Secretary of State Rejects Clean Electricity Ballot Measures

Once again citing Oregon's single subject requirement, Bev Clarno rejects the measures

Two ballot measures backed by Renew Oregon that aim to ask voters to support climate action were rejected by Secretary of State Bev Clarno Thursday, Dec. 19.

Clarno’s office announced in an email that the two measures — Initiative Petitions 48 and 49 — were rejected based on the single subject requirement. These are two versions of a ballot measure planned for November 2020 and would ask voters to require the state to have its electricity sources be totally carbon-free by 2045.

Renew Oregon says in a statement that Clarno has broken legal precedent and is taking rogue action.

“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 said in a statement. “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. It is unconscionable how far special interests will go to protect their profits.”

Renew Oregon continues in its statement that the office rejected the measures because they included requiring that clean electricity projects follow fair labor standards.

The two ballot measures would have been a step toward climate action, which the Legislature failed when it didn’t pass Clean Energy Jobs in the 2019 Legislative Session, Renew Oregon spokesperson Brad Reed previously told Eugene Weekly.

Eric Richardson, executive director of local NAACP chapter, is one of the ballot measures’ chief petitioners.

Although the two ballot measures have the same requirement, the difference between them is that Initiative Petition 49 also requires electric utilities to invest in electric car charging and clean building technologies, according to Renew Oregon.

This isn’t the first time that Clarno’s office rejected a possible ballot measure on the single subject requirement. Her office rejected three proposed ballot measures that would ask voters to support tightening forestry laws, such as tightening aerial herbicide spraying and logging in steep areas.

Oregon’s Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said she wouldn’t defend Clarno, but the court ruled in favor of her office anyway.

Doug Moore, executive director of Oregon League of Conservation Voters, said in a statement that “There’s a good chance we’ll see Bev Clarno in court.”

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