Almost two years after oral arguments were made against the
Lincoln County aerial herbicide ban, a circuit judge issued a decision
invalidating the ban that was narrowly passed by Lincoln County voters in May
Lincoln County Circuit Court Judge Sheryl Bachart ruled that
Oregon’s Pesticide Control Act prevents local government regulation of
pesticides, including aerial application.
“Since the ordinance seeks by its very terms to regulate
pesticide use, the county is completely pre-empted under state law from
adopting any ordinance regarding pesticide use,” the judge said.
Judge Bachart rejected arguments by local activists who
argued the ordinance’s legality was supported by the Declaration of
Independence, U.S. Constitution and Oregon Constitution, calling these claims
“misplaced and without legal precedent.”
Local landowner Rex Capri filed the lawsuit shortly after
the ban was passed because he relies on aerially applied herbicides to control
weeds on his land.
Activists have vowed to appeal the ruling and said the judge
“did not substantively consider” their argument that local self-government
“must prevail against state pre-emption when exercised to protect health,
safety and welfare.”
Initiative Petitions Also Rejected
Additionally, the Oregon Secretary of State rejected initiative
petitions 35, 36 and 37. These potential state-wide ballot
initiatives include arbitrary notification periods ranging from 14 to 21 days
before an application can be made, and 500-foot buffer zones for aerial
applications. The Oregon Secretary of State said the petitions did not meet the
“single subject requirement” that ballot measures can only alter a single
regulation at a time.
The petitioners can now either redraft and submit new
petitions, sue the Oregon Secretary of State to overturn the decision, or both.
The petitioners have 60 days to decide if they will sue for the decision to be
overturned. If the petitioners choose to
submit new petitions, they must collect an additional 1,000 signatures for to
the Secretary of State to have a ballot title drafted and begin the full
signature collection process. Next, 112,020 signatures are required to qualify
for the November 2020 ballot. Signatures must be turned into the Secretary of
State by July 2, 2020.
While both of these rulings are welcome news, NAAA will
continue to work with Oregonians for Food and Shelter to monitor for state and
local initiatives intended to curb the safe and judicious aerial use of crop