Right of local community self-government advances
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tish O’Dell, Ohio Community Organizer
COLUMBUS, OHIO: Yesterday, the Ohio Ballot Board unanimously approved two proposed state constitutional amendments, determining they each meet the single subject requirement. A legal representative of the people, community members, and several members of the Ohio Community Rights Network (OHCRN) attended the hearing to voice their support to the Ballot Board members.
Ohio residents are advancing the Ohio Community Rights Amendment and the Initiative and Referendum for Counties and Townships Amendment. The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) assisted residents and the OHCRN to draft and legally review the measures.
Gwen Fischer, a member of Portage County Community Rights Group, helped gather initial signatures for the measures. She stated, “The people working on Community Rights in Ohio know that it is standard practice for our state legislature to propose and pass laws that violate the single subject rule in the constitution, so it was gratifying to see the Ballot Board not apply a stricter standard to the people.”
The Ohio Community Rights Amendment codifies the right to local community self-government, enabling local governments to protect and expand fundamental rights and prohibit corporate activities that violate those rights. 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.
The Initiative and Referendum Amendment for Counties and Townships amendment extends the right to initiative and referendum to residents living in townships and counties. Today, only city and village residents can exercise their inalienable right to propose and repeal laws. However, nearly 39% of Ohio’s population resides in townships. 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 where they live.
The Attorney General certified both initiatives on November 27th. With the approval of the Ballot Board, residents will begin gathering signatures.
Residents are facing ongoing efforts by state government to strip local-governing authority over fracking, gun control, predatory lending, minimum wage, and more. Corporate lobbyists draft state preemptive laws, which are then adopted by state legislators.
“Since 2012, residents have advanced local Community Rights laws to stop fracking, pipelines, and other fossil fuel projects threatening their health, safety, and welfare as well as local election law and rights of nature. As those efforts build, so have efforts to stop the people from protecting themselves and creating the communities they envision. These state constitutional measures ensure that the authority of we, the people, is elevated above corporate or state claims to have decision-making powers over us,” stated Tish O’Dell, CELDF’s Ohio organizer.
This grassroots movement by the people of Ohio is not backed or funded by large corporate donors. The OHCRN and its allies invite residents from across the state to join the fight for rights! Sign up to volunteer at www.ohcommunityrights.org.
Ohio Communities Part of Growing Movement
Local communities and state Community Rights Networks are partnering with CELDF to advance and protect fundamental democratic and environmental rights. They are working with CELDF to establish Community Rights and the Rights of Nature in law, and prohibit extraction, fracking, factory farming, water privatization, and other industrial activities as violations of those rights. Communities are joining together within and across states, working with CELDF to advance systemic change – recognizing our existing system of law and governance as inherently undemocratic and unsustainable.
For additional information regarding the state amendments, contact CELDF at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn about the Ohio Community Rights Network, visit ohiocrn.org. To learn about the Community Rights Movement, visit www.celdf.org.
About CELDF — Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund
The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund is a non-profit, public interest law firm providing free and affordable legal services to communities facing threats to their local environment, local agriculture, local economy, and quality of life. Its mission is to build sustainable communities by assisting people to assert their right to local self-government and the Rights of Nature.