Ohio’s State and Local Governments
The State of Ohio acts within the framework of the U.S. Constitution and extends powers and functions to local governments.
18. The Ohio Constitution was drafted in 1851 to address difficulties in governing the state of Ohio.
Under Ohio’s original constitution, the General Assembly was the preeminent branch of the government. Key judicial and executive officers, other than the governor, were appointed by the legislature and were not elected by the people of Ohio. The governor, although an elected official, had few specific powers. The Supreme Court, which was required to meet once each year in every county, found it difficult to meet its obligations. In addition the state was burdened with a significant amount of debt.
The Constitution of 1851 provided that major executive officials and all judges were to be elected by popular vote. While the powers of the governor were not significantly increased, legislative powers to enact retroactive laws were prohibited and all laws of a general nature were required to be uniform throughout the state. District courts were added to the court system to reduce the burdens upon the Supreme Court. The new constitution instituted debt limitations, banned poll taxes and required that tax funds be used only for their stated purpose.
Expectations for Learning
Provide examples of how the 1851 Ohio Constitution addressed difficulties in governing Ohio at that time.