By Laura A. Bischoff
After voters statewide rejected Issue 1 this week, state lawmakers are ready to move forward on criminal justice reforms, legislative leaders said Thursday.
Ohio’s “big three” political leaders — Senate President Larry Obhof, House Speaker Ryan Smith, and Gov.-elect Mike DeWine — each applauded the failure of State Issue 1, a proposed constitutional amendment that would have changed criminal sentences. Voters rejected it 36.6 percent to 63.4 percent, according to unofficial results.
Judges and elected Republicans largely opposed Issue 1, saying it was a flawed proposal that didn’t belong in the Ohio Constitution.
Obhof, R-Medina, said Thursday he will introduce a bill in the upcoming weeks that calls for reducing low-level drug felony offenses to misdemeanors; install a presumption for probation over prison if the offender agrees to drug treatment; allow people currently incarcerated for certain drug crimes to petition the court to be re-sentenced.
The bill will be based on a proposal developed by Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien, a Republican, and Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein, a Democrat. The two ran against one another in 2016.