Proposed Amendment Will Strengthen Ohio’s Term Limits on Legislators

termlimitColumbus, OH – Today, the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law secured the approval necessary for a coalition of good government advocates to begin the circulation of a proposed constitutional amendment that would limit state legislators to no more than eight years in each House and twelve total years at the Statehouse.

The proposal “To Strengthen Ohio Term Limits” today cleared the Ohio Ballot Board, after obtaining Attorney General certification ten days earlier. Petitions will now be circulated by a coalition of Ohioans backed by U.S. Term Limits, the organization responsible for first introducing term limits to Ohio through a 1992 constitutional amendment.

The proposed amendment will likely appear on the November 2016 ballot, so long as 304,000 valid signatures are submitted by early July of 2016.

The Amendment would provide that, in Ohio:

  • No person shall hold any combination of elected legislative offices for greater than twelve years, total.
  • No person shall hold the same elected legislative office for greater than eight years, total.
  • No person shall hold an elected legislative office if the term limits in this Amendment would forbid that person from completing the full term for that office.

The Amendment would not count years in office accrued prior to its passage.

This effort comes in response to legislators’ creation of a commission – – “The Constitutional Modernization Commission” – – to attempt to increase their own terms of office by rolling back or eliminating Ohio’s current term limits. Several legislators have indicated this to be the overwhelming purpose behind the Commission, which consists solely of legislators, former politicians, lobbyists, and political donors.

“Ohioans should be disturbed to learn that state legislators appear poised to attempt to shred the very term limits Ohioans overwhelmingly voted to place upon them,” said Maurice Thompson, Executive Director of the 1851 Center. “This Amendment will end the abusive ‘musical chairs’ practice whereby some legislators remain in power for decades, losing touch with their communities and constituents and making better connections with politically-connected interests in Columbus.”

“The longer a public official holds office, the more likely he or she is to see government as the solution to every problem, and the less likely he or she is to reform serious problems created by government. The United State Congress perfectly illustrates this.”

Members of the coalition include those responsible for passing Ohio’s original term limits on legislators in 1992, eliminating Ohio’s estate tax in 2011, and passing the Health Care Freedom Amendment in 2011.

Read the Full Text of the Amendment HERE

Read 1851 Center Op-Ed on Improving Ohio Term Limits HERE

Read further media reports on this term limits effort HERE

Legal Center to High Court: Traffic Cameras Unconstitutional in Ohio

Toledo’s enforcement scheme for enforcing traffic camera infractions violates Ohio Constitution

Red-light-cameraColumbus, OH – The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law today submitted to the Ohio Supreme Court its brief in Walker v. City of Toledo asserting that the City of Toledo’s method of fining drivers under its automated traffic camera violates the judicial article of the Ohio Constitution.

Joining the 1851 Center on the Brief are 21 State Representatives and eight State Senators.

The 1851 Center’s brief argues Section 4, Article I of the Ohio Constitution requires that Ohioans’ rights and liabilities must be determined by elected judges unless the General Assembly has created statutory authority for something less than a judge.

This means that the City is required to use municipal judges to enforce the camera violations, rather than the administrative hearing officers that all cities currently use. However, these cities’ agreements with private camera corporations require the use of administrative hearing officers.

“While the issue in this case may sound like a mere procedural hang-up, we are confident that if we succeed, traffic camera violations will essentially become impossibly expensive and untenable for Ohio cities to enforce. If we win, these cameras will quickly disappear from Ohio,” said Maurice Thompson, Executive Director of the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law.

The 1851 Center’s brief asserts the following:

  • Through the Ohio Constitution, citizens vested judicial power in the courts only. And Ohio cities’ hearing officers exercise “judicial power” when they determine whether Ohio drivers are liable for the violation.
  • While the Ohio Constitution permits the Ohio General Assembly to create additional judicial power, legislators have never created blanket authority for cities, or traffic-camera specific authority. Instead, they have indicated that all such violations must run through municipal courts.
  • The City of Toledo, like other Ohio cities, cannot create judicial power through local ordinances.
  • “Administrative” traffic camera enforcement violates Ohioans’ right to defend themselves before an elected judge, as well as their due process right to judicial oversight before deprivation of their vehicles.

“At the end of the day, Due Process means that you get to see a judge before government takes your money or your car,” said Thompson. “Through these camera agreements, Ohio’s local governments are essentially selling to private corporations the right to fine their citizens and take their vehicles. We believe that it’s time to end this practice.”

The General Assembly has taken no action to enable administrative enforcement, but has instead maintained a longstanding statute requiring that municipal courts must field cases related to municipal ordinances, unless parking-related. This means that the City is required to use municipal judges rather than administrative hearing officers.

The municipalities maintain that constitutional “home rule” authority lends them the power to create judicial authorities such as the hearing officers. However the Ohio Supreme Court has rejected such a claim four times between 1925 and 1959, stating that only the General Assembly can create additional judicial officers, and violations of city ordinances must be handled in municipal courts. The Appellate Court was also unconvinced.

The Brief explains that if Ohio’s high court gives a pass to municipalities, it will be turning upside down the Ohio Constitution’s requirement that Ohioans have access to an actual judge before being deprived of their property. Toledo exacts a $120 fine, and seizes or immobilizes the vehicles of those who do not or cannot pay.

Joining the 1851 Center’s Brief is a bipartisan coalition of legislators, including State Senators Seitz, Schaffer, Jordan, Jones, Uecker, Patton, and Ecklund; and State Representatives Mallory, Adams, Maag, Becker, Lynch, Boose, Conditt, Perales, Hacket, Blair, Adams, Stautberg, Rosenberger, Dovilla, Blessing, Patmon, Beck, Reece, Hall, Derickson, and Barnes.

Read the Amicus Brief here.


March 17, 2014: WBNS-10TV: Ohio Supreme Court Could Soon Determine Fate Of Red Light Traffic Cameras [VIDEO]

March 15, 2014: Toledo Blate: State lawmakers, liberties groups oppose devices

March 14, 2014: San Francisco Gate via Associated Press: Ohio legislators, liberties groups oppose cameras

March 13, 2014: 610 WTVN: Court case could spell the end of traffic-enforcement cameras

Ohio Department of Commerce v. 770 West Broad AGA, LLC

770 West Broad AGA, a private contractor, entered into an agreement with the Ohio Department of Commerce to provide work space for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections. Under the lease terms, AGA made several improvements to the property at its own expense. Upon completion, the state fined the company over $500,000, alleging prevailing wage laws were violated. AGA refused to pay the fine and filed a court action claiming that prevailing wage did not apply, and that the state’s prevailing wage law violates the Ohio Constitution.

May 4, 2010 – 1851 Center Files Amicus Brief in Ohio Prevailing Wage Law Case

Ohio’s current prevailing wage law is, in part, unconstitutional, the 1851 Center argues in an amicus brief filed in the Tenth District Court of Appeals, Franklin County. The case, Ohio Department of Commerce v. 770 West Broad AGA, LLC, exposes fundamental flaws in the current prevailing wage law.

“Ohio’s prevailing wage law is deeply flawed and unconstitutional because it gives labor unions the legislative power to establish the prevailing wage,” said 1851 Center Executive Director Maurice Thompson. “Additionally, the law does not provide an intelligible principle for determining the prevailing wage, and it fails to provide a procedure for effective review. Essentially, it allows labor unions to set the wages of non-union workers, without any input from those workers themselves, much less the Department of Commerce or the Ohio legislature.”

While AGA won its case at the trial level, the appellate court reversed.  Notably, both courts declined to address the constitutional issues. The Ohio Supreme Court refused to review the case.

 

 

 

May 3, 2010: Appellate Court Amicus Brief

April 11, 2011: Ohio Supreme Court Amicus Brief

Miller v. ACORN

In October 2008, the 1851 Center sued ACORN regarding its activities in Ohio. The action alleged ACORN engaged in a pattern of corrupt activity that amounted to organized crime due to its perpetual submission of fraudulent voter registrations in Ohio. The Center sought the dissolution of ACORN as a legal entity, the revocation of any licenses in Ohio, and an injunction against fraudulent voter registration and other illegal activities.

March 11, 2010 – ACORN Settles with 1851 Center, Folds Ohio Operation

The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law achieved victory in its state RICO action against the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). ACORN has agreed to settle the case and will cease all Ohio activity as a result. In its settlement with the 1851 Center, ACORN agreed to surrender all of its Ohio business licenses by June 1, 2010. Further, the organization cannot support or enable any individual or organization that seeks to engage in the same type of activity.

 

 

 

March 11, 2010, Associated Press: ACORN Gives Up Ohio Business License

 

 

 

October 27, 2008: Original Complaint