60% voter approval amendment backers counting votes before it could go to Ohio House floor
The Ohio House could decide next week to ask voters to approve a Republican-backed constitutional amendment to make it harder to pass future amendments – including one on reproductive rights expected this fall. But even though the GOP holds a supermajority in the House, the count may be close.
It will take a three-fifths majority of the House to pass the resolution to put before voters a constitutional amendment requiring 60% voter approval for future amendments. But with two open seats in the 99 member House, how many is that?
Majority Floor Leader Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) said on Tuesday, “My understanding is it's got to be 60.”
But the House clerk says those two open seats changes the required number to 59. There are 65 Republicans, and all 32 Democrats are opposed. The two open seats were occupied by Republicans, but have yet to be filled. When House Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) tried to appoint someone to that seat in early March, supporters of his rival for the speakership, Derek Merrin (R-Monclova Township) blocked it.
While most Republicans support the 60% voter approval amendment, claiming it should be difficult to change Ohio's founding document, there are some holdouts. And there are more than 200 groups that have come out in opposition to the idea, saying that it's already hard to amend the constitution, and that something as important as a major change to it should be decided in an election with wider turnout.
Seitz, who voted for the 60% voter approval resolution when it passed in December in the last general assembly, suggests it’s down to the wire. When asked if he knows if there are the votes to pass it, Seitz said, “I'm not in charge of counting votes, but I know it's very, very close.”
The Senate version of the resolution, SJR 2, passed that chamber along party lines, 26-7. That bill gets its first hearing in a House committee Thursday.