McCann/Harmon v. Rosenblum

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Ballot Titles
  • Date Filed: 02-13-2014
  • Case #: S061850
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Linder, J. for the Court; En Banc
  • Full Text Opinion

Under ORS 250.035, a ballot title must include a caption, results statements, and summary which adequately describe the effects of voting one way or another, and reasonably identify the subject matter. Where more specific language is available, it should be used to describe the ballot title in a simple and understandable way that adequately describes the effects a ballot title would have on current law.

Harmon and McCann sought review of the certified ballot title for Initiative Petition 33 (IP33). IP33 would increase the minimum profits tax of corporations making over fifty-million dollars in Oregon sales, and reduce the minimum profits tax of corporations making under one-million dollars in Oregon sales. The caption, the “yes” and “no” vote result statements, and the summary of IP33 were challenged by McCann, who argued that these did not adequately describe the impact IP33 would have. The Attorney General argued that IP33 does not change the standard taxation for corporations therefore, it was unnecessary to detail the change. The Court held that the caption and result statements neglected to describe the major effects IP 33 would have on current law. For example, simply stating that "IP33 would require a minimum tax payment of two percent of the excess of Oregon sales over $100,000,000," without similarly advising voters that the tax owed would include the current tax of $100,000 was misleading because it did not give voters sufficient information about the effects of IP33, namely that it increases and decreases corporate tax liability. Ballot title referred to Attorney General for modification.

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