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Justices say political initiatives comply with state constitution, but a deal between forestry and conservationists could make decision moot.

Oregon's Court of Appeals said Wednesday, Feb. 12, Secretary of State Bev Clarno incorrectly asserted that a slate of prospective ballot measures didn't comply with the state's constitution.

PMG/EO MEDIA/SRIn its 'Anantha v Clarno' decision, the court reversed Marion County Circuit Judge Daniel Wren's ruling that had favored Clarno. The appeals court sent the issue back for a ruling favoring petitioners.

The petitions sought to restrict certain logging practices and protect forest waters from herbicides and pesticides. Voters may never see those measures. The timber industry and conservation groups agreed Monday, Feb. 10, to work together on updating the state's forestry practices in a landmark pact between historic adversaries. Each side also agreed to drop proposed ballot measures. The forestry industry had its own set of petitions seeking to insulate practices from change.

Clarno, who oversees state elections, had said that the three measures violated a constitutional requirement that each petition cover a "single subject." The Court of Appeals, in a unanimous opinion, said Clarno offered several justifications for her decision but "none persuades us."

The three petitions asked voters prohibit certain logging techniques thought to be harmful to the environment and Oregonians. Citing relevant cases, the court wrote that "it is relatively easy to identify a logical, unifying principle connecting the provisions of each measure: the regulation and protection of forestlands."

"I am disappointed in the court's decision," Clarno said in a statement Wednesday morning, Feb. 12. "I believe the single subject rule means something and had hoped the court would agree. We will have to thoroughly read the opinion and consult with our attorneys before deciding on further action."

Petitioners Kate Crump and Vikram Anantha didn't immediately return Wednesday morning messages seeking comment.

In January, a Marion County judge overturned Clarno's rejection of two measures proposed by Renew Oregon, a coalition advocating for clean energy. Clarno also argued that the measures violated the "single subject" provision.

Reporter Claire Withycombe: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 971-304-4148. Reporter Sam Stites: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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