Two Perspectives on Issue 3
"There's too much money in the system - too much pay for play," says Darold Johnson of the Ohio Federation of Teachers, pointing out a list of contractors who gave money to the Republican party and were then rewarded with nice contracts. "We want to empower the people, not enrich the politicians."
That is what Issue 3 will do, according to proponents - take the money out of politics. But opponents say it will only take some money out of politics while giving a decided advantage to labor unions who are specially exempted from some of the Issue 3 language.
"The Small Donor Action Committees allow membership dues of unions - up to $50 per person - to be spent on candidates," says Tim Maglione of the Ohio State Medical Association. "That gives unions ten times the spending power of other groups."
That's just the sort of inequality that would likely be addressed in committee if the Issue 3 language were legislation instead of an amendment to the Constitution, Maglione says. "Putting this level of detail into the Constitution is bad. Not only does the Constitution not react to change like legislation can, but the legislative process lets all points be heard in debate."
But opponents say that the time for such legislation has passed - the General Assembly has had its chance to limit spending and it didn't do it. Look to the recent raising of the limits on individual contributions, Johnson says. Those were not the right thing for Ohio . "Why can't Ohio operate under the same individual spending limits as the federal government?"
Maglione sees this issue tied up in the courts for a long time if it passes. "The courts are ultimately going to have to determine what much of this language means. What if dues paying members of the Ohio State Medical Association also happen to be incorporated? That's an example of a question that Issue 3 never treats." It's also the sort of thing, Maglione says, that would be addressed if this were legislation; now the courts would have to act like the legislature to answer these types of questions.
But opponents say that this is all just a smokescreen and that voters just need to follow the money in order to know which way to vote. "Look at the opponents of Issue 3," Johnson says, "they're getting their money from big contributors. They've got fewer donors than Reform Ohio Now but twice as much money coming in."