Tonkon Torp Wins Ballot Challenge for Oregon Agriculture Coalition

Tonkon Torp’s Government Solutions Practice Group is celebrating a successful effort on behalf of the Oregon Farm Bureau seeking changes to an Attorney General’s ballot title, caption and summary. The Farm Bureau engaged Tonkon Torp to research and submit a comment letter challenging the draft language for Initiative Petition 13 (IP13). IP13 is a proposed amendment that, if passed in Oregon’s 2022 general election, would essentially eliminate exclusions to existing animal crime statutes related to farming, ranching, and fishing & hunting. The comment letter to the office of Oregon’s Attorney General asked for changes to the title and summary of IP13 to more accurately convey the intent of the proposed measure to the public.

Attorneys Rocky Dallum, Sarah Einowski, and Danny Newman led the effort to research arguments supporting the challenge and draft comments within a tight window that included a holiday weekend. The proposed title of the measure was released on May 20, with comments due on June 4. The team brought considerable experience to the project: Rocky frequently works with complex legislation impacting natural resources and agriculture, Sarah has worked on numerous ballot title challenges and worked within the Oregon AG’s office writing and approving ballot titles, and Danny has a broad range of government solutions and litigation experience, including regulatory, investigations and enforcement, and compliance matters. Tonkon Torp litigators Steven Wilker and Paul Balmer provided additional constitutional law insight.

On June 4, Tonkon Torp filed the letter on behalf of the Oregon Farm Bureau and a broad coalition of agriculture groups. The large number of cosigners served as acknowledgement that the letter best expressed the mutual concerns of many stakeholders. The AG’s office agreed with all of Tonkon Torp’s arguments and questions raised in the comment letter, and ultimately accepted the proposed changes to ballot language used for IP13.

“It is not common for the AG’s office to agree with a ballot challenge. We are thrilled that they concurred with the thoughtful questions raised in our comments,” Rocky explained. “Drafting a succinct comment letter takes an equal amount of art and skill to challenge the substance of an issue without sacrificing collaboration. We’ve been eager to take on ballot challenges, and we look forward to working on more opportunities in the spaces where legal and electoral issues intersect.”

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