Carbon-free Oregon Measures Rejected by Secretary of State

A pair of clean energy ballot petitions have been dismissed by Oregon’s Secretary of State Bev Clarno, on the grounds that they do not address a “single subject,” the same argument she used earlier this year to reject a trio of environmental proposals.    

Had they passed, initiative petitions 48 and 49 would have required the state to rely solely upon carbon-free energy sources by 2045. Clean energy groups like Renew Oregon saw the measures as fallback in case attempts at emissions legislation falters.  

Both measures also have wage and benefit stipulations for any related construction projects, and IP 49 calls for investment in “beneficial electrification programs,” leading Clarno to label them as too widespread.  

“Both measures speak for themselves, if read carefully, that the issues presented are not limited to a single subject,” Deputy Secretary of State Rich Vial said. “The secretary has the responsibility to make that constitutional decision.” Vial also pointed out that IP 50, a third ballot measure from Renew Oregon regarding emissions regulation, was approved by Clarno.    

Proponents of IP 48 and 49 had a less charitable interpretation of the ruling.   

“There is now a pattern of flagrant abuse of power by this secretary of state, far outside the norms for any Democrat or Republican who has held the office,” Renew Oregon Executive Director Tera Hurst told OPB. “The secretary of state is siding with the oil industry, corporate polluters and anti-worker special interests to block the ability of the voters to decide their clean air future.”   

“Until this election cycle, the single subject rule has rarely, if ever, been used to reject a proposed initiative,” said ballot measure attorney Margaret Olney in a release from Renew Oregon. “By ignoring the analysis of the Attorney General, Legislative Counsel, the Oregon Supreme Court and inserting an exceptionally partisan review into a previously unbiased process, Secretary of State Clarno is undermining our initiative process and crippling the power of Orgonians to take their concerns directly to the voters.”  

By Brandon Urey