Fostoria residents will see a school levy on the ballot this May. The city school board met Monday and approved the measure to place a 7.5 mill, five-year renewal levy up for a vote this spring. If approved the measure will generate 1.6 million dollars annually.

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After years of acrimonious debate, the Cincinnati streetcar project is on track to finally become a tangible presence in 2011, with groundbreaking on the $128 million-plus system expected early this year. Not, though, if opponents get their way. Even as the city looks to hire a contractor to oversee construction of the Downtown-to-Uptown line - now expected to start by early spring - opponents hope to derail the project, if not before work begins, then shortly after it starts.

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The next chance to get a tax levy on the ballot may not be in the hands of City Council, but in those of residents. During Wednesday’s taping of the Mayor’s Roundtable, a public access program with Mayor Bill Grace, Grace said city charter ties the hands of city officials as to when and how they can place a tax issue on the ballot. However, a citizen-initiated petition drive would trump the city charter. Citizens can say they want to see a tax issue on the ballot, and if enough registered Elyria voters sign a petition, it can happen.

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After blogging yesterday about traffic enforcement cameras in Ohio, a reader pointed me to this excellent breakdown of red-light and speed camera votes around the country from TheNewspaper.com. According to the article, the cameras have never survived a public vote: they usually lose by margins of two-to-one.

Among the five additional communities to ban cameras is Houston, Texas - America’s fourth largest city:

It seems that just about the only people who like red-light and speed enforcement cameras are the politicians and bureaucrats who bring in the ticket money and the companies who profit by making the cameras themselves. Citizens all over the country have organized against the devices, many calling them “highway robbery.” In several Ohio cities citizens have been able to use their initiative and referendum rights to prevent or remove the cameras, and a group that has successfully lead anti-camera petition efforts is taking on a Cleveland suburb’s cameras before they start ticketing.

Earlier this week, we received a new advisory from the Ohio Secretary of State making those involved in the initiative & referendum process – from county officials to proponents and petition circulators – aware of the law in light of the Citizens in Charge, et al. v. Brunner ruling striking down Ohio’s unnecessarily draconian disclosure requirements on initiative petitions.

We are glad to see that the SoS is making officials statewide aware of this change. The CIC v Brunner case is an important one in working to protect citizen initiative rights.

A last-minute compromise means Ohioans won’t vote on an animal rights measure this fall. In fact, Ohioans won’t be voting on ANY statewide referenda this fall.

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Ohioans for Humane Farms, an affiliate of the Humane Society of the United States, said it has more than enough signatures to put an animal-housing initiative to state voters in the fall, reports Meatingplace.com. The group is asking voters to support a constitutional amendment that would require new animal housing standards giving egg-laying hens, pregnant sows and veal calves more room to move around in their enclosures.

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A petition drive last summer aimed at the development of a municipal pool was cut short, after the site of the proposed pool was sold to a local businessman. But just as the rezoning of the former Muskingum Family Y property from residential to commercial has resurfaced before City Council, so too has the initiative petition.

Read the story from the Zanesville Times Recorder

The Ohio Project, a statewide ballot initiative petition aimed at stopping forced healthcare, has been put forth by The Ohio Liberty Council, a statewide coalition of 40 grassroots groups. The petition currently being circulated is a proposed state constitutional amendment that will “preserve the freedom of Ohioans to choose their health care and health care coverage.” The amendment, drafted by the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law, would protect Ohioans from the fines, taxes, and individual mandates contained in the new federal health care measure passed by Congress.

The Humane Society is working to prevent what it considers cruel factory farming practices, such as keeping animals in spaces so small they can barely move. They are backing Ohio for Humane Farms’ initiative to add a measure to November’s ballot. The measure would call for the fair treatment of laying hens, pregnant cows, and veal calves. John Dinon of the Toledo Area Humane Society describes the measures as “some common sense initiatives, real basic animal welfare and food safety initiatives.”

Lucas County voters may soon have the opportunity to elect a commission to propose a reform of Lucas County government. Pete Gerken, president of the Lucas County board of commissioners, announced Wednesday that he and other county elected officials will support a ballot initiative to establish a charter county government commission.

Read the story from the Toledo Blade

Of the 45 states whose legislatures hold sessions in 2010, 27 of them have adjourned for the year, and 5 more will wrap up before the end of the month. Of the more than 80 bills dealing with the initiative and referendum process in various states, 51 of them would have reduced citizens’ initiative rights. Thanks to the work of activists in our coalitions, only 3 bills reducing citizen’s rights have passed and become law.

A proposed Ohio constitutional amendment in response to the federal health-care overhaul must be treated as a single issue and not two, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled yesterday. The ruling will give proponents of the measure the green light to collect signatures to put the issue on the statewide ballot. The proposal would prohibit requiring Ohioans to participate in a health-care system and buy health insurance.

Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones announced today, April 29, he will spearhead efforts to have a statewide “citizens initiative” placed on the ballot for Ohio immigration reform. Fearing recent letters he sent jointly with state Rep. Courtney Combs, R-Hamilton, to Ohio leaders won’t be enough to get immigration reform on the “fast track” for Ohio, Jones said he wants the voters to decide the issue in November.