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Friday, October 30, 2015

Election Day November 3, 2015 issues


art credit: montgomerynews.com

Election Day November 3, 2015
For a look at the ballot initiatives that residents of Cuyahoga County will vote on next Tuesday, see a sample ballot in PDF format at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections website here.  (You’ll need to enter your ward number and precinct letter; you will have those details on the voter registration card you received in the mail from the BoE.)
Some of the issues on the ballot fall under the Tea Party Patriot platform of fiscal responsibility and free markets.

If you are already confused because ballot Issues #2 (anti-monopoly) and #3 (legalize marijuana in Ohio) seem to be in conflict with each other, below are remarks by Ohio Senator Larry Obhof (R-Ohio Senate District 22) on what voters need to know about Issues 2 and 3 (h/t Ohio Christian Alliance Click here for OCA Voter Guide):
Issue 2 is specifically limited to initiatives that would purport to grant a private interest or group of private interests a “monopoly, oligopoly, or cartel” or a preferential tax rate or commercial right that is not “available to other similarly situated persons.”  It would not affect citizen-led initiatives, unless they are designed to give someone a monopoly or a special tax rate not available to similarly situated persons.
 
Issue 2 will protect the Ohio Constitution from special interests buying their way into the state’s foundational document.  Frankly, this is long overdue and should have been proposed after the casino amendment a few years ago.  Carve-outs for specific investors, protections from competition, the addresses of particular businesses … these things do not belong in the Ohio Constitution.  
 
Regardless of one’s position on the Issue, [some of the information being promoted concerning these issues is misleading or incorrect, as per below]:

1.   Statement: “There is no judicial review over the ballot board decision.”
This is simply wrong and is contradicted by the plain text of Issue. Section C clearly provides for judicial review and states that “The supreme court of Ohio shall have original, exclusive jurisdiction in any action that relates to this section.”
2. Statement: “This restriction could extend to issues such as ballot initiatives for workplace freedom, protection of life, etc.”  
Issue 2 would not affect a "workplace freedom amendment."  A workplace freedom amendment would not grant a “monopoly, oligopoly, or cartel” and it would not specify a tax rate or commercial right or license that is not available to similarly situated persons.  And keep in mind that even under Issue 2, one could specify a tax rate or provide commercial rights or licenses.  Issue 2 only affects such initiatives if they would carve out a special tax rate for a small group of people that is not available to other, similarly situated persons.
[Senator Obhof] cannot think of any logical basis for saying that Issue 2 would affect an initiative related to “protection of life.”  It is hard to conceive of a pro-life ballot initiative that would also grant someone a monopoly, or a special tax carve-out or commercial license not available to similarly situated persons.     

3. Statement: “Consider this scenario:  If Issue 2 had been in the Constitution prior to now, the effort that many concerned citizens launched to limit strip clubs’ hours of operation and activities, should it have needed to be placed on the ballot, would be subject to Issue 2’s provisions, as it would be deemed to limit the commercial activity of a state license holder (alcohol establishments).”  
Issue 2 would not apply to this scenario.  Issue 2 only applies to attempts to “grant or create a monopoly, oligopoly, or cartel” or a preferential tax rate or commercial right that is not “available to other similarly situated persons.”  It would not affect an initiative to limit clubs’ hours or activities.  It would not even affect a ban on such clubs, unless the ban carved out specific clubs for special treatment (i.e., closing all clubs except for 10 of them, or closing all clubs except those owned by a specific operator or group of operators).   

4. Statement:  “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.”  
First, this contradicts the earlier statement that there is no judicial review over the ballot board’s decision.  Obviously, review by the Ohio Supreme Court is “judicial review.”   
Second, the scope of review is not more or less under Issue 2 than it is for any other party in Ohio’s court system.  What does it mean to say “there is no judicial recourse … to challenge the ruling by the Supreme Court”?  When does anyone challenge a ruling by the Supreme Court?  On questions of state law, the Ohio Supreme Court is the court of last resort.  That is not any different under Issue 2 than it would be if you and I sued each other under state law.   
Thanks to Sen. Obhof for setting the record straight.
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