Oregon Supreme Court Orders Attorney General to Revise Ballot Measure Draft

The Oregon Supreme Court has ordered Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum to redraft Initiative Petition 13 due to misleading language. The measure is aimed at preventing further public employee pensions debt.

The measure calls upon the State Treasurer to “calculate the unfunded actuarial liability of any public employee retirement program or system as of Dec. 31, 2022.” Furthermore, it prevents the state from accruing further unfunded liabilities, or borrowing money to pay for them.

The State Supreme Court Wants Some Rewriting

According to the Supreme Court, the summary in the Department of Justice’s draft of the ballot measure “does not summarize any part of the measure and is not an effect of the measure.” The description of a yes answer is marked “effect unclear,” which the court described as “unhelpful and fails to describe the proposed measure’s subject matter, as required.”

They were similarly displeased with the no answer, as it “does not summarize the current law accurately or advise voters of the choice they are being asked to make.”

In a unanimous decision, they decreed the draft did not adhere to state standards for a ballot measure, and required the Attorney General to revise it as necessary.

Republican Petitioner Responds to the Ruling, Talks to The Oregonian

“This whole thing is very political,” says petitioner Julie Parrish, a former Republican lawmaker. “And if your makers are quietly saying we should not let these things get past the goal posts, it makes it difficult to use the process the way it’s supposed to work…I don’t have any faith that the ballot titles being drawn up are not partisan.” Parrish argues that the vague language was deliberate, an attempt by Rosenblum to court the unions for her upcoming reelection.

Oregon Attorney General Responds

“Any suggestion that this was politically motivated is incorrect,” counters Rosenblum spokeswoman Kristina Edmunson. “We simply believed voters should know that, despite the first impression conveyed by its words, the measure may or may not have the effect of preventing unfunded actuarial liabilities. But the Supreme Court has ruled, and we will follow their instruction.”

By Brandon Urey