Sun. Jul 14th, 2024

The Ohio House pairs ensure President Biden gets into the fall vote, with foreigners enacting a ban

By Vaseline May30,2024

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A workaround that would have allowed President Joe Biden to appear on this fall’s ballot cleared the Ohio House Thursday in a rare special session, along with a ban on foreign nationals contributing to state voting campaigns that representatives said would in return it was demanded by the Ohio Senate.

The Senate was expected to pass both bills on Friday – although fractured relations between the chambers mean their successful passage was not guaranteed.

The special session was called ostensibly to address the fact that Ohio’s deadline for holding the November vote falls on August 7, about two weeks before the Democratic president would be formally nominated at the party’s 19-22 convention. August in Chicago.

But when the Senate — and then Republican Gov. Mike DeWine’s proclamation calling lawmakers back to Columbus — linked the issue to the alien ban, the Democratic National Committee acted to neutralize the need for a vote in Ohio. Along with the Biden campaign, it announced earlier this week that it would resolve Biden’s voting deadline problem in Ohio itself by holding a virtual roll call vote to nominate him. This solution will be voted on in committee on Tuesday.

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On Thursday, Democrats in the Ohio House accused Republican supermajorities in both chambers of exploiting the Biden conundrum to pass an unrelated bill that undermines direct democracy in Ohio, where voters sided by wide margins last year chose from GOP leaders’ prevailing positions on three separate ballot measures. . That included protecting access to abortion in the state constitution, rolling back a proposal to make it harder to pass such constitutional changes in the future, and legalizing recreational marijuana.

Political committees involved in the first two attempts took money from entities that had received donations from Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss over the past decade, although any direct path from him to the Ohio campaigns is untraceable under the campaign finance laws not addressed in House legislation. Wyss lives in Wyoming.

“We should not trade putting the President of the United States on the ballot for a massive power grab by the Senate majority. That is what this vote is about,” said Rep. Dani Isaacsohn, a Cincinnati Democrat, before both bills cleared a House committee along party lines.

State Rep. Bill Seitz, a Republican attorney from Cincinnati who led House negotiations on the compromise, said the amended House bill offered Thursday was significantly scaled back from a version that voting rights advocates pushed back against Wednesday.

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It has, among other things, reduced penalties for violations, changed enforcement provisions, and added language to ensure the ban does not conflict with existing constitutional protections afforded to political donations, such as through the 2020 Citizens United decision.

“What we’re trying to do here, folks – at least what we should all be trying to do – is unearth the evil engineering of foreign money in our elections. This is not a good thing,” Seitz said during floor debate on the measure, which cleared Room 64-31.

However, Seitz voted against a successful floor amendment from State Rep. Brian Stewart, a fellow Republican, who expanded the bill’s definition of “foreign nationals” to include lawful permanent residents of the U.S., also known as green card holders. Stewart said the change would close “a glaring loophole.”

“Without this amendment, folks, the Biden administration can quickly get a green card for their favorite foreign billionaire of the day, from Switzerland or elsewhere, before the ink is even dry on House Bill 1,” Stewart argued. “We are well within our legal rights to do this under federal law.”

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Seitz strongly opposed the addition, citing a U.S. Supreme Court opinion that suggested such an expansion would “raise substantial questions” about constitutionality.

House Democratic Leader Allison Russo, whose caucus helped force a vote on the amendment, said the addition could provide an opening for lawsuits. “It certainly now brings the law into conflict with federal law,” she said.

Republican House Speaker Jason Stephens said he has no plans to reconvene the House for further special session business even if the Senate were to repeal the Stewart provision on Friday — which would require another vote in the House to to approve the change. He said the House will return to regular business in June, as planned.

“We’ll see what happens in June,” he said, noting that the House originally planned to tackle the Biden vote issue anyway.

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If the immigration legislation becomes law, it has the potential to influence ballot campaigns heading into Ohio’s Nov. 5 ballot. These include measures proposing changes to Ohio’s redistricting law, raising the minimum wage to $15, granting qualified immunity to police and protecting certain voting rights.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered Republican Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost in a ruling Wednesday evening to uphold the qualified immunity measure, which would make it easier for Ohioans to police police. to sue for use of excessive force, and to send it directly to Ohio’s polling place. Yost has appealed this ruling. One of his decisions on the voting rights measure is also being challenged in court.

Ballot-fixing legislation, which applies only to this year’s elections, passed House 63-31, with some Republicans opposing action they say would only help Democrats. Lawmakers have temporarily adjusted the deadline twice in the past to help candidates from both parties.

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