The Columbus Chamber of Commerce urges members and citizens to oppose State Issue 1, which will appear before Ohio voters for the November 6, 2018 general election.
A group primarily funded by out-of-state interests called the “Ohio Safe and Healthy Communities Campaign” proposes to amend the Ohio Constitution by adding a new Article XV entitled the “The Neighborhood Safety, Drug Treatment, and Rehabilitation Amendment.” This is a citizen-initiated petition “to reduce penalties for crimes of obtaining, possessing, and using illegal drugs”.
While the proposal at first sounds innocuous, we call for a no vote for two primarily reasons:
First, the ballot language is so poorly drafted that if strictly construed, could make Ohio drug crime laws some of the most lenient in the country, posing grave consequences for our communities and our workforce.
Second, complex policy changes should be addressed through the legislative process and should not be enshrined in Ohio’s Constitution, which is inflexible to inevitably needed future amendments.
However, the Columbus Chamber has long advocated for criminal justice reforms, and for the diversion of low-risk non-violent offenders towards treatment and rehabilitation in lieu of incarceration. We stand ready to work with the Ohio General Assembly and our local leaders to appropriately address this important economic issue, spend less on our prison system, and focus more on effective outcomes that will decrease recidivism and help put people to work – through improved treatment, education, training, and workforce skills aimed to help Ohioans live their most productive and fulfilling lives.
The Columbus Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors voted to oppose State Issue 1 after referral by the Government Affairs Steering Committee.
As with all endorsement processes, the Columbus Chamber of Commerce thoroughly vetted the proposal by hearing from both sides, analyzing the amendment and supporting documents, and sorting fact from politics, all viewed through the lens of a business owner. The Chamber serves as the collective voice of the business community and your trusted resource, working to ensure the best for our region, its people and its businesses.
Therefore, the Columbus Chamber of Commerce urges members and voters to oppose Issue 1 on Nov. 6.