McCann v. Rosenblum

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Ballot Titles
  • Date Filed: 04-24-2014
  • Case #: S062082
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Kistler, J. for the Court; En Banc.
  • Full Text Opinion

Inaccurate phrasing in Initiative Petition 47, which seeks to change current system of state-licensed liquor stores, is subject to modification to enhance precision and to reduce negative perception.

Three sets of petitioners sought review of the ballot title for Initiative Petition 47, which would eliminate the current system of state-licensed liquor stores, allowing wholesalers to distribute directly to “qualified retailers” without first having to sell to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC). The initiative would replace the OLCC with the Oregon Distilled Liquor Control Board (ODLB), and would replace the OLCC markup with a “revenue replacement fee” to be paid by the wholesalers to match the revenue generated for the state by the markup. The Court here addressed petitioner’s challenges to the ballot title’s description of the fee, first that the word “fee” should be used throughout instead of “tax” as has been done, and second that the phrases “similar to” and “roughly comparable to” in regard to the fees is inaccurate to describe the revenue to be generated after the change. The Court found that the attributes of this revenue replacement fee were more those of a tax, but that just using the word “tax” in the title may lead to negative perception, and suggested rewording this to “wholesale tax.” On the second challenge, the Court found that stating that the revenue to be generated under the new system would be “similar to” the old system relies too heavily on assumption. For these reasons the Court held that the wording at issue in these two challenges requires modification. Ballot title referred to Attorney General for modification.

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