All political power originates with the people. When the United States of America was founded, the people delegated certain powers, defined in the U.S. Constitution, to the new federal government. Those powers not specifically delegated to the federal government were reserved by the states. The states grant specific powers to local governments through state constitutions and statutes. However, some forms of local government existed in Ohio before the first state constitution was adopted in 1802.
Two features make Ohio’s system of local government distinctive. One is the very strong home rule provisions for municipalities. The other is the constitutional requirement that property taxes may be assessed at no more than 1 percent of value, also referred to as 10 mills, unless approved by voters.
Ohio now has more than 3,800 separate local government units and ranks fourth among the states in the total number of units, according to Governing.com. The Ohio Constitution authorizes three major types of local government units: municipality, county and township. A fourth type in use in Ohio is the special district, such as school districts, discussed in the next chapter, or health districts, discussed below. State law permits local officials to create special districts or requires a vote of residents of the district.
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How important are local elections and ballot measures?
Often times, state and local elections are overshadowed by the media’s focus on national elections. But it is more often the local officials and laws or ordinances that affect daily life the most. The We The Voters film “Hot Tips to Rock the Ballot” explores the importance of down ballot voting—looking beyond the national contestants to the local candidates where most of government’s direct impact on people occurs. After viewing the film, students will examine the merits of local candidates and ballot measures.
Create an Art Piece
Find the creative artist inside you. Make a piece of art that depicts how the power of the people can improve democracy by voting. It can be a drawing, painting, sculpture, mixed media, or anything you can dream up.