Political briefs – June 17


MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION AMENDMENT CERTIFIED – The Ohio Attorney General’s Office today certified the petition for the proposed Cannabis Control Amendment to the Ohio Constitution.

On June 8, the Attorney General’s Office received a written petition to amend the Ohio Constitution, entitled “Cannabis Control Amendment,” from the group Ohioans to End Prohibition. The submission was certified today as containing both the necessary 1,000 valid signatures from registered Ohio voters and a “fair and truthful” summary of the proposed amendment.

“Without passing upon the advisability of the approval or rejection of the measure to be referred,…I hereby certify that the summary is a fair and truthful statement of the proposed law,” Ohio Attorney Mike General DeWine stated in his certification letter.

Once the summary language and initial signatures are certified, the Ohio Ballot Board must determine if the amendment contains a single issue or multiple issues. The petitioners must then collect signatures for each issue from registered voters in each of 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties, equal to 5 percent of the total vote cast in the county for the office of governor at the last gubernatorial election. Total signatures collected statewide must also equal 10 percent of the total vote cast for the office of governor at the last gubernatorial election.

The full text of today’s letter and of the amendment petitions submitted can be found at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov/BallotInitiatives.

HUSTED ADVISES ELECTION OFFICIALS OF POTENTIAL REGISTRATION FRAUD – Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted today issued Advisory 2015-03, which instructs the election officials at the 88 county boards of elections to carefully analyze new voter registrations being submitted by The Strategy Network, an organization coordinating the signature and registration drives for the pro-marijuana legalization group ResponsibleOhio.

Secretary Husted is urging local election officials to more closely review these forms following reports from boards of elections of an increase in errors and apparent fraudulent registration attempts from the group’s submissions. This fraudulent activity has been identified in conjunction with voter registration efforts The Strategy Network has been conducting while collecting signatures for their ballot initiative.

“As the state’s chief elections officer, I have a duty to work with our local boards of elections to ensure fairness at the ballot box and a primary component of that responsibility is to maintain clean voter rolls and establish safeguards against fraud,” Secretary Husted said. “ResponsibleOhio’s suspicious voter registration efforts seem to be simply another step in a growing trend of irresponsible behavior.”

The alleged irregularities reported to the Secretary of State include:

· Registrants who report non-existent addresses

· Signatures that are illegible or do not match the signature on file for the applicant in the voter’s existing registration record

· Multiple applications submitted on the same day for a single applicant at different addresses

· Applicants who are underage and will not turn 18 before the next General Election and are thus, ineligible to register at this time

· Multiple registration forms that appear to be completed in the same handwriting by a single person

“Disregard for Ohio’s laws and Ohio’s citizens will not be tolerated,” Secretary Husted said. “Sloppiness and fraud are unwelcome in our state’s elections system.”

NEW BUSINESS FILINGS RELEASED FOR MAY – Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted announced 7,945 new entities filed to do business in Ohio during May 2015. This number is a slight improvement from the same period last year when 7,820 new entities filed.

So far in 2015, 42,363 new businesses have been formed in Ohio, maintaining course for 2015 to be a record-breaking year for the state. At the same point in 2014, 41,594 new business entities were filed.

The state has experienced record business growth each year for the past five years, beginning in 2010. Under the leadership of Secretary Husted, the state has made it possible for more than 80% of all filings to be done online with one in two companies now being established electronically through the Secretary of State’s Ohio Business Central service.

The General Assembly has recently given approval to House Bill 3, which will reduce the filing fee for new businesses in Ohio by 21 percent. Secretary Husted urged the General Assembly to undertake this initiative in January after responsible fiscal stewardship over the Secretary of State’s office has reduced operating expenses by more than $14 million over the past four years, representing a 16% cut from the previous administration.

The bill is now awaiting the Governor’s signature, and once signed, it will mark the first time this fee has been cut in modern history and will make Ohio the least expensive state in the region to start and maintain a new business.

Though the most visible role of the Secretary of State is that of chief elections officer, the office is also the first stop for individuals or companies who want to file and start a business in Ohio. While recognizing these numbers can’t provide a complete picture of Ohio’s jobs climate, they are an important indicator of economic activity that Secretary Husted hopes will add to the discussion of how to improve the state’s overall climate for business.

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