Rush to limit direct democracy

Letter to the Editor
Akron Beacon Journal
March 22, 2013

Why was Senate Bill 47 fast-tracked through the Ohio legislature? Under the guise of “fairness” and “uniformity,” the bill would reduce the number of days citizens could collect signatures during initiative and referendum campaigns. This reduces direct democracy.

A simple alternative to eliminating the ability of citizens to collect signatures during the period when their initial signatures are being validated, which may take varied amounts of days, is simply to set a uniform number of days at a high end for signatures to be verified. Problem solved.

The larger question is why S.B. 47 proponents believe the current rules regarding petitions require such immediate and urgent attention.

Where are their fast-track proposals addressing the enormous and growing unfairness and inequality of access to our public officials by the very wealthy and corporations?
It’s clear that the current political system in Ohio and nation isn’t broken but fixed — rigged to benefit the very wealthy and corporate interests.

Whether massive political campaign contributions by a wealthy few and cash-flush corporations, lobbyists representing these same special interests with unlimited access to policymakers or appointed corporate agents overseeing agencies charged with regulating the very corporations these agents come from, the political system is truly rigged against people without money having their voices heard and their communities helped.

Where is the legislative urgency to address this growing crisis of democracy and, relatively speaking, infinitely greater problem of political fairness and access?
Instead, S.B. 47 seeks to weaken the few remaining democratic avenues citizens possess.

Greg Coleridge

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