Columbia County’s legal department has asked a Columbia County Circuit Court judge to rule on the legality of the proposed county ordinance which would enforce Measure 5-190, the illegal worker measure that passed in the Nov. 4 election. Now go back and read that again, carefully. Did you catch it? The court would rule on the ordinance, rather than the measure itself. As it turns out, that could be a significant distinction, at least according to the Coalition for a Working Oregon. The employer group, which opposes the measure, recently wrote a letter to the county commissioners:
As we understand it, the Petition proceeding only permits the Columbia County Circuit Court to rule on the validity of the County-passed Ordinance. The voter-approved Measure is outside the scope of the Petition proceeding because the Ordinance does not repeal the Measure. Instead, the Measure must be challenged in a standard declaratory judgment proceeding before a state or federal court. Thus, even if the Petition court invalidates the Ordinance on constitutional or other grounds, the Measure will remain on the books. This would give opponents of the Measure and Ordinance no option but to file the parallel declaratory judgment action and participate in both lawsuits. Obviously this would draw the County into the second suit as well, essentially doubling the litigation expenses for all parties involved.