Ohio considering measure to raise ballot measure approval requirement to 60%

Welcome to the Thursday, April 27, Brew. 

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Ohio Senate passes measure that would require 60% of the vote to approve constitutional amendments
  2. Dr. Shauna Reilly unpacks ballot measures in the latest episode of On the Ballot, our weekly podcast
  3. Tell us about your district’s school reading program

Ohio Senate passes measure to require 60% vote requirement to approve constitutional amendments

On April 19, the Ohio Senate passed Senate Joint Resolution 2 (SJR 2), an amendment that would raise the threshold for voters to approve amendments to the Ohio Constitution. The vote was 26-7 along partisan lines. If the House passes the bill, it could go to voters in August 2023.

Currently in Ohio, a simple majority (50.01%) of votes is needed to approve a constitutional amendment. SJR 2 would require a 60% majority of voters to approve an amendment. Illinois and Florida require a 60% supermajority to approve constitutional amendments.

SJR 2 calls for a special election on Aug. 8, 2023. However, in January, Gov. Mike DeWine (R) signed House Bill 458, a mostly Republican-backed bill that eliminated August special elections. A separate bill, Senate Bill 92 (SB 92), would amend the law to allow August elections in certain circumstances. The Senate passed that bill 25-8 on April 19, and it is currently before the House. On April 24, DeWine said he would sign the bill, once again allowing August special elections.

Sen. Rob McColley (R), speaking in support of SJR 2, said, “The constitution is not meant to be a policy document. The constitution is meant to inform us as to how the government is supposed to be run and to enshrine rights for all Ohioans.”

Catherine Turcer, executive director of Common Cause Ohio, an organization that has opposed raising the threshold for passing constitutional amendments, said, “citizen-led ballot measures aren’t overused. We haven’t had one on the ballot since 2018. It’s unnecessary to make the process more complicated and it’s disrespectful of voters.”

The process of putting SJR 2 on the ballot is playing out against the drop of the Ohio Right to Make Reproductive Decisions Including Abortion Initiative. This proposed amendment says that, “Every individual has a right to make and carry out one’s own reproductive decisions, including but not limited to decisions on contraception, fertility treatment, continuing one’s own pregnancy, miscarriage care, and abortion.” Supporters have begun collecting signatures to place the initiative on the November 2023 ballot. 

Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom, an organization backing the abortion initiative, called SJR 2 “a direct attack on our attempt to secure abortion access for all Ohioans.” 

Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life, said he supports SJR 2 because “We need to prevent out-of-state interest groups, whether they be liberal interest groups or conservative interest groups, from coming into Ohio.”

Click here to learn more about abortion regulations in each state. 

Of the 49 states that require voter approval of constitutional amendments, 38 states require a simple majority vote, while 11 states require a supermajority vote or other criteria that must be met for ratification. Delaware does not require voter approval for constitutional amendments. 

Click here to read more about supermajority requirements for constitutional amendments. Click the link below to learn more about Ohio’s 60% vote requirement measure. 

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Dr. Shauna Reilly unpacks ballot measures in the latest episode of On the Ballot, our weekly podcast

Speaking of ballot measures…

In this week’s episode of On the Ballot, our weekly podcast, host Victoria Rose interviews Dr. Shauna Reilly, an author and political science professor at Northern Kentucky University. Dr. Reilly teaches courses on American politics and political behavior, and her research focuses on direct democracy and the accessibility of election materials to voters.

Victoria and Dr. Reilly take a deep dive into the topic of ballot measures, a matter that’s dear to us here at Ballotpedia. Dr. Reilly discusses her research on the effect that ballot readability and topic have on voter participation. They also talk about recent trends and themes emerging in the ballot measure world, including changes in the laws governing ballot measures and topics voters will continue to see at the polls.

As a member of Ballotpedia’s Ballots Team, Victoria is no stranger to the subject, making this episode a must-listen for anyone interested in learning more about how ballot measures work!

New episodes of On the Ballot come out Thursday afternoons, so if you’re reading this on the morning of April 27, you’ve still got time to subscribe to On the Ballot on your favorite podcast app before this week’s episode comes out!

Click below to listen to older episodes and find links to where you can subscribe.

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Tell us about your district’s school reading program

Hall Pass is Ballotpedia’s weekly newsletter that keeps you informed about the conversations driving school board politics and education policy. New editions reach your inbox Wednesday afternoons.

We periodically ask our readers informal questions about recent topics of interest. Some of the questions we’ve asked in the past include, “Should districts adopt a four-day school week?” and “What are your thoughts on the current and the proposed budget for your school district?

In this week’s edition (which came out yesterday!), we asked our readers a brief question: Do you think your district is using the best possible reading program? 

If you’d like to respond to our question above, click here—you can do it anonymously, if you prefer—and we may share your response with fellow subscribers in an upcoming edition of Hall Pass. We know school districts face diverse issues and challenges, which is why we want to hear what’s happening in yours. 

Here’s a sample of what else you will find in this week’s newsletter:

  • On the issues: We took a look at a recent conversation on educational expectations and whether schools can improve student outcomes at all. Are students inherently destined for success or failure regardless of their educational resources? Can any reforms change academic outcomes? We compare articles by Freddie DeBoer and Auguste Meyrat.
  • Recent election results: Three seats on the Newark Public Schools school board in New Jersey were up for general election on April 25. Allison James-Frison and incumbents Hasani Council and Josephine Garcia won election. James-Frison won 22.1% of the vote, while Council and Garcia won 23.8% and 23.2%, respectively.
  • Upcoming elections: Lincoln Public Schools, Nebraska’s second-largest district by enrollment, is holding general elections on May 2. Four days later, on May 6, we’re covering general elections in 58 Texas school districts, including five with more than 75,000 students.
  • Candidate Connection survey responses: We took a look at recent responses from two school board candidates: Danny Cage, who is running in the general election for Multnomah Education Service District Board of Directors, Position 6, At-Large, in Oregon, and Jeff Myers, who is running in the general election for Beaverton School District school board Zone 6 in Oregon. Both elections are on May 16. 

Click below to subscribe! And if you’re a school board candidate or incumbent, click here to take our Candidate Connection Survey. 

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