Ohio State Representative Calls on House Speaker Stephens to Move the Ohio Constitutional Protection Amendment to the House Floor

State Representative Scott Wiggam (R- Wayne County) sent a letter on Tuesday to moderate Republican House Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) urging him to move the Ohio Constitution Protection Amendment to the House floor as soon as it passes out of committee for an August election.

This follows Stephens removing Wiggam from his position as chair of the House Constitutional Resolutions Committee and the committee all together due to Wiggam signing a discharge petition last week to accelerate the Ohio Constitution Protection Amendment, also known as House Joint Resolution (HJR) 1, which aims to alter the process of how initiative petitions can propose constitutional amendments.

Lawmakers can discharge a bill or resolution from committee if it wins the support of a simple majority of House members (50 percent + 1). This implies that even if lawmakers have not approved the resolution out of committee or finished holding hearings, it would automatically advance to the floor for a vote if 50 representatives signed on.

Issues proposed by initiative petitions need to meet a 50 percent voting threshold to amend the Constitution. Under HJR 1, these issues would need to meet a 60 percent threshold.

Stephen’s claimed that HJR 1 “is a priority for the caucus” and removed Wiggam due the fact he had ample time as Committee Chair to hear the resolution and take a vote since lawmakers introduced it making him “ill-equipped to serve as Chair.”

According to Wiggam, he is “delighted” that Stephens is finally acknowledging that HJR 1 is a priority of the caucus even though he has attempted to block it from passage since lawmakers introduced it.

“I was delighted to see that you for the first time, have recognized that House Joint Resolution 1,…”Is a priority of our caucus.” Unfortunately, it is clear that HJR 1 is not a priority for you. In fact, you have worked to stop HJR 1 at every turn,” Wiggam said.

Stephens’ statement that HJR 1 is a “priority for the caucus” directly contradicts the fact that he did not include it in his list of Republican House priorities he released at the beginning of the year resulting in disappointment from State Representative Derek Merrin (R-Monclova).

Some Republicans have said that Stephens’ reluctance to support the legislation is directly related to the “deal” he made with the Democrats to win the speaker-ship over GOP pick Merrin.

Wiggam claimed that Stephens failed to assign HJR 1 to a committee in time for the May ballot and then he assigned it to committee two days before advocates for the anti-parent rights and abortion-on-demand filed the constitutional ballot language with the Ohio Attorney General and approved several days later.

“HJR 1 cannot appear on the November ballot if the anti-parent and abortion-on demand initiative is on the same ballot. If that initiative and HJR1 were both to pass we could see the real scenario of abortion on demand placed in Ohio’s constitution with a 50 percent plus 1 vote and then it be protected with the 60 percent threshold because of HJR’1s passing. It is well known that this scenario is not acceptable to the Republican Caucus,” Wiggam said.

According to Wiggam, the Republican Caucus needs the discharge petition to ensure that the resolution moves directly to the floor for a vote. Wiggam says that this is the only way to protect the state Constitution since Stephens has publicly stated that he is against holding an August election.

“Unfortunately, if HJR 1 does not make it on an August election the resolution is dead. If HJR 1 is passed out of committee you can kill the resolution by not allowing it to come on the house floor for a vote until the August election deadline is over,” Wiggam said.

Wiggam stated that Stephens “dismay” by him signing the discharge petition leads him to one of two conclusions either he did not know the dynamics outlined above or he knew the dynamics and is playing a disingenuous political game to kill resolution and avoid blame.

“Either way, I encourage you to use the extraordinary power the Democrat Caucus gave you and publicly declare that you will move HJR 1 to the floor as soon as it passes out of committee for an August election,” Wiggam said.

According to State Representative Ron Ferguson (R-Wintersville), Wiggams claims against Stephens are “verifiable facts.”

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Hannah Poling is a lead reporter at The Ohio Star and The Star News Network. Follow Hannah on Twitter @HannahPoling1. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Jason Stephens” by Jason Stephens. 




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