Ohio Constitutional Conventions
Constitutional Amendment Section
of Ohio’s Constitution
Color Code: Highlights in red; Majority requirements in bold.
§ 16.01. How constitution to be amended; ballot; Supreme Court to hear challenges
Either branch of the General Assembly may propose amendments to this constitution; and, if the same shall be agreed to by three-fifths of the members elected to each house, such proposed amendments shall be entered on the journals, with the yeas and nays, and shall be filed with the secretary of state at least ninety days before the date of the election at which they are to be submitted to the electors, for their approval or rejection. They shall be submitted on a separate ballot without party designation of any kind, at either a special or a general election as the General Assembly may prescribe.
The ballot language for such proposed amendments shall be prescribed by a majority of the Ohio ballot board, consisting of the secretary of state and four other members, who shall be designated in a manner prescribed by law and not more than two of whom shall be members of the same political party. The ballot language shall properly identify the substance of the proposal to be voted upon. The ballot need not contain the full text nor a condensed text of the proposal. The board shall also prepare an explanation of the proposal, which may include its purpose and effects, and shall certify the ballot language and the explanation to the secretary of state not later than seventy-five days before the election. The ballot language and the explanation shall be available for public inspection in the office of the secretary of state.
The Supreme Court shall have exclusive, original jurisdiction in all cases challenging the adoption or submission of a proposed constitutional amendment to the electors. No such case challenging the ballot language, the explanation, or the actions or procedures of the General Assembly in adopting and submitting a constitutional amendment shall be filed later than sixty-four days before the election. The ballot language shall not be held invalid unless it is such as to mislead, deceive, or defraud the voters.
Unless the General Assembly otherwise provides by law for the preparation of arguments for and, if any, against a proposed amendment, the board may prepare such arguments.
Such proposed amendments, the ballot language, the explanations, and the arguments, if any, shall be published once a week for three consecutive weeks preceding such election, in at least one newspaper of general circulation in each county of the state, where a newspaper is published. The General Asembly shall provide by law for other dissemination of information in order to inform the electors concerning proposed amendments. An election on a proposed constitutional amendment submitted by the general assembly shall not be enjoined nor invalidated because the explanation, arguments, or other information is faulty in any way. If the majority of the electors voting on the same shall adopt such amendments the same shall become a part of the constitution. When more than one amendment shall be submitted at the same time, they shall be so submitted as to enable the electors to vote on each amendment, separately.
(Amended May 7, 1974.)
§ 16.02. Convention
Whenever two-thirds of the members elected to each branch of the General Assembly shall think it necessary to call a convention, to revise, amend, or change this constitution, they shall recommend to the electors to vote on a separate ballot without party designation of any kind at the next election for members to the general assembly, for or against a convention; and if a majority of all the electors, voting for and against the calling of a convention, shall have voted for a convention, the General Assembly shall, at their next session, provide, by law, for calling the same. Candidates for members of the constitutional convention shall be nominated by nominating petitions only and shall be voted for upon one independent and separate ballot without any emblem or party designation whatever. The convention shall consist of as many members as the House of Representatives, who shall be chosen as provided by law, and shall meet within three months after their election, for the purpose, aforesaid.
§ 16.03. Question of constitutional convention to be submitted periodically
At the general election to be held in the year one thousand nine hundred and thirty-two, and in each twentieth year thereafter, the question: “Shall there be a convention to revise, alter, or amend the constitution?” shall be submitted to the electors of the state; and in case a majority of the electors, voting for and against the calling of a convention, shall decide in favor of a convention, the General Assembly, at its next session, shall provide, by law, for the election of delegates, and the assembling of such convention, as is provided in the preceding section; but no amendment of this constitution, agreed upon by any convention assembled in pursuance of this article, shall take effect, until the same shall have been submitted to the electors of the state, and adopted by a majority of those voting thereon.
(As amended September 3, 1912.)
§ 2.01. In whom power vested
The legislative power of the state shall be vested in a general assembly consisting of a senate and house of representatives but the people reserve to themselves the power to propose to the general assembly laws and amendments to the constitution, and to adopt or reject the same at the polls on a referendum vote as hereinafter provided. They also reserve the power to adopt or reject any law, section of any law or any item in any law appropriating money passed by the general assembly, except as hereinafter provided; and independent of the general assembly to propose amendments to the constitution and to adopt or reject the same at the polls. The limitations expressed in the constitution, on the power of the general assembly to enact laws, shall be deemed limitations on the power of the people to enact laws.
§ 2.01a. The initiative
The first aforestated power reserved by the people is designated the initiative, and the signatures of ten per centum of the electors shall be required upon a petition to propose an amendment to the constitution. When a petition signed by the aforesaid required number of electors, shall have been filed with the secretary of state, and verified as herein provided, proposing an amendment to the constitution, the full text of which shall have been set forth in such petition, the secretary of state shall submit for the approval or rejection of the electors, the proposed amendment, in the manner hereinafter provided, at the next succeeding regular or general election in any year occurring subsequent to one hundred twenty-five days after the filing of such petition. The initiative petitions, above described, shall have printed across the top thereof: “Amendment to the Constitution Proposed by Initiative Petition to be Submitted Directly to the Electors.”
(Adopted September 3, 1912. HJR 3; Amended, effective November 4, 2008.)
§ 2.01b. Initiative, continued
When at any time, not less than ten days prior to the commencement of any session of the general assembly, there shall have been filed with the secretary of state a petition signed by three per centum of the electors and verified as herein provided, proposing a law, the full text of which shall have been set forth in such petition, the secretary of state shall transmit the same to the general assembly as soon as it convenes. If said proposed law shall be passed by the general assembly, either as petitioned for or in an amended form, it shall be subject to the referendum. If it shall not be passed, or if it shall be passed in an amended form, or if no action shall be taken thereon within four months from the time it is received by the general assembly, it shall be submitted by the secretary of state to the electors for their approval or rejection, if such submission shall be demanded by supplementary petition verified as herein provided and signed by not less than three per centum of the electors in addition to those signing the original petition, which supplementary petition must be signed and filed with the secretary of state within ninety days after the proposed law shall have been rejected by the general assembly or after the expiration of such term of four months, if no action has been taken thereon, or after the law as passed by the general assembly shall have been filed by the governor in the office of the secretary of state. The proposed law shall be submitted at the next regular or general election occurring subsequent to one hundred twenty-five days after the supplementary petition is filed in the form demanded by such supplementary petition, which form shall be either as first petitioned for or with any amendment or amendments which may have been incorporated therein by either branch or by both branches, of the general assembly. If a proposed law so submitted is approved by a majority of the electors voting thereon, it shall be the law and shall go into effect as herein provided in lieu of any amended form of said law which may have been passed by the general assembly, and such amended law passed by the general assembly shall not go into effect until and unless the law proposed by supplementary petition shall have been rejected by the electors. All such initiative petitions, last above described, shall have printed across the top thereof, in case of proposed laws: “Law Proposed by Initiative Petition First to be Submitted to the General Assembly.” Ballots shall be so printed as to permit an affirmative or negative vote upon each measure submitted to the electors. Any proposed law or amendment to the constitution submitted to the electors as provided in 1a and 1b, if approved by a majority of the electors voting thereon, shall take effect thirty days after the election at which it was approved and shall be published by the secretary of state. If conflicting proposed laws or conflicting proposed amendments to the constitution shall be approved at the same election by a majority of the total number of votes cast for and against the same, the one receiving the highest number of affirmative votes shall be the law, or in the case of amendments to the constitution shall be the amendment to the constitution. No law proposed by initiative petition and approved by the electors shall be subject to the veto of the governor.
(Adopted September 3, 1912. HJR 3; Amended, effective November 4, 2008.)
§ 2.01d. Emergency laws; not subject to referendum
Laws providing for tax levies, appropriations for the current expenses of the state government and state institutions, and emergency laws necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health or safety, shall go into immediate effect. Such emergency laws upon a yea and nay vote must receive the vote of two-thirds of all the members elected to each branch of the general assembly, and the reasons for such necessity shall be set forth in one section of the law, which section shall be passed only upon a yea and nay vote, upon a separate roll call thereon. The laws mentioned in this section shall not be subject to the referendum.
(Adopted September 3, 1912.)
§ 2.01e. Powers; limitation of use
The powers defined herein as the “initiative” and “referendum” shall not be used to pass a law authorizing any classification of property for the purpose of levying different rates of taxation thereon or of authorizing the levy of any single tax on land or land values or land sites at a higher rate or by a different rule than is or may be applied to improvements thereon or to personal property.
(Adopted September 3, 1912.)
§ 2.01g. Petition requirements and preparation
Any initiative, supplementary, or referendum petition may be presented in separate parts but each part shall contain a full and correct copy of the title, and text of the law, section or item thereof sought to be referred, or the proposed law or proposed amendment to the constitution. Each signer of any initiative, supplementary, or referendum petition must be an elector of the state and shall place on such petition after his name the date of signing and his place of residence. A signer residing outside of a municipality shall state the county and the rural route number, post office address, or township of his residence. A resident of a municipality shall state the street and number, if any, of his residence and the name of the municipality or post office address. The names of all signers to such petitions shall be written in ink, each signer for himself. To each part of such petition shall be attached the statement of the circulator, as may be required by law, that he witnessed the affixing of every signature. The secretary of state shall determine the sufficiency of the signatures not later than one hundred five days before the election.
The Ohio supreme court shall have original, exclusive jurisdiction over all challenges made to petitions and signatures upon such petitions under this section. Any challenge to a petition or signature on a petition shall be filed not later than ninety-five days before the day of the election. The court shall hear and rule on any challenges made to petitions and signatures not later than eighty-five days before the election. If no ruling determining the petition or signatures to be insufficient is issued at least eighty-five days before the election, the petition and signatures upon such petitions shall be presumed to be in all respects sufficient.
If the petitions or signatures are determined to be insufficient, ten additional days shall be allowed for the filing of additional signatures to such petition. If additional signatures are filed, the secretary of state shall determine the sufficiency of those additional signatures not later than sixty-five days before the election. Any challenge to the additional signatures shall be filed not later than fifty-five days before the day of the election. The court shall hear and rule on any challenges made to the additional signatures not later than forty-five days before the election. If no ruling determining the additional signatures to be insufficient is issued at least forty-five days before the election, the petition and signatures shall be presumed to be in all respects sufficient.
No law or amendment to the constitution submitted to the electors by initiative and supplementary petition and receiving an affirmative majority of the votes cast thereon, shall be held unconstitutional or void on account of the insufficiency of the petitions by which such submission of the same was procured; nor shall the rejection of any law submitted by referendum petition be held invalid for such insufficiency. Upon all initiative, supplementary, and referendum petitions provided for in any of the sections of this article, it shall be necessary to file from each of one-half of the counties of the state, petitions bearing the signatures of not less than one-half of the designated percentage of the electors of such county. A true copy of all laws or proposed laws or proposed amendments to the constitution, together with an argument or explanation, or both, for, and also an argument or explanation, or both, against the same, shall be prepared. The person or persons who prepare the argument or explanation, or both, against any law, section, or item, submitted to the electors by referendum petition, may be named in such petition and the persons who prepare the argument or explanation, or both, for any proposed law or proposed amendment to the constitution may be named in the petition proposing the same. The person or persons who prepare the argument or explanation, or both, for the law, section, or item, submitted to the electors by referendum petition, or against any proposed law submitted by supplementary petition, shall be named by the general assembly, if in session, and if not in session then by the governor. The law, or proposed law, or proposed amendment to the constitution, together with the arguments and explanations, not exceeding a total of three hundred words for each, and also the arguments and explanations, not exceeding a total of three hundred words against each, shall be published once a week for three consecutive weeks preceding the election, in at least one newspaper of general circulation in each county of the state, where a newspaper is published. The secretary of state shall cause to be placed upon the ballots, the ballot language for any such law, or proposed law, or proposed amendment to the constitution, to be submitted. The ballot language shall be prescribed by the Ohio ballot board in the same manner, and subject to the same terms and conditions, as apply to issues submitted by the general assembly pursuant to Section 1 of Article XVI of this constitution. The ballot language shall be so prescribed and the secretary of state shall cause the ballots so to be printed as to permit an affirmative or negative vote upon each law, section of law, or item in a law appropriating money, or proposed law, or proposed amendment to the constitution. The style of all laws submitted by initiative and supplementary petition shall be: “Be it Enacted by the People of the State of Ohio,” and of all constitutional amendments: “Be it Resolved by the People of the State of Ohio.” The basis upon which the required number of petitioners in any case shall be determined shall be the total number of votes cast for the office of governor at the last preceding election therefor. The foregoing provisions of this section shall be self-executing, except as herein otherwise provided. Laws may be passed to facilitate their operation, but in no way limiting or restricting either such provisions or the powers herein reserved.
(Amended, effective June 12, 1978. HJR 3; Amended, effective November 4, 2008.)
BILL OF RIGHTS
§ 1.01 Inalienable Rights (1851)
All men are, by nature, free and independent, and have certain inalienable rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing, and protecting property, and seeking and obtaining happiness and safety.
§ 1.02 Right to alter, reform, or abolish government, and repeal special privileges (1851)
All political power is inherent in the people. Government is instituted for their equal protection and benefit, and they have the right to alter, reform, or abolish the same, whenever they may deem it necessary; and no special privileges or immunities shall ever be granted, that may not be altered, revoked, or repealed by the general assembly.
Source: Ohio Constitution
Ohio Constitutional Conventions, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law Library
Ohio Constitutional Convention of 1912, Ohio History Central
“Annotated Ohio Constitution, including schedules from prior constitutions,” Ohio Secretary of State
1802 Constitutional Convention
Enabling Act of 1802 (Transcript), Ohio History Connection.
Ohio Constitutional Convention of 1802, Ohio History Connection.
Ohio Constitution of 1803, Ohio History Connection.
Ohio Constitution of 1803 (Transcript), Ohio History Connection.
1850-51 Constitutional Convention
Ohio Constitutional Convention of 1850-1851, Ohio History Connection.
Ohio Constitution of 1851, Ohio History Connection.
1873-74 Constitutional Convention
Ohio Constitutional Convention of 1873 – 1874, Ohio History Connection.
Ohio Constitution of 1874, Ohio History Connection.
1912 Constitutional Convention
Ohio Constitutional Convention of 1912, Ohio History Connection.
Historical Documents Celebrating the 200th Anniversary of Ohio Statehood, U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
Entin, Jonathan L. and Steinglass, Steven H. – podcast – “Have Special Interests and Deep Pockets Hijacked the Ohio Constitution?”, at the Cleveland City Club on September 1, 2010. Brief overview of Ohio Constitutional History, amendment process, recent amendments and proposed amendments, upcoming 2012 vote on Ohio Constitutional Convention.
Ballot Issue calling for convention fails – article, Cleveland.com, November 6, 2012
Voters to Decide on Convention to ReWrite State Rules, Dayton Daily News, October 18, 2013
State Issue 1: Voters should reject constitutional convention, rely on commission, Columbus Dispatch, October 9, 2012
State Issue 1 Calls for Constitutional Convention, Wadsworth Post, October 6, 2012
Vote No on Issue 1, Constitutional Convention, Ohio Liberty Coalition, September 26, 2012
Curtin, Mike, Ohio Constitution Could Use Some Tweaking, Columbus Dispatch, Nov. 14, 2010 (Advocating a state Constitutional Revision Commission for 2012)
Suddes, Thomas (Pro), The Ohio Constitution: Is It Time for a Rewrite?, The Plain Dealer, December 17, 2006
Steingalss, Steven H., (Con), The Ohio Constitution: Is It Time for a Rewrite?, The Plain Dealer, December 17, 2006
Be careful with the state constitution, Beacon Journal, June 16, 2015.