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Beware ballot issues

April 22, 2012
Morning Journal News

Nine groups of Ohio voters appear to prefer government by ballot issue rather than allowing our duly elected officials to govern.

Supporters of nine ballot issues are currently gathering the 3.2 million valid signatures of registered voters required to place the issues on the ballot.

Buoyed, perhaps, by the success of Issue 5 last November, which repealed the law that limited the collective-bargaining rights of public employees, groups appear to feel the ballot box is the way to remedy legislative acts they oppose or to introduce laws the legislature has failed to enact.

One issue, so far, has garnered the necessary signatures to put it on the November ballot - a revision of House Bill 194 which restricted early voting and made other election-law changes.

Other issues vying for ballot placement include two medical marijuana proposals, the repeal of the ban on same-sex marriage, redrawing legislative and congressional district lines, clean energy mandates, dog auctions, right to work and a "personhood" amendment to give legal rights to fertilized human eggs.

While Ohio is not in danger of having as many ballot issues as California, where petitions for 66 ballot issues are currently circulating, we are threatening the health of our republic.

In a representative republic we elect officials to govern for us and if we are not happy with the job they're doing, then we recall them by replacing them in the next election. Using these ballot issues to bypass the legislature to enact laws is un-American because it erodes our form of government by replacing it with a form of direct democracy, which is what our Founding Fathers not only opposed but feared.

Ballot issues once were sparingly used in rare instances, but this government-by-ballot-issue has become the tool of choice by well-funded special interest groups unwilling or unable to convince the legislature to pass their measures. Many are ridiculous and have dangerous financial repercussions, such as the one requiring the state to issue $1.3 billion in bonds annually through 2023 to support green energy projects.

It is best to leave the lawmaking to the legislature and devote our energy as citizens to doing a better job of keeping an eye on our elected officials. That's the American way.

We should be very careful about ballot issues we pass this November. Otherwise, we might be sorry if we let the mob mentality of the ballot box make the rules.



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