Last week, a U.S. district court judge dealt a blow to Ohio business interests by issuing an unprecedented ruling to allow electronic signature collections (instead of in-person signatures) for several pending ballot measures, while extending the signature deadlines. This would provide a lifeline to out-of-state interest groups seeking to change the Ohio Constitution to legalize marijuana, impose a $13/hour minimum wage, allow for same-day voter registration, among other actions.
Here is what has developed since the judge’s controversial ruling:
On May 21, Attorney General Dave Yost and Secretary of State Frank LaRose appealed the judge’s decision, correctly pointing out that the existing petition requirements are “set in Ohio Constitution and decisions on changing them belong to the General Assembly and the people.”
The OMA, which has long fought against efforts to erode the petition process and validity of ballot security, led an effort to file an amicus (friend of the court) brief with five other statewide business groups to support the state’s appeal.
On May 26, a three-judge panel of the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals stayed the judge’s ruling, providing a short-term legal victory for Ohio’s business community. The order blocks the lower court decision only while the appeals court continues its review of the case, which has been expedited.