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Ohio House Speaker says he does not support August vote to raise threshold for amendments

Ohio House Speaker Jason Stephens
Ohio Government Television
Statehouse News Bureau
Ohio House Speaker Jason Stephens

Republicans in the Ohio Statehouse are still trying to raise the threshold for voter passage of constitutional amendments from the current simple majority plus one vote, to 60%, but the effort appears dead for now.

The Ohio Senate introduced a bill to put the measure on an August ballot, as a pre-emptive strike against a November ballot issue to enshrine abortion protections as part of a reproductive health amendment.

Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman of Lima fully supports the August election and foresees the bill moving quickly in his chamber to meet election deadlines.

His House counterpart, Speaker Jason Stephens, is not on the same page. Lawmakers shelved August special elections as part of a voter reform bill that passed in December and signed into law by Governor Mike DeWine. Lawmakers cited cost and low turnout as reasons for ending August elections.

Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman explicitly said this week that the estimated $20 million a special election would cost would be worth it if it saved lives by denting the chances of the reproductive health amendment.

Another challenge to the reproductive health amendment is taking shape at the Ohio Supreme Court. A lawsuit filed with the court asks it to find error with the Ohio Ballot Board. The board recently determined that the amendment that enshrines abortion and reproductive health protections consisted of just one issue for voters to decide. Two Cincinnati-area citizens contend the ballot board made a mistake and the amendment constitutes multiple issues.

Neighbors concerned about a proposed drop-in center for young people in Ohio City have filed an appeal against the Cleveland Board of Zoning Appeals in the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court. The appeal seeks to nullify two variances that allowed the proposed center to move forward.

The Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry would operate the center. The site would provide unhoused young people with showers, clothes and basic necessities.

-Conor Morris, Education Reporter, Ideastream Public Media
-Abigail Bottar, Reporter, Ideastream Public Media
-Karen Kasler, Statehouse News Bureau Chief, Ohio Public Radio/TV

Leigh Barr is a coordinating producer for the "Sound of Ideas" and the "Sound of Ideas Reporters Roundtable."