State League: Issue 2 does not eliminate citizen initiatives

To the editor:

I am writing to state the position of the League of Women Voters of Ohio on ballot Issues 2 and 3. To be clear, Issue 2 does not eliminate the citizen initiative process. Issue 2 would amend the constitution to prohibit an initiative that creates a monopoly, cartel, or oligopoly; specifies or determines a tax rate; or confers a commercial interest, commercial right, or commercial license to any person or entity for the purpose of exclusively enriching its members and prohibiting others from engaging in similar enterprises. Issue 2 requires that any initiative that confers a private, non-public economic benefit to be labeled as such and ask voters both (1) if they want to create an exception to the “no special interests” rule, and (2) if they want to pass the proposed initiative.

Based on its position adopted in 1968 stating, “a constitution should be a clearly stated body of fundamental principles. It should provide for the flexible operation of government and be logically organized and internally consistent,” LWVO opposed the 2009 initiative to write casinos into the Ohio Constitution. For this same reason, the LWVO board voted to support Issue 2 and oppose Issue 3 this year.

Issue 2 would help protect the Ohio Constitution from special interests. As for some groups’ opposition, it appears that their position is based — at least in part — over concerns that the ballot board may abuse its authority. Were such an abuse of authority to occur, the League would certainly object.

There would likely be lawsuits against the ballot board for improper actions, as there was when the Ohio Supreme Court ordered the ballot board to rewrite misleading ballot language. The courts would continue to be a recourse when necessary.

LWVO opposes Issue 3 as it would grant in the constitution exclusive economic benefits to certain entities. Regarding legalization of marijuana, LWVO is neutral. Neither the LWV United States nor LWV Ohio has undertaken a careful study on marijuana that could allow leagues at the state or local levels to either support or oppose marijuana legalization.

Alison Ricker, co-president

League of Women Voters of Ohio