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Ore. SC orders AG to tweak liquor ballot title

By David Yates | Jun 5, 2014

SALEM, Ore. (Legal Newsline) - The Supreme Court of Oregon has ordered Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum to tweak the title of a ballot initiative aimed at allowing grocery stores to sell liquor.

The case stems from Rosenblum certifying Initiative Petition 58, which is entitled: "Allows qualified retail stores to sell liquor; current price markup replaced by wholesale sales tax."

If enacted, the proposed measure (IP 58) would change the way that liquor is sold in Oregon by eliminating the current system of state-licensed liquor stores and allowing wholesalers to distribute liquor to retailers.

The bill would also change the way that the state raises revenue from liquor sales by replacing the state markup with a "revenue replacement fee," court records show.

A review of the ballot title was sought on the grounds that the term "wholesale sales tax" would confuse voters.

Oregon does not implement a sales tax.

On Friday, justices ruled that the high court's previous opinion in the case McCann v. Rosenblum had established that the attorney general's use of the word "tax" instead of "fee" substantially complied with her obligation to describe the proposed measure accurately.

The previous opinion in the case also held that the phrase "sales tax" had more potential to confuse voters than to describe IP 58 accurately, because "sales tax" is commonly associated with a tax imposed at the point of a retail sale, court papers say.

The initiative's backers have until July 3 to collect the required signatures once the Supreme Court approves a title.

However, the high court has already approved Initiative Petition 47, a similar measure entitled: "Allows qualified retail store to sell liquor; imposes wholesale tax to replace current state markup."

Case Nos. S062154, S062157 and S062158.

Reach David Yates at

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