Articles Posted in Election Law

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Petitioner sought review of the Oregon Attorney General’s certified ballot title for Initiative Petition 19 (2018) (IP 19), arguing that the ballot title caption did not satisfy the requirements of ORS 250.035(2)(a). If adopted by voters, IP 19 would prohibit a person from serving as a member of the Legislative Assembly for more than eight years in any period of 12 years. Subject to certain exceptions, IP 19 specifically provided that the measure would apply “retroactively to limit service by any person who is a Representative or Senator upon the effective date of this Act, so that current or prior membership is included in the calculation of years of service.” Petitioner contends that that caption does not comply with ORS 250.035(2)(a); although petitioner acknowledged that the caption informed voters of one major effect of IP 19 (its prohibition on years of service) petitioner contended that it failed to inform voters of another major effect, that the measure applies retroactively, with exceptions. The Oregon Supreme Court agreed that the caption could have been more explicit: the actual impact of the measure on the legislature’s composition was a major effect that must be described in the ballot title’s caption. The Court referred the ballot back to the Attorney General for modification. View "Swanson v. Rosenblum" on Justia Law

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Petitioners sought review of the ballot title prepared for Referendum Petition (RP) 301 (2018). Among other things, that bill created a new Health System Fund, which would pay the cost of administering a new Oregon Reinsurance Program, provide additional funding for medical assistance and health services to low-income individuals and families under ORS chapter 414, and make other payments. The bill then imposed temporary, two-year assessments on insurance premiums or premium equivalents received by insurers (section 5(2)), managed care organizations (section 9(2)), and the Public Employees’ Benefit Board (section 3(2)), that would be paid into the State Treasury and credited to the fund. Petitioners contended the caption, the “yes” and “no” result statements, and the summary did not comply with requirements set out in ORS 250.035(2). The Oregon Supreme Court reviewed the ballot title to determine whether it substantially complied with those requirements. The Court agreed with some of petitioners’ contentions, but disagreed with others, concluding that each part of the ballot title required modification. View "Parrish v. Rosenblum" on Justia Law

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Petitioner sought review of the Attorney General’s certified ballot title for Initiative Petition 2 (2018) (IP 2). IP 2, if enacted, would change the way that signatures were gathered to put an initiative measure or a referendum on the ballot. Currently, once the Secretary of State determines that an initiative or referendum petition meets certain minimum requirements, the chief petitioners or petition circulators must collect signatures from registered voters on signature sheets prepared in accordance with the Secretary of State’s rules. IP 2 would make two major changes to those requirements: (1) it would require the Secretary of State to adopt rules permitting registered voters to sign initiative and referendum petitions digitally; and (2) it would require the Secretary of State to create and administer a website where registered voters could sign petitions digitally. Petitioner challenged the caption, the "yes" vote result statement, and the summary. The Oregon Supreme Court determined changes were warranted to the ballot title, but not the "yes" vote result statement or the summary. The ballot title was referred back to the Attorney General for modification. View "Unger v. Rosenblum" on Justia Law

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Petitioners sought review of the Attorney General’s certified ballot title for Initiative Petition (IP) 1 (2018), contending that the “yes” and “no” result statements and the summary did not comply with the requirements set out in ORS 250.035(2). IP 1 was a proposed amendment to the Oregon Constitution that, if approved, would prohibit public funding for abortions, “except when medically necessary or as may be required by federal law.” Section 1 of IP 1 set out that general prohibition, and Section 2 set out several related definitions. Section 3 set out two exceptions to the prohibition in Section 1. Section 4 provided that nothing in the proposed amendment “shall be construed as prohibiting the expenditure of public funds to pay for health insurance,” so long as “such funds are not spent to pay or reimburse for the costs of performing abortions.” The Oregon Supreme Court considered petitioners’ arguments regarding the “yes” and “no” result statements in the certified title, and concluded that those statements substantially complied with statutory requirements. However, the Court agreed with one of petitioners’ arguments challenging the summary, and therefore referred the summary back to the Attorney General for modification. View "Jimerson v. Rosenblum" on Justia Law

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The Attorney General prepared and filed a modified ballot title following remand from the Supreme Court. In its second trip to the Oregon Supreme Court, two petitioners challenged the modified title. IP 62 applies to public employees (employees) and public employee labor organizations (unions). If adopted by the voters, IP 62 would have amended several provisions of the Oregon Public Employee Collective Bargaining Act. Petitioners Neel and Forest set out two main objections to the modified caption: (1) they claimed that the phrase “limits public employee union members’ obligations” was vague and overbroad and was likely to mislead and confuse voters; (2) the phrase “employees might benefit without sharing bargaining costs" petitioners contended that, as used to describe IP 62, that phrase was “underinclusive, inaccurate, misleading, politically loaded,” and failed to reasonably identify the actual major effect of the proposed initiative measure. The Supreme Court found certain of the objections to be well taken, and referred the modified ballot title to the Attorney General for additional modification. View "Conroy v. Rosenblum" on Justia Law

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Petitioners sought review of the Attorney General’s certified ballot title for Initiative Petition 61 (2016) (IP 61), arguing that the ballot title did not satisfy the requirements of ORS 250.035. IP 61 implicated the use of public funds to pay for abortions. As written, the Supreme Court found that the summary to the Initiative Petition did not address the limitation on access to abortion that would directly follow from the enactment of IP 61. "The Attorney General must revise the summary to describe that limitation." As written, the Court also found that the summary did not address the broad definition of the term “abortion,” but, with regard to contraception, it explained what the term abortion excluded, rather than what it included. "The summary provides that the measure '[d]efines ‘abortion’ to exclude termination of ectopic pregnancy, removing dead fetus/embryo, or contraceptives that ‘inhibit or prevent conception.’ In taking that approach, the Attorney General uses the literal terms of the measure, but obscures the meaning of the term 'abortion' rather than conveying the practical information that ORS 250.035 required. The Court referred the ballot title back to the Attorney General for modification. View "Cross v. Rosenblum" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law

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Two sets of petitioners sought review of the certified ballot title for Initiative Petition 69 (2016) (IP 69). IP 69, if enacted, would have altered the rights and obligations that public employers, their employees, and the unions representing those employees owe each other under the Public Employee Collective Bargaining Act (PECBA). IP 69, if enacted, would: (1) divide public employees within a bargaining unit into two groups (union and nonunion employees) and would provide different means for determining the employment terms (wages, benefits, and other employment terms) for each group; and (2) would determine a union’s obligation to represent union and nonunion employees within a bargaining unit equally and nonunion employees’ corresponding obligation to make “payments in lieu of dues.” Both sets of petitioners raised essentially the same challenge to the caption of the Initiative, although their specific arguments differed. ”At bottom, both sets of petitioners argue that the caption is too narrow and focuses on only some of the measure’s major effects, to the exclusion of other major effects." The Supreme Court agreed that the caption, the “yes” and “no” vote result statements, and the summary required modification. The Ballot title was referred to Attorney General for such modification. View "Vaandering v. Rosenblum" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law

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Petitioners sought review of the Attorney General’s certified ballot title for Initiative Petition 51 (2016) (IP 51). IP 51 was a proposed constitutional amendment that, if adopted by the voters, would have changed current voter registration methods for federal, state, and local elections in Oregon by requiring in-person registration, thereby eliminating “motor-voter,” online, and mail registration options. Its passage also would result in the expiration within 10 years of all current Oregon voter registrations and establish other new requirements that must be satisfied in order for Oregonians to register to vote. Petitioners argued that the ballot title did not satisfy the requirements of ORS 250.035(2). After review, the Oregon Supreme Court agreed that IP 51, as then-drafted, did not satisfy the requirements of Oregon law and referred the ballot title back to the Attorney General for modification. View "Nearman v. Rosenblum" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law

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Petitioners seek review of the Attorney General’s certified ballot title for Initiative Petition 62 (2016) (IP 62). IP 62 applied to public employees and public employee labor organizations. If adopted by the voters, IP 62 would amend several provisions of the Oregon Public Employee Collective Bargaining Act (PECBA). Petitioners argued that the ballot title did not satisfy the requirements of ORS 250.035(2). After review, the Oregon Supreme Court agreed that IP 62, as then-drafted, did not satisfy the requirements of Oregon law and referred the ballot title back to the Attorney General for modification. View "Conroy v. Rosenblum" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law

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Ben Unger, LaToya Fick and Carmen Rubio petitioned the Oregon Supreme Court for review of the Attorney General's certified ballot title for Initiative Petition 65. IP 65, if enacted, would establish a “High School Graduation and College and Career Readiness Fund” (Readiness Fund) within the state General Fund for the purposes of—as the title of the fund suggests-improving high school graduation rates and college and career readiness. The measure would require the legislature, beginning in 2017, to “appropriate, allocate or otherwise make available” to the fund not less than $800 per student per year. Thereafter, the measure would require that the amounts appropriated, allocated, or otherwise made available be increased in accordance with Executive Order No. 14-14. Petitioner Unger argued the certified ballot title is deficient in several respects pertaining to the “no” vote result statement and the summary. Petitioners Fick and Rubio also challenge the ballot title, arguing that the caption does not reasonably identify the subject of IP 65, that the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ vote result statements do not accurately identify the consequences of voting one way or the other, and that the summary is deficient in that it carries forward problems with the caption and the result statements. After review, the Supreme Court rejected petitioner Unger's contention without discussion, but agreed with petitioners Fick and Rubio's contentions, and referred the ballot title back to the Attorney General for modification. View "Unger v. Rosenblum" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law