Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Ohio Issue 3: Don't gamble with our constitution

Yeah...it's another Ohio political post. But the election is today, so hopefully I can go back to kvetching about my life again here very soon.

There's this frightening trend nation-wide for special interests to try to bypass the regular legislative processes of states by proposing to write their programs as amendments to state constitutions.

No where has this practice been more abused than here in Ohio.

This is how Ohio ended up with the most Draconian and dangerous marriage law in the nation.

Now, special interests want us to amend the constitution to allow exactly 4 casinos, all owned by the same out-of-state-developer, to be built in Ohio. This is a state that has voted down casino gambling not once, but three times, in the past. The developers have essentially "bought off" the public interests that opposed them in earlier referenda. The terms for the developers are some of the most generous in the country: the gambling licenses here are being issued for as little as 10% of what the licenses are garnering in other states. There is no guarantee that Ohioans will be hired for the purported 34,000 jobs that proponents claim will be generated by these casinos. And anyone who isn't "in the club" -- cities like Lorain and Youngstown -- don't have a chance to come back later and ask the voters for their own casinos.

But this isn't about casino gambling. And this really isn't about the number or placement or ownership of casinos.

This is a bad idea for two reasons: When programs, policy and practice become part of the state constitution, they become very difficult to modify -- a 3/5th majority of the legislature must approve such a measure. They also cannot cannot be reviewed for constitutionality. When a policy becomes part of the constitution, it's constitutionality cannot be challenged, except at the Federal level. But more importantly, it's about cheapening the constitution. This document defines what is most important to the people in this state about how they are to be governed.

It shouldn't be about ensuring that a small number of people make an obscene amount of money.

So, for the same reasons that I am voting no on Issue 2 (below), I am also voting NO on Issue 3. Nearly every major newspaper in the state has come out against it, as have both of our US senators. I urge you to do the same.

1 comment:

winter said...

I'm with you. We shouldn't modify Constitutions willy-nilly. Making uncontestable, hard-to-change laws should not be done lightly.