Citizens from the great state of Ohio will vote Tuesday on two issues that could have far-reaching consequences for the rest of the country. The first of the initiatives, Issue 3, is a vote on an amendment to the Ohio State Constitution that would exempt the state from the new national healthcare laws (Obamacare). At the heart of Issue 3 is the concern over Ohio’s citizens being legally compelled to participate in federally mandated insurance programs. If passed, the Issue will amend the Ohio Constitution to say: “In Ohio, no law or rule shall compel, directly or indirectly, any person, employer, or health care provider to participate in a health care system. In Ohio, no law or rule shall prohibit the purchase or sale of health care or health insurance. In Ohio, no law or rule shall impose a penalty or fine for the sale or purchase of health care or health insurance.”
With Obamacare on the fast track to a Supreme Court ruling, Ohio’s Issue 3 could have an effect on the final judgement of the constitutionality of the law. If voters choose to strike down the amendment, the SCOTUS can use voter sentiments in that state to sway their decision. Americans were not given the option of voting for Obamacare and many opponents say it never would have passed the smell test if citizens had been given the option to vote for the legislation in the first place. Ohio is the first state that will put that theory to the test. If voters reject the measure, the SCOTUS could use that as a guage for how the rest of the country would feel about national healthcare requirements. Taking that into consideration, it seems more likely that the Justices would uphold Obamacare as the law of the land, citing Ohio as an example of how Americans feel Obamacare does not violate their Constitutional rights. Conversely, a vote to adopt could also sway the SCOTUS in the direction of striking down Obamacare for good.
The second initiative is Issue 5, which addresses the state of union pay and benefits in Ohio. As we’ve seen in the battles in Indiana and Wisconsin earlier this year, public union reforms are becoming a hot button issue in the States. With bankruptcy looming for many of the States, some governors are being forced to drastically change their budgets and cut costs in order to address tanking balance sheets. Public unions have come under fire as a large drain on state and local budgets. In Wisconsin, unions rioted at the capital, protesting against Governor Scott Walker’s attempts to curb union benefits and require public union employees to contribute to their own healthcare and pension funds. Ohio Senate Bill 5 closely mirrors Walker’s ultimately successful reforms. It curbs their right to collectively bargain for anything outside of wages and prohibits striking. It puts an end to the “fair share” policy of unions, which extracts dues from all employees including those who opt out of the union system. It will also, like Wisconsin, require unions to pay more into their own healthcare and pension programs. Although Issue 5 doesn’t carry the same national weight as Issue 3, its passage could signal a continuing momentum in States’ battle against exorbitant public union pay and clout, which has greatly contributed to the budget crisis across America. Passage of Issue 5 in Ohio could embolden other strapped states to follow suit.
Issue 2 is also an important initiative to watch as it wrestles control away from public unions and puts budgeting of salary and expenses back in the hands of local elected officials.
Ohio has a huge day of voting on Tuesday that could have quite a persuasive effect on the rest of the country. As the saying goes, “As Ohio goes, so goes the rest of America”.