For months, you've been seeing commercials for Issue 2: The Drug Price Relief Act. It's designed to cut the costs Ohioans pay for prescriptions, and will be on the ballot this November.
So we're taking an in depth look at the issue, starting with how this initiative began.
This issue is actually not new. It was first introduced in California which is pretty progressive when it comes to legislation on social issues. But it was defeated, after one of the most expensive ballot measure battles in the country. Because if it passed, it would turn the prescription drug market upside down.
“And I say it's time for the pharmaceutical companies to stop ripping off the people of our country.”
That was Senator Bernie Sanders at a rally last year where they brought out the big guns to battle.It was over a proposal that went before California voters last year, designed to reduce drug prices. The ballot issue would have kept the state from paying more for prescriptions than the Department of Veterans Affairs pays.
“And what you do here in California will reverberate all over this country,” said the Senator.
Voters there rejected the measure 53 to 47 percent, after being bombarded with $19 million dollars in ads from supporters, and more than a whopping $109 million from opponents.
"Every major newspaper in the state of California; the liberal papers, the conservative papers, middle of the road papers, all editorialized against it,” says Dale Butland from the Ohioans Against The Deceptive RX Issue.
But the same people supporting the issue have now brought it to Ohio, with the same people fighting it, following them. And with both sides running commercials non-stop, for the past five months, we’re seeing a similar war playing out on our battlefield.
“When you spend $110 million dollars, that is a lot of money and that is a lot of persuasion,” says Dennis Willard from Ohio Taxpayers For Lower Drug Prices.
Now, it was no easy task getting this on the ballot. By law supporters had to get nearly 92,000 signatures, before being considered by the Ohio legislature--which declined to vote on it.
When I called to ask why, an aide to the Speaker of the House at that time, Cliff Rosenberger, said given the magnitude of this issue, they wanted Ohioans to weigh in.
That meant supporters had to collect an additional 92,000 signatures. But opponents challenged the legitimacy of many of them in the Supreme Court and got thousands of signatures thrown out.
"Why wouldn't you just leave this up to Ohio voters instead of trying legal maneuvers to try and get it off the ballot?" I asked Dale Butland.
“It is often the case that there is a challenge on the signatures. Are the signatures valid, were they collected in the right way. did they meet the test of law? that's apparently what happened here,” he said.
But supporters filed their own suit to get the signatures back -- and won. Which means we vote on it this November.