It is,to me, an act of voting. The act and right of voting is a private mater. If I don't care to discuss my views with you I should have that privet privlidge.
The county auditor should be abel to varify authentisity of your registation not publisize it.
The idea of the initiative system is excellent. Too bad it has been hijacked most notably by Sizemore and Mannix.
Perhaps we should modify the system such that anyone who files an initiative has to show the pros and cons; a cost-benefit analysis and where the money comes from; and an environmental impact study.
Put an eight-year moratorium on initiatives that fail. For example, sales tax. Oregonians have voted sales tax down 9 or 10 times. The moratorium will hopefully encourage initiative writers to produce well thought out, constitutional, fair initiatives.
Somehow we've got too get a workable process that moves good ideas from citizens into good legislation for Oregon. Perhaps we should develop a check list of criteria initiatives need to meet before they are passed into law.
1) Funding for the initiative must be reasonable and securable.
2) Initiative must be beneficial to the majority of Oregonians.
3) Initiative must not violate existing laws or constitution.
4) Why must the initiative ammend the constitution?
5) Try the intiative for x years to be sure it works as intended before making it official.
I've stopped signing petitions for initiatives I don't agree with. When I'm acosted by a signature gatherer I grill them about the initiative. If I don't understand it I walk away until I have more information. I quit signing petitions willy nilly.
Initiatives that propose changes to the constitution are red flags. The constitution is supposed to be changed infrequently if ever. Changes through laws are more malleable. I don't understand the mechanism well enough, but it seems like locking things into the constitution makes them harder to change as needs/desires of Oregonians change.
Something needs to be done to reform our initiative system. I found myself looking through the voter's pamphlet to first see who proposed the ballot measure. Then, once I found either Sizemore or Mannix listed, I didn't even bother to read the measure but simply marked it down as a "No" vote. This should not be the case and would not if there was a better system in place.
I highly recommend reading at least the Executive Summary of the City Club of Portland's report. It is a well-written and even-handed document that provides valuable information and a set of logical suggestions backed by solid arguments.
Hopefully our new Oregon legislature will address this issue and provide a new and better initiative process.
While we have had concern that our legislators might be influenced by special interests when writing laws, the initiative petition system allows law to be written by special interests. Returning the initiative process to the people and removing it from the hands of a few wealthy individuals could be done with a change in how funding of signature gathering is allowed. If the amount that any person, or entity, could contribute toward signature gathering was limited to perhaps $500.00, the ability of the wealthy to put forward their own agenda would be limited to that of a grass roots movement.
A rule change that would make the results of initiatives safer, would be to require a 2/3's majority of votes in order to modify our state constitution. It is absurd that a simple majority of the voters can currently create a change in our constitution that takes a 2/3's majority of our elected representatives to modify.
I believe the first question, in this era of extraordinary changes in the national communication infrastructure, should be: "Is the problem fixing itself?" And if so, "How can we work with the trends that are already in motion, to fix it better/quicker?"
While I don't have a definitive answer to the question, I see a lot of activity, and I believe that our society is in the early stages of learning how to "think collectively" in large groups, and on a wide variety of issues. There is no overall solution here, but things have been more dynamic in every election cycle I've seen. Here are a few observations. For all of this, keep in mind -- even though a resource may not serve a huge number of people, if it reaches influential journalists, bloggers, or community leaders, its indirect effects can be significant.
Wikipedia provides ever more background information on the politics and policies related to ballot measures. To the extent people want to educate themselves, there are more resources available. Wikipedia now has reasonably good biographies of Bill Sizemore, Kevin Mannix, Phil Keisling; it has a solid list of Oregon ballot measures, which is complete for the last 20 years; it has thorough articles on some of the more notable ones. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Oregon_ballot_measures
Blogs allow people to discuss and figure things out.
Newspapers' online coverage and editorials are accessible to a wider audience than they used to be. See http://www.loadedorygun.net/showDiary.do?diaryId=1441
Cell phones make it easier to ask last-minute questions of informed friends. Social networks make it easier to determine WHICH of your friends are informed on WHAT.
A wider variety of radio formats in recent years (including Think Out Loud) allows for more thorough consideration of public policy.
I will close with a sentiment from Sen. Wayne Morse: I have full confidence that the people can make good decisions, if they are given the facts. We have the ability to organize our thoughts; but until recently, we've never had the technology to make it possible.
It needs to change. I agree with the first post by trutl9.
I don't see the problem with initiatives dealing with the same subject different years. It has taken years for same sex marriages/civil unions to become reality in parts of the country, how long did it take for others to gain what they wanted? Are you saying that once an election is taken that the issue should not come up again, or need to wait an arbitrary amount of years??
It seems that the established powers: Legislators, Governor, bureaucrats, labor unions and others feel threatened by the initiative process and try to restrict it to where it is no longer a viable means for citizens to affect change. These groups have enough clout and power to get what they want through the political process by backroom dealing and large campaign donations. It is no mystery why they would want to limit or eliminate it.
The voters are the only ones that should decide if the proposal is "beneficial to the majority of Oregonians" i wonder how the government would react if a group could decided if their legislation is"benefical to the majority of Oregonians"?
I find it odd that some of the commentators don't want to amend the constitution by initiative but are comfortable amending the right of the people's initiative process as PROVIDED IN THE CONSTITUTION.
I guess some people simply feel threatened by the peoples voice...
You know simply having an initiative being circulated is one of the most awesome forms of speech whether the measure gets to the ballot or not whether the measure is passed or not an initiative encourages speech on important topics.
The right of initiative is powerful as a check to unbridled political power in the legislature beholden to special interest. Don't be too quick to diminish this power as you never know when you will want to use it.
As someone who has extensively used Oregon?s initiative process to raise concerns about the problems of the nuclear fuel cycle and the construction and operation of nuclear power plants, I know what it?s like to take these issues to the Oregon Legislature and be repeatedly shut down by the power and influence of utility lobbyists. Over and over I was forced to use the initiative process, where even there the utilities broke spending records year after year defeating the ballot measures that I helped to sponsor. Yet the problems with nuclear power did not go away and as they continued to grow more serious, Portland General Electric could no longer hide the significance of the mechanical failures that plagued the operation of their Trojan Nuclear Plant. If it was not for our ability to repeatedly sponsor initiative petitions addressing the growing number of these failures, I believe PGE might never have shut this nuclear plant down until it was too late.
In Oregon we are citizen legislators. We took this power upon ourselves because we have repeatedly seen how big moneyed interests control our legislature to the detriment of the people and the degradation of our environment. Without this check and balance we are lost. While we may not agree with the issues raised through the initiative process, even as we do not agree with bills sponsored by the legislature, the fault is not with the process but is the very nature of democracy itself, which contains the good, the bad and the ugly. Limiting our rights to the initiative only serves to empower those who can control and influence a much more manipulative legislative body. At least with Bill Sizemore we can see where he is coming and as demonstrated by this election stop him with our ballot.
I am reminded of the words of Thomas Jefferson:
?I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but inform their discretion.?
While I encourage activists to take raise their concerns with the legislature, I do not believe initiatives should be required to be submitted to the legislature before they can be enacted. I already know what the fox looks like in the hen house.
I was a panel participant in the Citizen's Initiative Review in Salem this fall. It was gratifying and enlightening to base my vote on substantiative information regarding Measure 58. Since initiatives seem to take a backseat to candidates in the news and there is little, if any, public factual debate during prime time regarding these measures, most people decide how to vote based on dramatic advertising sound bites on the radio and TV, glossy sensational mailers, and often-misleading statements paid for by pro and con advocates in the voters' pamphlet. The findings of an independent citizens' review panel included in the voter's pamphlet would provide impartial and in-depth analysis of the initiative measures that voters might not otherwise receive. I think there is a great need to provide our public with trustworthy, unbiased information regarding ballot measures.
Another bonus to the review process is that people who participate on these panels have opportunity for civic involvement that may never have been possible for them. I know I came away from serving on the panel with new insights and awareness that I have shared with many people during this election. I optimistically hope to have started a "ripple effect" in advocating for thoughtful and informed analysis of issues within my own circle of influence to promote higher standards and expectations of ballot initiatives and politics in general. Oregonians need facts, not slanted advertising sound bites. We deserve accurate information to form our decisions regarding issues which will greatly impact the quality of life in our state. The inclusion of a citizens' review would provide a healthy component to our initiative process.
Here is how Oregon's initiative process should be reformed:
Any person who has been convicted of racketeering or other vote-related fraud of any kind should be banned for life from sponsoring another ballot initiative.
I would like to sponsor a ballot initiative with this purpose and would appreciate it if you could describe for your listening audience the process of getting an initiative on the ballot.
The Initiative Process is a vital and critical citizen tool which provides not just an unrestrictive voice to citizens but a check on the power of elected officials. The process was designed to establish power for citizens without mob rule. However, a relatively few people have bastardized the Initiative process for their own narrow agenda at the expense of the initiative process and the best interests of Oregon and its citizens. Any reform to address this issue runs the risk of doing exactly the same, harming the best interests of Oregon and its citizens for a narrow political agenda. The problem with the initiative process is the pervasiveness of uninformed registered voter who sign petitions "willy nilly". I have frequently witnessed people sign petitions solely based on the verbal presentation of the person collecting signatures. Far too many registered voters have little or no respect for the power granted to them or appreciate the responsibility which comes with it. If registered voters were more responsible Bill Sizemore, Kevin Manix, Warren Parks and similar people could not long exist. In short, the problem rests not in the process but in ourselves. Good Luck at fixing the real problem. P.S. Elkslayer, you definitately have isues.
I feel the initiative petition process is misused, nowadays by people I'm likely to disagree with. I want to preserve everyone's right to speak and to advocate for and propose laws in their interest. What I don't like are irresponsible proposals. Legislators are held accontable by their collegues and by the votes for writing good, workable laws; initiative writers are not. So I have two proposals to encourage anyone writing an initiative to focus on the workability and constitutionality of initiatives.
First, amend the state constitution so that all laws or initiatives that require the state to spend money include a funding mechanism. This goes to workability.
Second, amend the state constitution so that the chief petitioners for an iniative found to be unconstitutional are responsible for the state's cost of defending or opposing it in court.
Neither of these requirements would have affected, for example, Measure 5, the property tax limitation, which I opposed. In fact, Measure 5 was the third such iniative; the others were unconstitutional. So those who wanted the measure were perfectly capable of writing a constitutionally sound measure, but they had nothing to lose by writing an unconstitutional measure. Similarly, initiative writers are under no onus to fund their ideas. That's plain irresponsible.
Sizemore and Mannix may rub their hands together and giggle in glee like schoolboys who got a geeky classmate sent to the principal as the state defends their measures in court, but they're forcing the state to waste money. Isn't that one of the great evils they both oppose so self-righteously?
I have long been very alarmed by the way in which the initiative process seems to obscure the legislature's role in Oregon. While the dynamic between the legislature and the initiative process may produce creative results, it often confuses citizens. I know a person who was afraid of voting this year because she knew the initiative measures were complex, and was concerned she couldn't understand them.
And it seems that the initiative system undercuts the legislature. Do we trust the legislators, or not? Did we not elect them in the first place?
I think there are lots of possible reforms to the initiative system that should be considered. Here's one I have thought about:
What if the number of citizen initiative measures on the ballot was limited to the 3 or 4 initiatives receiving the highest number of valid signatures over the existing signature minimums? This would limit the number of measures, ensure those that have the most citizen support get on the ballot, and encourage a healthy competition between initiative petitioners to prove their measure is worthy of consideration by the voters.
Any initiative should get legal review before it appears on the ballot. Case in point is the two immigration reform measures in Columbia County. One passed, one failed. Now, the County Courts need to see if the one that passed is even legal. Let's get the cart behind the horse where it belongs.
Amen to what you said!
Whether you think the initiative process is right or wrong depends on your view of what government should be. Mine is that government needs to be kept small and weak so that is the servant of the people. So to extrapolate that philosophy to the initiative process, I'd have to say that the two big problems are the wording of ballot measures both on the ballot and in the Voters' pamphlet. I think as a state Oregon needs to move more towards a complete citizens' democracy and eventually move from having a "legislature" to a small group of non-partisans who's job is solely to write ballot measures for us to write upon.
Several times I've heard that we should let state legislators do the work because they are qualified. Aside from gathering signatures on a petition to get their name on a ballot and enough votes to get them in the office what are the prerequisites for legislative service? A BA in political science? a week long training session after they are elected?
I believe the Initiative Process is a highly desirable, although not essential, provision to check abuse of power in government, and to allow the voice of Oregonians to be heard.
However, the landscape has changed since the original concept, and now the voice being heard is not that of Oregonians, but that of out-of-state, high rolling special interests.
Add to that, the abuse of the system and damage to our state by local individuals with a proven axe to grind, and crafted with such little care and concern for the after effects, has thrown the concept into total disrepute.
I would suggest the following:
Any proposed change to the Constitution must first be cleared by the Legislature and the Courts.
Any initiative measure passed by the public, would be required to be reviewed by the Legislature, with a 2/3 majority required to overrule the proposed changes.
Any proposed measure should be required to file a statement of financial impact. If that cost impact is exceeded by a set percentage within the first two years, it should be rescinded.
Any measure that affects areas of law or procedure other than as outlined specifically in the measure, should be immediately put on hold and professionally reviewed.
Thanks for the show!
Perhaps what needs reform is the reckless state legislature that votes on hundreds of bills each year, clearly that is excessive, i guess the legislature needs all the reforms that some people propose for the initiative process........and more.
Lets face it the unions and other groups spend millions of $$$$$$$$$$$ dollars$$$$$$$$$$ and lots of time and other resources battling initiatives and they see and opportunity to stop initiatives before they become a threat to them
My husband and I are both native Oregonians and have watched the initiative process deteriorate from the beginning of the 1990s through the present. We've had a number of discussions about it this past election season and both feel stongly that the initiative process should no longer be a business for anyone. The process should remain, perhaps with the recommendations for review by the City Club, but with the addition of a rule forbidding no paid signature gathering and no large infusions of out-of-state money to fund the initiative process. The initiative should go back to what it used to be and was intended to be originally, a way for Oregonians to bring propose law changes that a large number of Oregonians feel are necessary. If the signatures were collected by volunteers, that alone could guarantee that an initiative would have to be something that Oregonians are passionate about. Then adding the review process on top would further insure that frivolous initiatives are weeded out.
I agree it should be harder to pass a Constitutional amendment, but otherwise I think the initiative process is fine as it is. The Legislature is often too timid or beholden to special interests to enact certain policies that a majority of citizens clearly want. Death with dignity, medical marijuana and prohibitions on hunting bears and cougars with bait and dogs come to mind. I'm sick of hearing the political establishment bash the initiative process with what are really just veiled arguments that they know better and average citizens can't be trusted. I've been voting in Oregon for 25 years and I can only think of one thing that voters clearly got wrong (either by passing or defeating). (Measures 7 and 37 are the exception, in my opinion.) Thanks for the chance to comment.
consider the fact that when citizens feel shut out of the legislative process, they seek relief through initiatives. When the Republicans controlled the legislature, progressive issues could not get hearings, so initiatives were the only option. Therefore, the minimum wage initiative was placed on the ballot and passed. So the reason there may have been more conservative initiatives recently, is that they have not had much voice now that the Democrats are in control.
I am in favor of reforming the initiative process. I have been a small business owner for 23 years. I feel that the initiative process that voted in the automatic increase in the minimum wage should never have been put before the public. It is an emotional issue. Who isn't for those making the least to get a yearly wage increase? I totally agree with the woman who participated in the citizen review. Most voters only see the twisted adds! Take the wage measure. It will be the single biggest factor in the future failure of many small businesses across the state! In just a couple of years it will be too expensive to have employees. You can only charge so much for certain goods and services before your customer cannot afford them. The voters never were given this information.
I'm not sure how you would do it, but outlawing the paying of people to collect signatures may curb the abuse of the system.
It's a good system that may spur needed changes when a legislature is unwilling to act. However, moneyed interests have come to dominate the process.
By allowing measures on the ballot that are a product solely of Oregonians' sweat equity and devotion, we will see less efforts to buy constitutional or statutory changes.
The first thing I do to decide on an Initiative is to see who supports or negates the measure. The groups that generate these ads don't give a lot of information but you know exactly where they're coming from. Generally I decide on that basis unless there are more complex issues at work, then I'll do more research.
If you Don't Know Don't Vote.
The danger of voting for a Measure that you don't understand is that we will have a new government policy that does not work.
21 millions dollars on sound bits is not a way to get good information on Measures.
This is a huge waste of money and resources that could be used to improve our state.
Having an initiative process that goes around the legislator makes no sense.
Why can?t the initiative process just bring bills to the legislator?
If we don't like a legislator we can vote them out, that is our power.
The real problem with the state government is that it does not meet often enough to govern our state. The initiative process is just a big Band-Aid for this.
I have an idea: don't allow paid signature collectors. Only volunteers would be able to gather signatures. This would mean that people with money can't hire other people to do the work. My friend and I were outside the Downtown library. There was a guy with a big wad of cash he was giving out to people who were angry with him for not paying more for their signature work. It was strange. He kept telling them they were independent contractors. I wish I had cleaned off my cell phone so I could have taken video.
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