Skip to main content

Reflections on the Election

Commentary on the Fallout From Issue 1 and Issue 2
By John Fortney
November 10, 2023
On The Record

Early reporting shows 25 counties decided Issue 1. The turnout in metropolitan counties trumped the no votes in the other 63. Ohio's Constitution is an easy target for special interest groups. 

The Issue 1 campaign spent $35 million and counting, funded by wealthy out of state special interests to saturate the airwaves and social media channels with its narrative to sell a very broadly written constitutional amendment that, according to analysis from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, will make abortion available at any stage of pregnancy.

Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman said on election night, "Life is worth fighting for. As a grandparent of eight, the life of a baby is always worth the fight. The national abortion industry funded by wealthy out-of-state special interests spent millions to pass this radical language that goes far past abortion on demand.  This isn't the end. It is really just the beginning of a revolving door of ballot campaigns to repeal or replace Issue 1."

This doesn’t mean the General Assembly will automatically begin a back and forth fight to repeal and replace Issue 1. Here is a more likely scenario. When a simple majority is all that is needed to change our state’s founding document, voters can expect to see a revolving door of well-funded campaigns to ratify, repeal, and/or replace any issue ranging from abortion to you name it.

What’s next? Wealthy gun control groups looking to restrict your Second Amendment rights, or expand minimum wage costs on small businesses? 

The far-left effort of Eric Holder’s NDRC to hijack the constitutional amendment voters approved by more than 70% to reform our redistricting process in 2015 is already on our doorstep with a petition drive. It’s an effort to gerrymander guaranteed wins for Democrats through the courts, even though the new process just produced a bipartisan unanimous vote for new House and Senate maps that will likely last the rest of the decade.

As Secretary of State Frank LaRose accurately said last summer, “All it takes to ratify an amendment is a well-funded, dishonest political campaign and a simple majority vote.”

Hence the increased potential for a barrage of ads promoting the next repeal or replace effort aimed at the Ohio Constitution. The standard of a simple majority is easily transformed into a tyranny of the simple majority by amendment. That is a disaster waiting to happen, and not how our government is designed to work. 

All it takes is money. The sales job is almost always the same. It’s in the best interest of Ohioans.

When in reality, it is in the best interests of the big business backing the campaign. Whether it be Planned Parenthood or Big Marijuana.

Voters approved Issue 2, legalizing recreational marijuana. Issue 2 is an initiated statute, meaning it is a change in Ohio Revised Code, and the General Assembly may amend the statute as needed.

President Huffman issued this statement on election night.

"This statute was written by the marijuana industry and should not be treated as a cash grab for their cash crop at the expense of a state trying to emerge from the opioid epidemic. The General Assembly may consider amending the statute to clarify the questionable language regarding limits for THC and tax rates as well as other parts of the statute."

The cartels, rather the marijuana industry, don’t think the statute should be changed. Why? Because it is a sweetheart deal for them. They set the tax rate, and wrote the language so poorly that in Section 3780.023(C)(21) of the statute, it sets a minimum floor rather than a maximum cap for THC, the chemical that causes the high. The language says…”which for plant material the content limit shall be no less than thirty-five percent.” If it was a cap it would say “no more than.”

These are just a couple of reasons the General Assembly should and will have a thorough discussion and debate about what needs to change within Issue 2.

The industry sold voters on the slogan, that Issue 2 regulates recreational marijuana like alcohol. But marijuana is far different than alcohol, and the General Assembly needs to set the standards by which the industry operates, and not the other way around.

Social norms and thinking certainly evolve over the years. Controversial issues generate deeply personal and polarized emotions that are vulnerable to campaigns that purposely research talking points to develop a strategy to prey on that.

Expect more of these campaigns. 

The way to protect your family and your state is to read the amendments.  Read every single word. Ask basic questions about who wins, who loses and who laughs all the way to the bank.

John Fortney is Director of Communications for the Ohio Senate Majority Caucus