Special interests are trying to protect the Ohio Constitution from special interests

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Special interest groups are trying to protect the Ohio Constitution from special interest groups.

This can be a confusing sentence, so let’s break it down.

Quick facts

House Joint Resolution 1 is a revival resolution that makes it harder to change the Ohio Constitution. Previously called HJR 6 in the previous General Assembly (the 134th, for counting supporters), it requires these petitions to receive a 60% majority vote instead of a simple 50% +1. This means that about 40% of the state will have the choice of the law.

Special interest groups and irony

Supporters of the resolution say the current system is easily influenced by special interest groups and outside organizations, but so far, critics say only special interest groups — some not even from Ohio — are pushing the legislation.

“We need to protect our constitution from being bought and sold by wealthy out-of-state interests,” said Rob Sexton, a lobbyist for the Buckeye Firearms Association.

Sexton joined Ohio Right to Life, the Center for Christian Virtue and the Washington, D.C.-based conservative organization the American Center for Law and Justice to testify in favor of SJR 2.

Kathryn Thurser with Common Cause Ohio — which itself could be considered a special interest group — argued that fears of outside special interests coming in and editing the constitution are not real.

“They’re dividing reformers or they’re people who are concerned about reproductive rights,” Thurser said. “They are people who live in Ohio and want to have a good life in Ohio, who want to change the Ohio Constitution.”

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He says Ohio already has guardrails against people interfering with the constitution, and citizen-sponsored amendments are rare because of how difficult it is to meet all the requirements.

“The only people worried about changing the Ohio Constitution are the special interests themselves and the state legislature, who want to take away the power of voters to change the Ohio Constitution by reducing their ability to change it,” he added.

Senate President Matt Huffman argued that any organization could be considered a special interest, including large groups that fund constitutional amendments to legalize abortion.

“Everybody has to call somebody they don’t like a special interest group … Almost everything we vote for here, whether it’s for nurses, whether it’s for public schools, whether it’s for veterans, like we did today, anybody could. to be defined as a special interest group,” Huffman said.

Ohioans may get to vote this November on whether to make abortion legal, and anti-abortion groups have been helping lawmakers convince other organizations to support the resolution.

So, in theory, everyone is a special interest group, right?

Home drama

Speaker Jason Stevens is facing backlash from his opponents for not supporting a resolution and not favoring a bill to restore the August special election after walking away from them months ago.

But Stephens acknowledged to reporters Wednesday that it’s possible the Legislature could find a way to win the August election — as they set dates and times. However, his opinion about it remains unchanged.

“That doesn’t mean I like it, but it does mean it’s a possibility,” the speaker said.

Within an hour, the anti-Stephen faction of the House of Parliament began collecting signatures on a resolution to remove Stephen from office.

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The group moved to implement the decision. With enough signatures, the legislation will immediately go to a full parliamentary vote. This replaces Stephen’s role in decision-making when bills hit the floor. And ironically, the group needs 50% of parliament, not 60%, to get the amendment in place.

As of 6:45 p.m. Wednesday, 26 of the 50 signatures needed were in place.

Follow up State House Reporter Morgan Trough and .

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