It appears that conservatives in the Ohio General Assembly have learned a lesson from the repeal of Ohio SB 5 in a 2011 voter referendum. Did they learn that it's a mistake to push through anti-labor legislation that the majority of Ohioans doesn't support?
No. They learned that if they're going to be successful in enacting laws that don't reflect the will of Ohio voters, they'll have to restrict Ohioans’ Constitutional right to get referendums and initiatives on the ballot.
One provision of Ohio Senate Bill 47 would do exactly that, by changing the traditional timetable for collecting signatures. SB 47 would stop petition signatures from being collected once initial signatures are turned into the Secretary of State for verification.
It has been the practice for years that petitions may continue to be circulated after this initial submission, in preparation for a 10-day "cure period" when additional signatures may be submitted for verification if the initial submission did not yield enough valid signatures.
Since 1912, Ohioans have had the right to directly participate in democracy through the referendum process (ability for voters to repeal a law put in place by the legislature) and the initiative process (ability to place an idea before the voters that the legislature has failed to act on). The ability to take an idea directly to the voting public has served as an important check on our legislators when they are unresponsive or go against the wishes of the voters.
When the Ohio Constitution was amended to include the referendum/initiative process in 1912, Ohioans felt so strongly about the issue that they specifically stated in the Constitution that the legislature may not restrict the right to referendum or initiative (Article II, Section 2.01g, paragraph 4). So both progressives and conservatives are raising questions about whether the provision in SB 47 is constitutional.
SB 47 is being fast-tracked, giving limited time to educate voters about the bill, and limiting voters’ opportunity to voice their concerns. Last week, the Ohio Senate favorably referred SB 47 from committee, and then passed it through the full Senate the next day. This week, the Ohio House Policy and Legislative Oversight Committee held a hearing on SB 47. Next week, they are expected to pass the bill from committee and through the full House, sending the bill to the Governor Kasich for signature.
State Voices has set up an action page where Ohio voters can contact their state Representatives and urge them to remove the provision from Ohio Senate Bill 47 that would restrict citizens' rights to initiative and referendum.