Ohio’s ballot initiative process allows the public, through petition, to put proposals on the ballot to amend the Ohio constitution.  This century old instrument of Ohio democracy is an integral part of our system of government. However, we have seen a disturbing trend across the United States of private economic interests attempting to distort the ballot initiative process by embedding special monopolistic privileges in state constitutions.

I am proud to report that the Ohio General Assembly has taken a meaningful step to prevent this practice by passing House Joint Resolution 4, which will place on the November ballot a proposed amendment to prohibit the use of the initiative to adopt constitutional amendments that would create an economic monopoly. 

Specifically, HJR 4 would prohibit an initiated constitutional amendment that would grant a monopoly, oligopoly, or cartel, specify or determine a tax rate, or confer a commercial interest, right, or license to any person or nonpublic entity.

As you may have heard, a group called ResponsibleOhio has been collecting signatures to add a proposed amendment to this year’s ballot that would give a small group of investors the exclusive right to farm and sell marijuana in our state. Regardless of your opinion on the legalization of marijuana, it is easy to see how such a constitutionally-sanctioned monopoly undermines the intent of the ballot initiative.

As a state representative, it is my responsibility to defend the rights of my constituents and the Ohio constitution. The General Assembly has taken care to ensure that the amendment proposed by HJR 4 would not have any unintended consequences that would infringe on the right of Ohioans to use the constitutional initiative process.

Ohioans will have the opportunity to vote this November on the anti-monopoly constitutional amendment.

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