Citizen groups mobilize against the plan to weaken direct democracy

* Efforts to link minimum wage increases to inflation,

* Prohibit same-sex marriage,

* Ban smoking in indoor workplaces and legalize casino gambling in the state. The threat of a voting problem has indirectly pressured lawmakers to act on thorny issues such as medical marijuana and reforming how the state’s legislative districts are drawn.

Related: Ohio could make it harder to get statewide issues on the ballot

Joint House Resolution 19, which puts legislative leaders on a fast track to act during the lame duck session, would: Require that petitions for proposed constitutional amendments be submitted by April 1, beginning in early July; limit the validity of petition signatures to 180 days; mandate that constitutional amendments initiated by citizens must pass by at least 60 percent of the vote instead of a simple majority.

Over the past century, Ohio voters have approved one in four citizen constitutional amendments. Ohioans rejected 52 such measures and approved 17 between 1913 and 2015, according to a summary by the Ohio Secretary of State.

Senate Speaker Larry Obhof, R-Medina, and House Speaker Ryan Smith, R-Bidwell, both said they oppose the cottage industry that allows funded special interests to buy a constitutional change that benefits them.

In recent years, out-of-state groups have put issues on the ballot, such as last year’s effort to change sentences for drug crimes.

The resolution also calls for making the process of creating citizen-initiated legislation a little easier by reducing the number of required signatures, reducing petition regulations, and preventing the Ohio General Assembly from amending or amending. repeal any aspect of a voter-approved Citizens Act for one year.

The League’s Jen Miller and Common Cause Ohio’s Catherine Turcer told a press conference that the proposed changes will ensure that only deep-pocketed special interest groups have the resources to bring a question to the ballot. statewide.

“It’s unfair and undemocratic,” Turcer said. “It causes (legislators) to seize power from voters and take it for themselves.”

If lawmakers pass the resolution, it will need to be approved by a statewide vote.