The Press Newspaper

Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper


        With its Oct. 4 ruling against the group backing the “Keep the Jail in Downtown Toledo” citizens initiative, the Ohio Supreme Court has suddenly transformed the decision-making process in the state’s initiatives, Terry Lodge, an attorney representing an environmental group behind the Lake Erie Bill of Rights initiative, said last week.

        “The decision in our case was overshadowed by the ruling by the Supreme Court in the jail initiative, he said. “Now a two-thirds vote of a city or village council is needed to put something on the ballot, based on a narrow 4-3 ruling.”

        The petitioners supporting the jail initiative had asked the court to compel the Lucas County Board of Elections to place the initiative on the Nov. 6 ballot after the board rejected the initiative by a 4-0 vote. The initiative seeks to amend the City of Toledo charter to require any new jail within the city limits be built in what is known as the Downtown Overlay District.

        The court ruled the proposed charter amendment didn’t follow the procedure outlined in the Ohio Constitution which requires “the legislative body of the municipality to pass an ordinance instructing the board of elections to place the proposed amendment on the ballot upon submission of a sufficient petition.”

        After that ruling, Toledo City Council on Oct. 9 passed an ordinance to submit the initiative to the board of elections. It’s likely a special election will be needed for the measure as the deadline for the November election has passed.

        One day after the Supreme Court ruled against the jail initiative it denied for the second time a request by Toledoans for Safe Water to have the board of elections approve the Lake Erie initiative for the ballot.

        Had it reached the ballot and passed, it would have amended the Toledo city charter by stating the lake and its watershed have a right to exist, flourish and naturally evolve; that city residents have a right to a clean and healthy Lake Erie.

        Lodge said he didn’t expect city council to approve an ordinance directing the elections board to place the Lake initiative on the ballot, saying council members are “cowering away” from it “because of their politics.”

        In its ruling against the Lake Erie initiative, the court said the board of elections was on solid legal ground when the board relied on a 2017 case, Flak v. Betras, in which the court ruled “election boards are authorized to determine whether a ballot measure falls within the scope of the constitutional power of referendum or initiative.”

        But in the jail case decision, the court admits its Flak ruling “confused the law by stating that a county board of elections has authority to determine whether a charter amendment exceeds the scope of authority to enact by initiative.”

        “The Flak decision was specifically overruled and supposedly won't be followed any more by the Supreme Court as a result of the jail case,” Lodge said.



The Ohio legislature has passed a bill that would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. In practice, that would make abortion illegal after six weeks.
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