A campaign to raise taxes on packs of cigarettes by $2 has garnered over $9 million in contributions, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting. Various hospital systems, including Providence Health & Services, Legacy Health System and Peacehealth provided the majority of contributions. According to Willamette Week, tobacco companies have not created an opposing Political Action Committee yet, but are expected to. The last time a measure on the ballot proposed increasing taxes on cigarettes in 2007, the tobacco industry outspent opponents with $12.1 million and won. The proposed measure, which was approved by Oregon’s State Legislature to be on the 2020 ballot, would raise the tax on a pack of cigarettes from $1.33 to $3.33. In comparison, Washington and California charge $3.53 and $3.46 per pack, respectively.
Oregon’s Court of Appeals dismissed a lawsuit filed by environmentalist groups that oppose the Oregon State Legislature’s decision to remove grey wolves from Oregon’s endangered species list. The groups—Cascadia Wildlands, Center for Biological Diversity and Oregon Wild—claimed the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife did not use flawed science to make their decision, according to OPB. The dismissal cited legislation from 2016, House Bill 4040, to delist grey wolves, which was signed into law by Oregon Governor Kate Brown in March.
A federal judge ruled that the majority of the expansion of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in 2017 was illegal, according to OPB. The expansion was originally issued by President Barack Obama in an executive order signed near the end of his term in 2017. It was challenged by timber companies, along with the Bureau of Land Management policy that reduced the amount of Oregon and California Railroad Land could be used for commercial logging. O&C Land made up 80% of the land in the expanded monument. BLM has not yet responded to the decision.
A Marion County judge has ruled in favor of Secretary of State Beverly Clarno after her decision to reject three proposed initiative ballots to expand Oregon forestry laws. The initiatives—35, 36 and 37—were originally rejected in September for not following a constitutional single subject requirement for ballot initiatives. However, the decision drew criticism from environmental advocates, who later sued Clarno over her decision, according to The Oregonian. Critics insisted Clarno was too strict in her application of the single-subject rule, as well as citing heavy contributions from the timber industry over Clarno’s career.