Court tosses labor's ballot measure

SALEM - The Oregon Court of Appeals on Nov. 22 overturned the labor-sponsored Open and Fair Elections Act, passed by voters in 1998 as Ballot Measure 62.

The appeals panel said the measure violated the single amendment standard for constitutional amendments. The so-called "Armatta" standard, first articulated by the Oregon Supreme Court after Measure 62 was approved for circulation in 1998, limits constitutional amendments to amend no more than one section of the state Constitution at a time.

Measure 62, which was approved by 68 percent of the voters, had two major provisions - one that affirmed the right of organizations to use funds, including those collected through payroll deduction, for political representation (as a counter-measure to Bill Sizemore's Measure 59 that year), and another set of provisions that would have required more timely and thorough reporting of contributions to initiative campaigns.

Sizemore, head of Oregon Taxpayers United, went to court to nullify Measure 62, but lost the opening round when a Marion County judge upheld the measure.

"We see both good news and bad news in the court's decision," said Tim Nesbitt, president of the Oregon AFL-CIO, a key proponent of Measure 62. "It's good to set tough standards for constitutional amendments, but we hate to see another set of sorely-needed campaign reporting laws fall by the wayside."

The state, which represents the secretary of state's office in the lawsuit, has 35 days to appeal to the Oregon Supreme Court.

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