Ohio Lawmakers, Corporations and the Constitution

Creating Jobs Ohio and eliminating collective bargaining.

Different issues. The same approach — to ignore the Constitution.

The former the Ohio Constitution, the later the US Constitution.

Both issues weaken the rights of people.

In both cases, the Ohio General Assembly may approve what it does not have the constitutional authority to grant.


By a vote of 31-2, the State Senate approved yesterday HB 1, the measure creating Jobs Ohio, a private corporation that would assume the public job creation functions of the Ohio Department of Development. The measure permits state funds to be invested in this private company. This appears to be a direct violation of the Ohio constitution.

Article 8, Section 4 of the Ohio Constitution states, “The credit of the state shall not, in any manner, be given
or loaned to, or in aid of, any individual association or corporation whatever; nor shall the state ever hereafter become a joint owner, or stockholder, in any company or association in this state, or elsewhere, formed for any purpose whatever.”

The version of HB 1 passed was not the version originally proposed. After three rounds of testimony, several amendments were offered in a substitute bill that would increase transparency, prevent the new corporation from making political donations, and segregate funds. As one attorney told me who studied the original measure and reviewed the amendments, “it’s probably not as unconstitutional as before.”

That’s reassuring.

The prohibition of using public tax dollars for investments in private companies goes back to the 1837 “Plunder Law” (Ohio Loan Law) when the state was soaked for $20 million in lousy investments in canal and railroad corporations. Public pressure resulted in the repeal of the Plunder law. But that wasn’t enough. The public didn’t feel confident. What could be repealed today could be re-enacted tomorrow. Thus, the public pressure to “constitutionalize” this law — to be beyond the reach of corporations and compliant public officials. That’s how Article 8, Section 4 (and many other democratic articles and sections) of the Ohio Constitutional came into existence.

After this measures becomes law, will this measure be challenged? Depends I guess on how unconstitutional it’s perceived (I didn’t realize there was some sort of litmus test). If it does meet this threshold, it may also depend on whether wants to buck both political parties. It’s not real politically popular at the moment to come out against jobs and job creation. There’s also the question of legal priorities. All the legal eagles may have their eyes set on challenging another provision which may soon become law, which is….


Senate Bill 5 would eliminate collective bargaining rights for state employees and change the rights of local government employees. Doesn’t this violate the Contracts Clause of the US Constitution? State employees who work under a union do so under a contract. I thought contracts were considered “sacred.” That’s how they’re presented when a corporation is one of the parties. When workers are involved, contracts aren’t perceived with quite the same reverence.

Protect the rights of people to organize and collectively bargain. Oppose Senate Bill 5.

1 thought on “Ohio Lawmakers, Corporations and the Constitution

  1. The changes in the new version are not reassuring. Like NAFTA, one by one the safeguards will be repealed. Corporatism is unconstitutional, plain and simple.

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