Opponents of Oregon cell phone fee initiative challenge ballot title

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January 24, 2011

By Kyle Maichle


KEIZER, Oregon: Opponents of a local ballot initiative on cell phone fees were challenging the ballot title[1]. The city council has now repealed the proposed fee ordinance so the lawsuit was dropped though council members noted that there still may be a future 911 fee ballot measure likely for November 2011 election. Those who filed the petition noted they were happy to have the issue dropped from the May ballot but were unsure they wanted it to be on the future November ballot.[2]

Donald Erich, Chief Petitioner and committee member of Citizens Against New Telecom Taxes, along with his Attorney Nathan Reitmann filed a lawsuit in Marion County Circuit Court on December 23, 2010, against Keizer City Attorney Shannon Johnson[1]. Reitmann called the caption, title, and summary written by Johnson "insufficient" and "unfair."[1] Reitmann also argued that the caption, summary, or title failed to mention that telecom providers: “would be permitted, and in certain cases required, to pass some or all of the tax through to their customers.”[1]

Reitmann argues that the City Attorney's description of the fee should be mentioned as a tax because it's raising revenues in the city's general revenue fund instead of administering a regulatory program[1]. Erich's attorney cites a November 15, 2010 memorandum from City Manager Chris Eppley to the City Council that mentions the cell phone fee as a "tax"[1].

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