By Isabel Yip, CNN
(CNN) — Ohio lawmakers have introduced a joint resolution that would remove slavery and involuntary servitude from the state’s Constitution as a punishment for crimes.
The amendment was introduced by Rep. Dontavius Jarrells, a Democrat representing Columbus, and Rep. Phil Plummer, a Republican representing Dayton. The proposed amendment was referred to the Constitutional Resolutions Committee on Wednesday.
Article 1, Section 6 of the Constitution of the State of Ohio currently says: “There shall be no slavery in this state; nor involuntary servitude, unless for the punishment of crime.”
Lawmakers are proposing the language to change to, “There shall never be slavery in this state; nor involuntary servitude.”
Jarrells told CNN that he wants to change “archaic and outdated language.” He added that many people he has spoken to about the bill are shocked because they don’t know such language exists in the state Constitution.
“I want my children, when they grow up, to live in a state where the vestiges of slavery no longer exist,” Jarrells said.
If the proposal is passed by the House and the Senate, it would need to be placed as an issue on the general election ballot. It would require a 50% majority vote plus one to pass because the measure was proposed by lawmakers, Jarrells said.
While other lawmakers have tried to amend this clause before, this is the first time a measure has bipartisan support.
In 2016, former Ohio State Rep. Alicia Reece introduced a bill to change the language and Rep. Cecil Thomas introduced another joint resolution in 2020 to remove the exception for slavery and involuntary servitude from the Constitution.
Other states, including Colorado, have voted in recent years to amend similar exception clauses from their constitutions. In 2018, voters in Colorado voted to amend their constitution to say, “There shall never be in this state either slavery or involuntary servitude.”
The legislative session will end in December 2024.
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