In November, State Issue 1 and 2 passed, while State Issue 3 was soundly defeated. The outcome mirrors the position of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce on each issue.
We believe the results to be the most optimal result for maintaining Ohio’s positive business climate and for the promotion of economic prosperity.
State Issue 1 – Creates a bipartisan, public process for drawing legislative districts
The group behind State Issue 1, Fair Districts for Ohio, was spearheaded by a bipartisan duo of former state representatives. Initially, there was hesitation by Ohio Democrats to join the coalition supporting the issue, but they came around.
With no organized opposition, the Fair Districts for Ohio campaign cruised to victory spending less substantially than the advocates for and against State Issues 1 and 2.
This issue benefits business by making serving in elected office more attractive to qualified pro-business candidates who are committed to free enterprise, economic competitiveness and growth but were turned off by too much partisanship and contentiousness.
The successful passage also prevents a single political party from controlling the process.
Changes to Ohio’s redistricting drawing process will take place in the year 2021, which is the next scheduled redistricting.
State Issue 2 – Protection of Ohio’s constitution from monopoly interests
Recognizing that the passage of Issue 2 would likely derail Issue 3 — whether outright or in the court system — ResponsibleOhio, the group backing the legalization of marijuana, invested advertising in the weeks leading up to the election into defeating this measure. This strategy ultimately failed, resulting in defeat on both fronts.
Last minute attempts by statewide conservative organizations weren’t enough to make a difference either, although the measure passed by the slightest of margins.
Issue 2 ensures that special interests with enough money to run an effective campaign can’t guarantee private, economic benefits just for themselves. Since Issue 2 was approved, the concept of competition, an essential component of a free market system, is preserved and Ohio’s constitution won’t be hijacked.
State Issue 3 – Legalization of marijuana
Extended polling hours, a number of celebrity endorsements and great financial advantages didn’t equal a victory for ResponsibleOhio.
The campaign opposing Issue 3, Ohioans Against Marijuana Monopolies, saw widespread support with newspaper editorial boards throughout Ohio panning the proposal.
While ResponsibleOhio held significant cash advantages, OAMM dominated in grass-roots advocacy with support from a diverse group including the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.
The defeat of Issue 3 ensures employers can keep their businesses safe and drug free, and the difficulty of finding drug-free employees isn’t exacerbated. Increased costs to employers due to the potential of increased litigation surrounding their current lawful substance abuse policies also are avoided.
Although Issue 3 was soundly defeated, the debate over marijuana isn’t going away. Ohio could see another proposal regarding marijuana use, whether medical, recreational or both, as early as next year.
The electorate in 2016 will look vastly different and be a lot larger compared to November 2015. So this win against the legalization of marijuana shouldn’t be interpreted as the final word.
Rich Thompson is director, political programs, Ohio Chamber of Commerce, Ohio’s largest and most diverse statewide business advocacy group, has been a consistent voice for business since 1893.