Under the Ohio Constitution, voters are asked every 20 years, “Shall there be a convention to revise, alter, or amend the constitution?” That’s what Issue 1 is all about. If voters approve Issue 1, the General Assembly, which is currently controlled by Republicans, will set rules for how constitutional delegates are elected. The delegates will then go to the convention and decide what, if any, constitutional amendments should be suggested to voters. The process essentially bypasses the petition system for constitutional amendments, which requires constitutional proposals obtain a certain amount of signatures from registered voters before being put on a ballot.
That might seem innocent enough, but there are a few problems: First, the state’s budget is tight.
Is this process, which will cost taxpayers money, really necessary with the petition system in place? It’s not like the petition system has outstandingly failed recently. It’s allowed redistricting reform to come up this year, and even a gay marriage amendment will be taken up with support from FreedomOhio as soon as 2013.
Also, bypassing the petition process would let radical conservative groups legitimize their extreme ideas with amendments. To be clear, voters would still have to approve anything passed in the constitutional convention, but at CityBeat we don’t feel comfortable with a personhood amendment that bans abortion or anti-gay rights amendment on the ballot under any circumstance. It’s just not worth the risk.