Initiative Petition 52 - Oregon Employment Protection Act

This petition began more than a year ago, in March 2015, with filing of Initiative no.37, Citizen Workers and Legally Authorized Workers. The petition called for employers to use the free federal E-Verify program to verify the legal status of new hires.  Verification of the legal status of workers is a necessary step in preserving job opportunities for citizens and legal immigrants.

After the initial 1,000 sponsorship signatures were gathered and the ballot title had been reviewed by the Oregon Attorney General, OFIR’s attorneys discovered what they termed a “fatal flaw” in the language of the initiative text, and IP 37 was withdrawn.
Subsequently, new language was written and a new initiative was filed – Initiative Petition 52, the Oregon Employment Protection Act.  The 1,000 sponsorship signatures were gathered at the Oregon State Fair in August 2015 and turned in immediately.
Inititative Petition 52 was filed on August 27, 2015.  It was sponsored by the same persons who had filed the earlier petition: Rep. Sal Esquivel of Medford, Rep. Mike Nearman of Dallas, and Jim Ludwick, past-president of OFIR.  Like IP 37, IP 52 calls for employers to verify the legal status of newly hired workers, using the Federal E-Verify program. 
The free Federal E-Verify program is available to employers for the purpose or verifying that the workers they hire are legally entitled to work in the United States.  Honest employers choose to use E-Verify, and they should not have to compete with businesses that cheat by hiring illegal labor. Charges of inaccuracy in the E-Verify program are false and usually made by those who favor illegal hiring.  A special feature has been set up in E-Verify enabling workers at any time to test their Social Security number and confirm accuracy; if error exists, the worker can correct the record.  Read more about E-Verify here and here
Inititative 52, like Initiative 37, encountered challenges by opponents.  Public comments can be made on ballot titles assigned by the Oregon Attorney General. In July 2015 the Stoll Berne law firm of Portland presented objections on behalf of CAUSA in a 7-page letter with 7 more pages of Exhibits.  The Davis Wright Tremaine firm of Portland presented letters with objections on behalf of the ACLU, the Asian and Pacific American Network of Oregon, and the Center for Intercultural Organizing, also a second set of objections on behalf of William Perry and Jeffrey Stone, “registered Oregon voters.”   Mr. Stone is Executive Director, Oregon Association of Nurseries.  William Perry may be the Bill Perry associated with the Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association and the Oregon Farm Bureau.
As happened with IP 51, delays from appeals of the ballot title plus slow action by state agencies dragged on so long that in the end, there was insufficient time remaining for a volunteer group with limited funds to collect the 88,184 valid signatures required before the deadline of July 8, 2016. 
However, with IP 52, we did win a major battle at the Oregon Supreme Court.  You can read details about the ruling in these two online news reports:
Activists win court battle on measure to restrain hiring of illegal aliens, by Lana Shadwick, 17 March 2016, in Breitbart, and Court rules Oregon attorney general must not distort language in immigration control initiative, by Jonah Bennett, 19 March 2016, in The Daily Caller.
We received invaluable assistance in mounting the initiative from the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) of Washington DC.  Their help and cooperation are deeply appreciated.  
A fair and informative ballot title is essential because many voters are not knowledgeable about E-Verify and how it helps citizen workers; they depend on the words in the ballot title to inform themselves when voting.  The title is limited by law to only 15 words, so it must be carefully prepared to give a true picture of the proposal and its consequences.
One of the candidates in the 2016 Primary election, Dennis Richardson, candidate for Secretary of State, has brought the issue of citizens’ petitions into the campaign debate.  He addresses it on his website, saying:  “Dennis believes citizens have the right to petition their government. He’ll work to make the initiative process more transparent and citizen friendly. He’ll advocate for fair and non-partisan ballot titling by proposing a citizen’s commission on ballot titling, which would remove the process from partisan hands.”
The Secretary of State administers the process of filing the citizen measures, reviewing petition signatures, etc., and can use delays and other tactics to impede the process.  The Attorney General is empowered to write the ballot titles for initiatives and can slant the title to favor one side or the other.  Several issue-oriented groups have recently experienced difficulties as a result of unsatisfactory and slanted ballot titles.  
In this year’s election, there are no choices within parties for the Attorney General’s office – there is only one Democrat running, Ellen Rosenblum, Democrat, incumbent, and one Republican, Daniel Zene Crowe.  Their websites:
Daniel Zene Crowe: