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Category Archive for 'Ballot Initiative News'

A recent Cleveland.com article, Marijuana issue highlights steep cost of getting on the ballot, contains an interesting chart showing expenditures for recent ballot amendments.

House Joint Resolution 4,  which would restrict amendments  to the Ohio Constitution that create economic benefits in favor of certain individuals will be on the ballot this November.  The resolution was passed by the necessary margin in the Ohio House and Senate.

See our prior post: House Joint Resolution 4 Aims to Restrict Constitutionally Created Monopolies

The U.S. Supreme Court found that nonpartisan citizen commissions may draw lines for Congressional districts, instead of state legislatures.  See Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Indep. Redistricting Comm’n, No. 13-1314 (U.S. June 29, 2015).  Now Ohio can move forward with H.J.R. 2, a proposal to amend the Ohio Constitution to make the redistricting process more nonpartisan.  HJR 2 was introduced, but has not been yet approved by the Ohio House.  The Ohio Legislature recesses this week for the summer, so will not get to this issue until they return.  As the legislature will not act before the August deadline, the issue will not appear on the ballot this November.  See Cleveland.com, U.S. Supreme Court ruling clears the way for Ohio congressional redistricting reform.

Ohio Constitution Article XI, Section 1 currently states:

“The governor, auditor of state, secretary of state, one person chosen by the speaker of the house of representatives and the leader in the senate of the political party of which the speaker is a member, and one person chosen by the legislative leaders in the two houses of the major political party of which the speaker is not a member shall be the persons responsible for the apportionment of this state for members of the general assembly.

Such persons, or a majority of their number, shall meet and establish in the manner prescribed in this Article the boundaries for each of ninety-nine house of representatives districts and thirty-three senate districts. … ”

Thus, the party in power will have more members on the redistricting panel, and will be able to control redistricting by a majority vote.  According to a Cleveland.com article, this has resulted in the Republicans in power drawing districts favoring Republican congressional candidates.

HJR 2 keeps the current makeup of the commission (governor, auditor and secretary of state plus one member appointed by the Speaker of the House, one appointed by the President of the Senate, and two members appointed by minority leaders in each body), but a simple majority vote would not suffice.  The affirmative vote of four members of the commission, including at least two members of the commission who represent each of the two largest political parties represented in the general assembly, are required to adopt any congressional district plan. For more details on HJR 2, see our prior post, New Congressional Redistricting Amendment Proposed.

Cleveland.com reports that the consulting firm behind ResponsibleOhio’s initative petition to legalize marijuana and create a monopoly of ten grow sites stands to make 5.6 million dollars from the campaign.  The costs include legal work, polling and public relations.  The extraordinary costs of getting an amendment to the Ohio Constitution on the ballot has drawn the attention of the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission.  The Commission is considering reforming the initiative process, and perhaps making statutory initiatives a more attractive option for individuals wanting to amend the Constitution.

Even back in 2002, a group spent one million dollars just to collect signatures to get an issue on the ballot.  See Columbus Dispatch, Backers Spent $1 Million to Get Issue 1 on Ballot,  (Issue 1 would have amended the Constitution to give some nonviolent drug offenders treatment instead of prison.  It did not pass.)  You can see ballot campaign expeditures on the Ohio Secretary of State’s web site.  For example, the recently passed Freedom to Choose Healthcare amendment cost $150,000 just to gather signatures.

The Ohio Attorney General certified another proposed amendment to the Ohio Constitution to legalize marijuana.  The  Cannabis Control Amendment, submitted by Ohioans to End Prohibition, does not limit ownership of grow sites to designated individuals, unlike ResponsibleOhio’s amendment.   See NBC News 4 story

Ohioans to End Prohibition hopes to get their amendment on the ballot in 2016.  See Akron Legal News, Ohio elections chief flags voter forms from marijuana group.  (The article is mainly about voter forms submitted by ResponsibleOhio.)

House Joint Resolution 4,  introduced yesterday, would amend the Ohio Constitution to restrict amendments  to the Ohio Constitution that create economic benefits in favor of certain individuals.  Initiatives by the General Assembly would not face these restrictions, only initiatives by individuals.  An individual or group wanting to amend the Ohio Constitution to create an economic benefit would have to get voters to pass a Constitutional amendment allowing deviation from the “no special interests rule” for that particular special  interest.  Then the next year, the actual amendment creating the special interest could go on the ballot.

The impetus for House Joint Resolution 4 was Responsible Ohio’s marijuana legalization amendment that will likely go on the ballot this November.  ResponsibleOhio’s amendment creates ten grow sites which will be owned by ballot campaign investors.  The legislature would have to act fast in order to get their proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot this November.  The deadline for the General Assembly to get initatives on the ballot is August 3, but the General Assembly leaves for the summer at the end of June.

See Columbus Dispatch, Legislators move to block marijuana monopoly.  Representative Kathleen Clyde expressed concern that the language of HJR 4 is too broad and may have unintended consequences in inhibiting initiatives.   Professor Douglas Berman , Ohio State College of Law, wondered if it was even constitutional to have a constitutional amendment restricting initiatives.  Dean Emeritus Steven H. Steinglass , Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, spoke to what would happen if BOTH the no special interest amendment and the ResponsibleOhio amendment pass in November.  Steinglass thinks a court could rule that marijuana is legal, but the provisions creating the monopoly must be stricken.

Better for Ohio stopped the push to get their Legalize Marijuana and Hemp in Ohio Initiative Petition on the 2015 ballot.  See Toledo Blade, Marijuana Group Quits Ballot Bid.  The group said the cost of getting the necessary signatures by July 1 was prohibitive.  Better for Ohio’s amendment allows forty grow-sites to be owned by campaign investors, rather than Responsible Ohio’s ten.

According to the Toledo Blade article, Responsible Ohio claims that they have the necessary signatures to be on the November 2015 ballot.

A third group, Ohioans to End Prohibition, re-filed their proposal for marijuana legalization with the Ohio Attorney General.  Their initial attempt was rejected by the AG because the summary was not a fair and truthful statement of the proposed amendment to the Ohio Constitution.  The Cannabis Control Amendment (Resubmission) must be acted upon by the Attorney General by June 18, 2015.  The Cannabis Control Amendment differs from the other two proposal mentioned above because it does not created a limited number of grow-sites that will be owned by certain named individuals.  In other words, this third proposal does not have the “marijuana monopoly” that many have found objectionable.

A third marijuana legalization amendment, called the Cannabis Control Amendment was filed with the Ohio Attorney General by Ohioans to End Prohibition.  This third proposal differs from Legalize Marijuana and Hemp in Ohio Initiative Petition (Better for Ohio) and Marijuana Legalization Amendment (ResponsibleOhio) because it does not limit grow-sites to certain named individuals.  Under the Cannabis Control Amendment, the State of Ohio may issue licenses for large growers.  Individuals over 21 may harvest up to six plants for noncommercial use.  The Ohio Attorney General rejected this proposed amendment because the summary was not a fair and truthful statement of the proposed amendment.

Other highlights of the Cannabis Control Amendment include:

  • Ohio farmers can grow industrial hemp.
  • Employers are prohibited from terminating a medical marijuana patient for testing positive for marijuana use, although the employee may not use marijuana during work hours unless the employer agrees.
  • Localities may ban commercial marijuana entities.

See our prior post Another Marijuana Legalization Proposal Coming Soon

Ohio Auditor David Yost presented a proposal to the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission’s Revisions and Updating Committee to prohibit initiative petitions (proposals to amend the Ohio Constitution) that confer a benefit only to an individual or group of individuals.  The proposal is a response to marijuana initiative petitions, namely, ResponsibleOhio’s initiative and  Better for Ohio ‘s initiative, which would allow marijuana growing only at certain sites owned by campaign investors.  It is also a reaction to the casino constitutional amendment, which established four designated casinos in Ohio.

Yost aims to have his proposal passed as a initiative by the General Assembly.  In order to be on the November ballot, the proposal must be passed by 3/5 of the General Assembly before they leave for summer break at the end of June.  If the “no special interests” proposal makes it to the ballot in November and is passed by voters,  it could stop specific-grow site marijuana proposals from going into effect, even if those are passed by voters too.

See Cleveland.com, Auditor Dave Yost seeks constitutional amendment that would block marijuana ballot issues, which includes the language of David Yost’s proposal.

After an initial rejection by the Ohio Attorney General, Better for Ohio resubmitted their proposed initiative to legalize marijuana.  The second attempt, entitled “Legalize Marijuana and Hemp in Ohio Initiative Petition “ was certified by the Ohio Attorney General as containing a fair and truthful summary of the proposed amendment to the Ohio Constitution.

Better for Ohio created their own  initiative petition in response to ResponsibleOhio’s initiative.  Better for Ohio’s version will allow forty grow sites instead of ResponsibleOhio’s ten, and a specified percentage of the grow sites must be owned by Ohioans.  Under the Better for Ohio plan, local communities that allow dispensaries and retail stores will receive more tax money from marijuana sales.  Another difference is out-of-state residents may only purchase one-quarter ounce of marijuana under Better for Ohio’s plan. Better for Ohio also aims to make home growing easier.

Better for Ohio can  begin collecting signatures once it is certified by the Ohio Ballot Board.

See our prior post, New Marijuana Legalization Proposal Rejected by Ohio Attorney General and Cleveland.com, New plan to legalize marijuana in Ohio clears first step toward reaching ballot

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