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Oregon Citizen Initiative Review

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The Oregon Citizens' Initiative Review Commission (CIRC) is a “randomly-selected” and “demographically-balanced” panel brought together to review ballot measures and prepare a statement to be in the state's voter pamphlet. A given panel is selected by the Citizens' Commission Board. The panel receives inquires from both the campaign for and the campaign against the ballot measures under question. They also utilize information, analyses and calls from related policy experts. Following the review period, the panel summarizes the most important findings from their research and discussions in a “Citizens’ Statement.”[1]

The Citizens' Initiative Review Commission was created by the Oregon Legislature via House Bill 2634.[2]

Citizens' Commission Board

The Oregon Citizens' Initiative Review Commission Board is responsible for randomly selecting citizens to serve on initiative review panels.[3]

The commission has seven members, three of which are appointed by the Oregon Governor. The Governor determines, at random, which two members will serve four-year terms and which member will serve a two-year term. The three appointed members pick the remaining four, two who have served as moderators on a citizen panel and two who have served as electors on a citizen panel. Two of these remaining four will serve two-year terms and two will serve four-year terms. After the initial two-year cycle (April 10, 2012 - April 9, 2014), the commission will consist of 11 members who will all serve four-year terms. The Governor may appoint an experienced citizen review panelist to be a commission member in the event that a position cannot be filled.

The current Citizens' Initiative Review Commission Board is composed of the following individuals:[3]

Member Term of Service Residency
Ann Bakkensen April 10, 2012 - April 9, 2016 Portland
Marcy C. Frost, J.D. April 10, 2012 - April 9, 2014 Portland
Robin Gumpert April 10, 2012 - April 9, 2014 Portland
Jerry E. Hudson April 10, 2012 - April 9, 2016 Portland
James L. Huffman April 10, 2012 - April 9, 2016 Portland
Marion Sharp April 10, 2012 - April 9, 2016 Portland

Citizens' Commission Panels

Formation

The Oregon Citizens' Initiative Review Commission Board selects citizens for a initiative review panel from a representative sample. The commission attempts to ensure the panel’s demographic makeup reflects the state as a whole. The following demographic characteristics may be taken into account and are prioritized in the following order:[4]

  • The local of the elector’s residence.
  • The elector’s party affiliation, if any.
  • The elector’s voting history.
  • The elector’s age.

Other variables may include:

  • The elector’s gender.
  • The elector’s ethnicity.
  • Any other criteria.

Moderators

Each and every panel shall contract two moderators and shall compensate each moderator. A moderator must be qualified and have experience in mediation and complete a training course established by the commission.[4]

Compensation

The Commission Board shall allocate compensatory funds from the Citizens’ Initiative Review Fund to compensate initiative review panel electors for each day served on a panel based on the average weekly wage in the state and for travel expenses.[4]

History

First panel

The first panel was formed in 2008. The panel reviewed Measure 58 which was on the November 4, 2008 ballot[5].

Bill: approval of commission

The Oregon Citizen Initiative Review process was created as a result of the Oregon Legislature passing House Bill 2895 in 2009. The legislation allowed the Secretary of State to have non-profit organizations form citizen panels to review and create official statements on initiated state statutes and amendments to the Oregon Constitution[6].

Bill: permanent review board

In late May 2011, the Oregon State Legislature signed House Bill 2634 which would allow for the Citizen Initiative Review to become a permanent part of the ballot measure process in Oregon. On May 23, 2011 the House voted 36-22 in favor of the proposal. The bill now heads to the Senate.[7]

HB 2634 would authorize the commission to borrow up to $75,000 to cover start-up costs. The funds would be borrowed interest-free from the Department of Administrative Services. The funds can begin to be used starting in 2012.[8]

On June 1, 2011 the Senate affirmed HB 2634 following a 22-8 vote.[9] The bill was officially signed by Gov. John Kitzhaber on June 16, 2011.[10]

2010 elections

See also: Oregon 2010 ballot measures

Healthy Democracy Oregon selected citizens to serve on panels that gave reviews on Measures 73 and 74 which were on the November 2010 ballot[11]. Each review gave a Citizen's statement that had a shared agreement statement from the entire panel in addition to pros and cons to each measure[12].

Measure 73

See also: Oregon Minimum Criminal Sentence Increase, Measure 73 (2010)

21 out of 24 members on the panel were opposed to Measure 73 which would impose mandatory minimum sentences for certain crimes. The measure would apply to drunken-driving and sex crimes. Panel members expressed strong opposition that mandatory minimum sentences are not a deterrent on crime and that Oregon incurs the highest costs in running its Corrections Department[13]. Also, the panel felt that if Measure 73 was approved, it would take away the ability of judges to hand out sentences and put it in the hands of prosecutors[13]. The statement from the panel said that approval of Measure 73 would increase the amount of sentences handed out by plea bargain[13].

Measure 74

See also: Oregon Regulated Medical Marijuana Supply System Act, Measure 74 (2010)

The panel on Measure 74 was more divided than the panel on Measure 73. 13 members were for Measure 74 while 11 were against[14]. Despite the divided numbers for and against Measure 74, the panel agreed that the language of Measure 74 was not clear and concise. Also, the panel agreed that the Oregon Health Authority must set administrative rules if Measure 74 was approved by the voters[14].

The 11 members who were against Measure 74 said that proponents of the measure had a "trust us" before the rules were made mentality, that Oregon voters would have a voice on how administrative rules and penalties were set-up, and that the measure lacked enforcement and oversight mechanisms to prevent abuse[14].

The 13 members for Measure 74 said that the medical marijuana dispensary program would provide new revenue without raising taxes, create jobs, and give alternative medical options without side effects of traditional medicine[14].

Funding

Healthy Democracy Oregon is funded from its Board Members and over 600 individual donors[15]. The National Science Foundation had given a $218,000 grant to team of researchers from Washington State, Oregon, and Wisconsin in order to conduct evaluations of the citizen initiative review during the 2010 election cycle[16].

See also

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