Hot-button issues don't make the cut

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COLUMBUS (AP) -- Based on early vows, rumors and predictions, Ohio's 2014 ballot was going to be rife with every hot voter topic of the day: gay marriage, right to work, medical marijuana, clean energy and voter rights.

As of Wednesday's signature deadline, not one issue survived.

Advocates for several of the issues say it's more difficult and expensive to pursue the direct democracy route in Ohio these days, despite a constitutional guarantee that allows citizens to challenge laws they don't like.

Some observers say even a failed ballot campaign has its value. Blanketing street corners and festivals for a period of months or years in this critical battleground state keeps the issue indirectly before voters and sometimes slows down or speeds up the legislative process.

A look at some hot-button ballot issues discussed for 2014, and where they stand:

VOTER BILL OF RIGHTS

The Ohio Voter Bill of Rights would place certain early-voting hours and other access issues in the state Constitution. The campaign gathered 100,000 of 365,000 signatures need. Petitions will continue to circulate during a Freedom Summer Initiative that is to be followed by a fall statewide Voting Rights summit. Trying for ballot again in 2015.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA

The Ohio Cannabis Rights Amendment would legalize the medical, therapeutic and industrial use of marijuana in Ohio. The campaign gathered 100,000 signatures of 365,000 required. Petitions will continue to circulate with new goal of 2015 ballot.

RIGHT TO WORK

The Ohio Workplace Freedom Amendment would have prohibited mandatory participation in labor unions or the charging of fair-share fees to nonmembers.

The group had gathered more than 100,000 signatures by last year, but the activist behind the effort left the state and the effort appears abandoned.

CLEAN ENERGY

The Ohio Clean Energy Initiative would have required $1.3 billion in annual investments over a decade in infrastructure, research and development related to solar, wind and other energy sources. The effort failed to meet a signature requirement in May and evaporated.

GAY MARRIAGE

The Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom Amendment would repeal and replace Ohio's 2004 prohibition on same-sex marriage. Signatures were gathered for a version whose wording was ultimately questioned by some gay-rights activists, so the campaign reworded it and started again. They failed to collect enough new signatures for this year's ballot but plan to advance the issue later.

SOURCE: AP Research.

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