Two clean energy ballot initiatives will move forward after a Marion County Judge ordered the Secretary of State to allow the measures to proceed. Judge David Leith ruled Thursday, Jan. 16, Initiative Petitions 48 and 49 satisfy the constitutional “single-subject” requirement for initiatives and legislation.
Contrary to the conclusion by Secretary of State Bev Clarno, Judge Leith found the measures encompass a single subject – a transition to renewable energy power system, with labor and equity provisions included in the measures connected to that subject to guide the transition.
“We are pleased to be moving forward on these initiatives,” said Eric Richardson, a co-chief petitioner for the initiatives and executive director of the Eugene/Springfield NAACP, in a press release. “Oregonians are demanding bold action to reduce pollution and protect the climate, and this November they will have that chance at the ballot box.”
Richardson said these initiatives provide not only a target for 100 percent clean electricity, but also a blueprint for the transition, so it creates good-paying jobs with benefits and prioritizes communities in need of investment.
An attorney for plaintiffs Richardson and Tera Hurst, executive director of Renew Oregon, made oral arguments in Marion County Court on Jan. 16 opposite an expensive private attorney hired by the Secretary of State after the Department of Justice declined to defend her. The Judge’s ruling is a permanent injunction, allowing the initiatives to move forward without delay.
“Nearly half of Oregon’s electricity is created by burning dirty fossil fuels like coal, and that’s simply not in line with our environmental values as Oregonians,” said Chrissy Reitz, a mom and former nurse from Hood River, who is a co-petitioner on the measures. “Now we’ll have a chance to change that at the ballot box and switch to 100 percent clean, affordable and reliable power.”
Reitz said they are moving full steam ahead and given how quickly they collected their first round of signatures, doesn’t foresee any problems making the ballot for November.
IP’s 48 and 49 are two versions of a statewide initiative petition to require Oregon to produce all of its electricity using renewable energy and carbon-free sources by Jan. 1, 2045. They also require standards for labor practices to ensure that jobs created during construction and other projects resulting from the petitions are high quality jobs.
“The Judge’s ruling clears the way for strong climate action in Oregon this year, one way or another – whether at the ballot, in the legislature, with executive power, or some combination of all of them,” Hurst said in the release. “Oregonians support these measures by wide margins because we understand a clean energy transition is the only way to protect our health and economy and take responsibility for handing our kids a healthy world.”
Initiative Petition 48 and 49 will resume the process of earning a final “ballot title” from the Attorney General. Once complete, the campaign will begin collecting the necessary signatures to put the measures before Oregon voters in the November 2020 election.