Laws governing local ballot measures in Oregon

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Laws Governing Local Ballot Measures

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All Oregon cities and counties have an initiative and referendum process for local ballot measures.

This article sets out the laws governing local ballot measures in Oregon. It explains:

  • Which local units of government make the initiative process available to residents.
  • How and whether local units of government, including school districts, can refer local ballot measures (such as school bond propositions) to the ballot.
  • An overview of laws governing local recall elections.

Types of local government

Local government in Oregon consists of 36 counties and 241 cities. In addition, there are 1002 special districts and 230 independent school districts.[1]

Further classifications:

Counties may be:

  • General law: of which there are 27
  • Home rule charter: of which there are 9.[2] Lane and Washington were the first to adopt home rule in 1962, followed by Hood River (1964), Multnomah (1967), Benton (1972), Jackson (1978), Josephine (1980), Clatsop (1988) and Umatilla (1993).[3]

Cities may be:

  • General law: of which there are 130
  • Home rule charter: of which there are 111[4]

School districts

See also: School bond and tax elections in Oregon

In Oregon, ballot questions are required if a school district wants to issue bonds.

Local recall rules

The citizens of Oregon are granted the authority to perform a recall election by Article 2, Section 18 of the Oregon Constitution.

For additional detail, see: Laws governing recall in Oregon

Campaign finance rules

See also: Campaign finance requirements for Oregon ballot measures

Initiative process availability

Initiative is available for citizens of all cities and counties in Oregon.

  • General law cities
  • Charter cities (for ordinances and charter amendments)
  • General law counties
  • Charter counties (for county measures and charter amendments)[5]

Authority

Ballot Law Portal
Laws Governing Ballot Measures

Constitution

Art. VI, Section 10 reserves the initiative power for county legislation and charter amendments in charter counties.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Oregon Constitution, Article VI, Section 10

Art. IV, Section 1(5) reserves the initiative power to citizens in all cities.

(5) The initiative and referendum powers reserved to the people by subsections (2) and (3) of this section are further reserved to the qualified voters of each municipality and district as to all local, special and municipal legislation of every character in or for their municipality or district. The manner of exercising those powers shall be provided by general laws, but cities may provide the manner of exercising those powers as to their municipal legislation. In a city, not more than 15 percent of the qualified voters may be required to propose legislation by the initiative, and not more than 10 percent of the qualified voters may be required to order a referendum on legislation.[6]

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Oregon Constitution, Article IV, Section 1(5)

A guide to local ballot initiatives
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Statutes

The laws governing initiative in Oregon are in the Oregon Revised Statutes, Chapter 250. There are general provisions applicable to counties and cities in Sections 250.005 to 250.043.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Oregon Revised Statutes, Sections 250.005 to 250.043

General law counties have a state-set process for initiative in Oregon Revised Statutes Sections 250.155 to 250.235. Charter counties must allow initiative under the Constitutional provision. A charter county may use the general law process, or adopt alternative provisions by charter or ordinance, subject to the Constitutional signature requirements.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Oregon Revised Statutes, Sections 250.155 to 250.235

Cities must allow initiative under the Constitutional provision. There is a state-set process in Oregon Revised Statutes Sections 250.265 to 250.346, but cities are allowed to alter certain requirements such as different filing deadlines and signature percentages, subject to the Constitutional signature percentage limits. ORS 221.210 makes the same initiative process available for charter amendments, but charter cities may again change particular requirements by charter.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Oregon Revised Statutes, Sections 250.255, 250.265 to 250.346Section 221.210

Initiative process features

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Source:Local Ballot Initiatives: How citizens change laws with
clipboards, conversations, and campaigns

Counties


Cities


Initiative in the top 10 most populated cities

List of Most Populated Cities in Oregon
City[7] Population City Type Next election
Portland 593,820 Charter November 4, 2014
Eugene 156,929 Charter N/A
Salem 156,244 Charter N/A
Gresham 107,439 Charter N/A
Hillsboro 93,455 Charter N/A
Beaverton 91,625 Charter N/A
Bend 77,905 Charter N/A
Medford 75,501 Charter N/A
Springfield 59,695 Charter N/A
Corvallis 54,674 Charter N/A

The top 10 most populated cities in Oregon are all governed under a home rule charter. Initiative is available for ordinances and charter amendments. The initiative process for cities is generally governed by the Oregon Constitution Article IV, Section 1 and Oregon Revised Statutes Chap. 250 as provided above. However, charter cities may differ from the statutes and set their own signature percentages, filing deadlines, or additional requirements. The requirements altered by the city charter or code are provided below. Charter cities must follow the state rules regarding form of petitions and pre-filing.



External links

References