Laws governing local ballot measures in Oregon
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.
Counties may be:
- General law: of which there are 27
- Home rule charter: of which there are 9. 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).
Cities may be:
- General law: of which there are 130
- Home rule charter: of which there are 111 
- 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
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)
| Ballot Law Portal|
|Laws Governing Ballot Measures|
Art. VI, Section 10 reserves the initiative power for county legislation and charter amendments in charter counties.
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.||”|
|A guide to local ballot initiatives|
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.
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.
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.
Initiative process features
|Local I&R Laws in the 50 States|
|Source:Local Ballot Initiatives: How citizens change laws with |
clipboards, conversations, and campaigns
Initiative in the top 10 most populated cities
|List of Most Populated Cities in Oregon|
|City||Population||City Type||Next election|
|Portland||593,820||Charter||Specified in Petition|
|Eugene||156,929||Charter||May or November Even|
|Salem||156,244||Charter||May or November|
|Hillsboro||93,455||Charter||No Later Than November Even|
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.
- Ballotpedia research document of Oregon local I&R laws
- League of Oregon Cities
- Charter cities of Oregon, League of Oregon Cities
- ↑ The U.S. Census Bureau's 2012 study of local governments
- ↑ Association of Oregon Counties, County Home Rule in Oregon, June, 2005
- ↑ Oregon Blue Book, County Government in Oregon
- ↑ League of Oregon Cities, links to city charters
- ↑ Ballotpedia: Types and #'s of local government by state
- ↑ US Census Bureau "City and Town Totals: Vintage 2011 (Population figures as of 2011 Census estimates)
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 7.7 7.8 7.9 US Census, Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places in Oregon: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2011