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Oregon Prohibit Legislature from Making Initiative Process Harder, Measure 96 (2000)

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Oregon Ballot Measure 96 (2000) is an initiated constitutional amendment that would prohibit the Oregon Legislative Assembly from referring any constitutional amendment to the voters that increases the number of signatures required to place a measure on the ballot, requires a geographical distribution of signatures, or constrains the use of the initiative process to amend the Oregon Constitution on any subject.

Ballot Measure 96 would also prohibit the Oregon Legislative Assembly from referring any constitutional amendment or statute, or adopting any law, that makes it materially more difficult or more expensive for the people to use the initiative and referendum process.[1]

Election results

This measure failed at the November 2000 General Election.

96
ResultVotesPercentage
Defeatedd No866,58862.2%
Yes 527,613 37.8%


Ballot title

Amends Constitution: Prohibits Making Initiative Process Harder, Except Through Initiative; Applies Retroactively[2]

Proponents

Frank Eisenzimmer and Becky Miller

Support

[3] Supporters of the measure argued that big powers such as the governor and state legislatures are "afraid" of the initiative process because it rightly gives the voters power, and encouraged voters to remember how necessary the process is for balancing power between the elected officials and the citizens of Oregon.

Lloyd Marbet from The Coalition For Initiative Rights reminded voters that "since 1995, the Legislature has sponsored hundreds of bills to make it more difficult to exercise our constitutional right to the initiative and referendum process" and believed it was time to give the legislature the message that the citizens of Oregon don't want their rights to the initiative process changed or taken away. Marbet added, "The initiative and referendum process will always be in jeopardy as long as the Legislature can restrict it. Measure 96 places any proposed restrictions on the initiative process in the hands of the People, where it belongs".

The Committee to Preserve Self Government encouraged voters to think for themselves and embrace the importance of the initiative and referendum process, saying, "politicians don't think we voters are smart enough to make the decisions that affect our lives and those of our children".

Others argued that Bill Bradbury, Oregon Secretary of State is too strict with signature laws. Bill Sizemore of Oregon Taxpayers United, a chief petitioner of this measure and many others in Oregon said,

"Even though voters turned down a proposal by the legislature to increase the signature requirement for placing measures on the ballot, the Secretary of State succeeded in doing so anyway by creating a huge penalty for every duplicate signature..."
"Many experts agree that this penalty is wildly inaccurate, but Secretary of State Bill Bradbury continues to enthusiastically enforce it anyway. Bradbury finds one duplication and he wipes out the signatures of 400 other voters who invested their time and effort to consider the issue and sign the petition. Even the courts have openly criticized Secretary of State Bradbury's policy of not counting the signatures... This year, thousands of registered voters had their signatures nullified...even though they had never been notified that the Secretary of State would not count their signatures."
"Measure 96 simply tells the legislature to leave the initiative process alone. It tells them to stop trying to make it more difficult for voters to have their say."

Toby Grant, who submitted a letter of support for Measure 96 to the Secretary of State, confessed that he would vote against all of Bill Sizemore's other measures because "they act against the greater good of Oregon and benefit those who earn the most." But, Grant admitted that Measure 96 deserved consideration, saying that "the initiative process is an evolution in democracy and can be perfected by legislators who refer proactive reform measures to voters".

Opposition

[4] Some of those opposed, such as The Oregon Initiative Committee, did not like that Measure 96 strips the legislature of the power to refer measures to the voters that restrict the initiative process. They argued that in that case, the measure also strips the right of Oregon voters to consider those referrals.

Some people in opposition believed that the measure would prohibit the legislature from making laws that force petition campaigns to be accountable to voters. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said:

"Initiative sponsors have a constitutional right to pay petition circulators for signatures. But doesn't the voter have the right to know who is paying for those signatures? Measure 96 is designed to make it impossible for the legislature to pass laws that require greater disclosure of information regarding the special interests funding an initiative proposal. Measure 96 will allow special interest groups, who have a financial stake in getting their proposals on the ballot, to keep voters in the dark."

The League of Women Voters oppose that the measure prevents any reform to this initiative process, even reforms which voters may approve if they were given the chance to vote on them.

Many opposed to the measure claimed they are not against the initiative process in any way; they simply don't believe in amending the constitution to prohibit all reform of the process.

See also

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References


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