On September 4, 2015, the Oil and Gas Association (OOGA) and Ohio Gas Association (OGA) filed an amicus curiae brief with the Ohio Supreme Court in support of the Ohio Secretary of State’s ruling to invalidate three proposed county charter petitions in Athens, Fulton and Medina counties.
Last month, the Ohio Secretary of State removed those petitions from the November 2015 election ballots because they would supersede state regulations by including a ban on oil and gas development within the counties’ limits. A group of voters claimed that the Secretary of State “arrogat[ed] to himself the power to peremptorily ‘invalidate’ the three Petitions” based on objections that it lacks reliable legality.
OOGA and OGA’s members contended in their brief that “as the chief election official in the State, the Secretary is entrusted with the authority to determine whether initiative petitions, like the Petitions, may lawfully be enacted by the county electorate, and he has the responsibility to prevent unlawful ballot petitions from reaching the electorate. He did just that.”
To support their statements, they argued that the Secretary of State is not limited to review the petition form procedures, but is entitled to exercise “quasi-judicial authority” based on section 307.95 of the Ohio Revised Code. As a result, the Secretary must “review, examine and certify” the content and substance of the petitions. In addition, they claimed that people of Athens, Fulton and Medina counties are not exempt from federal or state preemption.
The case remains pending in the Ohio Supreme Court at docket no. 2015-1371.
This is an update of an original post dated from August 26, 2015.
Written by Chloe Marie - Research Fellow