Republican Senators move toward August vote to make amending Ohio's constitution harder
Republican state lawmakers are moving closer to putting an amendment requiring 60% voter approval for constitutional amendments onto the ballot in August – three months before an amendment guaranteeing reproductive and abortion rights could go before voters.
It’s the latest move that would make the process to amend Ohio’s constitution tougher – and make it harder for the abortion access amendment to pass.
A few hours after a hearing on the House’s 60% voter approval amendment - which was packed with people who were concerned about the change to the amendment process - Sens. Rob McColley (R-Napoleon) and Theresa Gavarone (R-Bowling Green) introduced two measures.
Senate Joint Resolution 2 also requires 60% voter approval to amend the constitution, but unlike the House version, HJR 1, it doesn’t require signatures for a proposed amendment be gathered from all 88 counties, and doesn’t eliminate the 10 day period to gather more valid signatures if the drive falls short. Those are two additional elements making the amendment process harder.
The other is a bill that would allow for an August special election under certain circumstances, such as to amend the constitution. That’s important because August elections were eliminated under a Republican-backed law passed late last year that goes into effect April 7. That law is probably best known for requiring voters to show photo ID and permitting only one secure ballot drop box per county, and it's a law Democrats had opposed and had asked Gov. Mike DeWine to veto.
These moves come as groups are lining up to oppose the change in the constitutional amendment process, and as a coalition is working on gathering the 414,000 signatures needed to put an amendment on reproductive rights and abortion access onto the November ballot. A lawsuit has also been filed in the Ohio Supreme Court to try to stop that amendment, claiming the state ballot board made a mistake in not determining that was two separate ballot issues.
Similar amendments guaranteeing abortion rights have passed in other states, including those run by Republicans.