Ohio Healthcare Amendment, Issue 3 (2011)

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Editor's note: This article is about two similar proposed measures dealing with the same issue. One measure was a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment. That measure failed to be placed on the ballot. The other measure was an initiated constitutional amendment that was originally proposed for the 2010 ballot, but was then placed on the 2011 ballot.

Issue 3
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Type:Constitutional amendment
Constitution:Ohio Constitution
Referred by:citizens
Status:Approved Approveda
An Ohio Health Care Amendment was on the November 8, 2011 ballot in the state of Ohio as an initiated constitutional amendment, where it was approved.Approveda

The measure called for exempting residents of Ohio from national health care mandates which would stop any state law from forcing persons, employers or health care providers from participating in a health care system. The measure was sponsored by The Ohio Project. The measure was in response to President Barack Obama's signing of a national health care mandate law in 2010.

Election results

See also: 2011 ballot measure election results
Ohio Issue 3
Approveda Yes 2,221,175 65.63%

Results via the Ohio Secretary of State with 100% of counties reporting.

Text of measure

Ballot language

The ballot language that voters saw on the ballot read as follows:[1]

Issue 3

Proposed Constitutional Amendment


Proposed by Initiative Petition

To adopt Section 21 of Article I of the Constitution of the State of Ohio

A majority yes vote is necessary for the amendment to pass.

The proposed amendment would provide that:

1. In Ohio, no law or rule shall compel, directly or indirectly, any person, employer, or
health care provider to participate in a health care system.
2. In Ohio, no law or rule shall prohibit the purchase or sale of health care or health
3. In Ohio, no law or rule shall impose a penalty or fine for the sale or purchase of
health care or health insurance.

The proposed amendment would not:

1. Affect laws or rules in effect as of March 19, 2010.
2. Affect which services a health care provider or hospital is required to perform or provide.
3. Affect terms and conditions of government employment.

4. Affect any laws calculated to deter fraud or punish wrongdoing in the health care


If approved, the amendment will be effective thirty days after the election.

Shall the amendment be approved?

Official arguments

See also Official arguments for and against Ohio Health Care Amendment, Issue 3 (2011)

The following was the introduction to the official argument for Issue 3: Read the entire text:

Protect your health care freedom, preserve your right to choose your doctor and health insurance, and keep government out of your personal medical decisions.

The following was the introduction to the official argument against Issue 3. Read the entire text:

Voting “NO” means that health care will be more secure because working families won’t be denied coverage due to a pre-existing condition. Voting “NO” also helps protect Ohioans from the risk of losing their coverage or being forced into bankruptcy when someone gets sick.


2010 initiative effort

Originally the citizen initiated version of the measure was proposed as a 2010 proposal sponsored by the Ohio Liberty Council, and was proposed for the November 2, 2010 statewide ballot. An April 9, 2010 decision by the Ohio Ballot Board to split the proposed health care amendment into two separate amendments, the original measure was considered "dead." The board's decision meant that amendment supporters must re-start the ballot process: re-file summaries and have them re-certified before circulating petitions.

However, on April 29, 2010 the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that the amendment could appear as one issue; reversing the Ballot Boards earlier decision. According to the court, the board "abused its discretion and disregarded state law and ordered it to certify the proposed amendment." The court's ruling gave supporters the green light to circulate petitions. On May 3 the Ohio Ballot Board certified the petition language as one amendment, reversing its earlier decision to certify it as two separate ones.[2][3][4]

Then, days prior to the petition drive deadline for 2010 ballot access, supporters announced that they failed to collect sufficient signatures. Instead supporters said at that time that they planned to shift their efforts to the 2011 statewide ballot.[5][6][7][8]

2011 legislative proposal

A legislative version of the measure was introduced as well. However, the measure failed during 2011 state legislative session, as there were not enough votes in the state House to make the ballot.[9][10]




  • Ohio Liberty Council co-founder Chris Littleton argued that the current federal health care reform bill was "making choices in people's personal behavior that is effectively (saying), 'If you breathe, the government can tell you to do x, y or z,' and that's not a good position."[11][12]
  • Ohio Right to Life, a pro-life group in the state, endorsed the measure after a unanimous vote by the board of trustees. The group stated: “By voting yes on Issue 3, Ohioans will preserve their freedom to choose healthcare coverage free of abortion funding and healthcare rationing. When successful, Issue 3 will enact the Ohio Healthcare Freedom Amendment, which provides that in Ohio no law will compel any person, employer or healthcare provider to participate in a healthcare system and that no law should prohibit the purchase or sale of healthcare insurance.”[13]
  • State Senator Bob Peterson was in favor of the proposal, stating in an opinion column: "In a country like the United States, that was founded on values and freedom, it seems wrong that the federal government should require and manage individuals health care decisions. The November election will serve as a telltale of the sentiment among Ohioans regarding this vital issue."[14]
  • Cleveland Plain Dealer Columnist Kevin O'Brien endorsed Issue 3 in a column, stating: "Even people who normally look askance at state constitutional changes should see the value of this one. Critics say it's largely symbolic. If it is, it's the right kind of symbolism. Vote "yes.""[15]


No donor information was available from Ohio campaign finance reports before or after the election.




  • Ohio Consumers for Health Coverage argued that the proposed amendment was an attempt to block the federal health care reform bill without offering alternative options. In a statement, according to reports, the organization said,"If people are allowed to buy insurance only when they need it, insurance will get too expensive for everyone."[11]
  • Opponents of the measure claimed that the wording of the proposal submitted by supporters was poorly drafted. Opponents said that the broad proposal interfered with other state laws. Among those who claimed this were Jessie Hill and Maxwell Mehlman, Case Western Reserve University law professors. They stated that the language contained the banning of new health care mandates passed after March 2010, which meant that this could have effected further possible changes to workers' compensation, child support orders and a proposal dealing with prescription drug abuse.[20]
  • Brian Rothenberg, treasurer of the "No On Issue 3" political action committee stated: "We're trying to explain to folks that the stated purpose will have no net effect, but (Issue 3) will cost heavily in litigation. In the end, we'll have to have a number of court fights to figure out what this means."[21]


No donor information was available from Ohio campaign finance reports before or after the election.

Media endorsements

See also: Endorsements of Ohio ballot measures, 2011


  • The Columbus Dispatch stated in an editorial: "...trying to counter the federal law with an ineffective amendment to the Ohio Constitution is a bad idea. This is not where that battle should be fought. Ohioans, including those who agree with The Dispatch that the federal health-care overhaul is deeply flawed, should vote no on State Issue 3."[22]
  • The Akron Beacon Journal stated: "The concern, as analysts point out, is what happens to laws that have been passed since then and how Issue 3 would restrict future amendments to existing laws, among them child support enforcement orders, school immunization requirements, health data collection for public health purposes and court-ordered treatment programs. Issue 3 deserves a resounding “no.”"[23]
  • The Athens News wrote: "When you go into the voting booth on Nov. 8, be prepared to perform an election "two-fer" — vote a resounding NO for both state Issue 2 (the referendum on S.B. 5) and state Issue 3. Both are blatant examples of ideological over-reaching and in no way promote good government in our state."[24]
  • The Cleveland Plain Dealer editorial board argued: "This ill-conceived amendment to Ohio's Constitution won't do what it promises and it might do much harm. Voters need to reject Issue 3."[25]
  • The Toledo Blade also endorsed a 'no' vote, writing: "Ohio voters need not, and should not, risk this sort of harm merely to enable Mr. Obama's partisan detractors to score political points. Vote NO on Issue 3."[26]

Legal challenge

See also: List of ballot measure lawsuits in 2011

The group ProgressOhio challenged the petition signatures collected for the measure with the Ohio Supreme Court in hopes of taking the measure off of the ballot. However, on August 12, 2011, the high court ruled that the measure did indeed collect enough valid signatures, and it should stay on the ballot. According to the ruling, ProgressOhio did not provide proof that supporters of the measure failed to collect the required 385,245 signatures needed to make the ballot.

According to Jeff Longstreth, campaign manager for Ohioans for Healthcare Freedom, who backed the measure: "We are very pleased the Ohio Supreme Court upheld the validity of the signatures and will allow voters to have a choice this fall if health care decisions should be made by patients and doctors or politicians in Washington D.C.."

Brian Rothenberg, executive director of ProgressOhio, stated: "Clearly our review was hampered by 40 percent of the counties refusing to respond to a public records request in the allotted time for review."[27]

The ruling stated: "... even if his challenge had substantive validity, Rothenberg's evidence is insufficient to establish that the part-petitions do not have enough signatures."[28]

Path to the ballot

See also: Ohio signature requirements

2011 initiative

A coalition of Tea Party groups and other groups announced on April 22, 2011 that it had collected more than 300,000 signatures towards ballot placement for 2011. Supporters had until July 6, 2011 to collect the 385,245 signatures from registered voters that were required for an initiated constitutional amendment to obtain ballot access. This number represents 10% of the votes cast for governor in the most recent election. In addition, signatures must have been gathered from 44 of Ohio's 88 counties.[29]

Reports confirmed that health care amendment supporters filed approximately 546,000 signatures by the July 6, 2011 petition drive deadline, more than the 385,245 needed to make the ballot. Reports also stated that the secretary of state's office had until July 26, 2011 to verify those signatures.[30][31][32]

The measure was certified for the ballot before that deadline that the measure did indeed collect enough signatures for ballot access.[33]

Failed 2010 initiative

Originally the measure was proposed for the November 2, 2010 statewide ballot, however, days prior to the petition drive deadline supporters announced that they failed to collect sufficient signatures for 2010. Instead supporters said they planned to shift their efforts to the 2011 statewide ballot.[5][6] To qualify the proposed initiative for the November 2010 ballot, supporters were required to collect a minimum of 402,275 valid signatures across at least 44 of 88 counties by June 29.[34]

The 2010 version of the initiative was originally submitted on March 22, 2010 to the attorney general. The filed title read, "To preserve the freedom of Ohioans to choose their health care and health care coverage." Attorney General Richard Cordray certified the summary of the proposed amendment on April 1, 2010, sending the petition language to the Ohio Ballot Board for final approval. In a released statement, Cordray said, "Without passing upon the advisability of the approval or rejection of the measure to be referred ... I hereby certify that the summary is a fair and truthful statement of the proposed initiated constitutional amendment to Article I of the Ohio Constitution."[35][36][37][38]

Healthcare on the ballot in 2011
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Ballot board splits amendment

On April 9, 2010 the Ohio Ballot Board voted 4-0 to split the 2010 proposed health care amendment into two separate amendments: one involving the freedom to choose health care and insurance coverage and another on governance and oversight of health care matters. According to an attorney representing the Ohio Liberty Council, proponents of the measure, a lawsuit regarding the changes may be filed in April to have the issue certified as one proposed amendment. The board's decision means that amendment supporters must re-start the ballot process. They must re-file summaries and have them re-certified before circulating petitions.[3]

Ohio Supreme Court ruling

Amendment supporters took the case to the Ohio Supreme Court, asking them to extend the deadline to collect signatures and get the ballot language approved. "We feel that Secretary Brunner is playing a delaying action here. We feel that she's trying to run the clock out on us, quite frankly," said The Ohio Liberty Council's Warren Edstrom.[39]

On April 29, 2010 the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that the amendment could appear as one issue; reversing the Ballot Boards earlier decision. According to the court, the board "abused its discretion and disregarded state law and ordered it to certify the proposed amendment." The court's ruling gave supporters the green light to circulate 2010 petitions.[40][41]

Legislative version

The Ohio State Legislature can propose amendments, according to Article XVI, if 60% of the members of both chambers agree to it.

During the week of June 15, 2011, the Ohio State Senate voted 24 to 9 to place on the ballot.[42]

On June 17, 2011, the Ohio House of Representatives voted on whether to send the measure to the voters or not, needing 60 votes to do so. The measure came up short, with 59 votes in favor of the measure. The final tally was 59 to 39. The legislative version was not sent to the ballot.[43]

In June of 2012, the Supreme Court upheld the mandate that requires mandatory purchase of health insurance beginning in 2014. Like many states, Ohio will wait until after the results of the Presidential election in November to determine how the state Exchange will be set up.



The following is a timeline of events surrounding the measure:

Event Date Developments
1st initiative effort March 22, 2010 Supporters initially proposed the measure for the 2010 ballot but failed to collect sufficient signatures
Amend. spilt April 9, 2010 The Ohio Ballot Board voted 4-0 to split the 2010 proposed health care amendment
Court ruling April 29, 2010 The Ohio Supreme Court ruled that the amendment could appear as one issue
2nd initiative effort April 22, 2011 Supporters had already collected more than 300,000 signatures
Petition drive deadline July 6, 2011 A minimum of 385,245 petition signatures were required to qualify for the ballot
Signatures submitted July 6, 2011 An estimated 546,000 signatures were submitted by deadline
Certified July 26, 2011 The Secretary of State had until July 26 to certify the submitted signatures. The measure was certified before that time.

Similar measures in other states

Groups in Indiana, Minnesota, North Dakota and New Mexico were considering a similar proposal. Two of these states (North Dakota and Wyoming) allow ballot initiatives; in the other three states, the state legislature would have to vote it onto the ballot using their state's procedure for constitutional amendments.[44]

National lawsuit

Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray announced in late March 2010 that he would not be joining a national lawsuit challenging the federal government's recently approved health care law. Cordray said he believed the lawsuits were "without merit and would be a waste of taxpayer dollars."[45]

With United States President Barack Obama signing the passed federal health care bill into law, many states began preparing themselves to combat the health care mandates that were on the verge of taking place across the country. Some states had pending initiatives or legislative referrals for the statewide ballots, however, in other states attorney generals were joining in a national lawsuit.[46][47]

See also

Suggest a link


External links

Additional reading


  1. Ohio Secretary of State, "Issue 3 Language," accessed August 9, 2011
  2. HudsonHubTimes, "State ballot board allows petitioners to fight health care," May 5, 2010
  3. 3.0 3.1 The Columbus Dispatch, "Health-overhaul foes object to splitting ballot issue," April 10, 2010
  4. Associated Press, "Ohio court rules on health care ballot issue," April 29, 2010
  5. 5.0 5.1 Business Courier, "No health care repeal on Ohio ballot," June 23, 2010
  6. 6.0 6.1 The Columbus Dispatch, "Health-care repeal won't be on Ohio ballot, but farm-animal amendment remains on track," June 23, 2010
  7. WFMJ, "Opponents of health care law continue petition drive," accessed June 29, 2010
  8. WTOL, "Ohio Tea Party group wants healthcare amendment on Nov. ballot," March 23, 2010
  9. Cincinnati.com, "Ohioans could vote on health care law," February 2, 2011
  10. Ohio Legislature, "HJR 2," accessed March 10, 2011
  11. 11.0 11.1 The Columbus Dispatch, "Ohio group seeks vote to block U.S. health-bill requirement," March 23, 2010
  12. Examiner, "Ohio Attorney General certifies petition that may shield Ohioans from Obamacare," April 2, 2010
  13. LifeNews.com, "Ohio Pro-Life Group Endorses Issue 3 to Oppose Obamacare," September 6, 2011
  14. Chillitcothe Gazette, "Ohioans will have chance to determine own health care at ballot box," September 15, 2011
  15. Cleveland Plain Dealer, "'Yes' to all three questions on Ohio's statewide ballot: Kevin O'Brien," October 20, 2011
  16. 16.0 16.1 Dayton Daily News, "Coalition formed to oppose ballot issue on health care," October 18, 2011
  17. Associated Press, "Ohio groups fight anti-health-overhaul ballot push," March 31, 2010 (dead link)
  18. Athens News, "League of Women Voters of Ohio takes positions on ballot issues," September 21, 2011
  19. Cincinnati.com, "Ohio Dems on state issues: No, no and no," October 6, 2011
  20. Cleveland.com, "Opponents of Issue 3 say amendment would interfere with many Ohio laws," September 1, 2011
  21. The News-Messenger, "Issue 3 would gut key federal health care overhaul provision in Ohio," October 15, 2011
  22. The Columbus Dispatch, "State Issue 3," October 14, 2011
  23. Akron Beacon Journal, "No on Issue 3," October 16, 2011
  24. Athens News, "Issue 3 will disrupt, complicate health care in Ohio," October 26, 2011
  25. Cleveland Plain Dealer, "No on Issue 3: editorial," October 22, 2011
  26. Toledo Blade, "No on Issue 3," October 16, 2011
  27. Reuters.com, "Ohio court says anti-Obamacare amendment can be on November ballot," August 12, 2011
  28. Hudson Hub Times, "Supreme Court shoots down attempt to block health care amendment from ballot," August 17, 2011
  29. The Daily-Record, "Tea Party collects signatures to repeal federal health care mandates," April 25, 2011
  30. Toledo Blade, "Obama health care opponents file petitions in Columbus," July 6, 2011
  31. Examiner.com, "Ohio Health Care Freedom Amendment signatures delivered to elections chief," July 6, 2011
  32. Toledo Blade, "Obama healthcare opponents prepare to file petitions in Columbus," July 6, 2011
  33. Whiotv.com, "Ohio Health Care Question Cleared For Fall Ballot," July 26, 2011
  34. WYTV, "Tea Party Collecting Ohio Project Signatures," June 18, 2010
  35. The News Leader, "Group wants vote on new health care law," April 7, 2010
  36. The Columbus Dispatch, "Petition drive will seek to exempt Ohio from health-care reform," April 1, 2010
  37. The Daily Record, "Group wants voters to decide Ohio Liberty Council trying to stop federal health care mandates," April 1, 2010
  38. Digital Journal, "Ohio AG Cordray receives proposed state constitutional amendment," March 23, 2010
  39. WTAM, "Group to challenge rejection of proposed constitutional amendment," April 13, 2010
  40. The Columbus Dispatch, "State ballot measure opposed to health-care overhaul can be single issue, court rules," April 30, 2010
  41. Gather, "Ohio Court Rules Favorably on Health Care Ballot Issue," May 8, 2010
  42. Daily Journal, "Ohio Senate backs resolution to let voters weigh in on requirements in health care overhaul," June 15, 2011
  43. Stamford Advocate, "Ohio House opts not to put health overhaul to vote," June 22, 2011
  44. Fox News, "State Lawmakers Considering Move to Opt Out of Federal Health Care," June 25, 2009 (dead link)
  45. Associated Press, "Ohio AG Won't Sue Over New Federal Health Care Law," March 29, 2010
  46. Fox News, "Obama to Sign Landmark Health Reform Bill," March 23, 2010
  47. CNN, "Obama signs health care reform bill, aims to promote it on the road," March 23, 2010