Oregon Legislature Annual Sessions Amendment, Measure 71 (2010)
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The proposed measure called for changing the the number of times the Oregon Legislature met from every two years to every year. The final draft of the measure called for 160 day session in odd-numbered years and 35 day session in even-numbered years. Previous versions included 160 day odd-numbered year sessions and 45 day even-numbered year sessions or 135 days in odd-numbered years and 35 days in even-numbered years.
- See also: 2010 ballot measure election results
|Measure 71 (Annual Sessions)|
Source: Oregon Secretary of State.
Text of measure
Amends Constitution: Requires legislature to meet annually; limits length of legislative sessions; provides exceptions.
Result of “yes” vote: “Yes” vote requires Legislative Assembly to meet each year, limits regular sessions to 160 days in odd-numbered years and 35 days in even-numbered years, and allows five-day extensions by two-thirds vote.
Result of “no” vote: “No” vote retains current law, requiring regular sessions of Legislative Assembly only in odd-numbered years, with no limit on length of sessions.
According to the Secretary of State, the summary read as follows:
The Oregon Constitution currently requires legislative sessions to be held biennially. Current law permits the Legislative Assembly to meet without a limit on the length of session. This measure requires the Legislative Assembly to meet each year, limits regular sessions to 160 calendar days in odd-numbered years and 35 calendar days in evennumbered years, and allows regular session to be extended by five days with an affirmative vote of two-thirds of the members of each chamber.
The financial impact, according to the Secretary of State's office:
The direct effect of the measure on state or local government expenditures or revenues will not exceed $100,000.
At the time of the 2010 election Oregon was one of five states that allowed for lawmakers to meet every other year. However, in 2008 and 2010 legislators opted to also meet in "off years." According to reports, odd-year sessions lasted about six months but lasted a month or two longer in 2003 and 2005.
In 1990 voters rejected a similar annual sessions proposal. Since then lawmakers had not been able to agree on a measure for the ballot. According to reports, the latest effort by legislators took place in 2005 but the proposal died in the House. In 2006 a commission proposed 120 day session in odd-numbered years and 60 day sessions in even-numbered years, but the proposal never made the ballot.
Proponents of Measure 71 argued that the state was too complex for lawmakers to expect a two-year budget to undergo no changes between sessions. Additionally, proponents said that some policy decisions simply could not or should not be put on hold until the next session. Annual sessions, they said, would help with those issues.
"In the long run, this will save the taxpayers money because it will make government more efficient by having a budgeting process that's more efficient. That will hopefully eliminate the need for special sessions... and I think will show people that legislators are working for their constituents on an annual and more constant basis," said Marge Easley, president of the League of Women Voters of Oregon.
Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney, a main supportes of the effort, said, "We cannot make laws. We cannot do a budget the way it's going now. Society is so dynamic and so diverse. There are so many more people than when they first designed this structure that it cannot respond the way it should."
According to reports, there was no organized opposition against Measure 71. However, there were a few opponents that argued that the measure would not fix the problems in the state legislature. Sen. Brian Boquist said, "It doesn't change government." Boquist suggested that instead of adopting annual sessions, the legislature should look at other reforms such as auditing oversight of state agencies and a closer tie between policy and budget decisions.
Media editorial positions
- The Gresham Outlook supported Measure 71. In an editorial, the board said, "Measure 71 would bring constitutional order to a practice that’s already in place, while also setting up rules to force the Legislature to get its business done more efficiently. Voters should approve this change."
- The Sandy Post supported the proposed measure. In an editorial, the board wrote, "...in the modern world, it is no longer able to adhere to a biennial schedule that was established in the wagon-train days of 1859. Financial decisions, in particular, cannot be put off for two years in a state that has an all-funds biennial budget of $60 billion and a revenue forecast that shows deficits as far into the future as the eye can see.
- The Mail Tribune supported Measure 71. The editorial board said, "Oregon lawmakers are asking voters to send them to Salem every year, rather than every other year as they have done since statehood. We have some reservations about the concept, but Ballot Measure 71 contains strict safeguards against marathon sessions, and we think it will improve the Legislature's performance...Given the size and scope of state government in the 21st century, it's time to give the Legislature a 21st-century structure to match. We recommend a yes vote on Measure 71."
- The Victoria Advocate supported the proposed measure. "Given the size and scope of state government in the 21st century, it's time to give the Legislature a 21st-century structure to match. We recommend a yes vote on Measure 71," said the editorial board.
- The Forest Grove News-Times supported Measure 71. In an editorial, the board wrote, "In short, Measure 71 would put our constitutional in line with a practice already in place, while forcing the Legislature to get its business done more efficiently. In the process, it would also help preserve the tradition of enlisting Oregonians from all walks of life to serve in our legislature.Voters should approve this change."
- The Register-Guard supported Measure 71: "As a practical matter, the Legislature has already been meeting annually in recent years. The measure formalizes current practice and limits the duration of sessions."
- The Daily Astorian supported Measure 71. "The realities of modern life and politics make regular, annual sessions of the Legislature a practical necessity...A vote for Measure 71 must be made with the recognition that in giving the Legislature an added opportunity to do good, voters are also handing lawmakers another opportunity to do mischief," said the editorial board.
- The Oregon Daily Emerald supported Measure 71. "The state's $60 million budget is too large and complex to have legislators meeting biennially, and it's more cost-effective to meet annually than to call a costly special session when issues arise, which has been done eight times since 1999. The measure will allow legislators to address new issues with greater transparency and efficiency. Vote yes on Measure 71 and help Oregon speed up lawmaking," said the editorial board.
- The Wallowa County Chieftain supported Measure 71. The editorial board said, "Yes, with reservations. The realities of modern life and politics make regular, annual sessions of the Legislature a practical necessity. A vote for Measure 71 must be made with the recognition that in giving the Legislature an added opportunity to do good, voters are also handing lawmakers another opportunity to do mischief."
- See also: Polls, 2010 ballot measures
- A poll conducted August 18-21, 2010 by Grove Insight revealed that 49% of polled voters favored the proposed measure, while 25% were opposed and 26% were undecided. The poll's margin of error was plus or minus 4.0 percentage points. A total of 600 registered Oregon voters were polled.
|Date of Poll||Pollster||In favor||Opposed||Undecided||Number polled|
|August 18-21, 2010||Grove Insight||49%||25%||26%||600|
Path to the ballot
According to Section 1, Article XVIII of the Oregon Constitution, state law required a majority vote of both chambers of the Oregon State Legislature to place the amendment proposed by the legislature on the statewide ballot.
The proposed bill was approved by the Senate Rules Committee following a 4 to 1 vote on February 15 and only two days later the entire Senate approved the legislation with a 24-6 vote. The House approved the measure 34-24 on February 24. After much debate and several revisions the Legislature as a whole approved the measure for the November ballot on February 25, 2010. The Senate final vote was 19-9, whereas the House final vote was 36-23.
- The Register-Guard,"Legislature asking voters if it should meet every year," October 11, 2010
- Oregon Public Broadcasting,"Measure 71 Would Change 151-Year-Old Practice," October 6, 2010
- Willamette Week Online,"Kurt Schrader Opposes Annual Sessions of the Oregon Legislature," September 28, 2010
- Statesman Journal,"Seven ballot measures assigned numbers," August 12, 2010
- Statesman Journal,"Legislature lingers on annual sessions," February 25, 2010
- Statesman Journal,"Legislators around for another day: Annual session a sticking point," February 24, 2010
- The Argus Observer,"Oregon approves five of seven ballot measures," November 5, 2010
- Associated Press,"Oregon lawmakers propose annual sessions in Salem," February 15, 2010
- The Oregonian,"Oregon Legislature gavels out, sends annual session measure to voters," February 25, 2010
- The Statesman Journal,"Senate passes annual-sessions plan," February 18, 2010
- Oregon Secretary of State,"Measure 71 text," retrieved October 25, 2010
- The Statesman Journal,"Rules panel approves annual sessions," February 16, 2010
- The Oregonian,"Oregon's Measure 71 asks voters to approve annual legislative sessions," October 6, 2010
- The Gresham Outlook,"Measure 71 would improve Oregon’s legislative process," September 25, 2010
- The Sandy Post,"Measure 71 would improve Oregon’s legislative process," September 29, 2010
- The Mail Tribune,"Measure 71: Yes," October 3, 2010
- Victoria Advocate,"Oregon editorial roundup," October 5, 2010
- The Forest Grove News-Times,"Citizen legislature and parks deserve support," October 6, 2010
- Register-Guard, "Summary of recommendations", October 18, 2010
- The Daily Astorian,"Ballot Measure 71," October 18, 2010
- Oregon Daily Emerald,"Editorial: Emerald recommendations for ballot measures," October 21, 2010
- Wallowa County Chieftain,"EDITORIAL: The state ballot measures: our recommendations," October 14, 2010
- Grove Insight,"Findings from a Statewide Poll on Oregon Ballot Measures," September 2, 2010
- The Oregonian,"Poll shows uncertain fate for Oregon ballot measures," September 7, 2010
- The Register-Guard,"Annual sessions will go to voters," February 26, 2010
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