Earlier this summer, environmental activists in Ohio were alarmed by the passage of a mysterious state budget amendment that would close a new avenue for residents to sue polluters. The provision invalidated a landmark anti-pollution initiative passed by Toledo voters just a few months before. Now, emails obtained in a public records request reveal that the Ohio Chamber of Commerce secured the cooperation of a key Republican lawmaker in a successful effort to slip the amendment into an appropriations bill at the eleventh hour.
The emails depict the chamber’s environmental policy director requesting a last-minute meeting with state Rep. Jim Hoops to discuss the Lake Erie Bill of Rights, the newly minted ballot initiative allowing citizens to sue polluters on behalf of Lake Erie. A legislative aide responded quickly, scheduling a same-day meeting. Despite the chamber director’s admission that his proposal would need to be submitted after the legislature’s deadline, the aide produced draft amendment language to share with him three weeks later. The chamber’s subsequent revisions made their way into the final bill, effectively nullifying the Lake Erie Bill of Rights.Read more
We applaud Senator Udall, and the national organizations who support this amendment for their intention to address big money, but we believe the Democracy for All Amendment falls short of what is necessary to solve the problem at hand.Read more