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DeWine explains why he'll vote for Ohio's Issue 1 in August election

Daniel Konik

Gov. Mike DeWine said he plans to vote for a proposed constitutional amendment that could make it harder to pass future changes to the state's founding document. But he didn't say why deciding that in August, which typically has low turnout, is so important.

DeWine said he's looked at arguments for Issue 1 made by Ohio's business community — that people outside the state can come in and "spend a ton of money to impact" Ohio's constitution. The Ohio Chamber of Commerce, the Ohio Restaurant Association, the Ohio Hotel and Lodging Association and the Ohio Chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business have all endorsed Issue 1. A group that wants to raise the minimum wage is gathering signatures for a ballot issue next year.

"You know, the better process is, frankly, through the legislative process," he said. "This just creates a higher burden, burden in regard to changing the constitution. If you look at the burden that exists to change the U.S. Constitution, for example, you'll find it's quite, quite complicated. But it is a process that certainly calls for a few hoops to go over, or go through. So that's why I'll vote for it."

Opponents of the proposed constitutional amendment include more than 250 groups and unions. They say the gerrymandered state legislature is trying to take away power from Ohioans who are frustrated with the legislature's action or inaction on certain issues. That coalition has sued to stop the special Aug. 8 election. They claim it was illegal for lawmakers to set the amendment for a vote in August when a law that took effect in April eliminated most August special elections, and the legislature didn't pass a law to change that.

The coalition has also filed a lawsuit that contends the Issue 1 language voters will see is inaccurate and misleading. That suit asks the court to force the state's ballot board to change the amendment and add more context and background for voters to better understand what the proposed amendment would do.

There's no word when — or if — the Republican-dominated Ohio Supreme Court will rule on either of those lawsuits.

Republican lawmakers put forward Issue 1 ahead of a possible November amendment that could allow voters to enshrine abortion rights into the constitution. Issue 1 would also require citizens and groups to collect signatures for future amendments from all 88 counties, not 44 as in law now. And it would get rid of the 10-day "cure period" when more valid signatures could be collected if the initial collection falls short.
Copyright 2023 The Statehouse News Bureau.