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Making amendments harder to pass in Ohio

Frank LaRose
Andy Chow
Ohio Public Radio Statehouse News Bureau
Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R), proposes new rule for constitutional amendments.

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose is pushing to update the rules for changing Ohio’s constitution, moving the threshold from 50% to 60% to pass an amendment.

On this week's episode of Snollygoster, Ohio's politics podcast from WOSU, hosts Mike Thompson and Steve Brown look to Florida to see what that kind of change might look like. Prof. Susan MacManus of the University of South Florida joins the show.

The Sunshine State

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose recently spoke in favor of a major change to the process for amending the state constitution. “Something as serious as amending our constitution should really demand the kind of consensus necessary to get to 60 percent,” he said.

He and fellow supporter State Rep. Brian Steward call it the “Ohio Constitution Protection Amendment.”

In their plan, supporters of a new amendment to the constitution would still have to collect hundreds of thousands of signatures to get a question on the ballot, or the legislature would have to vote to put a question on the ballot. But once there, voters would have to approve the question by at least 60%. Right now, amendments pass with a simple majority vote: 50% plus one.

LaRose and supporters claim the move will make it harder for so-called out-of-state special interest groups from spending tens of millions of dollars to change Ohio’s constitution.

Critics note the move comes right after the Dobbs Decision removed protections for abortion rights and several states have recently voted in referendums to protect constitutional rights. With a possible abortion question looming in Ohio, critics say abortion opponents are trying to make it harder to pass.

Other states have done this including Florida. In 2006, Florida did what Ohio is trying to do. It went to voters to ask them to amend the constitution so it would take 60% to change it.

The measure passed by only 57%.

Snollygoster of the week

This past summer, Pres. Biden reached a deal with railroad workers that prevented a nationwide strike. That strike would have hurt the economy right before the mid-term elections, which would not have helped the Democrats.

Shrewdly, the union and Democrats pushed the member’s ratification votes until after the election and, not surprisingly, members are not happy with the agreement. They are rejecting it and threatening a strike right before Christmas.

Of course, Biden and Congress are moving to force the unions to take the deal which would avert a strike. But it was pretty shrewd to put this drama off, so it occurred after the mid-term election.

If you have a suggestion for our Snollygoster of the Week award, a question or a comment, send them to snollygoster@wosu.org.