With Tuesday’s meeting of Ohio’s ballot board, the language for Issues 1, 2 & 3 is now finalized to appear on voters’ ballots this November. The issues to vote on include legislative redistricting reform, an anti-monopoly ballot initiative, and the legalization of marijuana.
Andy Doehrel, President & CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce announced our support for both Issue’s 1 and 2, and opposition to Issue 3, at a press conference last Wednesday.
Issue 1-State Legislative Redistricting Reform
Fair Districts for Ohio is the group pushing for a yes vote on Issue 1. The group is a bipartisan coalition that is co-chaired by former state representatives Matt Huffman, a Republican from Lima, and Vernon Sykes, a Democrat from Akron. Fair Districts for Ohio reported $25,642 in cash on hand in their semi-annual report at the end of July. To date, the group’s expenses have been nominal. Fair Districts for Ohio has the support of a diverse coalition including the Ohio League of Women Voters, Ohio State Bar Association, the Ohio Republican Party, and the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants. To date, there is no organized opposition to Issue 1. The Ohio Democratic Party has yet to publicly support issue 1 although an ODP sanctioned screening committee made a recommendation that the party’s executive committee support the measure. The executive committee of the Ohio Democratic Party will meet sometime early next month to formally vote on the screening committee’s proposal.
Issue 2- Ban on Monopolies in Ohio’s Constitution
Issue 2 is a constitutional amendment that was passed by the General Assembly days before it broke for the summer recess. The proposal is timely, as the Issue 3 language creates a legal marijuana cartel here in Ohio and if passed will nullify Issue 3 completely. A “Yes on 2” group is forming and will launch in the coming weeks. Opponents of Issue 2 include proponents of Issue 3 as well as individuals who believe that the measure may restrict a citizen’s right to change the constitution. Several law makers, including State Sen. Charleta Tavares (D-Columbus) voiced concern over these potential unintended consequences of the proposal.
Issue 3-Legalization of Marijuana
The Issue 3 campaign has seen the most action to date. With organized support and opposition in place, millions of dollars will be spent by both groups. ResponsibleOhio is the main backer for Issue 3 and was responsible for gathering the 305,591 signatures necessary to make the ballot. The group’s funding comes from investors who will own and operate the 10 commercial grow sites to be located throughout Ohio authorized by the ballot language upon its passage. ResponsibleOhio has raised and spent over 2 million dollars thus far. According to the campaign’s chief consultant, Ian James, ResponsibleOhio is prepared to spend 20 million to see the proposal to victory. Earlier this week, the official opposition group to Issue 3, Ohioans Against Marijuana Monopolies, launched its campaign at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus. Veteran campaign strategist Curt Steiner is one of the principals for the opposition group. Speaking to press at the event, Steiner stated that the group will have a comprehensive grassroots strategy and has already received a groundswell of support from local leaders throughout Ohio.
Moving Ohio Forward
The Ohio Chamber has committed substantial resources to support the positions that we have taken on all three issues appearing on the ballot in November. We will be working actively to educate our membership on Issues 1, 2,and 3 and to execute a comprehensive grassroots campaign to educate our 8,000 members on each proposal.
My twitter handle @probizpolitics provides news and information on the upcoming election in 2016 and all things Ohio politics. Please consider taking a look.