Pubdate: Fri, 30 Oct 2015
Source: Columbus Dispatch (OH)
Copyright: 2015 The Columbus Dispatch
Author: Alan Johnson


The intense debate over State Issue 3, the marijuana-legalization 
amendment, has overshadowed State Issue 2, which aims to block 
monopoly interests from carving out a niche in the Ohio Constitution.

A constitutional lawyer says the Issue 2 "cure" could be worse than 
the "disease" if Ohioans approve the measure in Tuesday's election.

Maurice Thompson, executive director of the 1851 Center for 
Constitutional Law, a conservative, nonprofit legal center, said 
Issue 2 would hamper future citizen-driven ballot initiatives, 
including those seeking tax reforms.

The issue would not prevent the General Assembly from initiating 
monopoly ballot issues and would give the Ohio Ballot Board too much 
authority to decide what is and is not a monopoly in reviewing their 
placement on the ballot, Thompson said.

"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 is simply 
an attack on Ohioans' initiative rights," Thompson said in a statement.

"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."

State Rep. Mike Curtin, D-Marble Cliff, a prime architect of Issue 2, 
said Thompson and the 1851 Center are making "numerous wild and false claims."

"State Issue 2 would have absolutely no negative impact on citizens' 
right to the initiative process, whether used to address tax policy 
or any other policies applicable to all Ohioans," Curtin said.

Issue 2 was hurriedly crafted by lawmakers this year once it became 
clear that the marijuana-legalization amendment was likely to make it 
onto the ballot. If approved by voters, Issue 2 would amend the 
constitution to require two public votes for future citizen-initiated 
issues that propose a special-interest financial monopoly.

Curtin said if both Issue 2 and Issue 3 pass on Tuesday, the one with 
the most votes would prevail because of a constitutional provision 
last used in 1918. Others dispute that argument, saying the matter 
would certainly end up in court.

To get on the ballot, monopoly interests would need to secure voter 
approval for two issues at a single election. The first vote would be 
to exempt the monopoly from the constitutional ban imposed by Issue 
2. The second vote would be on the proposed issue itself.

The Ohio Ballot Board, a five-member panel led by the secretary of 
state, would decide whether proposed issues are monopolies and 
require two votes instead of one.

Thompson also said that the Ballot Board's decision on a monopoly 
would not be subject to judicial review.

Curtin said that interpretation is wrong. The issue says: " 'The 
Supreme Court of Ohio shall have original, exclusive jurisdiction in 
any action that relates to this section,' " Curtin said. " No 
competent attorney can misread that language."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom