Monday, March 18, 2013

Public Hearing on Reducing Citizens’ Right to Petition – Tuesday, March 19

Call your State Representative TODAY
[Find your District Rep. at]

A public hearing on SB 47 will be held tomorrow, Tuesday, March 19 before the Policy and Legislative Oversight Committee of the Ohio House of Representatives. The hearing will be at 2:00 pm in Room 115 in the State House building.

SB 47 would reduce the number of days citizens could gather signatures on petitions to place an issue on the Ohio ballot for voter consideration. SB 47 reduces our ability as citizens to petition our government to either create a new law (initiative) or reverse a law passed by the legislature (referendum).

The right of direct democracy that citizen initiatives, referendums and recalls (to remove an elected official from office) represent goes back to the 1912 Constitutional Convention in Ohio. These democratic tools were intended for citizens to bypass corrupt public officials captured by corporations and the wealthy few.

What was true in 1912 remains true in 2013. Corporations and the wealthy few still possess disproportionate influence over public officials and public policy via political campaign donations, lobbyists, and access to regulatory agencies compared to the vast majority of Ohio citizens.

SB 47 is being peddled as seeking “fairness” and “uniformity.” Details of the argument are contained in a recent Plain Dealer news article at

SB 47 is on a fast track for passage, despite lack of evidence that the current rules have been unfair. Reducing the days to collect signatures only makes it more difficult to collect the necessary signatures to qualify for the ballot. Citizen initiative or referendum campaigns are already enormously challenging undertakings. They can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and a huge time commitment.

Is our democracy better off by reducing the opportunity for citizens to collect signatures? Or is this simply yet another means to limit the ability of citizens at self-rule?

If lack of fairness and uniformity in elections and politics is of concern to proponents of SB 47, where are there fast track legislative proposals to reduce the political access and influence in our elections of corporations and the super wealthy?

Passage of SB47 is an assault of what’s left of direct democracy in Ohio.

Call your State Representative TODAY
[Find your District Rep. at]

Thank you.

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