Judge orders Oregon clean energy ballot measures to proceed

Yesterday, a Judge in Marion County, has ruled that two proposed Oregon Climate Initiatives can proceed. 

The measures were previously rejected by the Oregon Secretary of State, Bev Clarno. Like the forestry ballot initiatives that she rejected, she concluded that these earlier said the ballot initiatives violated a state requirement that legislative measures stick to one subject. And again, like the forestry ballot measures, a Judge has found she was incorrect.

As the AP Reports:

The judge’s permanent injunction means the process of earning a final ballot title from the attorney general will resume. Notably, Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, a Democrat, refused to defend Clarno in the litigation and had challenged her legal basis for tossing the two proposals and a third one.

This ruling relates to Initiative Petitions #48 and 49. Proponents had said they proposed the initiatives to help spur the Legislature to take action during the short session in early 2020. It will be interesting to see what happens. Stay tuned!

Full Text

Ballotpedia has the full text of all Oregon’s ballot initiatives for the upcoming election, including those already on the ballot, those proposed, and those rejected. There is also a short summary on the process.

Initiative Petition 48

Initiative Petition 49


Voting by Mail in Oregon


In Oregon, there are currently several environmental ballot measures proposed. Back in September, the environmental group Oregon Wild filed three petitions for ballot measures related to Forestry Practices, The Oregon Secretary of State rejected these measures, Initiative Petitions #35, 36 and 37, because she found they violated the single subject rule.

 Marion County ruling

A Marion County Circuit Court judge issued a ruling today and agreed with the Secretary of State

In an opinion issued Wednesday, Marion County Judge Daniel Wren found Clarno was correct when in September she tossed the three initiative petitions filed by the group Oregon Wild.

The decision suggests Clarno has wide latitude to decide whether proposed measures pass constitutional muster. 

This case is a bit unusual as the Secretary of State is an elected official. It is the second highest position, as the State does not have a Lieutenant Governor. 

The position is currently filled by Republican Bev Clarno, who was appointed to the position following the death of Dennis Richardson and was sworn in on March 31, 2019. As a courtesy, Oregon’s Governor, Kate Brown, is a Democrat. She appointed a person from the same party as the deceased, as a courtesy that we previously extended.

The State’s Attorney General, Ellen Rosenblum, is also elected. As OPB reports, on October 24, Attorney Genreal Rosenblum sent Secretary of State Clarno a letter saying the State Department of Justice would not defend this action. Rosenblum felt defending the secretary of state’s decision would be “adverse to the interests of the Oregon Legislative Assembly and adverse to the interests of the people wielding the initiative power reserved to them by the Oregon Constitution.”

Opponents have vowed to appeal. 

Proposals for Oregon Forestry Ballot Measures

It’s a few days after Election Day 2019, and there have been some interesting stories related to upcoming elections. Many are focused on the National level for 2020, but there are key local issues that will be considered.

In Oregon, Timber interests propose three Oregon forestry ballot measures, which are pro-logging. The industry says the measures would: 1. Give Oregon counties and the industry more control over how members of the Board of Forestry are selected. 2. Amend the constitution requiring the state to fully compensate woodland owners for any new regulations that limited their ability to log, such as expanded stream buffers. 3. Require that the forestry board use “non-biased” and “peer reviewed science”to come up with consensus-based policies.

These measures are the industry’s response to three ballot measures filed earlier this year by environmental groups. Initiative Petitions 35, 36 and 37 would “tighten aerial herbicide spraying rules, increase forest stream buffers, prohibit logging in steep, landslide-prone areas, and prohibit conflicts of interest for state forestry board appointees.” The Oregon Secretary of State rejected these measures on September 24, 2019, because she found they violated the single subject rule. This decision is currently the subject of litigation. Environmental advocates then filed modified versions as Initiative Petitions 45, 46, and 47, on October 2, 2019.


Light filters through trees in Oregon State Park
Tryon Creek State Natural Area, Portland, OR

With Oregon’s election law, there are a few ways that a measure can be placed on the ballot. This include referrals from the legislature for constitutional changes. They also provide a means for citizens to participate in the legislative process, by proposing changes to statutes, the State Constitution or as a veto referendum (to uphold or veto state legislation.)

So far two measures have been referred by the legislature for the 2020 ballot. Many others have been proposed. Ballotpedia provides a great list of what has been proposed here. Ballotpedia also has the proposed text. 

Text of Proposed Oregon Forestry Ballot Measures

The three Proposed Initiatives by Environmental Groups are

Initiative 45

Initiative 46

Initiative 47

The three forestry initiatives are 

Initiative 53 – which is a Constitutional Amendment

Initiative 54

Initiative 55

Sticker in snow reads "'Naligaaniktna!' I voted!"

APOC abused its discretion and “should reinstate enforcement of the contribution limits at issue.”

Campaign Finance

In Alaska, three citizens had filed Complaints against the Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC) for failing to enforce campaign contributions. The Superior Court concluded that APOC abused its discretion and “should reinstate enforcement of the contribution limits at issue.” 

The Complaints alleged that two groups, Interior Voters for John Coghill (“Interior Voters”) and Working Families of Alaska (“Working Families”), had accepted monetary contributions that exceeded the limitations of AS 15.13.070. Interior Voters and Working Families are entities created to support particular candidates for political office and meet the definition of groups. They are generally what are considered PAC’s

There is a lot of history in the opinion about campaign contribution limits in Alaska. It also considers federal law, the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United, and how the State reacted to Citizens United. It is very likely this case will be appealed to the Alaska Supreme Court.

As Common Dreams reports, this could be a way around Citizens United and its impacts on campaign contribution limits.

Equal Citizens has the court’s opinion here.


Climate change action on the ballot?

In addition to several proposed Forestry initiatives, Oregon voters may have the option to vote on Climate Change Actions as there are several Oregon climate ballot measures proposed.

As reported by OPB,

“Three initiative petitions filed with the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office on Monday would require the state to phase out electricity sources that contribute to global warming, and transition to a carbon-free economy by 2050.”

They could be on the ballot in November 2020. The petitions were filed by a coalition calling itself 100% Ready For Clean Air, which includes Renew Oregon, the Oregon League of Conservation Voters, Climate Solutions, the Oregon Environmental Council and other groups. 

Organizers hope that the proposed ballot measures will get the Legislature to take action during the upcoming short session in 2020. 

Stay tuned!