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BREAKING NEWS

Ohio Proposal Smacks of Elitism

Sometimes you just have to scratch your head and wonder what on earth the politicians were thinking — or whether they were using their brains at all.

Among matters being considered by the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission is whether changes need to be made in the process of how the constitution can be amended.

Current law is complex, but the critical component is that for Ohio citizens to get a constitutional amendment proposal on the ballot, they must submit petitions seeking the action to state officials. The petitions must bear the signatures of registered voters totaling at least 10 percent of the number of people who voted in the last gubernatorial election. At present, that number is 305,591.

Members of commission pondering changes to the process have come up with a proposal that would require the General Assembly to approve ballot access for amendment initiatives.

Under the plan, proposed amendments sought by Ohio citizens could be placed before voters only if 55 percent of legislators approve.

But if an amendment is proposed by a member of the General Assembly, only a simple majority — 50 percent plus one — of lawmakers would have to agree.

In other words, it would be easier for legislators than for Joe and Jane Citizen to get amendment proposals on the ballot.

That is a clear double standard of the type that Americans have a long tradition of rejecting. It smacks of elitism.

Obviously, the plan ought never to see the light of day. But it does serve a useful purpose: It reminds Buckeye State residents that members of the political elite are not above using their power to expand it.

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