New Hope For Ballot Issue Supporters

May 21, 2020

In this week's episode of Snollygoster, Ohio's politics podcast from WOSU, hosts Mike Thompson and Steve Brown discuss one court ruling that will allow the electronic collection of voter signatures for ballot issues, and another that lets gyms and fitness centers open up ahread of the state's schedule.

Listen to Snollygoster on the WOSU Public Media mobile app, on Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts. And make sure to leave a rating and review!

In this week's episode:

Dining Alfresco

Ohio restaurants opened for inside dining Thursday. Restaurant patios have been open since last Friday. Most complied with the state order that you have to sit at table at least six feet apart, but a few did not. One notable scofflaw was Standard Hall, a bar in Columbus' Short North neighborhood.

Pictures of the scene went viral as an example of youthful indifference and an illustration of ineffective health orders. Gov. Mike DeWine on Monday warned bar and restaurant owners that they face serious consequences if they don’t comply.

Flexing On State Restrictions

DeWine and Health Department director Dr. Amy Acton shut down gym facilities in March, saying people sweating and panting next to strangers isn’t smart during a global pandemic. They were scheduled to reopen May 26, but some got the go-ahead this week.

A Lake County judge on Wednesday called the order closing gyms oppressive, arbitrary and unreasonable, saying gyms in Lake County could open immediately. Some gym owners in other parts of the state used that as justification to open as well.

It might not seem like a big deal, but Attorney Chris Finney, who represents about three dozen facilities in their lawsuit against the Health Department, said the ruling could mean Ohio cannot issue orders to close gyms in the future.

Getting On The Ballot

It's not easy to get a proposed amendment on the ballot. It requires hundreds of thousdands of signatures, a task that become nearly impossible with social distancing guidelines in place.

Groups looking to change voting rules, legalize marijuana, and raise the minimum wage were never going to meet the July 1 deadline, so they went to court.

This week, federal judge Edmund Sargus found the state’s stay-at-home orders were infringing on the groups' first amendment rights if the state did not relax the requirements. The judge ruled that Ohio must let these groups collect signatures electronically.

Mugwump Of The Week

State Reps. D.J. Swearingen and Jeff LaRe want to let bars and restaurants sell alcohol for delivery through third-party services such as GrubHub or Doordash. Their bill would permanently allow third-party delivery services to deliver an unlimited number of drinks.

Under current COVID-19 rules, customers are limited to two packaged drinks with pick-up orders.

Send questions and comments to snollygoster@wosu.org.