Despite attempts by various parties to change a ballot initiative’s title and alter its summary for voters, the state Supreme Court last week ordered that Referendum 301 be upheld as certified in 2013 by the Secretary of State’s office and named by state attorney general.
Last October, the groups Oregonians for Immigration Reform and Protect Oregon Driver Licenses, submitted almost 60,000 signatures to overturn legislation, Senate Bill 833, that had been passed by lawmakers and signed by Gov. John Kitzhaber earlier in 2013.
The groups opposed the bi-partisan backed bill, which would have allowed the state to issue driver-privilege cards to individuals without DMV-required documentations such as a birth certificate or passport. The groups worked throughout last summer collecting signatures, offering drive-through petition signature-gathering events and staffing booths at the Oregon State Fair.
Jim Ludwick, a spokesman for both groups, said they were delighted the state’s highest court upheld the second title issued by Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum. The groups thought the first one issued by the AG’s office wasn’t descriptive enough, and asked for a rewrite. They were satisfied with the second one issued, and were opposed to late-session efforts by the Legislature to use its authority to rewrite the revised title.
“There were a few issues we had with the summary of the ballot measure that we would have liked to see changed that didn’t happen,” Ludwick said. “But we’re pleased that the court’s order means the title in no longer in peril.”
Petitioners to uphold the ballot title included Republican lawmakers Kim Thatcher and Sal Esquivel, while petitioners to overturn it included Rebecca Straus of the Oregon chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Rep. Sal Esquivel, R-Medford, said he was pleased with the court’s order, and said the Legislature should never have attempted to tamper with the citizen initiative process in the first place.
“It’s the only way people can come forth and say they ‘disagree with us.’ That’s what the process is, and it was just wrong to try and change it,” Esquivel said.
Referendum 301 remains titled “Provides Oregon resident “driver card” without requiring proof of legal presence in the United States, and will appear on ballots for the November election.
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