© 2024 WOSU Public Media
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

August election set for vote on raising amendment threshold

A protester holds a sign
Patrick Orsagos
A protester holds a sign outside of the Ohio Statehouse on Wednesday, May 3, 2023, in Columbus, Ohio. Hundreds gathered to protest a group of Republican legislators' attempt to make it harder to pass constitutional amendments.

Hundreds of protesters filled the Statehouse Wednesday as the House debated whether to ask voters to make it harder to change the Ohio constitution this summer.

On this week's episode of Snollygoster, Ohio's politics podcast from WOSU, hosts Mike Thompson and Steve Brown discuss what to expect in a controversial August election on this issue.

It's in the hands of voters... sort of

The Ohio House Republicans hope voters will make it harder for voters to change the state constitution. The move is an effort to thwart a possible November vote to guarantee abortion rights.

The statehouse has not seen such a large and vocal crowd since the debate over Senate Bill 5 in 2011, when lawmakers passed a law that weakened public employee unions.

On Wednesday, protesters chanted as they urged lawmakers to vote against the measure. Demonstrators went away disappointed as the House voted 62-38 to put the measure on the August ballot.

The measure would require a 60% majority to pass future constitutional amendments. It would also require petition gatherers to collect signatures from all 88 Ohio counties, instead of just half of the counties.

Republican lawmakers who support the measure say it is necessary to protect the integrity of the constitution. They argue that the current process is too easy for special interests to use to advance their own agendas.

But Democrats and abortion rights advocates say the measure is an attempt to silence the voices of voters. They argue that it is an unnecessary and burdensome obstacle that would make it harder to pass important reforms.

Snollygoster of the week

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, is facing a tough re-election race in a state that has trended Republican in recent years. Brown, who is running for his fourth term, is trying to appeal to a broader range of voters by tacking to the middle.

Earlier this month, Brown broke with the Biden administration and voted to rescind the president's action to delay new tariffs on solar imports from China and other Asian countries. The tariffs are popular with Ohio's manufacturing workers, who are a key constituency for Brown.

This week, Brown co-sponsored a bill that would give a two-year extension to Title 42, the COVID-19 emergency policy that restricts migrants from entering the United States. The policy is also popular with many Ohioans, who are concerned about illegal immigration.

Brown's positions on trade and immigration are at odds with those of the Biden administration, but they are likely to appeal to swing voters in Ohio. Brown is a skilled politician who is known for his ability to connect with voters on a personal level. He is also a strong fundraiser, which will give him a significant advantage in the election.

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