Direct Democracy is Under Attack—Statewide Opposition Continues to Grow for HJR1 and SJR2

In response to House Joint Resolution 1 and Senate Joint Resolution 2 (both recently introduced, both aiming to make it almost impossible to pass a ballot initiative), a growing group of statewide organizations, unions, faith leaders and community advocacy groups sent the following letter to members of the 135th General Assembly and Secretary of State LaRose voicing opposition and urging lawmakers to Vote NO on HJR1 and SJR2.


This consolidated effort from our lawmakers to change the Ohio Constitution in order to make it harder for Ohio citizens to successfully pass ballot initiatives is a power grab, plain and simple. It is unnecessary, unfair, unpopular, and undemocratic.

Call Your Lawmakers TODAY—Call your Ohio Representative and Ohio Senator (Look them up here). Also reach out to Rep. Plummer, Chair of the House Constitutional Resolutions Committee at 614-644-8051 and Senator Rulli, Chair of the Senate General Government Committee at 614-466-8285.

If your organization is not listed below but would like to be included, an authorized leader of your organization can Sign On Here.

Updated May 5, 2023 — Signed by 244 Organizations

We, the undersigned organizations, oppose any effort to drastically curtail the ability of citizens to successfully carry out ballot initiative campaigns. Any such effort will be met by broad opposition from diverse organizations and voters across the state. 

Ohio has a time-honored tradition of citizen campaigns. Since 1912, Ohioans from across the political spectrum have utilized the right to amend our Constitution via the petition process. We are proud to live in a state that gives voters the right to direct democracy and the ability to have a real say in politics. We see no justifiable reason, after over 100 years, to suddenly make this already challenging process even harder. 

Proposals like this are extremely unpopular with voters, even in more conservative states. A proposal to require a supermajority for passage was handily defeated by the voters of Arkansas just a few weeks ago, and the voters of South Dakota repudiated one in June 2022. 

Ohioans are well aware that citizen-initiated ballot campaigns are not easy, requiring hundreds of thousands of verified signatures and a strict geographical distribution across at least half of Ohio’s 88 counties. 

The process is not overused. There hasn’t been a citizen initiated ballot measure before voters since 2018. Over the past 10 years, there were only four elections with ballot measures through signature collection. In the past 50 years, there were 28 years without a citizen initiative on the ballot. Of those elections that had a ballot measure, only a handful of the elections had more than one issue for voters to consider. 

This is NOT a good-government reform. Making the ballot initiative process even harder for citizens groups will have the opposite of the desired effect: it will make it almost impossible for anyone except big money special interests to successfully pass a ballot initiative in Ohio. 

Even when initiatives to amend the constitution fail, they have spurred a deeper public dialogue and legislative action. Some examples: 

  • Voters defeated the pro-marijuana citizen initiative in 2015, but the campaign raised awareness and support for medical marijuana. The following year, the Ohio General Assembly passed legislation to legalize marijuana for medical treatment. 
  • Citizens groups were in the process of collecting signatures for an anti-gerrymandering ballot initiative in 2017. As a result of their efforts, the legislature was prompted to negotiate with the citizens groups and put forth a bipartisan proposal. Voters approved this congressional redistricting reform proposal in May 2018.
  • Voters defeated the Drug Relief Act in 2017, but attention to the issue prompted the state to begin investigating middle brokers ripping off the system and costing Ohio consumers millions of dollars 

We ask you to reject any proposal that would take power away from the voters. This type of proposal is unpopular with voters and rigs the game against Ohioans. We deserve better. 

Thank you for considering this letter.

cc: Secretary of State Frank LaRose and members of the Ohio General Assembly

A. Philip Randolph Institute of Ohio
ACLU of Ohio
ACTION OHIO Coalition for Battered Women
AFGE Local 3448
AFGE 6th District
AFSCME Council 8
Akron DSA
Alla Baba Temple No.53
Allen & Hardin for Election Action & Democracy (AHEAD)
Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.
Amalgamated Transit Union Ohio Legislative Conference
America Votes Ohio
Ashtabula County Central Labor Council
AVL Action
Between the Waters
Black Environmental Leaders Association
Black Lives Matter Cleveland Inc.
Black Lives Matter Dayton
Black, Out and Proud
BlueGreen Alliance
Bold New Democracy
Campbell Education Association
Campus Vote Project
Capital District (Ohio Education Association)
Central Ohio African American Chamber of Commerce
Central Ohio ALF, AFL-CIO
Central Vineyard Church
Char and Chuck Fowler family foundation
Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio
Cincinnati AFL-CIO Labor Council
Cincinnati Women’s Political Caucus
Cleveland Bi+ Network
Cleveland Jobs with Justice
Cleveland VOTES
Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio (COHHIO)
Columbus Community Bill of Rights
Columbus Community Rights Coalition
Columbus DSA
Columbus New Liberals
Columbus Urban League Young Professionals
Common Cause Ohio
Communications Workers of America D4
Crazy Faith Ministries
Crooked River Action
Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus
Cuyahoga County Young Dems
Cuyahoga Democratic Women’s Caucus
CWA Local 4302
Dayton Area SURJ
Dominican Sisters and Associates of Peace
East Canton Educators Association
EPIC Ensuring Parole for Incarcerated Citizens
Equality Ohio
Fair Districts Ohio
Fairfield County Indivisible
Faith Choice Ohio
Faith in Public Life
Fifth Christian Church Disciples of Christ
Fighting the Radical Right
Firelands Indivisible
Forward Ohio
Fraternal Order of Police Ohio
Freedom ROC
Gahanna Democrats and Friends
Grandview Ignite
GrassRoot Ohio Radio/Podcast
Greater Cleveland Congregations
Greater Dayton Move to Amend
Green Environmental Coalition
Hall of Fame CLC
Harrison Hills Teachers’ Association
HeartbeatMovement Incorporated
Heartland Conference UCC
Heights Coalition for Public Education
Honesty for Ohio Education
Howland Local Teachers’ Association
Hunger Network in Ohio
IBEW, Local Union 212
Indivisible Appalachian Ohio
Indivisible Central Ohio
Indivisible Central Ohio – Thursday Action Subgroup
Indivisible Central Ohio East
Innovation Ohio
Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers District 4
InterReligious Task Force on Central America
Iron Workers
Juvenile Justice Coalition
Kent Environmental Council
Leadership At Its Best & Phi Beta Sigma Beta Omicron Sigma Chapter
League of Women Voters of Ohio
Libertarian Party of Ohio
Licking County NAACP
Licking Knox Central Labor Council
Lorain County AFL-CIO Federation of Labor
Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry
Madison Local Education Association
Medina County Indivisible
Mobilize the Vote NEO
Move to Amend Miami County, Ohio
Murray and Agnes Seasongood Good Government Foundation
NALC Branch 385
National Association of Social Workers – Ohio Chapter
National Council of Jewish Women/Cleveland
National Lawyers Guild Ohio
New Albany Democrats
New Voices for Reproductive Justice
No Labels Ohio
North Canton Classified Personnel Association
North Shore AFL-CIO Federation of Labor
North Unitarian Universalist Congregation
Northeast Ohio Action Team,  ACLU
Northeast Ohio Black Health Coalition
Northeast Ohio Left PAC
Oberlin Friends Meeting (Quakers)
Ohio Alliance for Retired Americans Educational Fund
Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies
Ohio Association of Foodbanks
Ohio Association of Letter Carriers – NALC
Ohio Association of Professional FireFighters
Ohio Association of Public School Employees (OAPSE-AFSCME)
Ohio Citizen Action
Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence
Ohio Coalition on Black Civic Participation
Ohio Coalition To End Qualified Immunity @ HeartbeatMovement Incorporated
Ohio Community Rights Network
Ohio Conference-American Association of University Professors (AAUP)
Ohio Conference of Branches of the NAACP
Ohio Education Association
Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund
Ohio Fair Courts Alliance
Ohio Families Unite Against Police Brutality
Ohio Families Unite for Political Action and Change
Ohio Farmers Union
Ohio Federation of Teachers
Ohio Green Party
Ohio Move to Amend
Ohio National Organization for Women
Ohio Nuns on the Bus
Ohio Nurses Association
Ohio Organizing Collaborative
Ohio Physicians for Reproductive Rights
Ohio Poor People’s Campaign
Ohio Progressive Action Leaders
Ohio Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC-OH)
Ohio State Association of Plumbers & Pipefitters
Ohio Student Association
Ohio Unity Coalition
Ohio Veterans Network
Ohio Voter Fund
Ohio Voter Rights Coalition
Ohio Women’s Alliance
Ohio Women’s Alliance Action Fund
OPAWL- Building AAPI Feminist Leadership
OPEIU Local 792
Opportunities Peoples Justice Leaders (Opjl)
Orange Teachers Association
Organize! Ohio
Our Revolution Ohio
Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.
Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio
Policy Matters Ohio
Positively Blue
Positive Women’s Network, PWN-USA-Ohio
Pro-Choice Ohio
Progressive Peace Coalition
Promise of Democracy Foundation
Public Education Partners- Ohio
Rank the Vote Ohio
REACH: Responding with Empathy, Access, and Community Healing
Red Wine & Blue
Represent Justice
River Valley Organizing
Rural Lorain County Democrats
Rural Organizing
Save Ohio Higher Ed
SEIU/District 1199, WV/KY/OH
Shaker Heights Anti Racism Coalition
Shawnee Central Labor Council
Sierra Club
Single Payer Action Network Ohio
Sisters of Mercy in Ohio
South Range Education Association
Southeast Progressives of Franklin County
St. Vincent de Paul- St. T. Conference
Stark, Si Se Puede! Inc.
Struthers EA
Summit Recovery Hub
Tallmadge Teachers’ Association
Teacher of Men
The Black Men’s Voting Collective
The Freedom BLOC
The Illumination Center for Latinas
The National Coalition of 100 Black Women Inc. Greater Cleveland Chapter
The Ohio Coalition For Police Accountability and Transparency
The Ohio Council of Churches
The ReSisters of Central Ohio
Theis Research & Consulting
ThirdAct OH
Thrive at Life: Working Solutions
Tri County Regional Labor Council, AFL-CIO, CLC
TRM Works
UAW Local 1834
UFCW Local 1059
UFCW Local 75
Unitarian Universalist Justice Ohio
United Church of Christ
United Returning Citizens
United Steelworkers – District 1
Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity (URGE)
Upper Arlington Progressive Association
Upper Ohio Valley CLC
UWUA Local 425
Veteran Rehab and Refuge
Vote Responsibly
We Are Ohio
West Central Ohio CLC
Westerville Progressive Alliance
Winton Democrats
Woman’s City Club of Greater Cincinnati
Working Families Party
YWCA Greater Cincinnati