SALEM, Ore. — A county judge in Oregon ordered the secretary of state to process two clean energy ballot initiatives that environmentalists want to bring before voters in November, after the state official had rejected them.
Secretary of State Bev Clarno, a Republican, had earlier said the ballot initiatives violated a state requirement that legislative measures stick to one subject. Marion County Judge David Leith, ruling in favor of backers of the initiatives, said she was wrong.
“Under the current precedents, I’m satisfied that IP 48 and 49 do satisfy the single subject requirement,” Leith said Thursday.
The judge’s permanent injunction means the process of earning a final ballot title from the attorney general will resume. Notably, Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, a Democrat, refused to defend Clarno in the litigation and had challenged her legal basis for tossing the two proposals and a third one. Rosenblum authorized Clarno to find a private lawyer.
Once a final ballot title is established, the initiatives campaign will begin collecting the necessary signatures to put the measures before Oregon voters in the November election.
“We’re moving full steam ahead. Given how quickly we collected our first round of signatures, we don’t foresee any problems making the ballot for November,” said Chrissy Reitz, a former nurse from Hood River, Ore., who is a co-chief petitioner on the measures.
“Oregonians are demanding bold action to reduce pollution and protect the climate, and this November they will have that chance at the ballot box,” Eric Richardson, a co-chief petitioner for the initiatives, said.
Leith found the two 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, said Brad Reed, a spokesman for the clean energy coalition Renew Oregon.
“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,” said Tera Hurst, executive director of Renew Oregon and one of the plaintiffs in the case.
IP’s 48 and 49 would 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.