Child Welfare

HJR 1 Threatens Our Democracy, Our Voice, and Our Children

April 19, 2023 | Ohio

HJR 1 Threatens Our Democracy, Our Voice, and Our Children

April 19, 2023

CDF-Ohio Policy Associate Matthew Tippitt provided written testimony in opposition to HJR 1

The well-being of our children is inextricably tied to the well-being of our democracy. On Wednesday, CDF-Ohio joined partners at the Ohio Statehouse to oppose House Joint Resolution 1 (HJR 1) and stand up for our democracy and the power of the people to have direct say in the laws that govern them.

This resolution (formerly introduced as HJR 6 in Ohio’s last General Assembly) would make it much more difficult for Ohioans to successfully advance and carry out ballot initiatives on issues they care about and have majority support for. HJR 1 would make it even more difficult than it already is for Ohio citizens to amend the state Constitution by raising the percentage of votes needed to pass a constitutional amendment ballot initiative from 50% to 60%. For context, ballot initiatives are the issues voters see on election day that ask a “yes” or “no” question. The specific ballot initiative under attack in HJR 1 is the citizen-led constitutional amendment ballot initiative. This citizen initiative is one form of direct democracy that enables Ohio citizens to bypass their state legislatures through the power of popular majority vote. Citizens must collect a required number of signatures to put language on the ballot that, if successfully garners enough votes on election day, would then amend the Ohio Constitution.

In times when ballot measures have been a critical piece of progressing legislation in states across the nation, stripping the effectiveness away from Ohioans is a calculated move. For example, during this past midterm election, Colorado had a measure on the ballot to create a program that would provide free school lunches to all children in public schools. The measure passed 56% (1.3 mill votes) to 43% (1 mill votes). But here in Ohio, under the rule change proposed, a ballot initiative similar to the one from Colorado would have failed despite 300,000 more people wanting free lunch for children. For a visual, that is enough people to fill the Ohio Stadium three times.

On Wednesday, lawmakers in Ohio’s House Resolutions Committee cut off the hearing early to vote on this resolution before hearing from dozens of Ohioans present to testify against the bill and voted 7-6 to pass this pernicious and unpopular bill out of committee. This is not democracy, and it is not the type of leadership that lawmakers should be modeling for our children and future generations.

HJR 1 is a danger to all Ohioans, our children, and our democratic process. Download CDF-Ohio’s testimony here.