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No “bill of rights” vote for Lake Erie

By Evin Bachelor, Law Fellow and Sr. Research Associate, The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences

The group Toledoans for Safe Water sought to put a “Lake Erie Bill of Rights” on the ballot this November as an amendment to the Toledo City Charter.  The amendment would have stated that Lake Erie and its watershed “possess the right to exist, flourish, and naturally evolve,” and that the citizens of Toledo have a right to a clean and healthy environment.

Enforcement would have been through a mix of revoking corporate licenses and privileges or criminal penalties if violated. Despite having enough signatures, the Lucas County Board of Elections refused to place the issue on the ballot, saying that the amendment contained provisions beyond the City of Toledo’s authority. The dispute made it up to the Ohio Supreme Court, which on Friday, Sept. 21, decided that Toledoans for Safe Water failed to prove that the Lucas County Board of Elections improperly denied their petition to place the issue on the ballot.  The court’s decision is here.

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