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County rejects petition on grounds it did not meet legal requirements, supporter says it 'is totally legal'

Columbia Circuit Judge Ted Grove heard arguments last week on initiative petition 19-1, the Second Amendment Sanctuary Ordinance (SASO), two months after it was rejected by the county clerk.

On Jan. 14, the Columbia County Clerk's Office rejected an initiative petition filed by Chris Brumbles of Deer Island a week prior. The proposed ordinance would prohibit enforcement within Columbia County of any gun-control legislation in effect statewide.

Proposed ballot measures must be approved for circulation by the county clerk before petitioners can collect signatures in hopes of having the measure appear on the ballot.

Donald Clack, elections supervisor in the county clerk's office, denied the initiative petition on the grounds that it did not meet the three requirements for initiative petitions. The county determined the petition did not "include the full text of the proposed law" nor "contain a single or closely related subject" and was "administrative in nature," as opposed to legislative, according to Clack's letter rejecting the petition.

Brumbles, through his attorney Tyler Smith, filed an appeal with Columbia County Circuit Court on Jan. 21. The hearing took place March 19, after the county delayed an earlier court date — despite an Oregon statute that requires election matters to be processed quickly.

The initiative "is totally legal, and I believe if they go by the law, we're going to win this," Brumbles said Wednesday. "But who knows what's going to happen. They've been dragging us on since this started."

The county filed a supplemental response to the appeal just days before oral arguments and submitted more documentation at trial, requiring another response from Brumbles' attorney.

The county argued the SASO would amend existing laws and regulations but fails to list all those affected.

"Neither the Clerk, the County, nor the electors of the County should be forced to guess as to what laws Petitioner intends to be invalid," the county's attorney wrote in court documents.

The county also argued the SASO "embraces more than one subject," including civil and criminal law, but Smith argued that the topics addressed in the petition are all focused on "firearms, or more precisely — enforcement of firearms regulations by Columbia County."

A similar measure, the Second Amendment Preservation Ordinance, or SAPO, passed in Columbia County with 55 percent of the vote in the Nov. 6 election.

On Monday, Smith filed a five-page brief in response to the county's filings. Both sides now wait for word from Grove. The full text of the SASO is included here.

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