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Category Archive for 'Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission'

The year 2021 represents the third consecutive year in which Ohio voters were not presented an opportunity to vote on any proposed amendments to the Ohio Constitution.

In the first two decades of the 21st century, Ohio voters approved 18 of 31 proposed amendments to the Ohio Constitution. Of the 31, 16 were proposed by the state’s constitutional initiative, but voters approved only 5 of them and rejected 11. Of the 15 amendments proposed by the General Assembly during this period, the voters approved 13 and rejected 2. Thus, the historic experience of Ohio voters being far more likely to approve amendments proposed by the General Assembly than by the initiative has continued. Statistical tables summarizing the historic pattern of approvals and disapprovals of state constitutional amendments are on the Ohio Constitutional Law and History Webpage

The 5 constitutional amendments proposed by initiative and approved by the voters in the 21st century added provisions to the Ohio Constitution:
• To bar same-sex marriage (2004) (Art. XV, sec. 111)
• To require increases in the state minimum wage
(2006) (Art. II, sec. 34a)
• To permit casino gambling in four locations around
the state (2009) (Art. XV, sec. 6(C))
• To grant a freedom to choose healthcare (2011) (Art.
I, sec. 21)
• To amend the constitutional provision known as
“Marsy’s Law,” which protects the rights of crime
victims (2017) (Art. I. sec. 10a)

In the three years since 2018, there have not been any proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot, thus making this the longest period since the 1912 adoption of the initiative in which the voters have not been presented with any amendments proposed by either the General Assembly or the initiative.

Despite the absence of proposed initiated amendments on the ballot, there have been multiple efforts to place proposed amendments on the ballot. The website of the Ohio Attorney General, which lists amendments proposed by initiative, reports that since the beginning of 2007, a period of almost 15 years, 48 petitions were submitted to the Attorney General with the text of the proposed amendment and a summary of the proposed amendment. If the Attorney General determines that the summary is a “fair and truthful” statement of the proposed amendment, Attorney General forwards the petition to the Ohio Ballot Board for a determination of whether the petition contains only one proposed amendment. Only then may petitioners begin collecting signatures, which they must submit to the Secretary of State.

The Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission was terminated by the Ohio General Assembly on June 30, 2017. The Commission had been created in 2011 and was supposed to last for 10 years. The Commission’s purpose was a comprehensive review of the Ohio Constitution, which is the 10th longest in the country.

In a column for the Columbus Dispatch, published on July 9, 2017, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law Dean Emeritus and former Senior Policy Advisor of the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission, Steven Steinglass reflected on the Commission’s work and some topics left unfinished. Despite not being fully staffed until mid-2014, the Commission approved recommendations to repeal or amend 21 sections. The General Assembly must decide whether to present those proposals to voters for approval. Two amendments, involving apportionment and anti-monopoly, were put before voters in 2015 and were approved. The Commission recommended no changes to 39 sections.

According to Steinglass, there are still many more provisions that the Commission did not act on. For example, committee-approved proposals to reform grand jury proceedings; unconstitutional provisions such as barring same-sex marriage and placing term limits on members of Congress; obsolete provisions; detailed provisions that should be in statutes instead; and hot button issues such as congressional redistricting.

The Commission’s work record, including proceedings and reports are still available on its website, but will eventually be moved to the Ohio Legislative Service Commission website.

The full text of the column is available here.

The Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission, created in 2011 by HB 188, was scheduled to wrap up in 2021. However, the Commission has been eliminated early by the recent budget bill, HB 49 passed on June 28, 2017. The final meeting of the Commission occurred on June 8, 2017, and the final reports of the Commission were published on its website on June 30, 2017. Commission documents will be transferred to the Legislative Service Commission. Click here for the full press release.

The most recent issue of the Ohio State Law Journal, volume 77, number 2 (2016) contains articles on state constitutional law, expanding on a 2015 symposium on the topic. The issue includes Constitutional Revision: Ohio Style, written by Steven H. Steinglass, Dean Emeritus and Professor Emeritus of Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, and current Senior Policy Advisor of the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission. This article focuses on the history of constitutional revision in Ohio, and specifically on expansion of the methods for making revisions.

Constitutional Revision: Ohio Style begins with the Northwest Ordinance and 1802 Ohio Constitution, and reviews the path to statehood along with changes in the methods of constitutional revision later adopted in Ohio’s current constitution. The article then examines changes resulting from the Progressive-Era Constitutional Convention of 1912, and changes over the last century including the use of initiatives and constitutional revision commissions.

The Legislative and Executive Branch Committee of the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission discussed the one subject rule contained in the Ohio Constitution, as well as amending the Ohio Constitutional to reform Congressional Redistricting.  See OCMC Press Release.   View meeting materials, including expert reports, here.

The Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission’s Bill of Rights and Voting Committee discussed constitutional provisions on the capacity to vote at their September 10, 2015 meeting.  The committee recommended that Article V, Section 6 be repealed, and that a new section be adopted.   Currently, Article V, Section 6 of the Ohio Constitution reads, “no idiot or insane person, shall be entitled to the privileges of an elector.  The committee voted to change this language to “no person who lacks the mental capacity to vote shall have the right and privileges of an elector during the time of incapacity.”

See OCMC Press Release

All meetings will take place on Thursday, July 9, 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.

For changes and updates, see http://www.ocmc.ohio.gov/ocmc/home

10:00 a.m.

Education, Public Institutions, and Local Government CommitteeSouth Meeting Room B, 31st Floor of the Riffe Center for Government and the Arts.  Presentations: Steven H. Steinglass, Senior Policy Advisor – “Article VI, Section 3 (Public School System, Boards of Education)”; Sue Steele, Board Member, Great Oaks Institute of Technology and Career Development, “Joint Vocational Schools”; Al Haberstroh, Board Member, Trumbull County Educational Service Center, “Educational Service Centers”. Reports and Recommendations (second presentation and possible adoption): Article VI, Section 1 (Funds for Religious and Educational Purposes) and Article VI, Section 2 (School Funds).   Committee Discussion on Article VI, Section 3 – (Local Boards of Education).

11:30 a.m.

Organization and Administration Committee – South Meeting Room C, 31st Floor of the Riffe Center for Government and the Arts. Presentations by Steven C. Hollon, OCMC Executive Director:  “FY2016 – Proposed Budget” and “Proposed Amendments to Rules of Procedure and Conduct”.  Committee Discussion:  FY2016 – Proposed Budget and Proposed Amendments to Rules of Procedure and Conduct.

12:30 p.m.

Coordinating Committee – South Meeting Room C, 31st Floor of the Riffe Center for Government and the Arts.   Reports and Recommendations for consideration and approval:  Article I, Section 13 (Quartering of Troops); Article I, Section 17 (No Hereditary Privileges); Article VI, Section 1 (Funds for Religious and Educational Purposes); Article VI, Section 2 (School Funds).

1:00 p.m.

Judicial Branch and Administration of Justice Committee – South Meeting Room B, 31st Floor of the Riffe Center for Government and the Arts.  Presentations: Senator Sandra Williams, Task Force Member: “Grand Jury Recommendation by the Ohio Task Force on Community-Police Relations”; Professor Gregory M. Gilchrist, Associate Professor of Law, University of Toledo College of Law, “An Introduction to the Grand Jury”.  Discussion: Article I, Section 10 (Grand Juries) – Discussion regarding continuing reference to grand jury in the Ohio Constitution.





The budget bill passed by the Ohio House and Senate, 131st General Assembly Amended Substitute HB 64, will terminate the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission (OCMC) on January 1, 2018.    It will repeal sections 103.61, 103.62, 103.63, 103.64, 103.65, 103.66, and 103.67 of the Revised Code on that date.   Am. Sub. H.B. 64 awaits signature by Governor Kasich.

According to the Columbus Dispatch, Constitution-reform panel must be preserved:

The commission, created in 2011, was charged with researching and debating whether and how the Ohio Constitution could be changed to address longstanding flaws in state government. It was given 10 years to do so — it is set to expire in July 2021 — but didn’t really get off the ground for two years, thanks largely to legislators’ neglect.

It was intended to perform the same function as a similar commission empanelled in the 1970s.

Even so, in less than a year and a half of focused work, led by some sterling volunteers, committees of the bipartisan commission have reached consensus on thorny issues that a hopelessly partisan and short-sighted legislature has proved incapable of addressing.

The Ohio Senate Finance Committee previously proposed eliminating the OCMC as of January 1, 2016.  See our prior post Ohio Senate Finance Committee Wants to Eliminate the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission.


Per Hannah News, OCMC Co-Chair Discusses Senate Budget; Commission Adopts No Change Recommendations, June 11, 2015:

… the commission [Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission] unanimously voted to adopt three recommendations from the Bill of Rights and Voting Committee to retain current language in Article I, Sec. 2, concerning the right of the people to alter, reform, or abolish government, the right of government to repeal special privileges, and equal protection; Article I, Sec. 3, concerning the right to assemble and petition; and Article I, Sec. 4, concerning the right to bear arms, the prohibition against maintaining standing armies during peacetime, and the subordination of the military to civil power. 

Per the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission’s Facebook page:

The Bill of Rights and Voting Committee adopted reports and recommendations for Article 1, Section 13 (Quartering Troops) and Article 1, Sections 13 (No Hereditary Privileges). The reports and recommendations were passed unanimously to retain language in its current form.

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