Editor's Note: On February 6, we asked BlueOregon readers to suggest progressive ideas that the next Oregon Legislature should enact. Over the next several weeks, we'll post some of these ideas here - and ask you to discuss them. Good idea? Bad idea? Any suggestions?
From Becky Miller:
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.
[If you have your own original progressive idea to propose, do it here: "There oughta be a law."]