Group holds rally against court case restricting ballot initiative rights

    A group held a rally against a court case restricting ballot initiative rights Friday. (SBG photo)

    EUGENE, Ore. – Two sides involved in a legal fight over initiative petition rights in Lane County faced off in a county courtroom Friday.

    Public interest groups say they’re fighting the latest attempt to restrict citizen rights on filing Lane County initiative petitions. The root of the conflict traces back to the summer of 2016.

    The group, Community Rights – Lane County, held a rally Friday afternoon outside the Lane County Courthouse before a hearing.

    Last year, commissioners took no action on a proposed ordinance that would have given the board veto power on citizen initiatives, if they were deemed to be not of “county concern.”

    Activists say the new suit, if successful, would add more burdens to people trying to qualify local measures.

    “Which would make it harder for the people who are trying to exercise their constitutional right to write laws in their community. It would make it harder for them to qualify an initiative for the ballot,” said Ann Kneeland, an environmental law attorney.

    Kneeland said if the suit is successful, Lane County would have to perform more technical reviews of ballot measures before they qualify for the ballot.

    She claimed the real purpose of the action is to try to block initiatives that would ban aerial spraying of herbicides in the forests.

    Retired local attorney Stan Long is the filer of the suit.

    Judge Karsten Rasmussen announce no ruling from the bench after Friday’s hearing.

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