He needed a hug. Actually, they all did. I was in Columbus and I heard or met with members of the Republican Ohio House and Ohio Senate leadership. They had all been traumatized and were prepared to tell anyone who would listen. We didn’t ask. I certainly didn’t. They just started to blurt out their pain and anguish. And even though they all spoke to us separately, the story was the same, as if it had been scripted.
The first point that each of them felt that they needed to make was the uniqueness of OHIO. Did we know that most states didn’t allow citizens to initiate constitutional amendments? I had never given it any thought, and since I was in Columbus to make sure that my clients weren’t subject to even more unnecessary phone calls and solicitations, constitutional amendments weren’t on my mind. But it was very important to these Republicans. We were told that 37 states prevented this type of constitutional amendment. Ohio was one of 13. We were told this with the expectation that we would marvel at the progressive nature of our state and that we would be grateful that we still had this right. By the way, the correct answer is technically 18 states, but 13 sounds so much more impressive. Now that we all understood Ohio’s special place in the union, it was time for them to share the real source of their pain.
CASINOS! Yes, they were traumatized by Ohio’s four casinos. They each recalled all of the sordid details. First the land was purchased. The casino operators were all out-of-state corporations! Then they crafted an amendment that made them, and only them, the likely winners of legalizing casino gambling in Ohio. And the well-funded campaign was successful. The constitutional amendment passed with 52% of the vote. The casinos and the Ohio citizens managed to go around the legislature, the governors, and the special interests that had wanted to prevent casino gambling for decades. They trembled just talking about this. And that is why they were forced to rush through legislation to change the way signatures would be collected for future constitutional amendments and change the voting requirement from a simple majority (50% + 1) to 60% of the vote. I’m sure you can feel their pain.
It may have taken a moment, but almost everyone in the room remembered that the casino amendment passed on November 9, 2009, 14 years ago. Once the Ohio Senate Majority Leader finished blubbering about casinos he then announced that he had nothing more to say on the subject. But this kind of blatant BS only makes some of us look more closely at everything else we’re told.
Your friends and neighbors are collecting signatures for an amendment to the Ohio constitution that would restore the rights Ohioans lost when the US Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade last year. And should this make it to the ballot and succeed, Ohio won’t be competing with Florida or Texas, or even Arkansas as the most regressive state in the union. That, and not casinos, is what keeps our legislators up at night. The governor just signed a law to eliminate August elections. Our Republican friends crowed about saving the taxpayers $20,000,000. Now we are going to have an emergency election in August to change how citizen initiated amendments make it to the ballot and possibly the constitution.
We are waiting for the final ballot language to know whether we will need to vote NO or YES to block this abomination.
But while we wait, be on the lookout for your elected Republican member of the Ohio House or Ohio Senate. Of course they need to be repudiated. But they also need a hug.
Picture – A Gift From My Attorney – David L Cunix