JWA Blog

Citizens Opportunity to Make Law

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The 2015 session of the Oregon Legislature concluded in early July 2015. During that session Oregon senators and representatives passed laws that were signed by our governor, Kate Brown. Now, those statutory laws will be implemented by Oregon Administrative Rules, which are being written. During those five months from February through July, the mission of passing those laws was to make Oregon a better place to live and do business.

Are you happy with what was accomplished in Salem this legislative session? If so, wonderful! If not, you will have an opportunity to oust elected officials from office during the next voting cycle. There is, however, one other mechanism. We, as citizens of Oregon have a way to address issues that the elected officials failed to do. This avenue for change is the ballot initiative process that Oregon and 23 other states have available. This process is beginning for the 2016 election year.

Referring to BALLOTPEDIA, “The ballot initiative is a means by which a petition signed by a certain minimum number of registered voters can bring about a public vote on a proposed statute or constitutional amendment. Ballot initiatives are also called, depending on the state, "popular initiative," "voter initiative," "citizen initiative" or just "initiative."

In order to get an initiative to the voters in Oregon, the chief petitioner must gather, based on a percentage of the total votes cast for governor at the last election, a certain number of valid signatures.For a constitutional initiative, 8 percent of voters in the last gubernatorial election (117,578 signatures) and for a statutory initiative 6 percent of those voters (88,184 signatures) are required. More signatures are needed for the constitutional initiative because voters can change the state constitution without the need for legislative referral, while statutory initiatives can be turned into law without a change in the constitution.

Where are we right now with this process? Currently there are 53 initiatives listed on Oregon’s Secretary of State website. Several have been rejected or withdrawn. Some will change the state constitution forever. Initiative 3 would ask voters to dedicate a portion of the net proceeds of the Oregon Lottery for veterans programs and services. Others will affect how corporations and individuals are taxed. Initiative 22 increases annual minimum tax for corporations with Oregon sales of more than $25 million Still others would change the culture in Oregon. An example, Dojie’s Law would adopt a statewide policy of training and requiring a level of conduct towards pets, working animals, and service animals. Initiative 48, Drug Baby Limit, is one sentence: Any female in Oregon who has borne 2, or more, infants who tested positive for a Schedule 2 drug shall be sterilized. (The author of this bill’s name and phone number are on the Secretary of State’s webpage.)

Keep in mind that each of these initiatives will still have to have the required number of valid signatures in order to be presented for a vote. Here is an opportunity for Oregon voters to voice their opinions on issues that impact the way we live. So when you see that person at the grocery store with the clip board approaching you for your signature, take the time to find what you may or not be signing.

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