SALEM, Ore. (AP/KTVZ) -- Environmental advocates are suing Oregon Secretary of State Bev Clarno over her rejection of two clean-energy ballot initiatives, claiming the action was without legal reasoning and constituted an abuse of power.
The Statesman Journal reports that in a filing to Marion County Circuit Court Wednesday, complainants asked for an expedited review to allow Initiative Petitions 48 and 49 to continue the process that would allow them to put the measures before voters in November.
News release from "100% Ready for Clean Air":
Clean Air advocates sue Oregon's Secretary of State for unlawfully blocking ballot measures
Lawsuit states there is no legal basis for Secretary of State's actions and the rejection is an abuse of power
SALEM, Ore. -- Today, an advocacy leader together with one of the chief petitioners for two clean energy initiatives filed suit in Marion County Court against the Secretary of State calling for the office to allow Initiative Petitions 48 and 49 to move forward. In an unprecedented move, Oregon Secretary of State Bev Clarno and Deputy Secretary of State Rich Vial rejected the measures last month.
In the complaint, chief petitioner Eric Richardson, Executive Director of NAACP Eugene/Springfield and Tera Hurst, Executive Director of Renew Oregon ask the court to allow the initiatives to continue through the process of qualifying for the ballot in November 2020.
The lawsuit points out that the Secretary of State’s office provided no legal reasoning rejecting the citizen’s petition and both the Oregon Attorney General and state Legislative Counsel strongly disagree with the positions Clarno and Vial have taken in rejecting petitions this election cycle, even publicly questioning the Secretary's understanding of the law.
“We must not let this egregious abuse of power by Secretary of State Bev Clarno and Deputy Secretary Rich Vial continue. Their actions are unconstitutional and run counter to Oregon’s proud history of citizen access to the ballot through the initiative system,” says Richardson. “We are joining the many voices speaking out against the way the Secretary of State is blocking access of citizens to the ballot.”
IP’s 48 and 49 are statewide initiative petitions to require Oregon to produce all of its electricity using renewable energy and carbon free sources by January 1, 2045. As is precedent and good practice, standards for labor practices were included in the petition to ensure that jobs created during construction and other projects funded by passage of the petitions are quality jobs, something that the Secretary of State incorrectly claims merits rejection.
This is the second of such suits filed against the Oregon Secretary of State this year. Public records uncovered by The Oregonian show that with lack of institutional support for their rogue actions, the SOS has had to hire a $700-an-hour private law firm - the same law firm that works for the corporate polluters and big timber companies that oppose the measures the Secretary has rejected.
“Secretary Clarno and Deputy Secretary Vial are wasting taxpayer money to protect the interests of the wealthy and powerful against the will of the people,” says Hurst. “Everyone in Oregon should be concerned about this threat to our democracy.”
The suit goes before Marion County Court and the plaintiffs have requested an expedited review so that their petitions can move forward as intended.
News release from Oregon AFL-CIO:
Oregon’s Unions Respond to Secretary of State Lawsuit Over Clean Energy Initiatives
Oregon AFL-CIO President Graham Trainor responds to a lawsuit filed against Oregon’s Secretary of State on her rejection of Initiative Petitions 48 and 49:
For working Oregonians, engaging with and advocating for public policy has always been a strategy for creating high quality, family-supporting jobs. Including high-road labor standards in public policy is not a new concept. Unfortunately, Oregon’s Secretary of State has taken an unprecedented and dangerous position in rejecting Initiative Petitions 48 and 49 citing the “single subject rule” and specifically referencing the labor standards in her rationale. Oregon workers and their unions have engaged in a wide range of advocacy efforts aimed at improving standards for jobs created from legislation with a different primary objective, and Oregon is a better place to live and work for it. To suggest that this type of advocacy violates the “single subject rule” will hurt Oregon workers and sets a dangerous precedent for public policy discussions in the future.
Oregon’s unions are deeply concerned by the actions of Secretary of State Bev Clarno and Deputy Secretary of State Rich Vial. By infusing politics into what should be an apolitical process, Oregonians are being denied the opportunity to debate important legislation while workers are used as a political football.