COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – A group of Republican lawmakers on Wednesday filed a discharge petition on HJR1, a proposal that would make it more difficult to amend the Ohio Constitution.
A discharge petition, if it receives signatures from a simple majority (50% + 1) of House members, allows a bill or resolution to bypass the committee process. This means that if 50 representatives sign on, the resolution would move to a floor vote automatically, even if it is not voted out of committee and has not completed hearings.
“We believe we can get it through committee,” Rep. Derek Merrin (R- Monclova) said. “But by doing that, potentially, we would pass the deadline in May to put this on the ballot in August, so we believe this is our best scenario to make sure we have a vote.”
Since being introduced, HJR1, which has 35 Republican co-sponsors, has only had one committee hearing and some lawmakers said that’s a testament to Speaker of the House Jason Stephen’s (R-Kitts Hill) opposition to the bill.
“We have seen from our speaker that he has no intent to bring this up in a timely fashion and we believe this is the tool we need to use in order to move this through the process,” Rep. Susan Manchester (R-Waynesfield) said. “We have already attempted to move this through the process the committee way, but unfortunately, we are running out of time.”
In a statement, Stephens said, “HJR1 has been in the Constitutional Resolutions Committee for a month and a half, and it has only had one hearing. This is a question for the Chairman.”
Merrin and Manchester said they are “very optimistic” that there are 50 representatives who will sign the discharge position. They said they hope to collect the required signatures within the next two-and-a-half to three weeks.
Minority Leader of the House Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) issued a statement in response to the “concerning” discharge petition being filed:
“By ramming this undemocratic, unpopular, and unfair resolution through the process without public input, some House Republicans are, once again, orchestrating a direct attack on the fundamental freedom to make decisions that affect our lives.”
“Ohioans deserve to know the truth that there are some out-of-touch, extremist politicians who are beholden to special interest groups behind this petition. They will do whatever it takes, including rewriting the rules, so they can get what they want instead of what the people of Ohio want.”