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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

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