The Tiffin Area League of Women Voters is urging a "no" vote for state ballot issues 2 and 3. Both are proposed constitutional amendments. Issue 2 would create the Ohio Livestock Standards Board and set forth its composition and duties. Passage of Issue 3 would authorize casinos in four Ohio cities - Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland and Toledo.
The bipartisan board that would be established by Issue 2 would consist of 13 members who are designated by their position. The board would have authority to establish standards governing the care and well-being of livestock and poultry in Ohio, subject only to the authority of the General Assembly.
Some people are opposed to Issue 2, feeling the board should be created by statute rather than by amendment to the Ohio Constitution. They also argue Ohio doesn't need another regulatory board that would use revenues best spent on basic services for Ohio citizens. Some believe the vague language allows no appeals from decisions by voters, thereby letting an industry regulate itself. Still others state the amendment could prevent certain animal care reform proposed by animal rights organizations.
The league does not have a position on this particular subject matter, but the League of Women Voters of Ohio board voted to oppose passage of this issue because the amendment contains too much specificity to be in the Ohio Constitution. The league's opposition is based on its state position that the Ohio Constitution should be a clearly stated body of fundamental principles.
The casinos authorized in Issue 3 are to be privately owned. The owners are to pay a tax of 33 percent on gross casino receipts, and the revenues are to be allocated to counties, schools, host cities, an Ohio Casino Control Commission, programs at existing horse racetracks, law enforcement training programs and treatment for problem gambling and substance abuse. The commission is to have seven members appointed by the governor with consent of the Senate. Other details also are included that can be read in the official wording of the proposed amendment.
A number of arguments have been put forth against Issue 3, such as the point that the Ohio general revenue fund will not receive any of the gross casino receipts tax. Some say the lottery profits may suffer. Others argue Ohio businesses such as restaurants, movies or sporting events could be adversely impacted. Many believe the amendment pre-empts most local and state laws, including zoning laws, and imposes a hidden tax because it fails to limit how much taxpayers must spend to upgrade roads, bridges and other necessary infrastructure. Some state the number of gambling addicts will increase.
The league neither supports nor opposes gambling. However, the LWV-Ohio board voted to oppose passage of Issue 3 for the same reason it opposes Issue 2; the proposed casino amendment contains too much specificity to be included in the Ohio Constitution. In addition, because the amendment directs how the tax revenues would be spent, Issue 3 violates the state league's position that the legislature should have flexibility in financing state programs.
Constitutional amendments are an ongoing problem in Ohio and other states. Ronald George, chief justice of the California Supreme Court, criticized that state's reliance on referendums, arguing it has "rendered our state government dysfunctional." We cannot afford such a situation in Ohio.
The league has spent much time and effort to study the constitution adopting our position in 1968. We support a clear, flexible, organized and internally consistent constitution. Therefore, we oppose amendments that could better be handled through legislation and that contain too much specificity. Be sure to vote Nov. 3 and vote "no" for issues 2 and 3.
The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization that encourages informed and active participation of citizens in government and influences public policy through education and advocacy.