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HJR 1 Would Shred Ohio Constitution, Undermining Will of the Voters

March 22, 2023
Democratic Newsroom

COLUMBUS – Constitutional Resolutions Committee Ranking Member Ismail Mohamed (D-Columbus), House Minority Leader Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington), Reps. Dontavius L. Jarrells (D-Columbus), Jessica E. Miranda (D-Forest Park), Tavia Galonski (D-Akron), and Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Westlake) together call today’s hearing of sponsor testimony on HJR 1- the Freedom and Rights Restriction resolution, nothing but out-of-touch politicians attempting to rewrite the rules so they can get what they want instead of what the people want. 

“Today proved that HJR 1 is not a piece of legislation designed to benefit or work for the people of Ohio, but instead shreds our constitution and makes it harder for the people to have their voices heard and take part in the political process,” said Rep. Mohamed. “This undemocratic proposition goes against the foundations of our republic and common sense. In limiting the people’s ability to decide the issues most important to us, this measure would put more power in the hands of out-of-touch politicians elected on unfair maps.”

The proposed constitutional restriction would destroy 111 years of direct democracy that Ohioans have used to change their government when politicians won’t. Under the proposed partisan restrictions, Ohioans would lose their freedom to determine the future of the state as 40 percent of voters could block initiatives the majority of people want. The resolution’s backers’ proposed supermajority threshold would tilt the scales of democracy away from voters and toward well-funded, out-of-state, dark-monied special interests.

“The testimony we heard today proved that HJR 1 is undemocratic, unpopular, and unfair. The blatant hypocrisy and lies behind this resolution undermine the will of Ohio’s voters and would crush their freedom to decide what matters most in their lives,” said Leader Russo. “Together, we will protect the power of the people to amend our constitution. We’ve trusted Ohioans for more than 110 years to empower themselves with this process. We will continue to trust them and fight for them, as I believe they’ve earned that trust.”

House Joint Resolution 1 would make it less likely that bond initiatives– that fund roads, parks, libraries and bridges –could be passed to make Ohio more economically competitive and attractive for investment. 

“Today we saw that HJR 1 is a threat to the most fundamental principle in our state and across the nation: democracy,” said Rep. Jarrells. “HJR 1 would end majority rule in Ohio, shred our constitution, and take away our right to decide what happens in our communities. As we build a better Ohio for all of us, I will continue to fight back against this undemocratic resolution.”

“In a rush to restrict Ohioans’ fundamental freedoms, some extremist Republicans and dark money groups are putting culture wars ahead of our rights and Ohio’s economic future,” said Rep. Miranda. “Not only is HJR 1 undemocratic, unpopular, and unfair, it shows that some extremists do not trust Ohioans to make their own decisions on what matters most.”

“What we saw in committee this morning from the sponsor of HJR 1 confirmed what I and many other Ohioans suspected from the start: this undemocratic, unpopular, and unfair resolution is a deliberate obstacle to our freedom to vote,” said Rep. Galonski. “Ohioans are entitled to decide the issues that impact the future of our state and all of us in it—even if some extremists do not agree with them.”

“The deception on display today was dangerous and intentional. In a rush to restrict our reproductive freedom—the true purpose behind HJR 1– some extremist Republicans and special interest groups are ready to spend another $20 Million of taxpayers’ money on another special election,” said Rep. Sweeney. “Ballot initiatives let the people put a check on corruption and an unresponsive legislature, a right we’ve had since 1912. At a time when Ohio’s been called the most corrupt state in the country, we should not be weakening this longstanding right of the people.” 

The next Constitutional Resolution Committee hearing on the Freedom and Rights Restriction resolution is not yet scheduled. Ohioans can contact the Chairman’s office to register their views on the measure.