Passing a Citizens Initialive Case Study: Brecksville, OH

Brecksville, Ohio is a conservative town outside Cleveland. Our local Move to Amend group (Brecksville Citizens for Transparent Politics) successfully passed a Move to Amend measure through a citizens initiative in November 2012.

The group was initially told by their city government that they could not put a non-binding measure on the ballot. So to get around that stipulation, and still voice support for a resolution calling for an amendment to the Constitution, the group also included language directing their City Council to host an annual "Democracy Day." The measure passed by 51%.

From the Brecksville City Website:

Democracy Day will be February 25, 2013, pursuant to the new Ordinances adopted by the electorate on November 6, 2012. The Brecksville Citizens for Transparent Politics circulated a citizens initiative petition that placed on the ballot four new sections to the Codified Ordinances of the City of Brecksville entitled: “Brecksville Initiative in Support of Movement to Amend the U. S. Constitution to Establish that Corporations are Not People and Money is Not Speech.”

Sections 129.01 through 129.04 of the Codified Ordinances was approved by the voters and reads as follows:

Section 129.01:  Beginning in the year 2013, the Mayor and City Council will designate one day in the month of February following the November federal elections as, “Democracy Day.” On this day, the Mayor and City Council will sponsor a public hearing. The City will publicize the hearing on its web site and through area media at least one (1) month in advance of the hearing. The hearing will examine the impact of political contributions of corporations, unions, PACS and Super-PACS on the City. The Mayor and at least one (1) City Councilperson will submit testimony at the public hearing. In addition, all citizens of Brecksville will be permitted to submit oral testimony for a period of at least five minutes per citizen.

Section 129.02: Within one (1) week following the Public Hearing, the Mayor shall send a letter to the leaders of the Ohio House and Senate, and Brecksville’s U. S. Congressional Representative, and both Ohio U. S. Senators stating that the citizens of Brecksville in November 2012 voted in support of a Citizens’ initiative calling for a constitutional amendment declaring:

A) Only human beings, not corporations, are legal persons with constitutional rights.

B) Money is not equivalent to speech, and therefore regulating political contributions and spending is not equivalent to limiting political speech.

Section 129.03: The bi-annual Public Hearings will continue for a period of ten (10) years through February, 2023, or until a constitutional amendment reflecting the principles set forth in Section 129.02 is ratified by 3/4 of the state legislatures.

Section 129.04: This initiative shall take effect and be included in the City Ordinances at the earliest date permitted by law.

Click the document below to download the group's write up on their process.

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Groups audience: 

- Private group -