Legislative Watch – December 2, 2022

OEA Opposes Proposal to Require Supermajority for Citizen-Led Initiatives

Democracy in Ohio is facing a new attack with the constitutional amendment proposed by Secretary of State Frank LaRose and State Representative Brian Stewart (R-Ashville). House Joint Resolution 6 (HJR 6) would make it much harder to pass citizen-initiated constitutional amendments in our state by requiring a supermajority of 60% of the vote. This would make it much more difficult to pass amendments to advance the interests of students and educators, including a potential constitutional amendment to fully and fairly fund Ohio’s public schools.  

For more than 100 years, Ohioans have had the power to set the policy agenda for our state and enshrine rights into our state constitution through direct democracy. Citizen-led constitutional ballot initiatives are never undertaken lightly. To place a constitutional amendment on the ballot, citizen groups are required to collect nearly half a million verified signatures from at least half of Ohio’s counties. Changing the rules so only 40% of voters can block the will of the rest of the state’s citizens when these issues are on the ballot is unfair and wrong. A substitute version of HJR 6 would apply the 60% threshold to passage of citizen-led initiatives and constitutional amendments proposed by the legislature. 

OEA strongly opposes HJR 6 and is joined by over 140 groups who signed a letter of opposition. Organized labor, voting rights groups, civil rights organizations, religious organizations—groups on the left, right, and center of the political spectrum—have expressed opposition to this proposal. We cannot allow politicians in Columbus to ignore the will of the people. We must come together to protect the fundamental right of Ohio’s voters to decide critical issues at the ballot box.  

Click here to urge your legislators to oppose HJR 6. 

OEA Cautions Against Rush to Restructure Education Governance in Lame Duck Session 

Senate Bill 178, sponsored by Senator William Reineke (R-Tiffin), is a proposal to limit the powers and duties of the State Board of Education and create a new cabinet-level agency called the Department of Education and Workforce. The new department would be under the Governor and oversee most issues currently under the purview of the State Board of Education and the Ohio Department of Education.  

On Wednesday, November 30, OEA President Scott DiMauro testified before the Senate Primary and Secondary Education Committee expressing reservations about the proposal and the speed at which it is being considered. A day earlier, the committee accepted a substitute bill that is over 2,100 pages. The original bill was a single sentence. The full Senate may vote on the proposal as early as next week. 

President DiMauro stated in his testimony, “SB 178 proposes a significant shift in the way education is overseen and supported in Ohio. I do not believe that this type of change should be enacted in the waning days of session. Stakeholder input is needed.”  

Click here to read OEA’s full testimony.