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Farm groups encourage state's highest court to side with elections board

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Ten major farm groups are supporting the Lucas County Board of Elections in its quest to keep the Lake Erie Bill of Rights off the Nov. 6 ballot.

A joint brief in support of the board’s controversial Aug. 28 decision was filed with the Ohio Supreme Court on Friday by the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, the Lucas County Farm Bureau, the Ohio Soybean Association, the Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association, the Ohio Poultry Association, the Ohio Cattleman’s Association, the Ohio Dairy Producers Association, the Ohio Pork Council, the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association, and the Ohio AgriBusiness Association.

The 21-page document concludes by stating the farm groups believe the elections board “engaged in a lawful review of the scope of municipal power” and, based on legal precedent, its decision to keep the proposal off the ballot “should be upheld.”

The brief is in support of a similar one filed by the Lucas County Prosecutor’s Office on Thursday.

On Tuesday, attorneys representing Toledoans for Safe Water — the group behind the ballot proposal — said in a court filing they believe the elections board “acted unlawfully and abused its discretion by prohibiting the proposed charter amendment from appearing on the ballot” and that the board’s action has “wreaked havoc on the people's core political rights.”

The state’s highest court has not yet ruled on that case or another one also kept off the ballot by the elections board on Aug. 28. The latter calls for citizens to vote on a proposal to keep the Lucas County jail in downtown Toledo.

The Lake Erie group’s ballot proposal calls for a vote to amend the Toledo City Charter in a way that declares the Lake Erie watershed has legal rights to “exist and flourish.”

Contact Tom Henry at thenry@theblade.com, 419-724-6079, or via Twitter @ecowriterohio.

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