Wilson/Fitz v. Rosenblum

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Ballot Titles
  • Date Filed: 12-14-2017
  • Case #: S065263
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Landau, J. for the Court; En Banc.
  • Full Text Opinion

A ballot title caption will satisfy ORS 250.035(2)(a) so long as it describes the “actual major effect[s]” of the proposed law within the 15-word limit. Lavey v. Kroger, 350 Or 559, 563 (2011).

Petitioners sought judicial review of the ballot title of IP 21 (2018) which attempts to modify taxes on cigarettes and tobacco products. Petitioners challenged that the ballot title’s caption, the “yes” and “no” statements, and the summary. Petitioners argued the caption and the “yes” and “no” statements failed to comply with the statutory requirements by: failing to quantify any increase in taxation denominated on a “per-pack” basis; omitting the term “retroactive”; and failing to mention increased taxation on cigar sales and uses of these extra revenues. Petitioners challenged the summary on the grounds that it failed to mention any potential economic impacts from its passage. In response, the Attorney General argued that the ballot title substantially complied to the statutory requirements because it “accurately describes its effect.” In regard to the summary challenge, the Attorney General argued that it would be inappropriate to speculate about potential economic consequences. A ballot title caption will satisfy ORS 250.035(2)(a) so long as it describes the “actual major effect[s]” of the proposed law within the 15-word limit. Lavey v. Kroger, 350 Or 559, 563 (2011). The Oregon Supreme Court held that the caption did not substantially comply with the statutory requirements of ORS 250.035(2)(a), as it failed to adequately describe the “magnitude” of any potential pecuniary effect of the initiative. Accordingly, the Court held that the ballot title’s “yes” statement was insufficient for the same reason. Ballot title is referred back to Attorney General for modification.

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