Vote ‘No’ on Issue 1

To the editor:

On Nov. 6th, Ohio voters will decide State Issue 1, a proposed Ohio Constitutional amendment that would require reduced prison sentences of incarcerated drug offenders and prevent any drug offenses from being classified as a felony. As written, the possession of enough fentanyl to kill 10,000 people (less than 20 grams) would be a misdemeanor. Issue 1 is a poorly written, misguided amendment with unforeseen negative consequences that will be difficult to undue and will make our communities less safe.

Ohio is a referendum state which means that anyone can get enough petitions to place anything on the ballot and to change the Ohio Constitution. Issue One is being bankrolled by individuals and organizations from outside Ohio, including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and George Soros’ Open Society Policy Center. Why are people outside of our state so invested in changing Ohio’s Constitution? And when the results aren’t as advertised who is left holding the bag? Ohio citizens and the out of state backers are long gone. The Constitution should be reserved for items such as protecting the rights of citizens and the overarching limits of government in our lives. Unfortunately, our Constitution is being repeatedly hijacked by referendums on important issues such as criminal justice reform that belong in the legislative process and the Ohio Revised Code.

Proponents will say that we need to ease overcrowded prisons. Don’t be fooled. Ohio judges are already doing what Issue 1 claims to want to do. Judges currently have the ability to structure sentences in the best interest of the public and the offender. Implementation of this amendment would hamper or eliminate this ability and Ohio would become an open invitation for drug dealers.

Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, who favors some criminal justice reforms, wrote in a recent opinion piece that Issue 1 is unconscionable and catastrophic and would hamper drug courts in Ohio. “If Issue 1 passes, Ohio could have some of the most lenient drug crime laws in the nation,” she warned.

Judicial groups oppose it, Law enforcement oppose it, and local government groups oppose it. I urge you to vote “No” on Issue 1!

Aaron Heilers

Executive Chair

Shelby County Republican Party