Daily Kos: Following the playbook of several other Republican legislatures, the Ohio legislature is seeking to make the initiative process harder for voters. This is, in my view, the most pernicious iteration of the on-going anti-democratic entrenchment playbook. It is targeted against efforts to address redistricting as well as efforts to secure reproductive rights, including access to abortion. And to make matters worse it has been schedule for an expected low-turnout special election! This move backfired in Kansas in 2022. We can only hope for democracy that it does the same in Ohio.
The constitutional amendment, which needs only a majority to pass, will require a “60% supermajority to pass any future [constitutional] amendments.” It will also make it more difficult to get a measure on the ballot by requiring support in all 88 counties.
Ohio Capitol Journal reports on a new push to limit direct democracy in Ohio. Following in South Dakota’s footsteps, and just a little over a week after Election Day, Ohio Republicans are talking about pushing an initiative that would require “citizen-led constitutional amendments [to] gain a 60% supermajority at the ballot for passage.” (South Dakota’s effort, which failed resoundingly at the polls, similarly targeted initiatives that would impact the budget). It is frankly not clear to me what the local driver for this initiative is–except that this has become a national trend. In the meanwhile, a proposed House bill seeks to “rewrite the underlying infrastructure of how the state conducts elections.”
This article from Bolts Magazine demonstrates just how unabashed Republican efforts to entrench the party and its policies are at this political moment. In this instance, the goal is to prevent South Dakotans from side-stepping the Republican controlled legislature to pass Medicaid expansion through ballot initiative by changing the Constitution. Since 2018, voters in Republican controlled Idaho, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Utah have all adopted Medicaid expansion through ballot initiatives. This “trigge[ed] intense backlash by Republican politicians against procedures of direct democracy.” Their efforts were successful in Idaho and Utah, and so far also they have also been successful in South Dakota in response to previous initiatives. South Dakota was the first state to adopt the initiative in the 19th century.
Inspired by Progressive Era demands for new checks on politicians, the state’s 1898 reform empowered ordinary citizens to initiate ballot initiatives and it has been used expansively ever since.
Just over the past decade, South Dakotans have approved initiatives to raise the minimum wage, create an independent ethics commission, and legalize cannabis.
Republican politicians have responded by gradually restricting the initiative process.
The article describes the current effort which seeks to raise the threshold of support to 60% for initiatives that significantly impact the state budget. This might make sense in the abstract, but in context, it is stinks of fencing out one’s political opponents and thwarting public priorities.