The petition initiative blocked by the State for ballot qualification that would curb corporate power will be heard on Thursday, November 10th
Wednesday, October 26, 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: Mary Geddry
Eight months since easily collecting the required number of sponsorship signatures for the Right of Local Community Self-Government constitutional amendment, the petition initiative still cannot collect signatures to qualify for the statewide ballot. Blocked by the State, the
initiative will be in court on November 10th to determine if broader petition circulation can continue towards ballot qualification and ultimately the votes of Oregonians.
The Oregon Secretary of State along with the Attorney General’s office made a determination in April that the amendment, as currently written, does not meet the tests for a separate vote and that the initiative is not an amendment but a revision to the constitution.
“The state is wrong here and that will be proven in court”, says Rob Dickinson, petitioning coordinator for Oregonians for Community Rights. ”This initiative is absolutely essential in order for local communities to be able to protect the health, safety, and welfare of their residents. We can’t forget that the Oregon Constitution, in it’s very first section, affirms that all power is inherent in the people and that we have at all times a right to alter or reform the government in whatever manner that we deem proper. Without local community self determination, as affirmed by this initiative, those words are hollow and meaningless.”
Judge Bennett of the Marion County Circuit Court will hear the case at 1:30pm on Thursday, November 10th at the county courthouse in Salem.
The proposed constitutional amendment was drafted by the Oregon Community Rights Network (ORCRN) and their political arm, Oregonians for Community Rights (O4CR). The Right of Local Community Self-Government constitutional amendment would codify into law the right of local community self-government, enabling the people and their local governments to protect fundamental rights and prohibit corporate activities that violate those rights. It would secure the authority of communities to put in place stronger rights and protections than those recognized at the state, federal, or international level, but not reduce higher level governmental protections or rights.
“With its determination against this initiative, the State is championing limitations on the people’s constitutional power to the initiative process”, says Ann Kneeland, attorney for the chief petitioners. “As such, the Chief Petitioners of the initiative are fighting not simply for a
rightful decision from the Court that this amendment meets all procedural requirements to be voted on by the people, but also for the proper administration of the initiative system that empowers direct democracy in Oregon.”
Securing the right of local community self-government is pivotal when it comes to a community’s right to confront or advance vital local issues such as GMO crops, police accountability, pesticide use, fossil-fuel pipelines, living wage, rent control, or land use without the threat of state-sanctioned corporate preemption.
County-level community rights efforts in Oregon have been underway to confront an array of corporate projects from LNG pipelines to pesticides to GMOs to coal and oil trains. In each community the aim is to adopt a Community Bill of Rights law that secures the rights of the people and nature over that of unwanted corporate harms.
Oregon also joins Colorado, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, where communities in those states are working to adopt Community Bill of Rights laws on the local level as well as moving very similar state constitutional amendments to secure the right of local community self-government.