Statewide Constitutional Change

Two Ohio Constitutional Amendments

Submitted November 16, 2017

The Community Rights Amendment

Be it Enacted by the People of the State of Ohio

In the constitution of the state of Ohio, add section 22 to Article I as follows:

Section 22. Right of Local Community Self-Government

(1) All political power is inherent in the people, all government of right originates from the people, and the people have the right to alter, reform, or abolish their governmental system whenever they deem it necessary to protect their liberty and well-being; therefore, the people of Ohio possess an inherent and inalienable right of local community self-government in each county, city, township, and village.

(2) That right shall include the power of the people, and the power of their governments, to enact and enforce local laws that protect health, safety, and welfare by recognizing or establishing rights of natural persons, their local communities, and nature; and by securing those rights using prohibitions and other means deemed necessary by the community, including measures to establish, define, alter, or eliminate competing rights, powers, privileges, immunities, or duties of corporations and other business entities operating, or seeking to operate, in the community.

(3) Local laws adopted pursuant to subsection (2) of this article shall not be subject to preemption or nullification by international law, federal law, or state law, provided that:

(a) Such local laws do not restrict fundamental rights of natural persons, their local communities, or nature secured by local, state, or federal constitutions, or by international law; and

(b)Such local laws do not weaken protections for natural persons, their local communities, or nature provided by state, federal, or international law.

(4) All provisions of this section are self-executing and severable.


Initiative and Referendum Amendment

Be it Enacted by the People of the State of Ohio

In the constitution of the state of Ohio, add section 23to Article I as follows:

Section 23. Right of Initiative and Referendum for People in Counties and Townships

The people have the right of initiative and referendum, and initiative and referendum powers are hereby reserved to the people of each county and township, with such powers to be exercised in the manner now or hereafter provided by law.


About Statewide Constitutional Change

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACurrently, Ohio’s governmental and legal apparatus is being used to deny Community Rights. State laws that deny the authority of community governments to protect their health, safety, welfare, and quality of life violate fundamental rights. State laws that exempt agribusiness and fracking corporations from being governed locally place the privileges of wealth and property over the democratic rights of citizens to determine the future of their own communities. The goal of the constitutional amendment is to provide a template for the needed state-level change.

Local officials regularly confess to their constituents that they wish they could do more, but their “hands are tied” by state preemptive law. These officials are told that if they honor their oaths to protect the health, safety and welfare of the community, they will be breaking state law.

Oppressive state legislation and a constitutional structure that favors corporate rights above Community Rights prevent Ohio communities from having a say on the issues that are most important to them. Until Ohio communities are liberated to protect their health and safety, they will remain the subjects of their corporate- driven legislature. Recognizing the need for statewide change, a goal of the OHCRN is to draft both a statewide constitutional amendment and state legislation that will correct the situation. That state-level change envisions the liberation of municipalities and communities to expand civil and political rights for individuals and communities, recognize the rights of nature, and elevate those rights above the “rights” currently claimed by corporations and other business entities.


Our Constitutional Amendments

   —  What they say and what they will do  —

The Community Rights Amendment                                                                                                       

  • declares right of people to use their municipal and county governments for community self-government and drives the core of the declaration of independence into the ohio constitution. People have the right to alter, amend, or abolish current system of government through local lawmaking, when it fails to protect the well-being of the people and environment who live within communities served by those governments. This is what the revolution was about in 1776 and what we celebrate every 4th of july. Government by the people.
  • legalizes local laws that protect the rights of people, the community or nature when state, federal or international laws “permit” corporations to violate them, and it authorizes local governments to prohibit activities or projects that would violate those rights. Communities can ban activities that violate rights.
  • those laws may also limit corporate powers and “rights” as necessary and corporate “constitutional rights” cannot be used to overturn local laws. People and nature are no longer subordinate to corporations, but corporations are subject to the laws of the people.
  • protects local laws from being overridden or preempted by state, federal or international laws, as long as the local laws do not attempt to limit or restrict existing constitutional rights of people, the community or nature and they don’t weaken laws already in place that protect people, community or nature. This amendment forbids communities from adopting laws that discriminate based on race, religion, gender, etc. This amendment also will not allow communities to pass laws that undermine existing protective laws such as the clean water act, the clean air act, the civil rights act of 1964, etc.

This amendment is about people being able to not only protect the places they love and call home, but to create the communities they envision for themselves, their children and grandchildren. In our current structure and system, creating a sustainable community is illegal, when our aspirations conflict with the legal privileges and legally protected priorities of wealthy corporations. This amendment would allow every community in Ohio to enact local laws that legalize the fair and just aspirations of the people who, without this amendment, are forbidden from governing corporate behavior by passing local laws regarding local economics, worker’s rights, fair elections, sustainable agriculture and energy policies, protection of water and community utilities from privatization, and other challenges common to our communities.


Initiative and Referendum Amendment

Currently, the Ohio Constitution says:

Article 2, Section 1f : The initiative and referendum powers are hereby reserved to the people of each “municipality”

Article 18, Section 1: Municipal corporations are hereby classified into cities and villages. All having population over 5000 will be cities and under will be villages.

Notice there is no mention of the residents of townships or counties. This needs to be corrected and that is the purpose of this amendment.

  • Currently all residents of Ohio do not have the same constitutional right to petition to propose and repeal laws. Only people living in cities and villages (municipalities) have this right under our constitution. People living in townships and counties do not have the right to petition for new laws or to repeal existing laws at the local level.
  • ALL Ohio residents should have the same constitutional right to propose and repeal laws by initiative in the communities where they live.
  • Based on 2015 population statistics, 35% of Ohio residents live in townships and yet they don’t have the same constitutional right as the other 65% of Ohio residents living in cities and villages.
  • Many industrial projects, waste disposal and other harmful activities are sited in townships. Does it seem fair that these residents have absolutely no power to petition to make laws to protect themselves or to petition and vote on laws that may harm them?
  • The Initiative and Referendum Amendment is meant to give ALL Ohio residents the same constitutional right to pass laws in their communities, to create the communities that they envision for their children and grandchildren in the future; and to practice local community self-democracy in the communities they call home.