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Cleveland-Marshall College of Law Dean Emeritus Steven H. Steinglass has published an op-ed in the December 25, 2017, Akron Beacon Journal, urging the General Assembly to give Ohio voters a chance to vote on proposals made by the Constitutional Revision Commission and its committees.  The online version of the article was also published in paper copy on December 26th under the title “Give voters a say on a trimmer Ohio Constitution.”

In 2011, the General Assembly created the Commission, a 32-person commission (composed of 12 legislators and 20 public members), to provide a comprehensive bipartisan review of the Ohio Constitution and to propose amendments to the General Assembly (which in turn could place proposed amendments on the ballot). In June 2017, the General Assembly moved up the sunset date for the Commission four years, and the Commission closed its doors on June 30, 2017. Though it did not complete its review, the Commission recommended the amendment or repeal of 21 obsolete or inappropriate sections of the Ohio Constitution, but the General Assembly has not acted upon these recommendations; thus, the voters have not had an opportunity to consider any of them.

In this op-ed, Steinglass identifies recommended provisions that are ripe for removal, including provisions involving state debt, the sinking fund commission, services for “the insane and dumb,” “voting by idiots and insane persons, and the use of gender-inappropriate language.

Steinglass concludes his op-ed by noting that if the General Assembly approves these recommendations, it will salvage some of the work of the Commission.  It will also permit the voters to shorten our 57,000-word constitution by more than 20% and relieve Ohio of the dubious distinction of having the tenth longest state constitution in the country.

This op-ed follows up earlier op-eds. In a July 9, 2017, Columbus Dispatch op-ed, Steinglass described the commission, its modest success, and its demise. In a guest column for Cleveland.com on October 9, 2017, he discussed the commission’s unfinished agenda. And in a November 16, 2017, Columbus Dispatch op-ed, he opined that the effort to modernize the Ohio Constitution was undercut by the decision to structure the commission to insure legislative control of it, by a lack of effective leadership, by the absence of a legislative commitment to constitutional revision, and by a corrosive partisan political climate.

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