This week, protesters poured into the Ohio state Capitol in opposition to a proposal going on the ballot for state residents that, if passed, would raise the threshold for approving constitutional amendments in the state (meaning alterations to Ohio’s guiding document specifically).
The needed level of support has been a simple majority, but putting the proposed change in place would make it instead so 60 percent of Ohioans have to agree. Ohio Republicans are moving towards a vote on the question among Ohio residents in August — months before another vote may take place among Ohioans on whether to put protections for abortion into the state Constitution. The timing means that Republican legislators and voters pushing through this change would make putting those protections for abortion into place that much more difficult.
Republicans in the legislature, who ended up approving the proposed change to handling amendments for a vote by Ohio residents, eventually established the balloting for the proposal without even including specific funding and on what some said were legally questionable grounds for setting election dates.
The proposal, should it be passed by Ohio voters, would also require signatures in the process of adding future proposed amendments to the ballot to come from all counties in the state instead of half, adding to the resources needed for citizen-led drives to put a question before the state’s voters. “Critics say it strips power from voters and ensures only well-funded outside groups can put amendments on the ballot,” The Columbus Dispatch said Wednesday. The publication’s report also noted that supporters of the proposed change to handling amendments, though fewer in number, also gathered in Ohio’s capital this week.
“Vote no!” the opponents loudly chanted in one scene captured on video by state Rep. Casey Weinstein, a Democrat. Democratic lawmakers evidently chanted in favor of the demonstrators from the legislative floor, which is the kind of action that Republicans in states like Tennessee and Montana have recently exploited as an excuse for trying to push Democratic legislators participating in such action out of the legislative process.
In Tennessee, three members of the state House who supported protests demanding gun control subsequently faced votes on potentially expelling the trio. In Montana, a legislator who helped draw attention to the need for protecting trans rights was barred from the chamber and has been conducting her work partly in a hallway. See video of Ohio demonstrations below:
Your Statehouse right now. 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/oDanYdzokT
— Rep. Casey Weinstein (@RepWeinstein) May 10, 2023
Today, hundreds of Ohioans gathered at the Statehouse to protest S.J.R. 2/H.J.R. 1.
Despite their protests, Republicans pushed through their resolution to raise the threshold for Ohioans to pass citizen-initiated constitutional amendments from a simple majority to 60%. pic.twitter.com/HE8EgmIFPU
— Ohio Senate Dems (@OhioSenateDems) May 10, 2023
Image: Ohio Senate Dems on Twitter, used for editorial purposes