By Frank Lewis
Sometimes issues on the ballot can become confusing, especially in a year in which one issue could have an affect on another. One group has offered its opinions on one of those issues.
The Stand Up 4 Your Rights PAC, a statewide ballot issue political action committee established by the Ohio Rights Group (ORG), has outlined why voters should reject Issue 2 in the November election. Issue 2 is the Ohio Initiated Monopolies Amendment that is slated to appear on the Ohio ballot on November 3, 2015, as a legislatively referred constitutional amendment. The measure requires voters to approve two questions pertaining to citizen initiatives establishing economic monopolies. The first question would ask, “Shall the petitioner, in violation of division (B)(1) of Section 1e of Article II of the Ohio Constitution, be authorized to initiate a constitutional amendment that grants or creates a monopoly, oligopoly, or cartel, specifies or determines a tax rate, or confers a commercial interest, commercial right, or commercial license that is not available to other similarly situated persons?” The second question would be the ballot initiative. If both questions are approved, then the amendment would take effect. If only one question is approved, then the amendment would be defeated.
Lawmakers crafted the Ohio Initiative Monopolies Amendment in response to the Marijuana Legalization Initiative, which would create 10 facilities with exclusive rights to commercially grow the drug.
The Stand Up 4 Your Rights PAC, says the reasons to reject Issue 2 is the haste of its passage by the General Assembly and what they say is “its poorly written and confusing wording.” In addition, the PAC lists as another reason the power of just three political appointees to determine the fate of future issues; the time and expense they say will be added to the already cumbersome initiative process; and Issue 2’s real purpose which they say is “keeping controversial issues off of the 2016 ballot in a swing state during a presidential election year.”
ORG President Mary Jane Borden, who has so far participated in the composition of four ballot initiatives, stated, “The passage of Issue 2 could forever change this process that has been vital to advancing important social causes like medical marijuana, when the Ohio General Assembly time and again refused.” She went on to say, “Issue 2 would add more uncertainty and risk to the process, which would make it harder to get an issue to the ballot and vastly increase cost.” She said she believes that Issue 2 would ultimately close most grassroots organizations out of the process. She also emphasized that Issue 2 does not pertain solely to marijuana or monopolies. She says a wide variety of worthy causes could be affected by its passage from clean water to collective bargaining to redistricting.
If voters approve the amendment, it would invalidate any initiatives voters approved on the November 3 ballot that establish economic monopolies. Specially, it would invalidate the Marijuana Legalization Initiative.
The measure was introduced into the Ohio Legislature by Rep. Ryan Smith (R-93) and Rep. Michael F. Curtin (D-17) as House Joint Resolution 4.
On Monday the Citizens for Community Values came out in opposition to Issue 3.
Tim Throckmorton of CCV said he spoke in Colorado where marijuana has been legalized recently where he says church leaders told him of the affect marijuana has had in that state.
“I’m hearing from pastors and leaders there about now what they’re experiencing now that they have gotten a good look at this. They’re saying this is potentially what we’re going to be facing,” Throckmorton said. “From how it will affect children; how it will affect education; how it will affect safety issues as well as the trafficking of it in states that are adjoining us – selling it across the border in Kentucky, West Virginia and Indiana.”
Throckmorton also cited what he said was an NBC opinion that if the trend continues, non-alcohol drugs such as marijuana will overtake traffic fatalities around the year 2020.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.