“Ohio communities today are saying, We don’t have a fracking, pipeline, or development problem. We have a democracy problem!” – Tish O’Dell
 
Columbus, Ohio – The Ohio Ballot Board today certified two proposed constitutional amendments, one regarding Ohio Community Rights and the other regarding Initiative and Referendum for Counties and Townships, as single ballot issues. Both respective amendments had previously been certified by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.
 
Petitioners will now need to collect 305,591 signatures, which is equal to 10 percent of the total vote cast for governor in 2014, for each issue in order to place the issues on the ballot.
 
As state government and industry attempt to strip local self-governing authority from communities across the state, residents refuse to surrender their democratic and environmental rights. Working through the Ohio Community Rights Network (OHCRN), they submitted the two proposed state constitutional amendments.
 
It also secures the authority of communities to put in place stronger environmental rights and protections than those recognized at the state, federal, or international level, according to a statement from OHCRN.
 
After submitting initial petitions to the State, Greg Pace, a member of the OHCRN said, “For years we have tried to protect our communities from harmful corporate projects. Today, we understand why we can’t get what we want: We are blocked by a system designed to force the harms in against our will. It is a system that refuses to recognize our right to govern our own communities. The Community Rights Amendment is the people’s way to change that.”
 
Today, only city and village residents can exercise their inalienable right to propose and repeal laws, which is recognized under Article 2, Section 1b of the Ohio Constitution. However, nearly 39% of Ohio’s population resides in townships and counties. They do not have the same constitutional right to legislate. This amendment extends equal rights to local self-government to all Ohio residents, regardless of jurisdiction within the state.
 
As part of the total number of signatures needed to place the measure on the ballot, petitioners must collect signatures from at least 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties, and within each of those counties, collect enough signatures equal to five percent of the total vote cast for governor in the most recent gubernatorial election, 2014.
 

“This goes beyond fossil fuel industries,” stated Tish O’Dell, CELDF’s Ohio organizer. “The right to pass local laws regarding fracking, gun control, predatory lending, minimum wage, and more, are thwarted by state preemptive laws. And those laws are often written by industry.”

She continued, “Ohio communities today are saying, ‘We don’t have a fracking, pipeline, or development problem. We have a democracy problem!’

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