Understand the Ohio ballot issues in under 30 minutes
An interview with Maurice Thompson from 1851 Center for Constitutional Law
by Ann Becker
Interview length: 29:09 minutes Post read time: 3:00 minutes
I had the opportunity to interview Maurice Thompson, Executive Director of the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law http://www.ohioconstitution.org/ . Maurice is the guy I go to if I have questions about the Ohio Constitution. He knows it backwards and forwards.
Since we have three Ohio Constitutional Amendments on the ballot November 3rd, I thought it would be a good time to check in with Maurice and see where he stood on the issues.
From the interview – join us for the Rally to Recruit here.
If you only have questions about one or two of the issues on the ballot, I have included the minute marks so you can skip ahead. We give our personal opinions about the ballot issues as Ohioans not representing our organizations, so caution…opinions are rampant.
Issue One Reapportionment- 1:57 minutes into the interview
This is an Ohio Constitutional Amendment that creates a bipartisan, public process for drawing legislative districts. Currently Ohio has a ‘reapportionment’ board that draws the lines for Ohio offices. The Reapportionment board consists of five members; Speaker of the Ohio House, President of the Senate, Governor, State Auditor and State Treasurer. Currently these are all Republicans, with no minority party representation.
This amendment will add two seats from the minority party to the Reapportionment Board in an attempt to make the board more bipartisan. This amendment also changes the number of years between line changes. Right now it is every 10 years after the census.
This bill has the possibility to redraw the lines every four years if there is not a unanimous vote by all seven of the members of the Reapportionment Board. This would create uncertainty on the lines and excessive confusion.
Maurice didn’t have a strong opinion about Issue One. Stated that it was a political issue, not a Constitutional one. Maurice, “It’s a question of which kind of gerrymandering do you want?”
Issue Two Anti-Monopoly Amendment – 4:33 into the interview
Issue Two is an Ohio Constitutional Amendment being presented as an amendment to prevent monopolies and to protect the initiative process from being used for personal economic benefit. There have been two amendments that have put or tried to put monopolies directly in the Ohio Constitution; the casino amendment and the Responsible Ohio Marijuana amendment. This misuse of our Ohio citizen initiative process is a problem, but the question should be ‘Is this amendment the solution?’
Maurice, “Issue Two is predicate on two lies. First lie is that it is an anti-monopoly amendment, which it’s not. The second big lie is that it would stop marijuana legalization in Ohio, which it may well not.”
The power of creating a monopoly falls into the hands of the legislature. There is not a clause preventing monopolies from being created by the legislature.
Issue two guts the citizen initiative process. It allows anything to be deemed a monopoly.
10:18 – Maurice, “Those that put forth this issue should be ashamed of themselves. This is an unprecedented attack on Ohioan’s Constitutional rights and voter rights as it relates to an initiative.”
“If you wanted to put a property tax cap or prohibit the severance tax in the Constitution, you could not do that if this law is to pass.”
13:24 – Issue Two is “very sloppily written with very little debate. ”There is no judicial review over the ballot board decision. If a citizen’s initiative goes before the Ballot Board there is no judicial recourse for the citizens to challenge the ruling by the Supreme Court.
18:21 – “Issue Two is bad public policy.” “Speaking as an individual, I will be voting no on Issue Two.”
Issue Three – Responsible Ohio, Legalization of Marijuana – 18:43 minutes into the interview
This Ohio Constitutional Amendment grants a monopoly for the commercial production of sale of marijuana for recreational and medicinal purposes. Regardless of where you stand on the legalization of marijuana, we need to ask if we want a monopoly written into the Ohio Constitution.
19:10 – Maurice, “Issue Three is poor public policy. One thing that no one is really talking about, Issue Three imposes the right to use marijuana on private parties, including private employers.” It forces private employers to recognize the use of marijuana in their workplace. If an employer allows you to work on pain killers or other medicine, they would have to let you work on marijuana.
“Private employers should have the right to choose who works for them and under what terms. They should have the freedom to choose whether or not their employees are under the influence of marijuana. Issue 3 takes away that right.”
Issue three would also have an impact on drug legalization in the future. If there is ever a federal legalization law, Ohio would still be stuck with this cartel in its Constitution. I would not go away, even if the federal laws change. Maurice, “We would have a worse situation if the law were to get better federally than the rest of the country.”
“Issue three is bad policy.”