By Maggie Thurber | Special to Ohio Watchdog
COLUMBUS — Ohio’s 10th District Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court ruling that plaintiffs lack the standing to challenge the JobsOhio Act.
JobsOhio is a nonprofit corporation created to “promote economic development, job creation, job retention, job training, and the recruitment of business to the state of Ohio.” It is under the control of a board of directors appointed by the governor, and is not a state agency. JobsOhio is designed to be funded by a combination of public and private revenue, including proceeds from the state’s liquor enterprise.
ProgressOhio alleged that the law created an unconstitutionally chartered corporation that would spend government revenue secretly and free from accountability. Their complaint stated that the legislation violated the Ohio Constitution in seven ways.
JobsOhio and the state responded to the lawsuit by claiming the plaintiff lacked standing on several grounds. The trial court agreed and dismissed the case on Dec. 2, 2011.
ProgressOhio then appealed to the 10th District Court, claiming eight errors in the trial court’s decision. They also asked the appeals court to rule the law unconstitutional.
In Thursday’s opinion, the court overruled all eight claims of error and declared moot the issue of constitutionality, affirming the decision of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas.
“This is the latest in a series of dangerous precedents where Ohio Courts opt not to rule on important constitutional issues, but hide behind issues of standing,” ProgressOhio said in a statement after the ruling. “Earlier this month, the conservative Ohio Roundtable also ran into this disturbing trend in a lawsuit regarding the Ohio Lottery Commission.
“The fact remains that no Court has ruled on the issue of whether JobsOhio is in fact constitutional. It is a dangerous precedent when issues regarding constitutionality are not addressed.”
Laura Jones, communications director for JobsOhio, said, “We’re pleased that the Ohio Court of Appeals agreed with the Trial Court. This decision allows us to focus our resources on our primary mission: to create more jobs for Ohioans and a business environment where companies can grow and thrive. The JobsOhio management team is consulting with our advisers to determine next steps.”