Anti-Business “Community Bill of Rights” Battle Continues In Court

Here’s what you need to know about two mandamus actions currently pending before the Supreme Court of Ohio that could ultimately impact your business and community. These actions, introduced by the anti-business activist group Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) from Pennsylvania, seek to compel elections officials to place so-called “community bills of rights” on the ballots in Medina, Fulton, and Athens counties and in the city of Youngstown.

The actions were filed after the Secretary of State ruled the measures were improper to go on the county ballots, and the Mahoning County Board of Elections ruled the measure was improper to go on the Youngstown ballot.

If these measures are placed on the ballot and ultimately pass, they will have broad adverse consequences. While those pushing the measures claim they are about stopping “fracking,” or pipelines, or injection wells, this is just a red herring. These measures have no impact on the oil and gas industry which is regulated by the state, or on pipelines which are regulated by the state and/or federal government. CELDF is using the oil and gas industry as a diversion to push their real, anti-development, anti-business agenda. If one of these measures ends up on the books in your area, it could ultimately lead to lawsuits against your business or your local government.

Broadview Heights passed one of these measures in 2012 and is still embroiled in an extended and costly lawsuit over it.

CELDF’s founder was recently quoted in Reuters as saying, “And if a town goes bankrupt trying to defend one of our ordinances, well, perhaps that’s exactly what is needed to trigger a national movement.” In Youngstown, where this measure has been defeated at the ballot four times already, those behind it told the Youngstown Vindicator that they continue to push the measure because “residents have the right to decide what businesses locate in the city.”

The Ohio Chamber of Commerce, as well as local chamber in places like Youngstown and Bowling Green have taken the lead in defeating these measures and educating others about the broad adverse, anti-business consequences. I urge you to watch for similar measures being proposed in your areas, and if you need resources to help you oppose them, please do not hesitate to contact us.