Ohioans Beware: State Issue 2

Proposed Constitutional Amendment would prohibit tax reform without stopping monopolies or marijuana legalization as promised

Columbus, OH – The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law today took action to clarify for Ohioans State Issue 2, which will appear on the November 3, 2015 ballot.

State Issue 2, introduced as an attack on the marijuana legalization effort of State Issue 3, proposes to amend Section 1e of Article II of the Ohio Constitution to specify numerous purposes for which “the power of the initiative shall not be used.” (The “initiative” refers to the people, through submission of petitions, to place issues on the ballot). Those include granting or creating a monopoly, oligopoly, or cartel; but also include specifying or determining a tax rate.

Issues that are deemed to violate the new limits, in the opinion of the Ohio Ballot Board, will be required to win an extra election before they can be added to the Ohio Constitution.

There has been very little public debate on the issue leading up to the election, and many citizens are largely unaware of the details of proposed amendment. Accordingly, in its Policy Briefing on State Issue 2, released today, the 1851 Center explained the following:

  • State Issue 2 is not an “anti-monopoly amendment.” The Ohio General Assembly will be left entirely free to create monopoles and rejected language that would have tied its own hands.
  • State Issue 2 precludes tax reform instead of monopolies. While Issue 2 would not stop government from creating monopolies, it would stop citizens from initiating tax reform. Ohioans would be prohibited from using the initiative to eliminate or reduce any state or local income tax, severance tax, sales tax, property tax, or other tax.
  • State Issue 2 would not preclude marijuana legalization. This issue will only override Issue 3 if it gets more votes than Issue 3, and even then, litigation is likely to preclude that effect.
  • Issue 2 is the result of a questionable political process. Only after those supporting the marijuana amendment submitted their signatures did the Ohio General Assembly spring into action, and change rules in midstream. If legislators are successful on this occasion, there is nothing stopping them from again laying in the weeds and changing the rules of the game once any citizen initiative is completed.
  • Issue 2 would allow the Ballot Board to stifle any Initiative. “The opinion of the Ohio ballot board,” without judicial review, determines whether the Ballot Board can impose additional hurdles on citizen initiatives. No standards or criteria are specified other than the Ballot Board’s “opinion.”

“The messaging behind State Issue 2 appears to be built upon the mistruths that it prevents monopolies and would stop the proposed marijuana monopoly if enacted – – neither is accurate: this issue is simply an attack on Ohioans’ initiative rights,” said Maurice Thompson, Executive Director of the 1851 Center. “Issue 2 simply proposes that legislators should have a monopoly on the power to create monopolies. This change would simply force special interests to fund politicians’ campaigns, rather than directly promoting their issues to the public.”

Ohioans appear particularly unaware that the proposed amendment would eliminate their ability to use the initiative to advance any number of issues having nothing to do with monopolies, including any effort at tax reform, since the proposal would stifle an amendment that would “specify or determine a tax rate.”

“Nationwide, it has been proven that the citizen initiative is the most effective method of reforming excessive state and local taxes, which Ohio certainly maintains. Because current political leadership has proved unwilling to tackle these problems, Ohioans will need the initiative in the future,” added Thompson

Read The 1851 Center’s Short Policy Brief on State Issue 2 HERE

Signatures Submitted to Place Ohio Health Care Freedom Amendment on November Ballot

Columbus, OH – Supporters today will deliver more than 546,000 signatures to the Ohio Secretary of State to place the Ohio Health Care Freedom Amendment on the November ballot.   The amendment would add a 21st Section to Ohio’s Bill of Rights “to preserve the freedom of Ohioans to choose their health care and health care coverage.” [Read more…]

Dayton Tea Party v. Ohio Municipal League

Exposing Government Lobbying Records

On June 2, 2011, The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law, on behalf of Relators Dayton Tea Party and Robert Scott, filed a Public Records Complaint in the Ohio Supreme Court demanding Ohio Municipal League (OML) and Ohio Township Association (OTA) lobbying records. Both organizations have used public funds to lobby:

  • Against the Ohio Estate Tax repeal and other tax cuts
  • Against property rights
  • Against the right to bear arms, and
  • In favor of inflated state spending.

The Ohio Municipal League is a non-profit organization that was created by city government officials, and is comprised of and funded by more than 250 cities and 680 villages.  The Ohio Township Association is an association of Ohio townships whose membership contains 99.8 percent of all elected township trustees and township fiscal officers in Ohio.

Both groups exist and survive due to public funding, and invest these funds in advocacy for greater government spending, and against tax cuts and individual rights.  Lately, both have heavily advocated for greater state spending on local governments and against repeal of Ohio’s worst-in-the-nation Estate Tax (80 percent of estate tax revenue is transferred to local governments).

Under the “Functional Equivalency Test” a nominally non-public Ohio entity can be subjected to the Public Records Act if it is the functional equivalent of a public office. The test’s factors include the level of government funding and the extent of government involvement or regulation.The 1851 Center argues that the OML and OTA are the functional equivalent of public offices, as both organizations were created by, are funded by, and exist to serve local governments and public officials.

While this action was dismissed by the Ohio Supreme Court without decision, The 1851 Center believes it is a continuing concern and will pursue it again in the future. Ohioans have a right to know the politically and ideologically-motivated ends to which their tax dollars are being put, and rise in opposition to those ends. Through the OML and OTA, Ohio’s local officials tax their citizens and use these tax dollars to lobby for higher taxes yet, all the while escaping scrutiny for this agenda by running it through the OML or OTA.  Citizens have a right to know exactly how and why their hard-earned money is being used like this.

Media

Gongwer: Tea Party Sues Municipal, Township Groups in Supreme Cour Over Public Records

Dayton Business Journal: Dayton Tea Party sues several Ohio groups

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Filings

Complaint for Writ of Mandamus

Ohio RICO Complaint Filed to Stop School Construction Corruption

1851 Center Lawsuit alleges Strickland administration and OSFC placed union financial interests and remaining in office above fiscal responsibility in building schools.

COLUMBUS – Tax dollars have been wasted and continue to be at risk due to an unlawfully cozy relationship between the Strickland administration and labor unions, claim a group of Mansfield-area taxpayers. The residents today filed an Ohio Corrupt Activities Act complaint against Gov. Ted Strickland, Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC) Executive Director Richard Murray, the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) and others. The suit will demonstrate members of the Strickland administration, organized labor, and Murray used the OSFC and school building construction contracts to engage in pattern of corrupt activities expressly prohibited under Ohio’s RICO laws. [Read more…]

Stand up to collectivist government: Maurice Thompson addresses the Columbus Tea Party

On Thursday, April 15, 1851 Center Executive Director Maurice Thompson addressed a crowd of over 3,000 activists at the Columbus Tea Party’s Tax Day Rally.  He urged them to stand up to paternalistic – we know best – government.  Thompson believes taxpayers should be leery of the state and federal government’s continued path toward collectivist policies.

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Listen to his speech.

Maurice Thompson w/ WTVN’s Bob Conners on health care admendment

1851 Center for Constitutional Law Executive Director Maurice Thompson and 610 WTVN’s Bob Conners discuss the Ohio Liberty Council’s effort to block new federal health care mandates through a constitutional amendment. The amendment language was drafted by the 1851 Center.  Thompson and Conners believe government’s role should be limited, especially in matters of individual health care coverage. The interview took place on Friday, April 2, 2010, after the Ohio attorney general approved the amendment language.

Listen to the interview:

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Read more about the constitutional amendment here.

Health Care Freedom Amendment

       

Ohio’s Healthcare Freedom Amendment – Historical Overview     

Twenty-six state legislatures have introduced bills to propose constitutional amendments to block the individual mandates contained in the new federal regulations, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Ohio’s filing by the Ohio Liberty Council is the nation’s first citizen-initiated action. 

The Ohio Liberty Council is a statewide coalition of non-partisan grass roots groups in Ohio including Central Ohio 9/12 Project, Cincinnati Tea Party, Young Americans for Liberty, Dayton Tea Party, Ohio Freedom Alliance and many more grass roots organizations. By working together, the member groups of the Ohio Liberty Council seek to achieve real results to protect and promote liberty in Ohio.       

Below is an historical overview of the major actions, spanning from March of 2010 to passage of the amendment in November of 2011.  In addition, media links and court documents are provided.

March 3, 2010: Ohio Liberty Council decides to Force Statewide Vote on Health Care Mandate        

The Ohio Liberty Council, a statewide coalition of over 25 grassroots groups, submitted a proposed state constitutional amendment that will “preserve the freedom of Ohioans to choose their health care and health care coverage.” The group filed constitutional amendment summary language and nearly 3,000 signatures from registered voters in 48 counties with the Ohio Secretary of State and Attorney General.        

“The Ohio Liberty Council seeks to preserve the freedom of Ohioans,” said Ohio Liberty Council President Chris Littleton. “This constitutional amendment will do what our leaders in the Statehouse and Congress have failed to do.”       

“The health care reform bill’s requirement to maintain minimum essential coverage essentially asserts that if you are alive, you must buy health insurance that is acceptable to the federal government. However, the mere act of being alive is not commerce that can be regulated by the federal government,” said 1851 Center Executive Director Maurice Thompson. “Accordingly, the legislation is constitutionally tenuous, and will take a backseat to our constitutional amendment, which upon enactment, will be a fundamental right amongst all Ohioans.”       

The amendment provides that:       

  • In Ohio, no law or rule shall compel, directly or indirectly, any person, employer, or health care provider to participate in a health care system;
  • In Ohio, no law or rule shall prohibit the purchase or sale of health care or health insurance; and
  • In Ohio, no law or rule shall impose a penalty or fine for the sale or purchase of health care or health insurance.

 The amendment does not:        

  • Affect laws or rules in effect as of March 19, 2010;
  • Affect which services a health care provider or hospital is required to perform or provide;
  • Affect terms and conditions of government employment; and
  • Affect any laws calculated to deter fraud or punish wrongdoing in the health care industry.

Member groups of the Ohio Liberty Council gathered thousands of signatures in just 48 hours. Over 25 groups covering a majority of Ohio counties participated in the signature gathering effort and will now prepare for the next phase of the project.       

April 9, 2010: Ohio Ballot Board Nixes Citizen’s Initiative
 
Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner and the Ohio Ballot Board ruled the proposed constitutional amendment aimed at protecting Ohioans from forthcoming health care regulations should be split into two parts. As a result, the board rejected the proposed amendment and told its sponsor, the Ohio Liberty Council, to start over. 
 
April 14, 2010: 1851 Center Files Ohio Supreme Court Complaint Against Ballot Board        

The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law filed a complaint with the Ohio Supreme Court seeking a remedy for improper actions taken by the Ohio Ballot Board. On Friday, the Ballot Board, chaired by Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, rejected a proposed health care freedom constitutional amendment. It ruled the Ohio Liberty Council, the amendment’s sponsor, must resubmit the measure as two separate amendments. The ruling requires the group to rewrite its constitutional amendment, and gather two sets of 402,276 signatures for two separate amendments by June 30.       

In the writ of mandamus filed with the Ohio Supreme Court, the 1851 Center asserts the Ballot Board’s actions are arbitrary and run counter to the board’s own past precedent. The complaint contends the Ohio Liberty Council’s proposed Ohio Health Care Freedom Amendment addresses only one subject and should move forward as one constitutional amendment. Further, the Ballot Board’s ruling “effectively eviscerates the Ohio Liberty Council’s objective, and threatens to eviscerate access to the November, 2010 ballot,” the 1851 Center wrote in the complaint.       

“We ask the court to review and correct the Ohio Ballot Board’s improper decision,” said Maurice Thompson, executive director of the 1851 Center. “Our complaint rightfully attacks the constitutional authority of this unelected body to use its duty power to perform purely administrative tasks to destroy proposed constitutional amendments with which it disagrees. It does not have the constitutional authority to interfere with the Initiative rights articulated in Section 1, Article II of the Ohio Constitution.”       

February 13, 2011: Ohio Supreme Court Orders Ballot Board to Certify Amendment Language       

The Ohio Supreme Court today unanimously ruled Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner and the Ohio Ballot Board abused their discretion and violated Ohio law in rejecting ballot language for the proposed Ohio Health Care Freedom Constitutional Amendment. The ruling is a significant victory for constitutional initiative rights, Ohio’s grass-roots liberty movement, and health care freedom in Ohio. The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law argued the case on behalf of amendment sponsors the Ohio Liberty Council.       

The court ordered Brunner and the Ohio Ballot Board to immediately certify the language and allow the petitioners to begin collecting signatures to qualify the issue for the November ballot.       

“Today’s Supreme Court decision upheld the constitutionally-granted rights of citizens to petition their government even when the arbitrary and self-serving decisions of Secretary Brunner and the ballot board attempt to block them,” said 1851 Center Executive Director Maurice Thompson, who also drafted the amendment. “Secretary Brunner and the ballot board tried to use their purely administrative powers to destroy a citizen-initiated amendment with which they disagreed. Thankfully, the court checked this abuse, and Ohioans will have the opportunity to put the preservation of their health care freedom to a vote.”       

In the decision, the justices wrote, “the ballot board abused its discretion and clearly disregarded R.C. 3505.62.” Further, the court upheld the special protections contained in the Ohio Constitution granting citizens the right to petition government.       

Further, the court wrote, “the ballot board has a clear legal duty to liberally construe the right of initiative, and as long as the citizen-initiated proposed amendment bears some reasonable relationship to a single general object or purpose, the board must certify its approval of the amendment as written without dividing it into multiple petitions.”       

July 6, 2011: Signatures Submitted to Place Ohio Health Care Freedom Amendment on November Ballot       

Supporters delivered more than 546,000 signatures to the Ohio Secretary of State to place the Ohio Health Care Freedom Amendment on the November ballot.   The amendment would add a 21st Section to Ohio’s Bill of Rights “to preserve the freedom of Ohioans to choose their health care and health care coverage.”       

For the amendment to move forward, approximately 386,000 signatures must be declared valid.  Internal due diligence indicates that over 440,000 of the collected signatures (over 85 percent) are valid.  This is believed to be the most signatures collected by a volunteer-only organization in Ohio history for a constitutional amendment.       

August 3, 2011: Ballot Board Approves Ballot Language for Issue 3        

The following language was approved for Issue 3 on the November 2011 ballot:       

Issue 3: Proposed Constitutional Amendment to Preserve the Freedom of Ohioans to Choose Their Health Care and Health Care Coverage       

Proposed by Initiative PetitionTo adopt Section 21 of Article I of the Constitution of the State of Ohio.        

 A majority yes vote is necessary for the amendment to pass.The proposed amendment would provide that:       

  1. In Ohio, no law or rule shall compel, directly or indirectly, any person, employer, or health care provider to participate in a health care system;
  2. In Ohio, no law or rule shall prohibit the purchase or sale of health care or health insurance; and
  3. In Ohio, no law or rule shall impose a penalty or fine for the sale or purchase of health care or health insurance.

The proposed amendment would not:       

  1. Affect laws or rules in effect as of March 19, 2010;
  2. Affect which services a health care provider or hospital is required to perform or provide;
  3. Affect terms and conditions of government employment; and
  4. Affect any laws calculated to deter fraud or punish wrongdoing in the health care industry.

If approved, the amendment will be effective thirty days after election.       

Watch the entire recording of the Ballot Board meeting here       

Download the ballot language here

August 12, 2011: Supreme Court Denies Effort to Take Issue 3 Off Ballot        

The Ohio Supreme Court this morning rejected a challenge to remove Issue 3, the Health Care Freedom Amendment, from the November ballot. The challenge was brought by ProgressOhio, a left-leaning think tank, who moved to invalidate thousands of signatures collected by petition circulators.       

The Court found, as Amendment’s proponents, through the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law had argued, that the challenger’s “legal claim lacks merit,” and “even if his challenge had substantive validity, Rothenberg’s evidence is insufficient to establish that the part-petitions do not have enough signatures.”       

Volunteer backers of the Health Care Freedom Amendment submitted over 546,000 signatures to the Secretary of State’s office last month. 426,998 signatures were verified, and of those, Progress Ohio attempted to challenge the validity of 62,000.       

The court unanimously ruled the challenge lacked merit and that ProgressOhio’s case did not show the signatures fell short of the 385,245 valid signatures that were required.       

“The Court’s decision is simply another repudiation of Ohio’s advocates of unlimited government, as well as their ongoing effort to use the courts to accomplish that which they fear they cannot accomplish in the light of day, through a free and open election,” said Maurice Thompson, Director of the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law, which defended the proponents.  “Opponents of liberty, no doubt recognizing the importance of squashing a growing grass-roots revival in favor of limited government, decided to bring a case before they knew whether they had a case.  Ultimately, this frivolous politicized approach permeated their legal arguments and evidence.”       

See the Ohio Supreme Court’s decision on this issue here.      

November 8, 2011: Election Day Victory for Issue 3  

March 26, 2012: The 1851 Center Analyzes the Amendment’s effect on implementation of Obamacare in Ohio


Does Ohio’s Health Care Freedom Amendment Prohibit It from Enacting an Obamacare Exchange? explains how the Ohio Health Care Freedom Amendment, Section 21 of Ohio’s Bill of Rights, forbids Ohio officials from imposing Obamacare health care exchanges on Ohioans. The document also explores reasons that such exchanges are an unwise policy choice

  

  

 

       

 

April 14, 2011: Glenn Beck Show

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July 5, 2011: Dayton Business Journal: Ohio Group to Challenge Healthcare Reform Law       

July 6, 2011: Cleveland Plain Dealer: Ohio Tea Party Groups Seek Ballot Measure       

July 6, 2011: WYTV: Ohioans to Have Say on Healthcare Law       

July 6, 2011: Toledo Blade: Obama Health Care Opponents File Petition       

July 6, 2011: TIME: In Ohio, the Tea Party Rallies Around Opposition to Healthcare Mandate        

July 6, 2011: San Diego Union-Tribune: Ohio Healthcare Law Opponents to File Petitions       

July 7, 2011: Newark Advocate: Locals Join List of Names Filed to Fight Healthcare Law       

July 7, 2011: Dayton Daily News: Ohio at the Center of Debate       

July 7, 2011: Columbus Dispatch: Foes of Federal Insurance Mandate File Petition       

July 8, 2011: National Journal: Ohio Tea Party Group Pushes for Amendment       

July 8, 2011: The Daily Caller: Ohioans Fighting to Kill Obamacare With State Constitution       

August 7, 2011: Cuyahoga Falls News: Ballot Board OK’s Ballot Issues       

November 8, 2011: Cleveland Plain Dealer: Issue 3 Passes     

       

 April 13, 2010: Application for Writ of Mandamus. Asking the Ohio Supreme Court to compel Sec. Brunner and the Ohio Ballot Board to include the amendment on the next election ballot as written.     

April 20, 2010: Merit Brief. Laying out the argument for why the amendment should be included on the next election ballot.  

April 22, 2010: Motion in Opposition of Extension. Opposing an application by the state for an extension.

April 29, 2010:  Writ of Mandamus from the Ohio Supreme Court, directing Sec. Brunner and the Ohio Ballot Board to certify the amendment.

August 11, 2011: Rejection of Challenge. The Ohio Supreme Court rejected Progress Ohio’s challenge to petition signatures.

Case Suggestions

If you have a case suggestion or if you believe your constitutional rights have been violated by the government please contact mthompson@buckeyeinstitute.org.