There oughta be a law.

Over at Portland Transport, metro councilor Rex Burkholder points out that we're now 10 months away from the next legislative session.

Now is the time to start developing ideas for legislation, finding sponsors and allies, and trying out your arguments. What changes would you like to see in the laws, what programs you think we should create and fund (and which ones should be killed) and what policies the state should follow in the future?

Over at Portland Transport, they're talking about transportation policy. Share those ideas there.

Here at BlueOregon, we'll ask the same question more generally: What sorts of progressive policies and programs should the next legislature take up? Post your creative ideas in the comments.

Let's use the ol' brainstorming rules that you learned in school - no criticizing other people's ideas in this thread. Instead, post your own creative, progressive idea. (It'll be OK, folks, you can do it.)

And yes, all you righties - take your conservative ideas somewhere else. BlueOregon is the water cooler 'round which Oregon progressives are gathering.

  • Charlie in Gresham (unverified)

    I'm hoping that the Democratic party in Oregon will take a strong lead in coming down hard on illegal immigration over the next few years. Illegals are becoming a threat fiscally to many progresive programs in this state and strong leadership needs to be taken NOW!

    Progressives unite!!! The tide of illegals must be slowed if not stopped!

  • Mike Austin (unverified)

    I would like to see changes to the both the income and property tax codes to remove deductions, credits, etc. Since most deductions and credits benefit the well-to-do, this is likely to have popular support. This would also widen the tax base and allow for rates to be reduced somewhat.

    This is an issue of tax fairness and if that is not an issue progressives should rally around, then what is?

  • Garlynn (unverified)

    Responding to Charlie's post...

    ...take it up with Oregon's farming community, as well as the restaurant industry. If illegal immigrants weren't relied upon as the replacement for slavery as the backbone holding up the modern American economy, then they wouldn't have jobs waiting for them when they arrived in this country, and therefore, there wouldn't be the economic pressures causing the immigration in the first place.

    But, immigration policy is a federal, not a state issue, so I'm not sure that this is an appropriate discussion on this blog at all.

    cheers, ~Garlynn

    P.S. Why do you feel so strongly about stopping illegal immigrants, Charlie?

  • Eddie in Eastmoreland (unverified)

    WELL MIKE....You had better be very careful which deductions or credits you advocate be removed from the income tax code. (I'm not aware of any credits or deductions from our property taxes).

    Are you speaking of mortgage deductions? Child care credits? Charitable contributions? Health care deductions?

    Any suggestions by the Democrats in Oregon to eliminate widely used credits or deductions will be a BOON for the Republicans. I guess it all depends who you feel "the wealthy" are. I view "middle class" to be the $40,000 - $160,000 income ranges. You can't win elections and govern in this state without winning over that segment of the population.

    If you want to "crack down" on the special deductions available to those making a million dollars or more a year fine.....but there aren't enough of them to make a real difference.

    We will struggle finanically in Oregon until we institute a SALES TAX....with appropriate exemptions for food and medical expenses. I wonder which party will have the courage and organization to initiate that campaign. I hope it is ours.

  • LT (unverified)

    Are you speaking of mortgage deductions? Child care credits? Charitable contributions? Health care deductions? There is a thick book called the Tax Expenditure Report (required by the 1995 legislature to be published whenever the budget is published) listing all the tax deductions. I think it is time to have an open public debate on all of those. For instance, should there be a deduction for 2nd homes at a time we cannot fund schools and state police?

    As far as "coming down hard on illegal immigration over the next few years."

    Here's an idea--massive fines for every employer hiring illegal aliens. That ought to put some money in state coffers. Or Charlie, were you suggesting an unfunded mandate to round up illegals but no sanctions on the businesses who hire them?

  • Charlie in Gresham (unverified)

    Why am I concerned about the influx of illegals into Oregon? 173 million dollar shortfall in the Dept of Human Service budget is the primary reason. Also, a dramatic increase in crime in key areas around the state where the illegals tend to settle is impacting our law enforcement and corrections budgets....which drains needed money from our schools and human services.

    YES......cracking down on employers who lure illegals into slave labor situations would be a start, although this is primarily a federal issue.

    HOWEVER, denying drivers licenses to anyone unable to prove legal residency and mandating that our local law enforcement arrest and turn over illegals to ICE is something we can and should do locally.

    Over the next 5-10 years.....the party that comes up with the best solutions to the illegal immigration and border security problems will gain a huge advantage with the electorate both nationally and locally. I hope we aren't left in the starting gate on this one.

  • Bill Sizemore (unverified)

    Dear Charlie in Gresham,

    No need to worry there Charlie! I've had a team of folks going around the state these past few weeks and rounding up illegals from all sorts of businesses. I was thinking of sending them back but decided it would be better to use them for my next signature gathering project.


    Bill Sizemore

    Viewers note: The statement above does not reflect the sentiments, thoughts or views of the real Bill Sizemore. But I am sure it is pretty close.

  • (Show?)

    I think the most important task will be to establish and maintain a good working relationship with Governor Mannix.

  • Eric Lindsay (unverified)

    I would like to see the state legislature change our state electoral system to a proportional system, whereby I can support candidates of non-establishment parties without harming the chances of more mainstream progressive candidates.

    The state should not be involved with a lottery, which amounts to a regressive tax on poorer Oregonians.

    Excise, sin, or whatever you want to call them taxes should be repealled. On the one side such taxes amount to insufferable moralizing from the legislature. The argument that the state incurs cost from their consumption because of medical and emergency services costs, would require us to tax unhealthy food and car travel. On the subject of alcohol. Liquor stores need to go. Any grocery store with a license should be able to sell alcohol direct from their shelves.

    PS It would be nice to see folk heeding the request of BlueOregon: "no criticizing other people's ideas in this thread. Instead, post your own creative, progressive idea."

  • (Show?)

    In response to the item on tax credits/deductions...

    One of the ones I'd like to see disappear is the one for yachts. At a time when we can't afford the basics in this state, I don't think we should be giving money back to people because they bought a yacht. I guess we can tell the people who are in constant pain, but cannot get on the OHP-- "sorry, but we had to give the money to someone who bought a yacht."

    You'd be surprised how many of these type of items there are, and how quickly they add up.

    Now, onto my ideas...

    Increase the length of the school day

    I think the legislature should look seriously at increasing the length of the school day. The current school day in Oregon is too short. Combined with a shortened school year, it's no wonder that our students aren't learning enough.

    You can increase the length of the school day with minimal inpact on your budget-- you don't add on any more to/from school bus trips, no extra cafeteria shifts, no extra lesson plans for teachers, etc. You could probably even get the majority of the staff to work without extra pay-- they'd end up taking less work home each night, they'd get to spend more time on lessons and with their students, etc. You would need to pay the hourly employees like secretaries, though.

    Almost everyone I talk to who comes to Oregon from other states are shocked at how short the school day is here. Based on Gresham Barlow, I went to school more than an hour more than the students do in this district.

    Make changes to the legislature

    I'd like to see them make changes in the legislature. I'd like to see them have yearly sessions-- one for the budget and one for other items. I'd like to see an increase in pay. I'd like to see more professional staff who can help constituents with the problems they might have.

    Consolidate services

    I'd like to see the state work to consolidate some of the services that we currently pay for. This goes along with the push this last year to consolidate health care purchasing for all the school employees.

    It'd be nice to see them look into consolidate health care for all state/county/local government, tech support, purchasing, etc. Obviously in some areas you'd still need some localized control and employees. But if much of this was done centrally, you can decrease your costs. That allows you to have more money for other things. In some areas the consolidation might actually do more harm than good. But many times you can save money and even be more efficient.

  • (Show?)

    The tide of illegals must be slowed if not stopped!

    I think we need less demagoguery on this issue, and a good place to start would be reasonable guest worker program that guarantees fair wages and basic rights plus the prospect of full citizenship for people who come to this country to work. Of course, all of this needs to be done at the Federal level, and this is the one issue where I believe that George Bush is coming down on the correct side .

    The day I hear someone who opposes illegal immigration give those ideas equal weight to the standard fare of stronger penalties for illegal immigration and stronger enforcement along the border is the day that I will believe that this conversation has more to do with the issues that Charlie mentioned than it does about race.

  • (Show?)

    I would like to see the state legislature change our state electoral system to a proportional system, whereby I can support candidates of non-establishment parties without harming the chances of more mainstream progressive candidates.

    Open primaries are a step in that direction. Although at least some members of the pgp opposes it because even though it will improve the chances of minor parties and independents in very conservative, or very liberal districts, it will make it much more difficult for minor parties to have their candidates on the ballot in the general election for statewide races.

  • BOHICA (unverified)

    Can I have the same tax deduction for my individual medical insurance that corporations have? Just asking.

    "I'm so broke I can't even pay attention"

  • Sid Leader (unverified)

    My idea?

    Turn Salem into a Reality Show:

    "American Idle".

    We might as well make some money from the snoozers, boozers and meth freaks... God knows they've failed out young people for 15 years now... give or take a generation.

  • Ross Williams (unverified)

    Illegals are becoming a threat fiscally to many progresive programs in this state

    Baloney. People who are here working without proper visas contribute far more than they are costing. We need to police our borders better, but the notion we need to spend more resources harassing immigrants who are already here is mean-spirited in the extreme.

    The guys who hire illegals without paying payroll taxes are a problem. And its easy enough to go after them. Sit someone down in the area south of Burnside on the eastside and start taking down license plates of the contractors who hire dcay laborers. The real problem is the guys who are cheating both the illegals and the taxpayers. Go after them and leave the immigrant bashing to the KKK and FAIR.

  • (Show?)

    For the electoral process:

    Create a non-partisan redistricting commission to take conflict of interest out of the redistricting process.

    Repeal undemocratic laws like the one that limits the ability of individuals to sign nominating petitions.

    For the legislature:

    What Jenni said. Better pay and annual sessions. Sell it by telling voters that managing the state budget is too important to leave to the bureaucrats, the people's voice must be heard! And scare them with bipartisan tales of woe: Reps. Doyle and ... sorry brain lock.

    For the tax system:

    What LT said re: tax expenditures.

    End the corporate kicker.

  • (Show?)

    End the corporate kicker.

    There's a ballot measure that would make some changes to that. It would limit the corporate kicker to the same amount as the individual kicker.

    That's a start.

    But I'm with you-- I'd like to do away with the corporate kicker and the individual kicker as well.

    It's ridiculous that we have shortfalls, cut programs, and then end up giving out a kicker.

  • Kitty J (unverified)

    The state of Washington finally got its act together and prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Oregon needs to do the same.

  • (Show?)

    OK, no more criticizing each other's comments about illegal immigration. To recap the ground rules on this one:

    Let's use the ol' brainstorming rules that you learned in school - no criticizing other people's ideas in this thread. Instead, post your own creative, progressive idea. (It'll be OK, folks, you can do it.)
  • Ross Williams (unverified)

    Oregon should move to end the regressive use of the social security tax to fund current federal spending by rebating 1% of both the employee and employer social security contributions, funded by a state income tax increase or surcharge. Essentially transform the income tax cuts for the rich to an income tax cut for wage earners and their employers.

  • Tenskwatawa (unverified)

    There oughta be a law making it illegal for political interests to bribe newspapers or broadcasters to propagate some political position or other.

    Oh, wait, we had that law (ORS 260.605). Bradbury erased it last year.

    Go ahead and bribe the media, now, it is not illegal in Oregon. That's how Qwest, PGE, et al., force local papers and stations to pound, Pound, POUND it into people, this May to end Portland's public-funded elections -- "Hey, commercial media outlet: Kill progressive politics OR ELSE no PGE ad dollars for you."


    Okay, we oughta get the old, pre-Reagan laws re-enacted, which made it illegal for public monopolies (societal infrastructure) to buy or pay for advertising.

    Back then, the electric utility could NOT advertise, since it was and still is a monopoly -- No reason to advertise, no competitor, it is the only company you can get electricity from.

    Water, gas, and phone utilities -- no advertising. Public military, public schools, public police department, public fire department -- no advertising. Post Office -- no advertising.

    And one pervert broadcaster on public airwaves -- a TV station, say -- buying advertising on another public airwaves broadcaster -- a radio station, say -- was and still is sick, and sickens the sensibility of and responsibility to the public, we the people, and the natural world that all humankind owns to survive: land, water, air, forests, crude oil.

  • (Show?)

    There oughta be a law that says that the Democratic Party of Oregon should get behind Governor Dean's efforts to decouple the link between money and free speech and support meaningful campaign finance reform in Oregon.

    From the article referenced above:

    The Democratic National Committee will help defend Vermont's strict campaign finance law before the U.S. Supreme Court. Committee Chairman Howard Dean signed the law when he was governor of Vermont. He was in Vermont on Monday to announce that the party has joined the legal battle over campaign finance reform. ... At issue is whether the law's strict spending limits violate constitutional protections of free speech. Dean says the law is important because it will limit the corrupting influence of money in politics. He says not everyone in the Democratic National Coimmittee was in favor of the party filing a friend of the court brief to support the Vermont law. "I have spoken with members of the DNC, some of whom are unhappy about this. But I feel very, very strongly that the Democratic Party in the era of the Republican culture of corruption has to walk the walk and not just talk the talk. It's one thing to attack people for corruption. It's another thing to do something about it."
  • Don Smith (unverified)

    I would love to see us move to a statewide tax system that mirrors Rep. John Linder's FairTax at the federal level. Our current system only punishes, er, taxes, those working (i.e. producing) here in Oregon. We spend millions of dollars a year promoting tourism. Why? I don't know. They don't leave any tax dollars behind. Sure, they employ those workers who serve them ehile they're here, but they'd do that anyway.

    As for deductions, the FairTax eliminates all deductions, and completely untaxes those at the lowest rungs of our economy. Can't make ends meet with your McJob? It gets easier with the FairTax because you pay no tax up to the federal poverty level and you no longer get socked with payroll taxes.

    It's time Oregonians took a hard look at how we do things. A sales tax without the repeal of our income tax will never fly, but a radical change to a pure consumption-based system has pretty good support.


  • Betsy Wilson (unverified)

    We ought to have to have more than 25 signatures to get the Attorney General and Secretary of State and Supreme Court to write a ballot title for a proposed initiative.

    10,000 makes sense, 2500 is do-able. We always have 130-187 inititiatves filed each year, and only about 20 are circulated for signatures, and only about 10 make it to the ballot.

    The others are wasting our time and resources and the whole thing is clogged up with attempts to let the spin of legal words win, rather than the underlying idea.

  • Ross Williams (unverified)

    a pure consumption-based system has pretty good support.


    I don't disagree that it has support, but not mine. There are two problems:

    1) Middle income people spend a larger percentage of their income on essential services that you usually would call consumption: food, shelter, transportation, health care;

    2) On the other hand, high income people have a lot of ambiguous purchases that usually aren't considered consumption but are nonetheless benefits of wealth. Is that big house consumption? How about the new deck in back? The vacation condo at the coast or Sun River? The Picasso to hang in the living room? That diamond jewelry? How about the kids' school tuition?

    I think where Democrats have fallen down is in defending the progressive income tax and assuring that the wealthy pay a larger share of the costs of the society that they take a larger share of the benefits from. The social security taxes that now fund a significant portion of federal expenditures are a great example of how we have transferred the tax burden to the middle class. The less you make, the larger the cut the Government gets of whats left over after paying basic living expenses.

  • Tenskwatawa (unverified)

    Hey, we can't answer, for example: "Thoughts?," (about the idea voiced), but, Kari is it okay if we laugh at who wrote them? HEY....Goofy in Gresham and Easterland....write in the (putting us all laughing out loud). AND....they sound like Steve Schopp in Tualatin who is always one of Larson, where racists obsess, (it is pathological birth defect to hate humans so strongly, usually projected outward from self-hate inside, is my theory, and also is the way it is explained by excellently knowledgeable well-experienced and -qualified psychologists, but MRI brain scan could prove me wrong, eh, haters, bring what you have for a skull to the inspection machine and let's see if it is filled with hot hate or hot air, might that be legislated?), and Liars' racists distress and regress and infest and The TOP ISSUE on Their AGENDA is dragging the federal police-state totalitarian mind into our communities to give RACIST HATERS de pity badges to SHOOT on SIGHT as they godlessly choose to hate. Laughing the freakin' out loud. (Of course, other voices 'fell for it,' wasting words filling this brainstorming thread with thought-remover bluster about some defect in Goofy and Exlax and Liars personal maturity bent around a bad ... oh, caught myself, I can't say what the merits and objections of idiocy is.)

    My point this time is to petition state legislators to debate and enact Resolutions with a Sense of the Senate and House respecting and enabling the diversity of Oregonians. An affirmative statement by honored and representative lawmakers for the equality of all humankind, could put in writing, and on paper, all that is needed to gag and choke the lying goofy diarrhea pottymouth hateheads. Captain Poopypants says.

    If political well-being was simply a matter of changing politicians, or changing political parties, then the thirteen American colonies could have saved themselves all the trouble of inventing Constitutional self-governance and warring over it, by just sending a letter to London saying to replace King George with a different person. And have the new kingie cut back on these taxes on this and that, and change those taxes on them and theirs, and shuffle the priorities around a little bit to make colonists more comfortable, since heaven knows everybody over here was too busy and not highly educated enough to understand human feelings and longings for individual expression and personal dignity, and so could not be expected to give any effort during the time of their own life to govern themselves. No doubt King George would have sent a nice letter replying he could see the colonists' positions and would put a bill in parliament to address their concerns and don't hesitate to contact him again on any other matters that were important to, or uncomfortable for, the U.S. us.

    And here are some points for legislative debate in resolving the Sense of the State establishing diversity and strengthening community:

    Whereas, the U. S. is the first government in human history committed in accomplishment for all humankind in life and liberty, and to establish Justice; and,

    Whereas, that says the culture of the U.S. for the first time ever is no culture; and,

    Whereas, that says we are in all our cultures equal, and of right ought to be, and none are demeaned; and,

    Whereas, it is the interest of the U.S. to see this equanimity among all peoples around the earth, equal and voting for earth self-governance;

    Now therefore, be it enacted, that our Sense is Resolved in abolishing all political borders which disgrace human earthlings disfigured into political states and political nations of people; and Resolved in providing for ourselves each on our local land, in our local families and social extent, with malice for none and charity for all; and Resolved in seeing endowed in all the inalienable human rights. Et cetera.


    Point being: playing musical chairs changing personnel positions on the deck of a stricken ship continues to the demise of all, when the only and obvious saving action is to build and board and sail on a new and different ship. New laws are more a waste of time and human capacity to less result, than fostering common understandings constituting worldwide self-governance. The first common understanding is that humans are entitled and able to enjoy this Earth.

    (If my waiver can offer it, Kari, c'mon, let the haters have at mine -- actually, as I implied, I think it is 'hater,' singular, looking magnified in multiple assumed names reciting the broadcast hate speech of one injured soul and mind, as if it made a chorus for the anti-christ -- so that we may know what part of peace on earth is not being understood and lived for.)

  • Tenskwatawa (unverified)

    Point of information: Whoever said, "You can't win elections and govern in this state without winning over that segment [earning $40K - 160K annually] of the population," might they recognize a median income of $35K, as for Oregonians, means by definition that over 50% of the population earns less than $40K and a person can quite easily win any election with all the under-$40K's votes, and govern by that majority, in complete disregard of the splinter faction blathering loudly about the concerns of holding obscene amounts of filthy gelt, uh, guilt, uh, garbonzas. Gosh. Just saying the volume of the voice cannot substitute for no quality in the thought.

  • Mike Austin (unverified)

    Are you speaking of mortgage deductions? Child care credits? Charitable contributions? Health care deductions?

    It's a well-established fact that the vast majority of deductions - including the ones cited above - are only available to those making more than $50,000 per year. (And, in any event, doesn't Oregon put a cap on the amount of Federal deductions that can be applied to Oregon income?)

    My point is this: If we put all income on the table and taxed it equally, might it not be possible to lower the rates and/or put in place a more progressive rate structure, so that those who really have more income are required to pay more taxes? Again, this is an issue of tax fairness and, framed properly, could be supported by non-elites on both sides of the political spectrum.

    For property taxes, what would happen if we put all property back on the tax rolls and lowered the rates? Again, the point is that providing tax breaks to properties in the Pearl and South Waterfront districts is inherently unfair to the rest of us who pay property taxes. Taking older homes off the tax rolls by designating them "historic" is unfair to the rest of us, especially since those owning these "historic" homes are generally better off than most of us.

    Proponents of a sales tax are pissing into the wind. Sales tax initiatives have failed 9 (?) times already and for good reason. It is inherently unfair and it is paid primarily by the bottom 80% of society, that is, the same people who do not benefit from the existing income and property tax laws. These people are not going to vote to increase their taxes, especially when those at the top have so many advantages.

  • Charlie in Gresham (unverified)

    Tenskwatawa you make some good points about the median income here in Oregon. However, it's pretty much a given that two things fracture the vote from the under $50k crowd.

    First, many of those are retirees whose majority can hardly be considered progressives.

    Secondly, those earning less than the median income also turn out to vote in significantly fewer numbers.

    I stand by my thought that you can't win elections without winning the hearts and minds of a majority those earning above the median, although I agree you could narrow that down to maybe the $40k - $100k families.

    Significantly reducethe state income tax rates, kill the kicker for corps and individuals, enact a 5% sales tax dedicated solely to fund education, increase the sales tax rate 10% or more for luxury purchases (Jenni's yachts and my Lexus) and inefficient gas guzzlers.

    OH....and NO, I'm not a racist folks. I'm a proud hispanic American who has never lived nor golfed in Eastmoreland.

    I may try that course this Spring though.

  • Garlynn (unverified)

    How about this one:


    Within the State of Oregon, no regular police officer would be allowed to carry a weapon with the potential to take a life. All law enforcement would be non-lethal. (I think we have the technology to allow this.) Due process should not be denied to any Oregon citizen just because some punk cop has a hair-trigger.

    Also, cops should not be allowed to engage in traffic enforcement unless it's in a direct response to a citizen complaint. That is, no more taxing of low-income Oregonians by setting speed traps, pulling people over for "driving while black," etc. Only if a citizen calls in and says "people are regularly doubling the speed limit past my house, and I'm concerned for my children and pets" would an officer be dispatched to do targeted traffic enforcement.

    Finally, cops would be required to use bicycles and foot patrols in urban areas for more than 50% of the force on patrol, with the rest of the force having vehicles available on radio dispatch.

    I think that police harassment of low incomes and minorities in Oregon, needs to stop NOW.

  • Garlynn (unverified)

    Or another one:


    • Hard liquor sales would be allowable at any location (store, restaurant, pub or tavern) where beer and wine is sold, for an additional fee (non/prohibitive, just reflective of the additional profit to be made).

    • This fee would go directly into funding for both general education and substance abuse prevention and rehabilitation programs.

    • Bars, pubs & clubs would lose the limitation on operating hours. Rather than mandate that all liquor/beer/wine sales stop at 2:30am, there would be a Chicago-style mandate that, somewhere within the 24 hours of the day, alcohol sales must stop for 4 hours. This would allow danceclubs & nightclubs to set their own hours. New research suggests that, if people are allowed to stay at a club until they're ready to go home, rather than leave when the liquor control commission says so, they're less likely to have a last round at last call, finish it, then jump in their cars and drive. Also, this could encourage more of the "creative class" to consider Portland (& the rest of Oregon) a happening place where they can play as hard as they work, thus preventing brain-drain and attracting qualified in-migration to the state.

  • Sandy D (unverified)

    CAMPAIGN REFORM: Amend the Oregon Constitution so that campaign contributions are specifically NOT considered free speech.

    ELECTION REFORM: (1)Allow primaries where there is a runoff of the top two candidates without regard to party.

                  (2)Just because we have mail-in ballots doesn't mean that some dedicated hacker can't manipulate the results of the scanner that counts the votes.  Require state certification of all vote counting machines; no secret proprietary information; open testing by any group who seeks to do so; random hand counts to act as a check on the vote counting machines; mandatory recounts any time the difference between a poll and the actual outcome exceeds ___%.

    HEALTH/DENTAL CARE: Ban all mercury containing products with a carefully vetted list of exceptions. Mercury-based dental fillings should NOT be one of the exceptions. While middle class and well-to-do don't get many "silver" fillings anymore, it is all that poor people get.

    ENVIRONMENTAL: Mandate mercury-amalgam separators in all dental offices. They catch 95-99% of the mercury going through water lines into the waste treatment plant. Every jurisdiction that has done this has had a substantial decline in mercury content in waste treatment plants (up to 90%). Ban mercury based (50% elemental mercury - about 1/2 gram for EACH filling) dental fillings. Every bit of it ends up in the environment: cremation (bodies with mercury fillings); burial (might be a couple hundred or even a couple of hundred years for the coffin and all the rest to "go back to the earth," but it will. Living human bodies put out about 50 micrograms of mercury per day (from mercury amalgams) that go into waste treatment plants or into septic tanks. [Biosolids from wastetreatment plants are either buried or spread on croplands as fertilizer. The water effluent from the waste treatment plant containes methylated mercury. This is what is found in fish.] Dental waste (pulled teeth) get incinerated or buried. More mercury in the environment. More than 30% of dentists are mercury-free, so there are obviously less toxic alternatives available. It is still used because it is cheap and easy. Lead might be even cheaper but people understand how toxic lead is. Well, mercury is 40 times more toxic. That is right, 40 times more toxic.

  • Affordable Housing Advocate (unverified)

    We need a long-term source of affordable housing funding. A prominent option is creating a Real Estate Transfer fee. Transfer Fees are small fees charged at the time of sale or transfer of real estate. Fees are usually a small percentage of the sale value, usually less than 1%, or even be a flat dollar amount against increments of the final sale price.

    These fees are smart because they are automatically indexed against the the appreciation in property values and are only imposed at the time of sale. They are a long-term, structured solution through their link to the rise and fall of the housing market.

    Some quick background research has shown that over thrity five states have a Real Estate Transfer Fee of some sort in place. These fees are also called document recording fees, or document stamp taxes and are primarily used for general revenue or for infrastructure development costs. Oregon has a small one ($40 or so I believe)that is shared between the County and the state's general fund.

    However, twelve states use their real estate transfer fees or documentary stamp taxes as dedicated revenue streams for housing trust funds.

    Currently ORS 306.815 prohibits any jurisdiction to create their own real estate transfer fee. We need either to do this at the state level or remove the prohibition and let local voters make up their own mind about the importance of affordable housing.

  • Tenskwatawa (unverified)

    Tax advertising.

    Tax it as a sales tax, so the medium selling the ad time ccollects a 'Sales Tax' added to the transaction, and then deposits the revenue proceeds in public monies.

    Maybe tax print advertising, (a ka a 'space' ads, or 'buying space.'). Discuss.

    Tax broadcast, or temporal media -- radio, TV, cable, movies(?), telephone ... oh, wait, we already tax telephone media ....

    The internet is the telephone system, as everyone knows. Some people don't recall when telephone (FCC) regulation set telephone utility pricing at a fixed rate irrespective of the 'conversation' on that telephone.

    So the subscriber paid the same fee per minute (rated 'short distance' or 'long distance' but charged by the time used in whichever category), regardless whether they only used the phone for family calls on Sunday afternoon speaking soft words in it, or if they used the phone to pass shouts of information to buy or sell stock and thereby made Big Bucks with their conversations on the line, and such phone service was 'more valuable.'. Similarly, electricity costs the same whether it is powering a relaxing back massager or something else, maybe an oven to bake cakes to sell -- production -- and making money off the electricity. Or gasoline costs the same regardless who is in the car -- unimportant persons or important persons, same price.

    These days there is much confusing talk about charging different phone line rates depending on the content of the phone call, that is, the 'type of data' going through the wire / air. Which means regulators have to 'listen in' on the 'conversation' (data) to know what to charge for the time the call lasts. There oughta be a law that regulates phone line usage charges only based on the duration of use, not the content it's used for.

    Tax on advertising ideas were talked about at least as early as TV's advent decade in the 1950s. Always the advertising agencies -- of which Portland is a premier player in the biz -- have threatened and intimidated politicians with the power of advertising over their political 'careers' each time Tax Ads has become a discussion, and always ended the discussion.

    May as well hook up the Tax Ads oughta-be-a-law with the Ban-Broadcast-Political-Ads (like we ban broadcast cigarette ads) oughta-be-a-law. Leaving politicians only 'space ads' to use graphic arts to persuade voters, and ideas in writing, (like cigarettes).

  • jami (unverified)

    The government should either get out of the marriage business or stop discriminating on a religious basis against a large group of consenting adults who'd like to be treated as full citizens of their country. Maybe it isn't a political "winner," but it is the right thing to do.

    Speaking of right and wrong, Kari, please, please don't put "persecute illegals" up for discussion as a potential progressive platform. It's clearly unacceptable (illegal IS NOT A NOUN), and it would only make us look ugly. I'm not attacking Charlie, but this is simply not a progressive position. Never has been, never will be.

  • Becky (unverified)

    Because people have a right to understand whatever petition they are signing, I think that initiative process reform should incude a requirement that any effort to refer a measure to the ballot, such as the recent effort to refer Portland's public campaign financing to voters, should have to state right on the front of the petition, in bold letters, that the petition is being circulated in order to give voters the opportunity to overturn the measure being circulated. It is far too easy for unscrupulous petitioners to tell people the petition is an effort to put the measure on the ballot, as if it is not already the law - that it is an initiative rather than a referendum. I've recently heard stories of petitioners claiming they were trying to put a measure on the ballot to create a publicly financed campaign system, rather than trying to overturn an existing law. Similar activity occurred way back when Bill Sizemore circulated a referendum on light rail funding. He later gloated several times to me about how his petitioners collected a ton of signatures from people who were actually riding public transit at the time they signed the petition by telling them that the petitions were an effort to fund light rail - implying the petition was an initiative. People signing the petitions could not tell otherwise by looking at the form. It isn't enough to simply check a box by the word "Referendum" rather than "Initiative" on the petition form because most people do not know what the terms mean or where to look on the form to find the information, particularly when they are trying to sign in a hurry and move on with their activities.

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    "persecute illegals" ... is simply not a progressive position. Never has been, never will be.


  • B Shaw (unverified)

    Health care and the disappearance of the retirement supplemental income fund, social security, are the key national issues. While Oregon can do little about the SS problem, it can and should address universal health care in Oregon. I suggest we start out with a State wide version of a PPO program, operated by a state corporation, i.e. SAIF, that would use the economic strength of the entire state to better negotiate the cost of health care, and in particular the cost of pharmaceuticals.

    Adding provisions to deal with the discrepancy in insurance and state payments to rural and small town medical providers should be included to reduce the flight of qualified medical personnel from areas that are in esscence black balled.

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    This is something that we in the Oregon Voter Rights Coalition would like to see. (Thanks to Kathy Jackson, our Legislative Chair, for this great elevator speech summary):

    Since Oregon is the international center for the Open Source software movement it is natural that Oregon should be the leader in Open Source software for elections. In addition to having the Open Source Center in Beaverton that has attracted the creator of Linux, Linus Torvald, to settle here, we have the Open Source Lab at OSU in Corvallis. Did you know that the international conference on Open Source is held here in Portland every year? This is also an economic development opportunity for Oregon, a way to add good well-paying jobs to the Portland area.

  • Reid Leake (unverified)

    We need a law to protect children from second hand smoke. We have removed cigarette smoke from many places, why not our automobiles while there are children as passengers. This seems like a no brainer to me./

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    Redistricting Reform

    The one reform that would have the biggest impact on politics in Oregon and the nation as a whole would be redistricting reform.

    Currently, most states allow some combination of the state legislature, governor, and secretary of state to create legislative districts. This creates a high stakes battle for control of these branches of government every ten years, in order to control the redistricting process and gerrymander more districts and/or safer districts for your own party. This increases extremism by allowing a greater number of candidates to get elected to safe seats where the real election is in the party primary, and also decreases the number of competitive seats where either party has a good chance of winning.

    Perversely, if a party creates too many safe seats for its own incumbents, it risks also creating too many seats that are safe or that lean towards the other party. This rewards party incumbents at the expense of the party as a whole. It also promotes partisanship by electing a lot more folks than normal that can win party primaries but would have no chance at winning in a competitive general election.

    Redistricting should be mostly a technocratic process, where districts are created according to natural geographic and community criteria, without attempts to game the system in favor of one party or another. It should be done by technocrats and computers as much as possible, with oversight of an equally weighted multi-party commission.

    This would make more elections more competitive, and make it more likely that the legislature's makeup accurately reflects the people's will.

  • JHL (unverified)

    Change the way the legislative leadership is elected. Either:

    Require the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate to be elected by a 2/3 consensus... or by secret ballot, like Nebraska.

    The best way to lock gears is to have someone like Minnis in the speaker's seat... and although more than half of the House members are Republicans, I am certain that not half of the House members are Minnis supporters.

    Coalitions would have to be built around ideas, policy, and the majority party would be forced to throw at least some meat to the minority to begin the session... policy, a committee chairmanship here or there... etc.

  • Ramon (unverified)

    Remove legislators from PERS.

    After the session, re-cycle that session's leaders to the back bench and bring the rank-and-file members forward into the leadership. This would allocate power in the Legislature less upon seniority and more upon merit.

    Cite constitutional authority (enumerated powers) for all proposed legislation.

    Submit all legislation to the same level of judicial review that is received by ballot measures.

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    All Initiatives Must Be Reratified Every Decade

    • All constitutional amendments and statutes passed by direct ballot initiative are given an automatic sunset provision.

    • Every 10 years, each is automatically placed on the ballot for re-ratification when time is up. If it fails, it ceases to be law.

    • This applies retroactively to all initiatives passed in previous decades as well.

    • The legislature and governor may, by passing a statute in favor of an Initiative Ballot or Amendment, exempt a statute or constitutional amendment initiative for one time. This vote must take place within 1 year of the time it would be normally reratified.

    • Votes to exempt a statute are automatically introduced on the floor of the State House and Senate. They may not be bottled up in committee.

  • activist kaza (unverified)

    Over in England, they are seriously debating (and the possible next Prime Minister Gordon Brown is backing) giving 16-year-olds the vote. Of course, you also have to be 18 to drive in the UK. So what about it...should we consider putting citizenship before driving (perhaps making citizenship part of the driving test??)

    One clear (theoretical) benefit is that it should reduce all of our car insurance premiums, at least initially.

    (Duly submitted by a father who has survived four teen-age children as drivers!)

  • gordo (unverified)

    I like a lot of the proposals here (except the sales tax proposals that shift the tax burden from the wealthy to the middle class). I'd like to suggest one that's already working.

    Gov. Kulongoski currently certifies any union that can get 50% of the workers it seeks to represent to sign a union card. This makes it a lot easier for workers to organize and protect themselves. Thanks to this policy, daycare workers are now unionized, and will soon be making a decent wage.

    But it's only a policy. Now that we see that it works, let's write the "card check" policy into law, so we can continue to benefit from this policy after Kulongoski leaves office.

  • theanalyst (unverified)

    Here's an idea related to health insurance and the workplace:

    1) no company can require employees to dress in accordance with a dress code unless the company offers a health insurance benefit of at least a certain quality and cost (to be determined). The only exception would be dress codes that are directly related to employee or customer health or safety (e.g., security guard uniforms, nursing scrubs), or dress codes that mandate certain generic minimal standards (e.g. shoes, shirt, no shorts). In other words, if the company wants the employee to dress a certain way on the job or to wear the company uniform and logo, the company has to offer insurance. No insurance, no dress code.

    2) all company facilities must post a notice of certain size and prominence (to be specified) in all their facilities as to whether employees are offered health insurance (referenced above).

    In other words, we don't require companies to offer health insurance. We merely make it publicly known whether such insurance is offered. ("High-deductible health plans" do not qualify as "health insurance.")

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