clear and compelling” case for convening a constitutional commission, noting the number of useful reforms from a previous commission, including the linking of the elections of governor and lieutenant governor. He said the commission format would be “bipartisan,” “thoughtful” and “broad-based” and would grant sufficient time to consider all the issues. 

Hannah News, House State Government and Elections, Jun. 7, 2011.

  • Dennis Hetzel, executive director of the Ohio Newspaper Association:

“We will leave it up to our individual members to report and editorialize upon the deliberations and outcomes of this commission, but the concept makes sense and will provide Ohio’s citizens a foundation for an important discussion.”

Hannah News, House State Government and Elections, May 24, 2011

  • Beth Vanderkooi, Ohio Farm Bureau:

 [the bill is] an “excellent mechanism to review the Ohio Constitution in a manner that, while not immune from partisan politics, is consistent with a bipartisan approach.”

Hannah News, House State Government and Elections, May 24, 2011

At the June 4, 2015 meeting of the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission’s Finance,  Taxation,  and  Economic  Development  Committee Chair Douglas Cole suggested three ways the Committee might approach recommendations for Article VIII (Public Debt and Public Works). Per a OCMC news release Finance, Taxation, and Economic Development Committee Tackle State Debt:

Cole suggested that the committee could make no changes; keep the general framework of the article and get rid of obsolete provisions; or make changes based on the March 12, 2015 testimony from Seth Metcalf, Deputy Treasurer and General Counsel, Ohio Treasurer of State, who suggested the debt be raised from $750,000 and that Ohio retain the Sinking Fund (a means by which the state sets aside money over time to retire its debt).

The testimony of Seth Metcalf referred to above can be viewed here.  Deputy Treasurer Metcalf summarizes the problems with Article VIII as follows:

Article VIII has two fundamental defects. The first is the $750,000 debt limitation that has existed since its birth. Section 1 of Article VIII permits Ohio to contract debts, but it expressly limits the amount of this debt to a total of $750,000. To provide some context, in 1851, the state’s general revenue expenditures totaled approximately $1.64 million.  For comparison’s sake, in 2014, Ohio’s general revenue expenditures totaled approximately$28.9 billion. Given this growth in the Ohio economy since 1851, the $750,000 debt limitation has become antiquated. Ohio needs the ability to borrow more than $750,000.

That leads us to the second problem with Article VIII —the so-called “cure” for this disease, which has been applied in the form of inconsistent and highly complex amendments to Article VIII. In section 2 of Article VIII, the framers of the Constitution initially carved out an exception to the $750,000 debt limitation, permitting the state to contract additional debt but only to “repel invasion, suppress insurrection, defend the State in war, or to redeem the present indebtedness of the State . . .” Rather than addressing the outdated $750,000 debt limitation head-on, over the past 70 years, section 2 has instead been amended eighteen (18) times to provide specific exceptions to the debt limitation, becoming a cancerous growth on the Constitution. A strong case can be made that the cure has now become worse than the disease.

The Finance, Taxation and Economic Development Committee of the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission will meet on Thursday, June 4, 2015 at 1:30 p.m. in South Meeting Room A, 31st Floor of the Riffe Center for Government and the Arts, 77 S. High St., Columbus.

 The Committee will hear a presentation, “State Debt and State Constitutions: Ohio and the Nation” by Professor Richard Briffault, the Joseph P. Chamberlain Professor of Legislation at Columbia Law School.  They will also discuss the presentation by Seth Metcalf, Deputy Treasurer and General Counsel, Ohio Treasurer of State, made at the March 12, 2015 committee meeting.  Seth Metcalf’s presentation dealt with financial transparency and modernizing Article VIII of the Ohio Constitution.

If you are interested in addressing the committee please contact Steven C. Hollon, Executive Director of the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission at 614.644.2022.

The  Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission (OCMC) will consider two proposals to amend the Ohio Constitution to extend term limits for Ohio legislators.  The Legislative Branch and Executive Branch Committee recommended these proposals to the full commission.  Both proposals would extend terms limits in the Ohio House and Ohio Senate to twelve years instead of eight.  One proposal applies to current members of the General Assembly, the other only to members elected after the effective date of the constitutional amendment.  The OCMC will decide whether to recommend this constitutional amendment to the General Assembly.  The General Assembly must pass the initiative by a 3/5 vote in order to get it on the ballot.

The Eight is Enough Ohio PAC, formed by current and former legislators and others, was formed to fight any lengthened term limits in Ohio.   In a recent news conference, term limit opponents suggested proposing their own constitutional amendments to shorten legislative terms, or to disallow legislators from serving the maximum term in one chamber, then serving the maximum in the other.  Currently, a legislator may serve eight years in the House plus eight years in the Senate.  The proposed constitutional amendment would allow twelve years in the House plus twelve years in the Senate.  See Cleveland.com, Political action group formed to fight any attempt to change Ohio’s legislative term limits

 

 

All meetings will be held on Thursday, May 14, 2015 in Columbus, Ohio.  If you are interested in addressing a committee please contact Steven C. Hollon, Executive Director of the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission at 614.644.2022.

9:30 a.m.

Education Public Institutions, and Local Government Committee–  Room 017 of the Ohio StatehousePresentation by Senior Policy Advisor Steven H. Steinglass entitled “Article VI, Section 3 (Public School System, Board of Education)”.  Presentation entitled “Local Boards of Education” by Lee Schreiner, Member, Board of Education, South-Western City Schools, Grove City, Ohio and Eric Germann, Member, Board of Education, Lincolnview Local Schools, Van Wert, Ohio.  Reports and Recommendations (first presentation for both) on Article VI, Section 1 (Funds for Religious and Educational Purposes) and  Article VI, Section 2 (School Funds).  Committee discussion concerning local boards of education.

11:00 a.m.

Legislative Branch and Executive Branch CommitteeRoom 018 of the Ohio Statehouse.  Presentation by Senior Policy Advisor Steven H. Steinglass on Article II issues.   Report and Recommendation on Article II, Section 2 (Election and Term Limits of State Legislators) and possible adoption.  Discussion of: (1) SJR 1 (Public Office Compensation Commission) and (2) Congressional Redistricting, HJR 2.

12:30 p.m.

Public Education and Information Committee and Liaisons with Public Offices Committee Room 018 of the Ohio Statehouse.

Coordinating CommitteeRoom 017 of the Ohio Statehouse. Presentation and discussion regarding Article II, Section 2 (Election and Term Limits of State Legislators), with possible approval.

1:30 p.m.
Judicial Branch and Administration of Justice CommitteeRoom 017 of the Ohio Statehouse,  Presentation by Michael E. Solimine, Professor of Law, University of Cincinnati on Standing and Justiciability.  Committee Discussion on Ohio Supreme Court Original Jurisdiction, State Supreme Court Advisory Opinions, Judicial Candidates Solicitation [Williams-Yulee v. Florida Bar, 575 U.S. ___ (2015) ]

3:00 p.m.

OCMC Constitutional Revision and Updating Committee – Room 018 of the Ohio Statehouse. Presentation by David Yost, Ohio Auditor of State, “Limitation on Initiative Petition – No Special Interest ” Discussion – Special privileges and the initiative and referendum powers.

 

 

The Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission voted to recommend repealing two sections of the Ohio Constitution which are no longer used:

  • Article IV, Section 19 – Courts of Conciliation  (It has never been used and is not needed as an alternative dispute resolution mechanism.)
  • Article IV, Section 22Allows the governor to create a commission that would take on the Ohio Supreme Court’s backlog of cases.  (The section has not been used since 1885 and is not needed.)

This recommendation will be given to the General Assembly.  Then the General Assembly has to follow its normal procedure to initiate a proposed constitutional amendment.  A Joint Resolution must be passed by 3/5 of the members of both the House and Senate to get the issue on the ballot.

See  Hannah Report, OCMC Eyes ‘Increased Momentum’ with Amstutz, Approves Constitutional Repeals, April 9, 2015.

Matt Mayer, president of Opportunity Ohio, submitted a proposal to the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission, suggesting right-to-work amendments to the Ohio Constitution.  This is the first proposal the OCMC received from outside the Commission.  The proposed amendments would prohibit mandatory union membership or dues and prohibit the use of public resources to assist a labor organization in collecting dues.  It is predicted that it will not gain the required votes of 2/3 of the Commission members.  See Hamilton Journal-News, Right to work amendment unlikely to advance far.

The Commission is determining whether their charge includes reviewing entirely new constitution sections proposed by the public.  See Hannah Report, OCMC Committee Delays Decision on Whether to Hear ‘Right-to-Work’ Proposal, April 9, 2015.

 

If you are interested in addressing a committee or the Commission, please contact Steven C. Hollon, Executive Director of the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission at 614.644.2022.

The following meetings will take place in Columbus, Ohio on Thursday, April 9, 2015:

9:30 a.m.

Legislative Branch and Executive Branch Committee – Room 018 of the Ohio Statehouse.  Presentation:  Rep. Kathleen Clyde, Ohio House of Representatives, “House Joint Resolution 2 – Congressional Redistricting”.  Reports and recommendations:  Article II, Section 2 (Election and Term Limits State Legislators) – Option One and Option Two (possible adoption).  Discussion of Senate Joint Resolution 1 – Public Office Compensation Commission.

11:00 a.m.

Bill of Rights and Voting Committee – Room 017 of the Ohio Statehouse.  Reports and recommendations regarding:  Article I, Section 13 (Quartering of Troops), Article I, Section 17 (No Hereditary Privileges).  Presentation: Steven C. Hollon, Executive Director, “Review of Proposals Regarding Article V, Section 6 (Idiots and Insane Persons)”.  Discussion regarding Article V, Section 6 (Idiots and Insane Persons) and Article V, Section 4 (Felon Disenfranchisement).

12:30 p.m.

Coordinating CommitteeRoom 018 of the Ohio Statehouse. Presentations:  (1) Steven C. Hollon, Executive Director: “Proposed Amendment to Article XV – Public Resources for Collection of Labor Dues” and “Proposed Amendment to Article XV – Work Place Freedom”.

 1:30 p.m.

Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission:South Meeting Rooms B & C, 31st Floor of the Riffe Center for Government and the Arts.  Consideration and possible adoption of:  repealing Article IV, Section 19 (Courts of Conciliation) and Article IV, Section 22 (Supreme Court Commission).  First presentation regarding Article I, Section 2 (Right to Alter, Reform, or Abolish Government, and Repeal Special Privileges), Section 3 (Right to Assemble), and Section 4 (Right to Bear Arms). (The committee will most likely propose to retain these sections as they are currently written).

2:30 p.m.

Constitutional Revision and Updating Committee South Meeting Rooms B & C, 31st Floor of the Riffe Center for Government and the Arts.  Presentations:  (1) Steven H. Steinglass, OCMC Senior Policy Analyst: “Subject Matter Limitations on the Constitutional Initiative”; (2) Steven C. Hollon, Executive Director and Shari L. O’Neill, Counsel to the Commision: “NCSL Report on the Initiative and Referendum in the 21st Century”.

 

WOSU public radio explored The Impact of Term Limits in their recent podcast.    Podcast participants included:

  • Rob Walgate, Vice President at the American Policy Roundtable
  • Herb Asher, professor emeritus of political science and former Senior Vice President for Government Affairs at OSU
  • Representative Michael Curtin, Ohio House of Representatives, author of “The Ohio Politics Almanac”

Thanks to the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission, who posted this on their Facebook page.

The Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission will consider whether to increase the maximum term an Ohio legistator can serve from eight years to twelve years.  See Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission’s Facebook post.  A recent Akron Beacon Journal editorial, Fix redistricting now, term limits next year, suggests waiting on the term limits issue.  While liberal and conservative groups may have more difficulties working with term-limited legislators, there has been no public outcry against term limits from these groups.  The term limit issue would distract from the changes to Ohio legislative redistricting which will appear on the November ballot.

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