Oregon ballot initiative news archives
Further information on initiatives headed for the ballot
The deadline for turning signatures in for initiative petitions was July 3, 2008. As many as 10 could appear on the ballot this November, with some already qualified and others awaiting verification after submitting signatures right on the deadline. The state must verify everything by August 2, 2008.
Here are a couple articles/blogs that highlight some of the different issues headed for the November ballot from different angles.
- OregonLive.com "Activists' initiatives to dominate Oregon ballot", The Oregonian, July 4, 2008
- MyDD.com: "Get Verified: Oregon Ballot Measures", My Direct Democracy, Sywalker9, July 7, 2008
Latinos, supporters march against Columbia Co. measure
Judge grants injuction against anti-immigrant measure
A Columbia County judge has granted an injunction ordering that tough-on-immigrants measure Columbia County Measure 5-190 (2008), which passed in Columbia County, Oregon by 57-43% in November 2008, not go into effect while he considers the legal issues raised by plaintffs, which include the claims that the measure exceeds county powers, violates the single subject requirement of the Oregon Constitution and is pre-empted by state law.
Legal complaint about Beaverton initiative
Henry Kane, a retired lawyer, Beaverton government, filed a complaint in Washington County Circuit Court in November 2008 saying that Ballot Measure 34-160 violates the Oregon Constitution.
The measure eliminates the "super majority" rule established in 1980, which requires approval by a majority of all registered voters -- not just those voting in an election. Kane argues that the measure didn't fully explain the change.
Oregon initiative change proposed
Citizen-sponsored ballot initiatives that gain enough signatures to qualify for the ballot would first be sent on a detour through the Oregon Legislature under a proposal being floated in the 2009 session. Supporters say the change, if enacted, would lead to a more deliberative process. Opponents says it would curb the state's tradition of direct democracy.
District attorneys edited out of pamphlet
Secretary of State Bill Bradbury has edited two Oregon Voter's Pamphlet statements to eliminate any reference to the fact that the signers are 27 Oregon district attorneys.
"The district attorneys failed to include their titles when they filled out the forms authorizing use of their names," said Don Hamilton, a Bradbury spokesman. "Oregon law requires the state to use their names in the Voters' Pamphlet exactly as authorized."
A Marion County judge on Monday upheld the decision.
The ballot statements are in support of Measure 57, which would increase penalties for burglary, identification theft and drug-dealing; and Measure 62, which requires lottery money be spent on public safety.
"District attorneys from across Oregon were intricately involved in the development of Measure 57, and we're among the measure's strongest supporters," Clackamas County District Attorney John Foote said in a statement. "The unwarranted action taken by the Secretary of State effectively silences the voices of many of Oregon's district attorneys who have endorsed Measure 57."
Sizemore to have statement on voter's pamphlet
Anti-tax activist Bill Sizemore has won a legal battle over his Oregon Voters' Pamphlet statement to support 2 of his statewide ballot measures.
Marion County Circuit Judge Thomas Hart ruled Thursday the statement must be included in the pamphlet for the November general election.
Sizemore said he submitted information about the multimillion-dollar lawsuit he lost in 2002 after the Oregon Education Association went to court to accuse him and his political action group, Oregon Taxpayers United, of fraud and forgery.
Sizemore claims the jury and judge were biased and notes in the statement the verdict was against his organization, not him.
Oregon Education Association Staff goes on strike
The 40-member Professional Staff Organization (PSO) of the Oregon Education Association is at an impasse with the OEA board.
Normally, a strike by a 40-member labor group wouldn't be big news. But the OEA staff does much of the organizational work for the powerful 47,000-member statewide teachers' union, especially during the election season when the OEA is mobilizing on statewide measures and trying to organize for candidates it's supporting.
The PSO released a statement explaining the strike, which in part, says that:
"The OEA team is violating their own union principles insisting on rollbacks on healthcare, retirement, workload, and compensatory time. We would not accept these rollbacks for the teachers and support staff we represent, and we will not accept these rollbacks for our own PSO members. It is part of our job responsibilities to defend union principles for both ourselves and the teachers and support staff we represent.”
"A long list of anti-education ballot measures are staring OEA members in the face and this is the time when PSO members call on teachers and support staff to phone and walk to defeat those measures. We want to get this contract settled and get back to representing OEA members,” said PSO President Catherine Alexander.
Crook County resort approved before ballot measure takes effect
The Crook County Planning Commission gave the go-ahead for a 600-acre resort in Powell Butte on Tuesday, Sept. 9, despite passage of a ballot measure in May that called for a ban on resorts in this rural county.
The planning commission's approval of the Crossing Trails resort application gives the county four resorts that are either under construction or in some stage of the county's permitting process.
In addition to the ballot measure , the Crossing Trails resort faced considerable opposition testimony in planning commission hearings from residents fearful of losing their rural way of life.
When combined with the other three resorts planned for the county, the 500-home Crossing Trails resort will draw down the area's water table and clog county roads that aren't built for heavy traffic use, residents said.
The commission felt its hands were tied, however, according to news reports, and felt it had to follow the law.
County Planning Director Bill Zelenka said the ballot measure won't impact county decisions until after the county puts the new law on its books.
That could take a month to six weeks, he said.
In the meantime, resort applications will continue to be dealt with under the old standard, Zelenka said.
The county has hesitated implementing the new law, he said, for fear the law could violate private property rights.
A county request for an Oregon Attorney General opinion was turned down, leaving planners and commissioners to decide for themselves how to implement the law.
Zelenka said commissioners now have decided to eliminate an overlay map that currently is used to determine where resorts can be located.
If voters want libraries, they'll need to pay for them
Libraries in Clackamas County will wither or thrive next year, depending on whether voters choose to pay for them.
In the Nov. 4 election, Clackamas County voters will decide whether they want to create a new taxing district for libraries.
Property owners in the district would pay about 40 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. All the money collected would go to libraries.
The tax would replace county general fund money that the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners has been weaning libraries from for years.
If the district is approved, the county would build new libraries and fix old ones. The libraries in the county would have more money, which means they could stay open longer, offer more programs and buy more books, CDs, games and DVDs.
If the measure fails, the commissioners plan to close three county libraries in June. The 10 city libraries in Clackamas County would lose all the money they get from the county within five years. Their budgets on average would shrink by about half.
Some libraries probably would close. Others would cut hours, programs and book budgets. Cities might supplement libraries with more money or create their own taxing districts.
To people such as Terissa Gowen, a 39-year-old who was using a computer at the Oregon City library last week, the idea of libraries cutting back made her antsy.
"I'm of low income and can't afford to buy books," she said. "Some people don't have access to the Internet except through libraries. We need them so everyone has access to education, so everyone has a place to go to learn."
Several library advocates made similar statements at a recent county commissioners meeting, and a poll commissioned by the county suggests many county residents feel the same way. The July survey of 101 likely voters found that 48 would support the proposed district, 21 wouldn't and 31 hadn't decided. 
Loren Parks pours money into Mannix initiatives
Loren Parks, Oregon's biggest political contributor, has started his spending on ballot measures with a $75,000 contribution. The money went to a campaign focusing on three crime-related proposals on the Nov. 4 ballot.
Parks, a former Portland-area resident who now lives in Nevada, earlier donated more than $870,000 to the signature-collecting drives that qualified six initiatives for this year's statewide ballot, including two crime measures.
That's some of the more than $8 million he has donated to Oregon initiatives and candidates over the years.
This month, Parks donated $75,000 to the Oregon Anti-Crime Alliance PAC, which has Salem attorney Kevin Mannix as its treasurer. The committee supports Measure 61, which calls for mandatory prison sentences for some drug and theft crimes, and Measure 62, which would amend the Oregon Constitution to allocate 15 percent of state lottery proceeds to public safety programs. Mannix was a chief petitioner on both proposals.
The anti-crime alliance PAC also opposes Measure 57, which would increase sentences for drug and theft crimes and require addiction treatment for some offenders. The Legislature placed the proposal on the ballot as an alternative to Measure 61.
The contribution, reported to the state Elections Division on Tuesday, was made by Parks' medical equipment company, Parks Medical Electronics in Aloha. Parks moved to the Las Vegas area in 2002.
In addition to the two Mannix proposals, the other four initiatives that received most of the money for their signature-gathering efforts from Parks came from frequent initiative author Bill Sizemore.
Renewal levy will be on Fayette County ballot
The Fayette County Health Department will be putting a 1.75 mill, 10-year renewal levy on the November ballot, officials said Monday afternoon.
Deputy Health Commissioner Karen Lowe said that she received a copy of a resolution passed by the Fayette County Commissioners Monday to bring the measure to voters.
"There are no new taxes. This is a renewal levy so no one's taxes will be going up," she explained.
The cost for residents would be $3.28 per month or $39.90 a year.
Voters approved another five-year .5 mill renewal levy in 2007 to cover increases in salaries, benefits and insurance costs.
Domestic-partnership opponents lose court case
A federal appeals court has rejected a challenge to the Oregon domestic-partnership law approved by the Legislature last year.
Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury had ruled that opponents failed to obtain enough valid signatures for a referendum petition to put the law to a statewide vote.
Bradbury was challenged in federal court, but U.S. District Judge Michael Mosman upheld his decision.
A 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel also upheld Bradbury in a ruling Thursday, saying the state can use statistical sampling methods to check whether enough valid signatures have been submitted for a referendum or initiative petition.
"It's great news," said Jeana Frazzini, executive director of Basic Rights Oregon, who called the ruling "a victory for commitment."
Some background on legal pot initiative
The Oregonian, on August 10, posted an interesting article about the proponent of the legal pot initiative and the measure itself aiming for the 2010 ballot. You can read it here: "Legal pot backer sees pluses for state, businesses", The Oregonian
Opponents of two initiatives concerned with cost
They cite new state estimates showing that passage of Sizemore's Measure 59 would cost the state $1.3 billion in lost revenue for the 2009-to-2011 budget and passage of Mannix's Measure 61 would force the state to spend money building more prisons.
Sizemore's measure would allow Oregon taxpayers to deduct all of their federal income taxes from their state returns. Mannix's measure would require mandatory prison sentences for those who commit certain property and drug crimes.
A union-backed coalition opposed to the measures warns that if voters approve them this fall, the state would have to cut spending on public schools, human services and other programs.
Sizemore acknowledges that his tax initiative would reduce the money for state programs. But Sizemore says there's enough "fluff" in the budget to absorb the cuts, and then some.
Proponent of bond initiative will keep trying for ballot
The organizer of an effort to force voter approval for all bond measures in Oregon City -- whether issued by the City Commission or Urban Renewal Commission -- said he'll start his petition drive all over if that's what it takes get on the ballot.
Singer Hill Cafe owner Phil Yates recently found out that the 900 signatures he's already gathered may be invalid because one of his co-chief petitioners decided to back out of the effort.
State law requires that all people listed as chief petitioners sign all necessary paperwork.
Gifford, who said he signed on to the original petition because he wanted to force the City Commission to address issues of citizen involvement, refused to sign an update recently, thus invalidating the signatures.
Yates said he decided to pursue a ballot measure last year after the Urban Renewal Commission decided to issue bonds.
"That was a game changer," he said. "I don't think it's a good way to run a government, having a city take on such a huge debt without voter input."
Gifford said while he is very much in favor of more citizen involvement, he does not believe that every bond issue needs to be approved by a vote of the citizens.
"It's a question of how you look at it," he said. "Phil calls it the wisdom of the masses. I think it runs the danger of being mob rule. I don't think many people are willing to take the time to sit through the hearings and do the work necessary."
Yates, meanwhile, is not giving up.
"I've refiled my petition," he said, "and on the cover sheet, I am the only chief petitioner." 
Ballot measures are given official numbers
The 12 measures Oregonians will consider on their Nov. 4 ballots were given their official ballot measure numbers on Friday. The ballot will include four measures referred by the Legislature, plus eight initiatives that collected enough voter signatures.
The measures include proposals that would address teacher pay raises, how much of a taxpayer's federal income taxes can be deducted on their Oregon tax return, and whether building permits would be needed for projects valued under $35,000. They also include two versions of a proposal to increase prison sentences for drug and theft crimes.
Four of the measures would amend the Oregon Constitution.
Secretary of State Bill Bradbury's office says this is how the legislative referrals will be numbered on the ballot:
- Measure 54: Would amend the Constitution to standardize voting eligibility for school board elections with other elections.
- Measure 55: Would amend the Constitution to change operative date of redistricting plans.
- Measure 56: Would amend the Constitution to have May and November property tax elections decided by a majority of voters.
- Measure 57: Would increase sentences for drug and theft crimes.
And the initiatives will have these numbers:
- Measure 58: Would prohibit teaching a student in a language other than English for more than two years (Initiative Petition 19).
- Measure 59: Would create an unlimited deduction for federal income taxes on Oregon tax returns (IP 3).
- Measure 60: Would base teacher pay raises on classroom performance, not seniority (IP20).
- Measure 61: Would create mandatory minimum prison sentences for certain theft and drug crimes (IP 40).
- Measure 62: Would amend the Constitution to allocate 15 percent of lottery proceeds to public safety (IP41).
- Measure 63: Would exempt improvements valued at or under $35,000 from building permit requirements (IP 21).
- Measure 64: Would penalize using public resources for political purposes (IP 25).
- Measure 65: Would change the nomination process for candidates (IP 109).
Remaining initiatives qualify for ballot
Two more initiatives measures have qualified to appear on Oregon's November ballot.
According to the secretary of state's office, one of the latest measures to qualify would bring an "open primary" election to Oregon.
Under that system, the two top finishers in a primary election, regardless of their party affiliation, would go into a general election.
Brookings voters to decide on police tax levy
Brookings residents will have an opportunity to help beef up their police department by voting on a proposed property tax measure on the November ballot.
The Brookings City Council on Monday unanimously approved a five-year police tax levy to be placed on the ballot.
"This proposal is not something the council is trying to force on citizens," said Brookings Mayor Larry Anderson. "This proposal is for the citizens to decide the amount and type of services they want to see."
The proposed tax levy is 60 cents per 1,000 assessed property value – or about $180 for a $300,000 house.
The levy was spurred by recent problems the police department has had recruiting and keeping officers. City and police officials hope the levy will allow them to increase police officer salaries, making them competitive with other cities, and to add two additional officers to the police force.
According to Brookings City Manager Gary Milliman, the Brookings Police Department has lost 19 officers in the last six years due to a lack of competitive wages.
The city feels there is a need for hiring additional officers because there are times every 24 hours when the only law enforcement officer on duty in Curry County is a Brookings police officer.
The city council unanimously voted at its April 14 meeting to direct the city attorney to prepare a measure for the November ballot that At Monday's meeting the council approved the measure prepared by City Attorney John Trew. 
State investigates possible petition forgeries
Last week, a federal court in Portland heard arguments over a potential ballot measure to make domestic partnerships illegal.
The legal case was less about same sex couples - and more about how to verify the validity of ballot petition signatures.
The judges in the case wondered aloud whether the names on a ballot petition should be contacted, to see if they did indeed sign the petition.
'Our Oregon' is a liberal non-profit funded by the state's two largest public employee unions.
Spokesman Scott Moore says since the Secretary of State's office didn't check the suspicious signatures, his group decided to take matters into its own hands.
Scott Moore: “Once we started going through the petition sheets, we started seeing a lot of patterns that were alarming. The extensive use of carbon paper. There were a number of distinct handwriting styles that would appear en masse. What all these things added up to were some high suspicions of something untoward happening.”
Our Oregon filed an official complaint with the state elections division Tuesday. The complaint alleges that systematic forgery and fraud occurred under the watch of anti-tax activist Bill Sizemore and the signature-collecting company Democracy Direct.
The complaint lists four individuals who claim their signatures were forged. Marilyn Dale is listed as signing a petition to vote on a teacher merit pay law. Dale recounts what went through her head when she first looked at the signature.
Marilyn Dale: “The first thing that stood out, first of all, was the N, and then the E, and then the K. I started looking back at some of my writing, and it's not my signature.”
Our Oregon says it was able to contact about 70 people with suspicious signatures. Of that number, a handful said their signatures were forged and agreed to be named in the complaint.
Bill Sizemore, the man behind the teacher merit pay initiative, says the complaint is a witchhunt.
He says since the forgeries were discovered by this outside group, and not the state's internal checks, they have no legal weight. Plus, he says the small number of forgeries found proves that there is no pattern.
Bill Sizemore: “If anybody has forged signatures, than that person should be prosecuted and put in jail. Frankly, forgery is a rare thing and Our Oregon is trying to give the initiative process a bad name and smear people. I don't think there is any legal ramifications for us - or that it will affect our measures being on the ballot."
Sizemore believes the teachers unions want to impugn his reputation - and the reputation of the ballot process, which historically has favored more conservative votes.
If that's the strategy, it may be working.
Marilyn Dale, the woman who believes her signature was forged, is a conservative voter.
Marilyn Dale: “I will not ever sign anything other than my ballot. I will never sign another initiative , ever.”
Our Oregon also accused Bill Sizemore of using illegal methods to obtain real signatures. But the Secretary of State's office already ruled that those signatures stand, since they were collected before a petition crackdown went into effect on January 1.
Our Oregon says that if fraud and forgery is discovered, the Department of Justice should investigate.
The Secretary of State's office says it is reviewing the complaint. 
Legal initiatives fail to make the ballot
A pair of proposed initiatives aimed at trial lawyers failed to make the cut, state elections officials ruled Thursday.
Both proposed initiatives came up short of the signatures required to qualify for the November ballot, according to the Oregon Elections Division.
One would have capped the portion of damage awards that trial lawyers could claim as their fees for representing plaintiffs. The other would have allowed judges to sanction trial lawyers for bringing frivolous lawsuits to court.
The two initiatives were among five submitted in the run-up to the July 3 deadline for signatures. Five others already had been certified for the ballot.
Both of the rejected initiatives were sponsored by Russ Walker, director of Oregon operations for the national conservative group FreedomWorks. He blamed new, strict rules enacted by the 2007 Legislature for the failure to get enough valid signatures.
One of the rules requires initiative petitioners to provide payroll records to show they are not violating a ban against paying circulators on a per-signature basis. Both of Walker’s initiative petitions were suspended from circulation after he failed to turn over such payroll records. Walker continued circulating petitions after the suspension order, but the resulting signatures — about 12,000 for each — weren’t counted by the state Elections Division.
Petitions narrowly escape penalty
A coalition of labor groups says it has found evidence of widespread use of illegal practices to gather signatures for several conservative initiatives aimed for the November general election ballot.
But the practices in question, including the use of carbon paper to duplicate printed names and addresses on multiple signature sheets for different initiatives, were not illegal until Jan. 1, when a new law governing Oregon's initiative system went into effect. The signature sheets examined by the labor coalition were all dated before Jan. 1.
As a result, Secretary of State Bill Bradbury, who has scheduled a news conference on the subject today, has concluded that no action can be taken against the petition sponsors.
Nine of the 10 initiatives that appear to have qualified for the Nov. 4 ballot were sponsored by three veteran conservative activists: Bill Sizemore, Russ Walker and Kevin Mannix. Aware of the new law's more stringent requirements and its effective date, they rushed to gather voter signatures on petitions before Jan. 1.
"We have not seen any examples of the law being broken at the time these signatures were gathered," said Don Hamilton, a Bradbury spokesman. "If these practices were used today, they would be illegal and (the sponsors) would be subject to criminal sanctions. If you follow the law, there's nothing for us to do." 
See also: Oregon 2008 ballot measures
Domestic partnership opponents still fighting
Oregon's domestic partnership law came under legal fire again Tuesday, as opponents tried to persuade three judges from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that elections officials had wrongly disqualified an initiative to repeal the law from the November ballot.
A ruling is expected by the end of the month in a case that could have implications that reach far beyond Oregon. Should the judges rule in favor of the law's opponents, states throughout the West could be forced to re-evaluate the process by which citizen-backed initiatives and referrals qualify for the ballot.
At issue is the arcane elections practice of statistical sampling of the signatures turned in to put a such a measure on the ballot.
Rather than verify each signature to determine that there are enough to merit a position on the ballot, elections officials in most states — including Oregon — pull a sample of the signatures and check them against those on a voter's registration card. Signatures that don't match are thrown out.
In the case at hand, Lemons v. Bradbury, about 30 Oregon voters have argued that their signatures were disqualified improperly, and that they should have been notified and given a chance to appeal.
Those few signatures might have been enough for a referral of the domestic partnership rule to gain a place on the November ballot. Without them, state elections officials ruled, the measure was dead.
The Legislature approved Oregon's domestic partnership law in 2007. After a federal judge blocked it and then lifted his order, it went into effect in February.
That made Oregon the ninth state to approve spousal rights in some form for gay couples, joining Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Maine, Washington and Hawaii. Massachusetts and California are the only states that allow gay couples to marry.
Under the law, gay couples can file joint state tax returns, inherit each other's property and make medical choices on each other's behalf, along with a host of other state benefits given to married Oregonians.
It does not entitle them to federal benefits awarded to married couples and does not mean that other states have to recognize their partnership.
See also: Oregon Ballot Measure 144 (2008)
Comm. College to place $43 million bond on ballot
The Central Oregon Community College Board of Directors voted unanimously Wednesday evening to place a $43.75 million bond measure on the November ballot.
The measure calls for construction of a health careers and science building, construction of regional student outreach education centers in Madras and Prineville, renovations of existing college buildings to address rising enrollment and expand capacity and other renovations to improve access for students with disabilities.
The projects would cost taxpayers in Jefferson and Crook counties about 12 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. With the current COCC Library bond scheduled to expire this year, the average increase in property taxes (on a home assessed at $200,000) would be about $5.50 per year.
Marijuana sold at liquor stores in 2010?
Relax it and tax it.
That's the motto behind a new cannabis initiative that would allow Oregon's state-controlled liquor stores to legally sell marijuana to adults.
Initiative backers said their plan would send 90 percent of the proceeds from the state's sale of marijuana to Oregon's General Fund, which could lower Oregonians' state tax burden.
Smaller percentages would go to funding drug abuse education and treatment programs.
The initiative would also legalize the growing of hemp, a non-drug variant of cannabis that can be used to make industrial-strength fibers and bio-fuels.
Supporters claim that allowing cannabis cultivation and sales through state liquor stores would add $300 million in combined tax revenues and savings to Oregon's budget.
Paul Stanford of the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act said the measure would also put a dent in illegal dealing of the weed.
"We want to take marijuana out of the hands of children and substance abusers, who control the market today, and put it in the hands of the state's liquor control commission and the age limit of 21 will be strictly enforced," Stanford said at a press briefing.
Supporters have two years to collect nearly 83,000 signatures to get the measure on the November ballot in 2010.
Sizemore loses high court battle
Two teachers' employee unions have won an Oregon Supreme Court decision in a struggle against their nemesis Bill Sizemore, but if they want to collect the damages, they may be chasing him through the halls of justice for years to come.
The court's decision Thursday upheld most of what lower courts had decided: Two Sizemore initiatives got on the ballot in 2000 through underhanded means and were meant to bleed the unions of campaign money.
This, the court ruled, fits the state's version of the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act. It said signatures were forged and charitable contributions diverted in a scheme to force the unions to spend hundreds of thousands in a successful defense of their ability to collect union dues through payroll deductions.
Meanwhile, Sizemore hasn't been deterred from his conservative agenda. He may qualify as many as five initiatives for the November ballot, including one along the lines of an unsuccessful 2000 measure.
Oregon signature deadline July 3
Initiative petitions in Oregon needed to have their signature turned in by Thursday, July 3. Check out Oregon 2008 ballot measures to see the initiatives that have already been qualified for the ballot, are waiting on signature verification after submitting on the deadline, and for a limited time on that page, initiatives that did not make the deadline and will not appear on the ballot.
The Oregonian's OregonLive.com has posted an article about the qualifying initiatives and provided a list of those, plus the ones awaiting verification and the Legislatively-referred measures that will appear on the November General Election ballot.
Measure 53 passes after recount
A recount shows an Oregon constitutional amendment on civil forfeitures narrowly passed.
The results released Friday show Measure 53 with 490,158 in favor to 489,477 opposed — a difference of 681 votes.
The initial count in the May 20 primary showed the measure winning 489,592 to 489,042 — a difference of 550 votes.
Under Oregon law, the state must conduct a recount when the margin is less than a fifth of 1 percent.
Measure 53 is a constitutional amendment that modifies civil forfeitures related to criminal activity and the use of the proceeds by law enforcement agencies.
Most counties had only minor changes in their results as a result of the recount. Results from three counties — Baker, Harney and Malheur — did not change at all.
Local 'taxpayer bill of rights' working towards ballot
Bill Myers, who ran unsuccessfully for Hermiston mayor in the May primary, is one step closer to getting his "Taxpayer Bill of Rights" before Hermiston voters.
On June 11, Myers filed a petition to amend the city charter to "reasonably restrain most of the growth of our local city government."
"I am putting forward an initiative to establish a Taxpayer Bill of Rights, or TABOR, for the city of Hermiston, which will place the decision-making process back into the hands of the voters," Myers said.
The original draft of Myers' initiative limited the city's revenues and expenditures to the rate of inflation plus population and required voter approval for all tax and fee increases.
But, on June 17, Hermiston City Attorney Gary Luisi rejected the bill of rights on the ground the petition violated the one-subject rule. He said it proposed regulating elections that have nothing to do with increasing the city's combined revenues or combined expenditures.
Myers rewrote his petition, and Luisi agreed it was constitutional. But Luisi also said while the second initiative measure doesn't violate the one-subject rule, the logic of the petition seemed flawed.
"The new definition of 'Ballot Issue' is circular because it refers the reader back to the measure to define what elections are required by the charter amendment," Luisi wrote.
To get the measure on the November ballot, Myers needs the signatures of 15 percent of Hermiston's voters who registered as of June 18.
Kim Lindell, Umatilla County elections specialist, said there are 5,605 registered voters in Hermiston, so Myers would need at least 841 valid signatures. Luisi said the ballot measure would need to pass by a simple majority.
The taxpayer bill of rights could be one of the first filed on a local level in Oregon, said Mike Leachman, policy analyst with the Oregon Center of Public Policy. Colorado voters approved a similar initiative, but it focused on state-level expenditures, Leachman said.
Signature gathering ban upheld
A judge in Marion County on Wednesday denied an attempt by the sponsors of two citizen initiatives to lift a state-imposed ban on gathering of voter signatures for the initiatives.
Darryl L. Larson, a retired Lane County judge who was temporarily assigned to the case, refused to grant a temporary restraining order against the state Elections Division, which imposed the signature gathering ban.
The two initiatives target trial lawyers, key allies of the Democratic Party. One would limit the amount of contingency fees lawyers could collect in civil cases. The other would require courts to sanction lawyers who file "frivolous" legal claims.
The Elections Division imposed the ban on several initiatives until their sponsors comply with a new state record keeping law. Initiative sponsors have until July 3 to submit voter signatures to qualify for the Nov. 4 general election ballot.
The sponsors of the two initiatives are also seeking to overturn the ban in U.S. District court in Eugene, where they have challenged the constitutionality of the new state law. 
Clatsop County LNG referendum qualifies for ballot
Clatsop County voters will get their chance in September to weigh in on the debate over a liquefied natural gas terminal proposed for the Columbia River.
The project’s opponents submitted enough signatures this month to force a referendum over a pipeline that would cross Clatsop, Columbia and Cowlitz counties, the Clatsop County clerk’s office said Friday.
LNG opponents needed to gather 598 signatures to place the measure on the Sept. 16 ballot. They submitted 1,117, said Cathie Schurman, the interim county clerk.
The ballot measure stems from the Clatsop County commissioners’ March decision to allow NorthernStar Natural Gas, of Houston, to lay a small portion of its pipeline across land zoned for open space and recreation.
September’s measure asks voters if pipelines should be allowed on parkland. If they say no, NorthernStar’s plans to build an LNG terminal at Bradwood, Ore. could be delayed, said Brent Foster, the executive director of Columbia Riverkeeper, an environmental group that opposes the terminal and helped push the referendum onto the ballot.
Some see new health care petition as 'free', others as 'forced'
The Oregon Catalyst Blog this week highlighted a new Portland petition that would provide health care for children:
A Portland doctor submitted signatures for a local measure mandating the City and schools to fund free health care for Portland students. Projected cost = $3 million. Don McIntire of the Taxpayer Association of Oregon was highlighted on KATU-2 TV as saying "There is nothing in our constitution, especially not the city charter, that says that everyone is entitled to health insurance," he said. "I mean, the government doesn't guarantee your house, your food, your clothing."
This petition follows the trend to solve the health care problems, not by making it more affordable but rather by forcing other people to give it for free. The definition for the measure’s free health care is simple – no insurance for three months. There is no income requirement so anyone can simply drop their coverage, wait a while and then get the free coverage from the schools. It is an invitation for financial mismanagement and social irresponsibility.
The Catalyst goes on to say that Portland should consider other state’s example where they are allowing health insurance companies to offer just-the-basics coverage (without the costly government mandates) which is affordable to lower income families who need it. More government is not always the answer.
School board will place tax measures on Clackmas County ballot
The West Linn-Wilsonville School Board will place two tax measures on the Clackamas County ballot in November.
The plan made a couple of board members nervous. Usually, it's tough to pass one money measure.
But neither the $98 million construction bond nor the $37.5 million five-year local option will raise property taxes, board members said Tuesday night.
That was a strong selling point for voters, according to a community survey.
The survey, paid for by the district, showed 58 percent support for the construction bond and 77 percent for the local option. Once voters learned the measures wouldn't increase their taxes, 84 percent said they would be more likely to vote for both.
The district will have paid off a previous bond, and the local option is simply a renewal of one that expires in 2010, allowing it to keep property taxes for education at or below $3 per $1,000 of assessed home value, meaning the owner of a home assessed at $350,000 would pay just over $1,000 annually.
The construction bond will pay for a new primary school in Wilsonville, one in West Linn, districtwide technology, new school libraries or renovations at several of the district's 13 schools, artificial turf fields and other athletic improvements at a few schools, among other school structure improvements.
Local option, which supplements state funds, will pull in about $7.5 million a year for five years to pay for school district operations, including teachers.
Sizemore's initiatives likely to appear on ballot
The Oregon Secretary of State’s Office says two initiatives sponsored by anti-tax activist Bill Sizemore have unofficially qualified for the November ballot.
Both required 82,729 valid signatures to make it onto the ballot, and each had a few hundred more than required.
One initiative would prohibit teaching public school students in a language other than English for more than two years, a measure that could face opposition from educators dealing with Oregon’s growing Hispanic population and other immigrant groups.
Last year, the Oregon Department of Education classified more than 60,000 students as “English language learners.”
The other measure would allow Oregon taxpayers to make federal income taxes fully deductible on state returns.
All initiatives will be formally ratified for the ballot August 2.
Clatsop County begins recount of Measure 53
Beginning Monday, June 16 the Clatsop County Elections Department will take part in the statewide recount of ballots for the narrow vote over Ballot Measure 53.
The final statewide tally from the May 20 primary election found Yes votes outnumbering No votes by only 550, well within the limit of one-fifth of 1 percent difference required by law to trigger an automatic recount.
Measure 53 would modify Oregon’s civil forfeiture laws to allow exceptions to the current rules, which restrict how governments can seize money and property from crime suspects.
In Clatsop County the final count was 5194 YES and 5526 NO.
Petition could bring Oakland police dept. issue to voters
Three Oakland residents are petitioning to give voters the right to decide whether the city should keep its own police department or contract with the city of Sutherlin.
The petition application was filed with the city last week, the day after the Oakland City Council decided to have Sutherlin attorney Kathryn Brotherton draw up a contract draft.
The council earlier formed a police planning committee — consisting of two council members and six community members — that began discussing possible options for police coverage last fall. After months of meetings and debate, the panel recommended to the council that Oakland contract with the Sutherlin Police Department for services. The council agreed.
But residents Vicki Jellison, Mickey Grimes and Debbie Wallis want voters have the final say in November, not the council.
“This is not toward a councilor; they’ve done a phenomenal job. This is not toward the police commission,” said Vicki Jellison. “This issue just needs to go to the voters.”
Jellison, Grimes and Wallis filled out a petition application to have the issue appear as an initiative on the November ballot. The initial application was rejected, though, because it did not meet constitutional requirements, City Recorder Barb Mock said.
The application needed to include the complete text of the proposed law, and the text provided by the applicants wasn’t sufficient, Mock said. The petitioners can resubmit the application but need to “submit text that works,” Mock said.
The three residents said they were going to work on the application and resubmit it early next week. The application would again be reviewed by Mock. If the revised version meets all of the requirements, it would be sent to the city attorney, who would prepare a ballot title.
After that, Jellison, Wallis and Grimes would need to collect 85 valid signatures for the issue to be placed on the November ballot, Mock said.
Grimes said they decided to file a petition because she thinks Sutherlin officers are overly aggressive. She also said she didn’t like the fact that Sutherlin would provide random patrols, rather than having an officer in Oakland during certain set hours. Grimes also objected to Oakland citation revenue going to Sutherlin and the two-year advance notice to end services.
Wallis added that Oakland could lose its identity and become intertwined with Sutherlin if it relied on Sutherlin for police services.
City Councilor Jana Cunningham, who was on the police committee, said she thinks the contract with the city of Sutherlin would provide the biggest bang for the buck and thinks it’s a shame that the applicants didn’t speak up sooner.
“All our meetings were open to the public,” said Cunningham, who added it was frustrating that none of the petitioners attended the meetings.
Grimes and the others contend that a decision concerning taxpayers’ money should be made by the taxpayers, not the council. The petition should be looked as a positive opportunity for the citizens of Oakland, Jellison said. And all three said they would accept whatever decision the voters made.
Domestic partnership and anti-discrimination repeals withdrawn
In a stunning turn of events, David Crowe’s Concerned Oregonians group has admitted defeat and abandoned their efforts in collecting signatures for three initiative petitions designed to repeal Oregon’s two landmark civil rights laws from 2007, the Oregon Family Fairness Act and the Oregon Equality Act, according to email communications from Crowe and his supporters.
In a June 10 email directive to supporters of the initiatives, Crowe writes that “too little time remains to collect the required signatures” for the petitions - IP 144, IP 145 and IP 146 - and that the sole remaining hope for placing a repeal vote for the Oregon Family Fairness Act, the state’s same-sex domestic partnerships law, on the November 2008 ballot is not with their initiatives, but in the resurrected Lemons vs. Bradbury “case of the disenfranchised voters,” which is scheduled for a July 8 hearing in Portland.
LNG Terminal passes environmental review
In a decision that could have long-lasting implications for Oregon's energy supply, federal regulators gave their environmental endorsement Friday to a controversial proposal to build a liquefied natural gas terminal on the lower Columbia River.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission found that the Bradwood Landing terminal, 20 miles upriver from Astoria, would have "limited adverse environmental impacts." Those impacts, the agency added, would be substantially reduced by environmental measures proposed by the project's backer, Houston-based NorthernStar Natural Gas Inc., as well as 110 additional recommendations from FERC.
FERC's action drew a rebuke from Gov. Ted Kulongoski, who has criticized the agency's laissez-faire regulatory approach and had requested a more thorough analysis of the state's gas needs and the project's effects.
"We will be looking at this report closely and will use all legal options available to us," an emailed statement from Kulongoski said. "FERC's decision to move this project forward merely represents more of the same . . . irresponsibly considering this project only from the supply-side of the marketplace."
Brent Foster, executive director of the environmental group Columbia Riverkeeper, asserted that the FERC review didn't meet the most basic legal requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act, as it didn't quantify specific environmental effects and offered only vague recommendations about steps to address them.
Nevertheless, Bradwood is the first LNG terminal among nearly a dozen proposed on the West Coast of the United States to receive a final environmental impact statement from FERC.
FERC's analysis does not, however, constitute a go-ahead for the project.
In addition to a final vote by FERC commissioners, Bradwood needs permits from state agencies under the Clean Air, Clean Water and Coastal Zone Management acts, and a determination by federal fishery and wildlife agencies that the project doesn't jeopardize endangered salmon.
Those may not be quickly forthcoming.
State natural resource agencies have complained since last fall that FERC's draft environmental review of Bradwood was deeply flawed. Last month, the governor asked FERC to redo it based on newly available information, including a study by the Oregon Department of Energy concluding that the state doesn't need LNG and could meet its future gas needs more economically and with less pollution by importing more gas from Wyoming.
At least one of FERC's 110 recommendations could become a headache for NorthernStar. The review recommended that NorthernStar develop a plan within 30 days to assure that all LNG tankers using Bradwood screen the river water they suck up for ballast so that they don't kill juvenile salmon.
In addition, NorthernStar faces challenges at the local level.
Opponents say the company has yet to finalize its public-safety plans for the terminal, and they have challenged Clatsop County's zoning approvals for the projects to the state Land Use Board of Appeals. Residents in Clatsop County have launched a ballot measure to prohibit the company from using county-owned parkland for routing its pipeline.
Ballot Measure Archives Project hopes to add data to State Archives
While Orgeon's State Archives contains a record of every word officially spoken by and to Oregon legislators since 1859, the paper trail left by Oregon's other lawmakers—the citizens who have passed laws and amended the state constitution through the initiative system since 1904—has not been so well preserved. The Ballot Measure Archives Project hopes to help plug the hole, according to donor and supporter Phil Keisling. He said he is encouraged by the progress so far and hopes others with old boxes of ballot-measure campaign documents will donate them to the State Archives, in order to make them available for historians, researchers, and others.
Anti-discrimination repeal put on the back burner by Supreme Court
The Oregon Supreme Court failed again this week to take action on the Attorney General's certified ballot title for Initiative Petition 145 to repeal SB 2. It will now be seven weeks since both the Secretary of State and the Attorney General submitted a legally vetted and approved certified ballot title to Oregon's seven Supreme Court Justices for approval.
Anti-lawyer initiatives charged with violating campaign finance requirements
Conservative activists pushing two anti-lawyer initiatives for the 2008 ballot are violating state elections regulations, a union-backed group has charged.
The conflict is virtually guaranteed to wind up in federal court, even as elections officials prepare for a November 2008 ballot that could be crowded with perhaps a dozen initiative and referendum proposals.
At issue are two ballot measures co-sponsored by Russ Walker, the director of the Oregon chapter of FreedomWorks, an anti-tax group. The first would limit the contingency fees lawyers can charge their clients, to 10 percent of any court awards above $25,000. The second would allow for lawyers who file frivolous pleadings or motions to be sanctioned.
Neither proposal is likely to sit well with trial lawyers, who are among the strongest donors to the Democratic party.
The union-funded group, Our Oregon, says conservative groups are continuing to collect signatures, even though they were ordered this spring to stop doing so by the Secretary of State's office for failing to fully comply with state accounting requirements.
State Elections Director John Lindback said the Secretary of State's office is just trying to enforce new rules passed by the 2007 legislature that require chief initiative petitioners to submit payroll records for each employee, detailing the number of hours worked, the number of signatures collected and the amounts paid.
The Secretary of State's office also requires copies of all signatures sheets circulated by paid employees. The goal is to ensure that the state's ban on paying-per-signature isn't being violated, Lindback said.
The sponsors of the two initiatives have twice failed to turn in complete payroll records, he said, and signatures that are being collected while the suspension is in place won't be counted.
But Walker countered that the state's new requirements were "unreasonable," and designed to drive up the costs of sponsoring an initiative, and Day said he thinks his clients' arguments will find favor in court.
"The state is going to have to explain to the court why they think they can go ahead and disqualify valid signatures, for no other reason than that they didn't get the information that they wanted," he said.
The initiatives are being financially supported by Loren Parks, the owner of an Aloha-based medical equipment company who has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on Oregon political causes; on May 29, he donated $29,000 to each campaign.
Should the two initiatives make it onto the November ballot, they will have plenty of company. Three measures have already qualified, including:
• Mandatory sentencing for drug dealers, ID thieves, burglars and car thieves.
• A prohibition on using union dues, or other funds collected with "public resources" for political purposes.
• A ban on building permits, if a construction job costs under $35,000.
There will also be three legislatively referred topics on the ballot, including giving 18-year-olds the right to vote in school board elections, allowing legislators affected by redistricting to finish out their terms and [Oregon Ballot Measure 407 (2008)|eliminating the "double majority" requirements]] during May and November elections, eliminating the requirement for a 50 percent turnout.
Loren Parks adds $58,000 to initiative campaigns
Those committees support initiatives that would limit the amount of contingency fees lawyers may charge clients and would require courts to sanction attorneys who file frivolous pleadings. Although Parks' contributions were payments to a signature-gathering company, both campaigns have been prohibited since May 9 from obtaining further signatures until further financial information is submitted to the state Elections Division. Chief petitioners for both proposals are Glenn Pelikan of Portland, Michael Reeder of Tualatin and Russ Walker of Keizer.
Parks, a medical equipment manufacturer who formerly resided in Aloha, now lives in Las Vegas. He has contributed $283,000 to Oregon campaigns this year, most of it to initiatives and ballot measures. He contributed $10,000 to Andy Erwin, who defeated incumbent Washington County Circuit Judge Keith Rogers in the May 20 primary.
Most of Parks' support this year was the $175,000 he gave to the Hold Criminals Accountable Committee in January and February. That campaign supported an initiative that would have added some requirements to the state's criminal laws, including prioritizing DNA processing and requiring jails to check inmates' criminal history, but Salem attorney Kevin Mannix and his fellow chief petitioners withdrew the proposal in April.
For initiatives aiming for the November ballot, the deadline for turning in signatures is July 3.
- ↑ Oregonian, "Latinos march in St. Helens to unite with community", February 19, 2009
- ↑ Oregonian, "Judge blocks measure restricting immigrant hiring", January 30, 2009
- ↑ Oregonian, "Complaint says Beaverton measure violates constitution", December 4, 2008
- ↑ News-Review, "Ore. initiatives might go first to lawmakers", January 28, 2009
- ↑ The Oregonian: "District attorneys edited out of Voter's Pamphlet", September 22, 2008
- ↑ KTVZ News: "Sizemore wins ruling on Voters' Pamphlet statement", September 18, 2008
- ↑ Willamette Week: "OEA Staff Goes on Strike", September 15, 2008
- ↑ Capital Press: "Crook County, Ore., approves resort", September 11, 2008
- ↑ The Oregonian: "County puts tax district for libraries on ballot", August 21, 2008
- ↑ The Oregonian, "Loren Parks begins spending on Oregon crime measures", August 14, 2008
- ↑ RecordHerald.com: "Health Department renewal levy going on November ballot", August 12, 2008
- ↑ Seattlepi.com: "Challenge to partnership law in Oregon rejected", August 14, 208
- ↑ KTVL.com: "Some Oppose Ballot Measure 59", KTVL News 10, August 8, 2008
- ↑ OregonLive.com: "Try, try again; ballot advocate won't give up", The Oregonian, August 7, 208
- ↑ OregonLive.com: "Oregon's Nov. 4 measures get numbers", The Oregonian, August 1, 2008
- ↑ OregonLive.com: "Two more initiatives qualify for Ore. ballot", The Oregonian, July 21, 2008
- ↑ CurryPilot.com: " VOTERS DECIDE ON BROOKINGS POLICE LEVY", Curry Coastal Pilot, July 16, 2008
- ↑ News.OPB.com: "Progressive Group Claims Ballot Petitions Included Forgeries", Oregon Public Broadcasting, July 15, 2008
- ↑ RegisterGuard.com: "Legal initiatives fall short of ballot", The Register-Guard, July 11, 2008
- ↑ OregonLive.com: "Petitions slide through legal loophole", The Oregonian, July 9, 2008
- ↑ OregonLive.com: "Domestic partners law under legal fire in Oregon", The Oregonian, July 8, 2008
- ↑ KTVZ.com: "COCC sends $43.7 million bond measure to ballot", KTVZ News, July 10, 2008
- ↑ KATU.com: "Initiative would allow pot sales at liquor stores", KATU News, July 8, 2008
- ↑ OregonLive.com: "Oregon high court decides against Sizemore group", The Oregonian, July 3, 2008
- ↑ OregonLive.com: "Recount shows Oregon Measure 53 passes", Oregon Live, June 27, 2008
- ↑ EONow.com: "Myers touts 'Taxpayer Bill of Rights'", The East Oregonian, June 26, 2008
- ↑ OregonLive.com: "Initiative signature gathering ban stays", The Oregonian News Updates, June 25, 2008
- ↑ TDN.com: "Clatsop County LNG referendum makes ballot", The Daily News, June 20, 2008
- ↑ OregonCatalyst.com: "Portland petition would give free health care to kids", Oregon Catalyst Daily Political Updates, June 19, 2008
- ↑ Blog.OregonLive.com: "West Linn-Wilsonville schools going for two tax measures", Oregon Live, June 18, 2008
- ↑ TDN.com: "Sizemore initiatives reach Oregon signature threshold", The Daily News, June 17, 2008
- ↑ NorthCoastOregon.com: "COUNTY PARTICIPATES IN STATEWIDE MEASURE 53 RECOUNT MONDAY", Local News, June 15, 2008
- ↑ NRToday.com: "3 Oakland residents start petition process against police contract with Sutherlin", The News Review, June 13, 2008
- ↑ JustOut.com: "REPEAL WATCH: Concerned Oregonians Admits Defeat On Repeal Initiatives", Blog Out--Repeal Watch, June 11, 2008
- ↑ RedOrbit.com: "Federal Regulators OK Environmental Review for Oregon LNG Terminal", Red Orbit News, June 9, 2008
- ↑ KTVZ-TV: "Collection gathers voices of 'the other" lawmakers--the people," June 8, 2008
- ↑ Capitol3Conservatives: "Oregon Supreme Court Again Fails to Act On Initiative 145", Concerned Oregonans, June 6, 2008
- ↑ OregonLive.com: "Initiative wars heating up again in Oregon", AP News, June 5, 2008
- ↑ OregonLive.com: "Loren Parks adds $58,000 to initiative campaigns", Politics & Elections, June 2, 2008