Laws governing the initiative process in Ohio (archive)

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The laws governing initiatives and referenda in Ohio are contained in:

For details, see: Procedures for qualifying an initiative in Ohio.

Constitutional provisions

Amending the constitution

§1a: The first aforestated power reserved by the people is designated the initiative, and the signatures of ten per centum of the electors shall be required upon a petition to propose an amendment to the constitution. When a petition signed by the aforesaid required number of electors, shall have been filed with the secretary of state, and verified as herein provided, proposing an amendment to the constitution, the full text of which shall have been set forth in such petition, the secretary of state shall submit for the approval or rejection of the electors, the proposed amendment, in the manner hereinafter provided, at the next succeeding regular or general election in any year occurring subsequent to ninety days after the filing of such petition. The initiative petitions, above described, shall have printed across the top thereof: “Amendment to the Constitution Proposed by Initiative Petition to be Submitted Directly to the Electors." (1912)[1]

Initiative to enact laws

§1b: When at any time, not less than ten days prior to the commencement of any session of the General Assembly, there shall have been filed with the secretary of state a petition signed by three per centum of the electors and verified as herein provided, proposing a law, the full text of which shall have been set forth in such petition, the secretary of state shall transmit the same to the General Assembly as soon as it convenes. If said proposed law shall be passed by the General Assembly, either as petitioned for or in an amended form, it shall be subject to the referendum. If it shall not be passed, or if it shall be passed in an amended form, or if no action shall be taken thereon within four months from the time it is received by the General Assembly, it shall be submitted by the secretary of state to the electors for their approval or rejection at the next regular or general election, if such submission shall be demanded by supplementary petition verified as herein provided and signed by not less than three per centum of the electors in addition to those signing the original petition, which supplementary petition must be signed and filed with the secretary of state within ninety days after the proposed law shall have been rejected by the General Assembly or after the expiration of such term of four months, if no action has been taken thereon, or after the law as passed by the General Assembly shall have been filed by the governor in the office of the secretary of state.

The proposed law shall be submitted in the form demanded by such supplementary petition which form shall be either as first petitioned for or with any amendment or amendments which may have been incorporated therein by either branch or by both branches, of the General Assembly. If a proposed law so submitted is approved by a majority of the electors voting thereon, it shall be the law and shall go into effect as herein provided in lieu of any amended form of said law which may have been passed by the General Assembly, and such amended law passed by the General Assembly shall not go into effect until and unless the law proposed by supplementary petition shall have been rejected by the electors. All such initiative petitions, last above described, shall have printed across the top thereof, in case of proposed laws: “Law Proposed by Initiative Petition First to be Submitted to the General Assembly.”

Ballots shall be so printed as to permit an affirmative or negative vote upon each measure submitted to the electors. Any proposed law or amendment to the constitution submitted to the electors as provided in section la and section 1b, if approved by a majority of the electors voting thereon, shall take effect thirty days after the election at which it was approved and shall be published by the secretary of state. If conflicting proposed laws or confl icting proposed amendments to the constitution shall be approved at the same election by a majority of the total number of votes cast for and against the same, the one receiving the highest number of affirmative votes shall be the law, or in the case of amendments to the constitution shall be the amendment to the constitution. No law proposed by initiative petition and approved by the electors shall be subject to the veto of the governor. (1912)

Veto referendum

§1c The second aforestated power reserved by the people is designated the referendum, and the signatures of six per centum of the electors shall be required upon a petition to order the submission to the electors of the state for their approval or rejection, of any law, section of any law or any item in any law appropriating money passed by the General Assembly. No law passed by the General Assembly shall go into effect until ninety days after it shall have been filed by the governor in the office of the secretary of state, except as herein provided.

When a petition, signed by six per centum of the electors of the state and verified as herein provided, shall have been filed with the secretary of state within ninety days after any law shall have been filed by the governor in the office of the secretary of state, ordering that such law, section of such law or any item in such law appropriating money be submitted to the electors of the state for their approval or rejection, the secretary of state shall submit to the electors of the state for their approval or rejection such law, section or item, in the manner herein provided, at the next succeeding regular or general election in any year occurring subsequent to sixty days after the filing of such petition, and no such law, section or item shall go into effect until and unless approved by a majority of those voting upon the same. If, however, a referendum petition is filed against any such section or item, the remainder of the law shall not thereby be prevented or delayed from going into effect. (1912)

Signature requirements

See also: Ohio signature requirements

For constitutional amendments, petitioners must submit signatures equal to 10% of the votes cast for governor in the most recent election.

For statutes, signatures equaling 3% of these votes must be submitted in order to place the proposal before the Ohio State Legislature. If the legislature fails to enact the proposed legislation, additional signatures equaling 3% of the last gubernatorial vote must be collected in order to place the measure the ballot. Put simply, if initiative sponsors believe that the legislature will not enact their proposed law, they should plan to collect signatures equaling 6% of the last gubernatorial vote.

Veto referendums also require 6%. In addition, every type of measure requires 1000 preliminary signatures with the initial filing.

Year Initial signatures Initiated amendment Initiated statute Round 1 Initiated statute Round 2 Veto referendum
2014 1,000 385,247 115,574 115,574 231,149
2012 1,000 385,247 115,574 115,574 231,149
2010 1,000 402,275 120,683 120,683 241,365
2008 1,000 402,275 120,683 120,683 241,365

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Ohio Constitution, Article 2, Sections 1a -1c

Exemptions and limitations

Emergency laws

§1d: "Laws providing for tax levies, appropriations for the current expenses of the state government and state institutions, and emergency laws necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health or safety, shall go into immediate effect. Such emergency laws upon a yea and nay vote must receive the vote of two thirds of all the members elected to each branch of the General Assembly, and the reasons for such necessity shall be set forth in one section of the law, which section shall be passed only upon a yea and nay vote, upon a separate roll call thereon. The laws mentioned in this section shall not be subject to the referendum."

Limitation of use

§1e: "The powers defined herein as the “initiative” and “referendum” shall not be used to pass a law authorizing any classification of property for the purpose of levying different rates of taxation thereon or of authorizing the levy of any single tax on land or land values or land sites at a higher rate or by a different rule than is or may be applied to improvements thereon or to personal property."

Legislative tampering

Main article: Legislative tampering

The Ohio State Legislature can both repeal and amend initiated state statutes.

Legal challenges to Ohio laws

Citizens for Tax Reform v. Deters

On November 27, 2006, in her ruling on Citizens for Tax Reform v. Deters, federal court judge Susan Dlott found that Ohio's law ORC 3599.111 that forbade paying petitioners by the signature was unconstitutional.

The decision was appealed to the Sixth Circuit, where Dlott's ruling was upheld. Ohio has indicated that it may appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Moore v. Brunner

On June 2, 2008, in the case of Moore v. Brunner, a federal judge agreed with third party presidential candidate Brian Moore's legal claim that Ohio's rule about non-resident circulators is unconstitutional. The judge issued a restraining order enjoining the Ohio Secretary of State from enforcing the law.

Changes in the process

The Ohio State Legislature placed a statewide ballot proposition on the November 4, 2008 ballot, the Initiative Deadlines Act, that changes the deadline for submitting signatures on initiatives from 90 days pre-election to 125 days pre-election. Ohio voters approved the amendment. This change, and other changes to make it harder to qualify initiatives for the Ohio ballot, are supported by the Ohio spokesperson for the National Federation of Independent Businesses, who says that it is too easy for put initiatives on the ballot.[2]

Proposed changes

2011

Changes in 2011 to laws governing ballot measures

No laws have been proposed in 2011.

2010

Changes in 2010 to laws governing ballot measures

The following proposals were made during the 2009-2010 session of the Ohio General Assembly:


2009

In November 2009, Rep. Jennifer Garrison revealed the "Ballot Integrity Act" - proposed legislation that would amend the state's initiative process. One of the problems with the state's initiative process, she said, is that some people simply are not following the laws, however, she noted that some the laws need to be revised.[3][4]

The legislation, if approved, would:

  • require petition firms to get licenses
  • give the secretary of state the power to deny licenses to petition firms that previously violated petition laws in Ohio or other states
  • require the registration of petition circulators
  • require the development of training programs for petition circulators

Brandon W. Holmes with the Citizens in Charge Foundation has criticized Garrison's proposal, saying "Basically, [Garrison] wants people to have to register before they can exercise their First Amendment right to free speech and their right to petition under the Ohio constitution. If this isn’t anti-free-speech and anti-voter, I don’t know what is."[5]

Campaign finance

Ballotpedia:WikiProject Law/Articles to improve This ballot law article has been archived. See updated article.

Main article: Campaign finance requirements for Ohio ballot measures

Some of the notable features of Ohio's campaign finance laws include:

  • Ohio treats ballot issue groups differently than other political action committees.
  • Ohio requires that a campaign treasurer is in place before any contributions can be received or money spent.
  • Ohio requires separate registration if a campaign plans to provide petition circulators.
  • Ohio requires all campaign finance records be retained for six years.
  • Ohio bans government employees from soliciting for contributions for or against a ballot issue.

References

See also