By Marc Kovac
Secretary of State Jon Husted has signed off on a third issue to appear on the November ballot — a constitutional amendment to block federal health-care mandates from taking effect in the state.
County elections boards verified and Husted certified 426,998 of the nearly 553,000 signatures submitted, well above the 385,245 needed to qualify for the ballot.
“It’s clear Ohioans want the freedom to choose the health-care options that are best for them and their families,” Jeff Longstreth, campaign manager for Ohioans for Healthcare Freedom, said in a released statement after the results were released. “Ohioans want patients and doctors to make health-care decisions, not government regulators.”
In the Mahoning Valley, the number of people who signed the petitions, by county, were: Trumbull, 4,899; Mahoning, 3,118; and Columbiana, 2,220.
The amendment is the third issue to qualify for the November ballot.
Last week, the secretary of state certified more than 915,000 signatures submitted as part of an effort to repeal Senate Bill 5, the controversial collective-bargaining legislation signed into law by Gov. John Kasich earlier this year.
Voters also will decide on a lawmaker-driven constitutional amendment to raise the cutoff age for Ohioans wanting to assume judicial seats.
The Ohio Ballot Board is scheduled to meet next week to finalize the wording that will appear on the November ballot for all three issues.
The health-care amendment would prohibit any law or rule that forces individuals, employers or health-care providers to buy or sell health care or insurance or that levies a fine against those who choose not to participate.
It’s an attempt to block portions of the federal health-care reform package passed by Congress last year with the support of President Barack Obama.
“Government-mandated health care will cost Ohio jobs,” Ohio Republican Party Chairman Kevin DeWine said in a released statement. “The Health Care Freedom Amendment’s certification by the secretary of state represents a stunning rebuke of President Obama’s failed domestic agenda.”
But at least one group is indicating a legal challenge on the ballot issue, however. ProgressOhio, a liberal advocacy group, is reviewing the petitions submitted for the amendment.
“We have until Aug. 5 to file challenges, and we expect to have quite a few,” Brian Rothenberg, executive director, said in a released statement.