Amid Statehouse protest, Ohio GOP says bill to make it harder to amend constitution lacks votes to pass

Rally for Democracy
Posted at 6:58 PM, Dec 13, 2022
and last updated 2023-06-12 18:23:48-04

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A resolution to require a 60% supermajority vote in order for constitutional amendments to succeed doesn't have 60% of the vote to even get out of the Ohio House.

Representatives of more than 170 organizations fought against House Joint Resolution 6, a divisive resolution meant to make it harder to amend the constitution. H.J.R. 6 would require all constitutional petitions to receive a 60% supermajority vote to pass instead of the simple 50%+1 — letting the 40%+1 of the population choose Ohio laws.

It is possible their work paid off because House Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) said the resolution has divided the Republicans and he doesn't think it can pass.

"I think it's doubtful," Cupp said. "There are members that have a lot of questions about it."

The concerns that lawmakers have with it range from how quickly the legislation moved forward to not being sure how it would operate, he said.

"Members have a lot of different opinions about it and some are still trying to figure it out," the speaker added. "So at this point, I don't see it moving forward.”

In a press conference at the Statehouse Tuesday, hundreds of progressive, conservative and nonpartisan Ohioans did a mock vote, showing their opposition.

Rev. Dr. Jack Sullivan Jr. with the Ohio Council of Churches said the bill is undemocratic.

"I was concerned because it would give power to only 40% of Ohioans to block a creative ballot initiative that's supported by the vast majority," Sullivan Jr. added. "That's just not fair."

Some GOP lawmakers, like state Rep. Shane Wilkin, said that outside groups are passing amendments through Ohio’s citizen-led ballot initiative process. Money pays the way for special interest groups, he said.

"When there's enough money involved, you can pay people to gather whatever," Wilkin said. "You can say, 'hey, wouldn't you like to see Ohio get an extra 300 million in tax dollars?'

"'Sounds great. I'll sign my name.' Yeah, well, what did you sign? They don't know."

There is no evidence that special interest groups have passed amendments through Ohio’s citizen-led ballot initiative process in recent years, and reproductive rights groups believe this is really a targeted way to make it harder for voters to pass a measure to protect and ensure abortion.

RELATED: 2 abortion rights groups launch simultaneous efforts to codify abortion rights with ballot measures

Two different coalitions launched two separate initiatives to restore and ensure abortion access in Ohio through ballot initiatives to amend the state constitution. You can watch more about it in the player below:

2 abortion rights coalitions seek, separately, to codify abortion rights

On Monday, Ohioans for Reproduction Freedom, a coalition of abortion and reproductive rights groups, announced the formation of a ballot exploration committee that will work towards adding a measure on a future state ballot to amend the Ohio Constitution to explicitly enshrine the right to receive abortion care.

Follow WEWS statehouse reporter Morgan Trau on Twitter and Facebook.