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House JointResolution 5 (HJR 5), introduced in fall 2017 in both houses of the Ohio General Assembly, would dramatically change the already-difficult process to amend the Ohio Constitution and is stealthily making its way through the Ohio General Assembly.

Make no mistake, this is a direct attempt to thwart direct democracy by the people of Ohio. It is an attempt to make sure that only the state legislature has the power and ability to pass laws that WE must follow. It is an effort to make sure the people cannot propose legislation that the general assembly refuses to pass OR repeal legislation that the people find unjust or oppressive. Remember the people repealed SB5 in 2011.

This is a direct attack on the constitutional check and balance that the people of Ohio have over the state legislature. Here are the highlights (or lowlights) of this proposal:

·         Raise from 10% to 12.5% the number of petition signatures of Ohio’s registered voters (in the last gubernatorial election) to put a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot. Based on turnout for the 2014 election for governor, about 318,000 valid signatures presently are needed to put an issue on the ballot, but the 12.5% requirement would raise the total by 79,000 additional signatures, to about 394,000 validsignatures.

·         Raise from a simple majority (50% + 1 vote) to 60% the total number of votes required to pass an amendment to the Ohio Constitution, or to pass a law proposed by the people. In 2017, about 1,600,000 people voted on the victim’s rights constitutional amendment, and 50% + 1 votes, roughly 800,000, would suffice to pass it. The proposed 60% super-majority requirement would make it necessary for 150,000 to 170,000 additional votes to pass a constitutional amendment or a new statute proposed by the people. Instead of about 800,000 votes, nearly 1,000,000 votes would be required. Funny how this 60% rule doesn’t apply to candidate elections to office.

·         Raise from 3% to 3.75% the number of registered voters’ signatures to propose legislation to the Ohio General Assembly, an increase of about 24,000 signatures. Currently about 94,000 valid signatures are needed. The proposed change would increase the requirement to about 118,000. The proposed legislation would require, first, obtaining an additional 3.75%, instead of the current 3%, of registered voter signatures,followed by a vote by a 60% super-majority.

·         Prohibit payment of any compensation to a petition circulator for gathering signatures. 

About the sponsor of this resolution:

State Representative Niraj Antani (R-Miamisburg) released the following statement regarding the announcement of the potential initiative constitutional amendment for the adult consumption of recreational marijuana:

"The initiative constitutional amendment proposed today is yet another ill-conceived ballot initiative with dishonest intentions, amplifying the need to pass House Joint Resolution 5, which I introduced recently. This is another proposal attempting to use the Ohio Constitution as a means for a special interest to make a profit at the expense of the taxpayers of Ohio, a gross misuse of our democratic process. HJR 5 would preserve the integrity of our state’s founding document and prevent moneyed special interest groups from buying our ballot. Today’s proposal is exactly what I am trying to stop with HJR 5. We must pass HJR 5 to stop this additional attempt for a moneyed special interest to hijack our ballot and buy their way into the Ohio Constitution.”

This misleading statement is appalling for many reasons—

·         Representative Antani wants to make it more difficult for the people to have a check on a state legislature that is bought and paid for by corporate special interests, while he presents the amendment as being in the best interests of the people.

·         Representative Antani has received campaign money from First Energy, Dayton Power and Light, Nisource, the Automobile Dealers Association and other corporate interests. He, like most of our elected officials, are beholden to and represent the interests of corporations over the interests of the people of Ohio.

·         If Representative Antani was serious about special interests hijacking our ballots and buying our Constitution, then he would be sponsoring legislation limiting corporate lobbyist donations to issues and candidates. He would be proposing a Fair Elections constitutional amendment along the lines of what Youngstown tried to get on their local ballot, until the state blocked it.

·         If this is so important to protect the people, why, without any public debate, is this being proposed for theMay 8 ballot in Ohio?

·         If this proposal gets on the ballot, it will only need 50% + 1 to become a law that will limit and stifle democracy forever after to a “super majority” of 60%.

We the people of Ohio cannot continue to allow a corrupt state legislature to slowly take away the people’s voice in governing decisions. Our democratic rights are being sabotaged, and we the people must say NO and say it loudly. We must support initiatives and organizations that are attempting to reverse this corporate state agenda and put democracy back in the hands of the people who will be affected by the laws that are passed. We must recognize that we the people are following laws written by and for corporations, and work to reverse this so that we the people are writing laws that corporations must follow.

The OHCRN is proposing two constitutional amendments to do just that. The Ohio Community Rights Amendment and the Initiative and Referendum for Counties and Township Amendment. Visit our website at to read both proposals full text and contact us to find out how you can help.

Join us in the effort to “legalize” and protect democracy by the people in Ohio.

Tish O'Dell

CELDF Ohio Organizer OHCRN State Coordinator, 440-838-5272