Home Law Here’s how the Ohio Community Rights Network is reforming the Ohio Constitution

Here’s how the Ohio Community Rights Network is reforming the Ohio Constitution

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Ohio Statehouse Rotunda. Photo by Mike King via Flickr.

This network is trying to change the fabric of Ohio’s constitution to allow for more direct democracy. 

The Ohio Community Rights Network (OHCRN), the Athens Bill of Rights Committee and the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) have been supporting an Athens group in implementing a charter in an effort to increase community rights in Athens. In addition, they are working on proposing two amendment changes to the Ohio constitution.

Charter proposal for Athens County

The charter was previously rejected by the Ohio Supreme Court, according to The Athens News. The most recent rejection was done with two of the justices concurring, three concurring in judgment and two dissenting.

“This charter first started in Athens when it was brought to OHCRN’s attention that there was a waste problem in rural parts of the area,” Tish O’Dell, the Ohio Community Organizer, said.

Because the charter has been challenged by the Ohio Supreme Court for three years, OHCRN continues to revise and rewrite the charter to protect the rights of Ohio citizens, according to O’Dell.

O’Dell believes that the barriers being put up by the Ohio Supreme Court are an attack on democracy, and she wants to continue working toward the approval of the charter.

For OHCRN, promoting local empowerment through supporting this charters will allow those in Athens to have more control over environmental regulations.

Proposing change the the Ohio Constitution

In addition to this charter, the OHCRN is currently working on proposing two changes to the  Ohio Constitutional. The first is The Community Rights Amendment, which would be added to Section 22, Article 1 of the Ohio Constitution.

This Amendment would protect the the health, safety, welfare and quality of life of the members of the community, according to OHCRN’s website.

The second addition that the OHCRN is proposing to the Ohio Constitution is the Initiative and Referendum Amendment, which would be added to Section 23, Article 1.

This change would allow for people living in counties and townships to have the ability to propose initiative and referendum bills. While this is currently legal for those living in cities, it is illegal for people living in counties and townships who account for 39 percent of Ohio’s population, O’Dell said.

“We are trying to expand the rights and protection of the people in the county,” O’Dell said.

The CELDF, which originated in Pennsylvania, assisted the process of working toward implementing these constitutional changes and have been assisting in the rewrites, according to The Athens News.

“You hear a lot about these out-of-state organizations coming in with their agenda, but this is false because this organization is actually helping with maneuvering the system legally,” O’Dell said.

“Laws are only drafted by people, so of course they can be changed,” O’Dell said.

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