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“Fast-Track Transfer Statute” Declared Unconstitutional under the One-Subject Rule

In Plain Local Sch. Dist. Bd. of Educ. v. Dewine, S.D. Ohio Case No. 2:19-cv-5086 (Judge Michael H. Watson), the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio held that the “Fast-Track Transfer Statute” (R.C. 3311.242) violated the Ohio Constitution’s one-subject rule. The fast-track transfer statute at issue was part of a biennial budget bill and allowed the transfer of township property from one school district to another pursuant to an election versus the general administrative review and approval process. In finding this fast-track transfer statute to be unconstitutional, the federal district court did not rely upon the merits of the statute but, instead, relied on the fact that the statute was part of a biennial budget bill and, hence, violated the one-subject rule. Specifically, the statute was found to violate Ohio Constitutional Art. II, Sec. 115(D), which provides that “no bill shall contain more than one subject, which shall be clearly expressed in its title.”

Since the fast-track transfer statute was a significant, substantive, and controversial amendment to the underlying biennial budget bill, the federal district court found that the fast-track transfer statute had no discernible practical, rational or legitimate relationship to the budget and, therefore, should not have been added to the biennial budget bill. And, since there was no common purpose and/or relationship between the transfer statute and the state budget, the fast-track transfer statute violated the one-subject rule.

This case was issued on September 11, 2020, so the State of Ohio may still file an appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

To read this case, click here.

Authors: Matthew John Markling and the McGown & Markling Team.

Note: This blog entry does not constitute – nor does it contain – legal advice. Legal jurisprudence is like the always changing Midwestern weather. As a result, this single blog entry cannot substitute for consultation with a McGown & Markling attorney. If legal advice is needed with respect to a specific factual situation, please feel free to contact a McGown & Markling attorney.

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