The Ohio Community Rights Network
The mission of the OHCRN is to establish a network of just communities working to advance, secure and protect both the inalienable rights of all Ohioans to democratic local self-governance, to sustainable food, energy and economic systems, and the rights of nature to exist and flourish throughout Ohio.
Several communities in Ohio have successfully adopted Community Bills of Rights (CBORs) protecting community health, safety and welfare, by prohibiting harmful activities that would violate the rights of the community.
The work began in 2012, with CBORs passed in Yellow Springs and Broadview Heights leading the way. Oberlin passed their CBOR in 2013 and Athens passed in 2014. Several other communities in Ohio have attempted to pass CBOR to protect their communities, but due to industry and other pushback during the campaigns, were not successful on their first attempt. Bowling Green, Gates Mills, Youngstown, Niles and Kent residents have all asserted their right to local self-government. Many are continuing to pursue initiating community rights in their respective communities to protect themselves and their community from fracking, injection of waste, pipelines, unsustainable energy systems and other corporate harms.
Youngstown has attempted to pass Drinking Water Protection CBORs 8 times. In addition, in 2017, 2 CBORs, Drinking Water Protection and Free and Fair Elections, were kept off the ballot by the Supreme Court and the unconstitutional state pre-emptive law, HB 463. This industry-driven law allowed Boards of Elections (Executive Branch not Judicial Branch) to decide whether or not Charter Amendments could be placed on the ballot.
This law was overturned for chartered communities by a subsequent lawsuit because the citizens of Ohio would not give up their rights. In 2019, Toledo residents passed the Lake Erie Bill of Rights - the first rights-based law for a specific ecosystem in the U.S.