So, it appears there will be no referendum on the city of Cincinnati’s parking lease agreement on the ballot this fall.

Unless, that is, in the unlikely event that the Ohio Supreme Court decides to take up the appeal of the decision made by the Ohio First District Court of Appeals this week saying the agreement is not subject to referendum because it was passed in March as an emergency ordinance.

But nobody on either side of this really expects this to happen.

The appeals court ruling came out Wednesday; and immediately some council members – five to be exact – signed a motion asking that the parking lease agreement, which would pump $92 million into city coffers and turn the parking system over to the Port Authority, be repealed.

Ohio’s Hamilton County Court of Appeals blocked a voter referendum in Cincinnati over the proposed decades-long lease of city parking lots to a private company in return for a lump sum payment of $92 million to plug a $35 million city budget deficit. The legal case concerns whether an ordinance passed as an emergency measure was subject to a citizen-initiated referendum.

This week’s appeals court ruling overturned an earlier decision by Common Pleas Judge Robert Winkler allowing the referendum to go forward. Winkler found that the right to referendum trumped the city council’s determination that the lease agreement was an emergency.

The parking lease opponents who sued the city of Cincinnati to stop it from leasing parking meters, lots and garages plan to appeal the decision and ask the appellate court for a stay to stop the city from signing the lease.parking meter

Curt Hartman, a lawyer for the group, says he plans to email the 1st District Court of Appeals tonight or early tomorrow morning.

Legislation signed by Ohio Gov. John Kasich on March 22 has infuriated Democrats and advocacy groups who say it will make it harder for voters to repeal laws and introduce their own.

Senate Bill 47, sponsored by Sen. Bill Seitz of Cincinnati, sets strict rules on the time organizers have to collect signatures when mounting a petition drive to strike down laws. The bill, which passed swiftly through the legislature, will essentially cut at least two weeks from the existing timetable.

Read More at the Plain Dealer

Ohio Governor John Kasich signed into law Senate Bill 47 on Friday, March 22.  The law sets several new restrictions on the initiative and referendum process in the Buckeye State, most notably, adherence to a strict 100-day timetable for collecting petition signatures, whereas previously, upwards of 58 extra days of canvassing were permitted.

“The General Assembly thought it was important that the law needed to be clarified and the governor agreed with them,” said Rob Nichols, a spokesman for Kasich. However, the General Assembly did not completely agree, with Republicans primarily supporting the bill and minority Democrats dissenting unanimously.

Gov. John Kasich signed legislation Friday that would make it harder for Ohio voters to repeal laws. Now the clock is ticking for opponents who could void the controversial bill.

A provision in Senate Bill 47 would set new limits on the number of days organizers have to mount petition drives and collect enough signatures to put a referendum on the ballot. Kasich’s autograph on SB 47 began a 90-day countdown for groups to stage a petition drive to shut down the legislation.

Read more from The Plain Dealer

In a hyper-partisan effort (with only one exception), Ohio’s Republican legislators have passed Senate Bill 47 through both the House and Senate, sending the legislation to make the state’s petition process much more difficult to the desk of Republican Governor John Kasich for his signature, which would make it law.

“The right to referendum is a very important check that people have to push back on abuses of this legislature,” Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) argued on the floor. “This bill is a direct attack on that sacred right. To call this bill a solution in search of a problem is being charitable.”

Ohio House Republicans passed a controversial bill Wednesday that would make it harder for citizens to mount petition drives to repeal laws and introduce their own.

Hours later, the Senate signed off on the House version of the bill, sending it to Gov. John Kasich for approval.

Senate Bill 47, which initially passed the Senate March 6, has moved swiftly through the GOP-controlled legislature, vexing Democrats and advocacy groups who say a provision in the bill would jeopardize voters’ longstanding right to initiative and referendum.

Despite pleas to slow down and reconsider portions of a bill that would limit how long signatures can be collected for ballot initiatives, the House will vote this week on the measure that already has Senate approval.

Senate Bill 47 was voted out of the House Policy and Legislative Oversight Committee yesterday afternoon on a 9-5 vote after former Democratic Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner advised the committee members, “If you pass this lickety-split, it’s going to make you look bad.”

No one testified at yesterday’s hearing in favor of the petition part of the bill, though a representative from the Ohio Association of Election Officials spoke in support of other parts of the bill.

A bill making it tougher to get an issue on the ballot by restricting when signatures could be collected passed the Senate [Wednesday, March 6] along party lines, 23-10.

Supporters say the bill will bring uniformity to the process of getting an issue on the general election ballot. Under current law, if a group turns in signatures, but it is determined that not enough have been verified to qualify for the ballot, the group gets another 10 days to collect signatures.

However, the law also allows the group to continue to collect signatures during the process of verifying that initial batch of petitions – a process that, over 30 issues since 1997, has varied from 16 to 58 days.

The Ohio Secretary of State’s omnibus election law bill, SB 47, has a few provisions that impact ballot access. The bill repeals the ban on out-of-state circulators, for all types of petition. The only remaining requirement for a circulator would be that the circulator is at least 18 years old.

However, it makes it somewhat more difficult for initiatives and referendum to appear on the ballot. Currently, when election official determine that such a petition lacks enough valid signatures, the proponents have ten days to collect more signatures. The bill eliminates the ability to get new signatures during the ten-day period.

The Michigan state legislature and governor have given their stamp of approval to a controversial right-to-work plan.

Now a group in Ohio is circulating petitions to get the right-to-work initiative on the ballot here.

Under heavy protest, Michigan lawmakers passed the legislation on Tuesday making it a right-to-work state. Governor Rick Snyder signed the measure making the state, often referred to as a labor stronghold, the 24th right-to-work state in the country.

Read More At WFML

Three unnamed students from Ohio State University have presented an online petition with 70,000 signatures to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office calling for a full investigation into the rape of a teenage girl in the summer of 2012 in Steubenville, Ohio.

“We want to make sure everybody involved in this crime is fully investigated and justice is served,” said Kate Londen, communications manager for reproductive rights advocacy group Choice USA.

Michigan’s Legislature enacted “Right-to-Work” legislation this week, sparking renewed debate about public policy regarding unions. Here’s a quick review of recent ballot measures having to do with organized labor.


Ohio “State Senate Bill 5” Veto Referendum, Issue 2 (2011)

Students at Lakewood High School in Lakewood, Ohio seek to change the dress code for the school district which forbids “hoodie” sweatshirts. Lakewood student Andrew Nolan began the petition on November 28 citing concerns for the health of students that are required to go outdoors to change classes during the course of a day.

The ban on the garments came about due to security concerns after a student had tried to hide his identity inside the hooded shirt and has been in place now for several years.

Students set a goal of 2,000 signatures and the petition is nearly a quarter of the way there.

View the story from the Cleveland Sun Post-Herald