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Big Picture: Ohio the First Battleground in Radical Left Plan to turn Red States Blue using Citizen-Initiated State Constitutional Amendments

Post card from Tacoma, WA confuses law-making process with citizen-initiated process to enshrine new rights in state constitution

At a recent meeting of the Northeast Republican Women’s Club, Orlando Sonza , Republican candidate for Ohio Senate District 9, revealed the radical left plan to enshrine their agenda into the state constitutions of states that allow citizen-initiated ballot amendments. According to Sonza, the “Reproductive Health Care” amendment is the first battle and Ohio is the first battleground.

He went on to say that leftist believe if they can pass the Reproductive Health Care amendment in Ohio they can pass it anywhere! And they have immediate plans to move forward with similar language ballot language in 11 other states.

The battle begins in Ohio on July 11 with in-person voting on Issue 1: Protect Ohio’s Constitution and ends on November 7 with a vote on the above amendment. Sonza said that Republicans are in a turn out war to win in August.

From a big picture perspective, the stakes could not higher. Outside money funneled into the state from outside donors and organizations maybe the highest seen in the state so far.

Reproductive Amendment is just first of many

The Federalist puts it plainly in an article titled: “Dear Ohioans, Vote In 2023 Or Kiss Your Constitution And Parents’ Rights Goodbye.” It goes on to say, “the November election was initiated by the left, at the direction of the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood, and they are swinging for the fences. As delineated by some of America’s brightest legal minds, the proposed ballot initiative would eliminate parental consent protections and notifications for minors requesting abortion and transgender surgery, it would usher in partial-birth abortions, and it would strike down health protections for all ages including qualified physician requirements. It’s that dangerous.”

More citizen-initiated amendments on the way

But this dangerous amendment is just the opening salvo in the plan to turn Ohio Blue as a result of leftist-led changes to the state constitution. Organizations are also collecting signatures to put the Ohio Marijuana Legalization Initiative on the November 7th ballot. Ballot petitions to enshrine minimum wage increases and a democrat redistricting plan into the state constitution are also in the works. A ballot initiative to restrict gun ownership is anticipated down the road.  

Why this? Why now? With Republicans now controlling both statehouses and the Supreme Court, the citizen-initiated amendment process becomes the weakest link and the most expedient way for radical leftist and their wealthy donors to pursue their agenda in Ohio and the 18 other states that permit citizen-initiated amendments to the constitution.

The danger? Enshrining rights in the Ohio Constitution leaves the legislative branch powerless to enact changes or remedies. For example, the SafeAct, recently passed by the Ohio House, would ban providing minors with puberty-blocking drugs, cross-sex hormones, and surgery for “gender transitioning.” This law would be rendered toothless if the Reproductive Health Care amendment is passed by Ohio voters in November.

How high is the hurdle for success?

The threshold for success of upcoming ballot initiatives depends on the outcome of the August 8 Special Statewide election on Issue 1 (a legislative-referred amendment). This amendment asks voters to Protect Ohio’s Constitution from just this type of assault by increasing the vote threshold for approval of citizen-initiated amendments from 50%+ 1 vote to 60%, requiring petition signatures from all 88 counties not just 44 and eliminating the “cure” period which currently allows organizations an additional 10 days to gather additional signatures if their initial batch doesn’t meet the requirements.

Democrats cry this would take away majority rule and make it too hard to generate and get citizen-initiated amendments approved. They say these changes would make Ohio one of the most difficult for citizens to amend the constitution.

Only 18 states to allow citizens-initiated changes to constitution

Critics fail to point out that only 18 of the 50 state constitutions permit citizen-initiated ballot amendments, 32 states do not allow citizens to put forward petitions at all. And according to Sonza, both the local Democrat party and NAACP organizations require 60% or higher vote threshold to modify their founding documents. Requiring signature from all 88 counties simply reflects the need to garner support across the entire state, not just the most populated counties.

Sonza said the 50%+1 vote approval level is too low because it has allowed for wealthy, outside special interest groups to significantly modify the Ohio Constitution without going through the legislative process. He cited the case of casinos in Ohio which were approved by a ballot amendment not by legislative action. And the Medical Cannibus Act that was backed by owners of 4 parcels who directly benefited from the amendment that restricted growing to those 4 parcels.

18 states that allow citizen-led ballot initiatives

Recent amendments approved by more than 60%

On the other hand, Sonza pointed to several ballot amendments that have passed with voter approval higher than 60%. He characterized these as broadly appealing, common-sense changes. He cited the Healthcare Freedom amendment that passed with 66%; Marsy’s Law that gave crime victims additional rights with 83% and most recently Issue 1 that gave judges the power to factor in public safety when setting bail which passed with 77% of the vote in 2022.

He went on to say that Issue 1 Protect Ohio”s Constitution will make it harder to pass ballot amendments from both the far left and far right that have limited appeal to Ohioans but backers with deep pockets. And if Issue 1 is approved in August, the 60% threshold will apply to the Reproductive Health Care and the Ohio Marijuana Legalization Initiatives on the November ballot as well as those that follow.

Useful links

Check your voter registrations before July 10. Those who have not voted in the last 6 years may have been removed from the system for inactivity and will need to re-register). Go here for county BOE search.

You can vote early on Issue 1 to Protect Ohio Constitution in August 8th special election at your precinct or vote early in-person beginning  July 11 at your BOE (search here)

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Third Base Politics is an Ohio-centric conservative blog that has been featured at Hot Air, National Review, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and others.


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