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Saturday, February 24, 2024
Courthouse News Service
Saturday, February 24, 2024 | Back issues
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Oregon Blocks Initiatives, Citizens Say

PORTLAND, ORE. (CN) - The Oregon Legislature enacted an unconstitutional bill - HB 2082 (2007) - to make it difficult or impossible for citizens to propose initiative measures, two citizens claim in Federal Court.

Between them, plaintiffs Russ Walker and Glenn Pelikan are chief petitioners on 20 initiative proposals for the November election.

Here are some of the onerous provisions they cite in HB 2082:

it requires signature gatherers to register with the state;

it requires signature gatherers to be trained by the state;

signature sheets must be a different color, depending on whether the circulators are professional circulators;

it prohibits chief petitioner from engaging in political speech unless they waive their right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures;

it "imposes civil liability on a chief petitioner for the unlawful conduct of professional circulators who have no contractual or employment relationship with the chief petitioner;"

and it allows the state to disqualify valid signatures "merely because a professional circulator may not have personally witnessed the Oregon voter affixing his or her signature to the petition."

Plaintiffs claim the Legislature passed this law in anger that citizens had taken governmental power away from "special interests" and used the initiative to, among other things, give Oregon women the right to vote; abolish, and then restore, the death penalty; limit property taxes; adopt mandatory minimum sentences; and enact the nation's first physician-assisted suicide law.

They want HB 2082 enjoined as unconstitutional. They are represented by Ross Day of Tigard and Tyler Smith of Canby.

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